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Office of Sponsored Programs
streamlines awards administration

December 15, 1997

A new office is being developed that combines three different administrative units, to make all components of sponsored activities more efficient and user-friendly.

The Office of Sponsored Programs will bring together existing grants and contracts, contracts and corporations, and administration and regulations units into one organization and under one roof. The result of the consolidation will be better access to these services for members of the University community and a marked improvement in the way the services are provided.

"The previous structures had the pre-award administration and post-award administration completely separate," says Robert Smith, vice provost for research and graduate education and dean of the graduate school, who, with Dale Dreyfuss, vice chancellor for business and adminstration, created the new office.

"These units functioned well on their own," Smith says."But by combining them we knew we could make the process of seeking and receiving support much more effective and efficient."

Smith says consolidating the functions of the three units into one office makes good organizational sense. Under the old structure, members of the University community seeking support for research or other projects had to deal with separate entities for the sponsorship search and application, the subsequent award, and the administration of that award. While these separate units communicated with each other informally, no integrated strategic policy existed linking the three.

Under the new office, grant and contract proposal development, contract negotiations, regulatory compliance, fiscal management, and audit responsibilities all will operate in a complementary manner.

The office will have an executive director reporting to Smith. It will be organized into three teams - development, regulatory compliance, and administration - each with its own associate director. The search for the executive director is already underway.

"There will also be a strong internal development component within the office, including cross-training aimed at helping each team understand what the others do and how their functions affect one another," says Smith."In addition, we'll be working to provide ongoing information and education regarding optimum strategies for seeking out appropriate sponsorships for our faculty, staff, and students, and exploring the best strategies to make sure we receive as many of those awards as possible."

Along with providing easier access to the services surrounding sponsored programs, OSP will be housed in a single location, the first floor of the Whetten Graduate Center. This arrangement will require some refurbishing of the facility and associated systems, including the development of a dedicated, state-of-the-art local area network that can manage electronic research administration and electronic data interchange. This network will ultimately give the office the ability to electronically route and monitor proposals, awards, and other pertinent information. Completion is expected in summer 1998.

"The Office of Sponsored Programs will really be a tremendous benefit for the University," says Chancellor Mark Emmert."It allows us to take all of our administrative resources oriented toward sponsored programs and maximize their strengths, while minimizing the associated bureaucracy. The result for members of the University community will be a more efficient process of pursuing and receiving support, which in turn gives them more time and resources to do vital research."

David Pesci