"A Day in the Work-Life of an SRAI Member" Series | Texas Tech University Office of Research Services Structure by Karen Bone

by karen.bone@ttu.edu on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

At Texas Tech University, our pre-award and post-award functions are split between two offices – Office of Research Services (ORS) and Accounting Services (AS). ORS handles proposal submission, contract and subaward negotiation, and award entry for processing by AS. AS handles most of the life of the award from this point until closeout.

The ORS office is split into the data management, proposal, contract negotiator, and post-award teams.

• Three persons comprise the data management team, who run the reports on proposal and award activity, work with Cayuse, our system to system submission and routing system, and keep the IT running smoothly.
• There are six proposal analysts split into two teams under one unit manager, and everyone is assigned a caseload with a mixture of different departments across the university. This allows us to gain experience and knowledge working with a wide selection of sponsors, and each PI has the opportunity to develop a rapport with their respective analyst. Our proposal teams shift caseloads once or twice a year, taking into account the time since each department was last shifted, the types of proposals typically submitted, and their relationship with their analyst. Our office is very customer service oriented, and we strive to make sure no departments feel shuffled or ignored. To facilitate this, the new analyst will often attend a departmental meeting to introduce themselves.
• We have three contract negotiators, whose caseloads are split based on the source of funds (federal, state, or private.)
• Post-award is a two person team. They handle the subcontract negotiations, PI changes and transfers, and no-cost extensions. They have also been training the proposal team on award data entry.

ORS offers recurring trainings on how to use Cayuse 424 and SP. Additional educational opportunities are offered in regards to budget basics, NSF Fastlane, and New Faculty Orientation. TTU ORS and AS offer a series of presentations to departmental level administrators and any other interested parties called Red Raider University, covering the life of a sponsored project within the University.

For professional development, ORS analysts attend off campus professional conferences such as those by NCURA and SRAI. More experienced analysts in ORS mentor those newer to the field. All analysts are encouraged to attend courses offered at the university, such as Title IX, Basic Outlook, and Leadership Series book club.

This office has evolved considerably in the past 5-7 years. Back in 2009 there were four pre-award analysts, now there are seven. The implementation of Cayuse SP in 2014 dramatically improved our proposal routing and submission process and proposals and awards tracking. In addition to increased personnel and electronic routing to better serve our PIs, we have transitioned to a semi-paperless office, printing only files for awarded projects. This has reduced paper usage and administrative burden and saved filing and storage space in our office.

Our office continues to look for ways to improve. To that end, this summer our Managing Director has assigned special tasks to teams so as to streamline some of the processes in our office. One team is looking into revising the subrecipient commitment form, whereas another is updating the new employee manual. Overall, in keeping with the world of research administration, we continue to find ways to adapt and meet the needs of the PIs.

Karen Bone
Senior Analyst
Texas Tech University