This Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering (HWCOE) position is assigned to the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE) reporting directly to the Associate Director of Administrative Services (AD). Primarily this position assists a sub-set of MAE faculty with pre-award and post-award support for sponsored research awards. In addition, this position will assist with multiple cost-analysis, fiscal, and payroll duties. This position will require a comprehensive understanding of the current Uniform Guidance to be a successful research administrator. The incumbent must be able to work both independently and within a team construct.
Post–Award Fiscal Administration
This position is responsible for the financial management of sponsored research awards for an assigned sub-set of MAE faculty. This includes review and approval of all financial transactions directly charged to sponsored awards to ensure compliance with cost principles as defined in the Uniform Guidance and individual award agreements. Financial transactions may include, but are not limited to payroll, consumable laboratory supplies, equipment, travel, animal care costs, and participant support costs. Transactions for review and approval present by purchasing card, travel and expense, procurement requisition, invoice, and/or expense to reimbursement (E2R). In the event charges are incorrectly assigned to sponsored awards, this position is expected to coordinate cost transfers via expense to expense (E2E), electronic letter of appointment (LOA), payroll retro, prior term tuition, and/or journal entry corrections with MAE HR and Fiscal Staff.
This position will assist the AD with proactive and concurrent post-award management. This requires routine, careful, and detailed fiscal analysis in order to forecast each award’s financial trajectory for their faculty members. The candidate should review their financial analysis and projections with their faculty members on a consistent (monthly, but no more than bimonthly) basis to ensure accuracy and budget adherence.
On a monthly basis, this position is responsible for reviewing and approving the reconciled ledgers of the sponsored awards under their supervision.
At the culmination of each sponsored award, the incumbent will facilitate close-out procedures. This task often includes making certain all expenditures are appropriate, open encumbrances are closed, the award does not have a negative balance (will investigate and rectify if so), expected effort commitments have been met, and all cost sharing requirements have been satisfied.
This position is responsible for reviewing the request for application (RFA) for funding opportunities selected by the MAE faculty to support proposal submission to potential research sponsors. After review of the RFA, this position works with the faculty member and their proposed research team to develop an accurate budget that is compliant with federal, state, sponsor, university, college, and departmental policies. Throughout the proposal period, this position is responsible for identifying and ensuring all requirements of the sponsor’s RFA are met, which may require coordination with the AD, HWCOE Associate Dean for Research (ADR), Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP), and/or other offices/departments within UF. Common items that require coordination and approval with UF include cost share, reduction of indirect cost rates, and/or additional space requirements. It is important to understand that often pre-award activities arise with short notification and must be executed within a very short time period. In addition, it must be understood that this position frequently manages multiple proposal submissions at the same time as proposals are generally arranged by external sponsors with common submission deadlines.
Accurate preparation of proposal budgets and budget justifications are paramount in the role of a Research Administrator (RA) during the proposal process. This requires the RA to verify current salaries and fringe benefit rates of key and other personnel involved in the proposal, in addition to, including escalators for each year of the proposal (if applicable and allowed). In addition, budget preparation includes the need to specify other proposed expenses (supplies, equipment, tuition, participant support costs, research animal cost, etc.). It is also imperative that the correct indirect cost rate be applied, including special applications of this rate per the sponsor’s instructions (e.g. modified total direct cost, total direct cost, or any other).
This position is responsible for entry, approval routing, and submission to DSP for review and final submission to the sponsoring agency through UF’s UFIRST module. Establishment and entry of a proposal in UFIRST includes providing necessary demographic information for research personnel, sponsor information, budget entry, and other required information. In addition, the RA is responsible for uploading multiple documents to the proposal in UFIRST and/or other sponsor-specified portals. These documents are typically provided by the primary investigator (lead MAE faculty member), as well as, other key personnel and may include a cover letter, project summary, project narrative, budget justification, research strategy, specific aims, equipment and facilities support narrative, financial conflict of interest, and various other required documents. As needed or required by sponsors, the RA may be required to submit proposals through a sponsor’s submission portal once approved by DSP.
Prior to uploading documents into UFIRST or a sponsor’s submission portal, the RA is expected to ensure formatting of all documents are consistent with the sponsor’s guidelines, as indicated by the RFA. Formatting requirements may include, but are not limited to, font type, font size, page margins, and page length requirements.
Post-Award Management and Reporting
This position will assist an assigned subset of the MAE faculty with the post-award management and reporting of their sponsored award(s). This includes budget transfers, incremental funding releases, budget modifications and adjustments, advance funding requests, supplemental funding requests, subcontract maintenance, no cost extensions, non-financial report submissions, etc.
In order to complete this work, the employee will be required to work with the DSP to input the necessary modification in UFIRST. The employee will also need to communicate with grantors, in order to assist DSP in contract negotiation, periodic reporting requirements, and budget negotiations. This information varies from sponsor to sponsor, but usually includes drafting new budgets, completing standard administrative subcontract documents, connecting sponsors with the correct offices at UF to complete the award process, etc.
With guidance from the AD and/or higher level Research Administrators within MAE, the employee may assist faculty in the interpretation of funding and sponsor policies, procedures, rules and regulations. This will include the fiscal components of the OMB Uniform Guidance.
The employee must develop an understanding of the OMB Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR 200) to effectively manage sponsored awards. In addition, the candidate must become familiar with a variety of other aspects of sponsored research administration including: cost accounting standards (CAS), Institutional Review Board (IRB) for human subjects in research, IACUC for animal subjects in research, financial conflict of interest (FCOI), export control, and other specific UF policies.
The employee will ensure a proper understanding of the award parameters and any special requirements of the award that need to be brought to the faculty member’s attention due to programmatic and/or compliance restraints.
In the event of a sponsored award(s) review or audit, this position would assist the AD and/or a higher-ranking Research Administrator within MAE in response to requested documentation. For this reason, it is imperative that the incumbent maintain sufficient documentation for all expenses of sponsored awards under their management. Documentation should justify the benefit, appropriateness, and allowability of expenditures to a sponsored award.
Understanding of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and its relationship to the entire University structure. This includes other Colleges, all HWCOE Departments and Centers.
Ability to function under highly stressful circumstances.
Ability to communicate well, both verbally and in writing, with faculty, staff and various funding sponsors.
Ability to act as liaison and use communication skills with professionals of various contracts and grant-funding sources.
Ability to evaluate and give technical assistance in the preparation and submission of proposals and to evaluate data relative to proposal submission.
Knowledge of and accountability for all current rules, regulations, policies and procedures relating to external funding sponsors, the State of Florida, the University of Florida and Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.
Knowledge of methods for data collection, maintenance, and manipulation.
Ability to understand and utilize problem solving techniques.
Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with others.
Professional code of conduct becoming of a public employee.
Ability to work independently and use good judgment to set priorities.
The ability to become knowledgeable of the University payroll, personnel and accounting structure.
Proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications and Adobe Acrobat is required. Excel and Outlook proficiency are paramount.
Employee must be detail oriented and meticulous. Errors and/or omissions may result in sponsors refusing proposals for funding consideration or loss of revenue and sponsor sanctions/fines for failure to following fiscal requirements of an award.