September 2017

Published monthly, the Fiscal Administrators' News is where you can find the latest information regarding the Office of Procurement Services.

Table of Contents

Procurement Services

Announcing New Freight Savings Program – “VPL”

This month Procurement Services is rolling out a partnership with Vantage Point Logistics (VPL) designed to reduce shipping costs on VCU purchases from vendors. VPL will arrange for vendors to send all of their shipments via VCU’s FedEx account, with its low contracted rates, rather than the vendor charging its normal higher shipping rates. This process will have minimal impact on VCU departments, as all ordering procedures will remain the same as before, and no modifications to the purchase order are needed. We are starting with a pilot program in September, using an initial list of 100 vendors. If the program is successful, we hope to incorporate more and more vendors moving forward.

Update on The Supply Room Company – Office Supplies Contract

Procurement Services would like to thank all of VCU for a great first year of our mandatory office supply contract with The Supply Room Company (TSRC). We conducted an analysis against our previous office supply contracts, and over the course of the first year, VCU saved an average of $10,000 per month under the new TSRC contract. We are also very pleased to report that University compliance in using the mandatory contract has been extremely high - we are very appreciative of everyone’s cooperation in making this a successful contract for VCU!

Purchases from Mansfield Oil

For VCU departments that buy oil through the Commonwealth of Virginia’s contract with Mansfield Oil, please note there are two distinct contracts: Bulk Fuel purchases and Voyager Fuel Card purchases. The Commonwealth has very specific requirements for how orders are entered in eVA, depending on which contract is used. Please see the Procurement website for information on how orders should be entered:

Tuition & Fees Reimbursement Requests

Departments are reminded that tuition and fees associated with courses taken through VCU by employees and non-employees are not reimbursable. Travel Services is seeing an increase in the number of reimbursement requests for tuition and fees for employees and students (graduate students & pre/post doctoral students) for courses taken through VCU. These expenses, including fees associated with application for admission to the University, Graduate School or program are not reimbursable through Chrome River, regardless of funding source.

Please refer to the appropriate department (Postdoctoral Studies, Graduate School) and the VCU Educational and Training Opportunities policy for more information.

Travel Services Training Opportunities

Travel Policy & Procedures - September 12th, 1:30pm - 3:00pm, MPC
Chrome River - September 19th, 1:00pm - 3:00pm, MPC
Christopherson Business Travel - September 28th, 9:00am - 11:00am, MPC
Moving & Relocation Payments - September 26th, 1:00pm - 2:30pm, MPC

Register here.

Annual Training for P-Cardholders and Approvers

To ensure that cardholders and approvers understand the University’s P-card policies and procedures, each person with Purchase Card responsibilities must successfully complete an annual online knowledge test. Those who have successfully completed training since July 1, 2017 has met the training requirement. However, we encourage you to review the material, as the information has been updated.

Please go to to access the course title 2017 P-Card Training under “My Courses

  • Approvers must complete the P-Card training and the approver training.
  • Testing must be completed by Friday, September 29th, 2017.
  • Failure to complete the training by the deadline will result in the suspension of P-card privileges.

If you have any questions, or are not enrolled in the 2017 P-Card Training in Blackboard, please contact

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Budget and Resource Analysis

University Budget Redesign Update

We successfully launched parallel reporting for FY18. Thank you to everyone for helping make that happen. The Budget Office team has developed a Wiki to help answer technical questions about the new budget model. Access is available here with your EID. The Wiki will be updated regularly - so send us your questions and suggestions. PBCS now contains the latest FY18 v2.0 budget information and access to PBCS is managed at a school/college Chief Business Officer level. If you feel you need access to PBCS please reach out to your School/Colleges CBO. Finally, we hope you'll visit the UBR website and encourage others to as well. Let us know how we can be helpful.

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Controller's Office

Grants & Contracts Accounting/Effort Report Updates

FYI and further distribution:

Advance Index Requests
To best assist departments in the post award process, we request department’s assistance with completing all of the required fields of the Advance Index Request. This also includes providing all available proposals numbers (PT, PD, SC, and FP numbers) and the VID of the Principal Investigator. It is also helpful if a copy of the RFP or announcement can accompany the advance index request to aid in the grant establishment process.

90 Day Notices
An administrative action may be required in Rams-Spot, when selecting options 1. Additional years/Additional funding, 2. Supplemental funding, and 3. No-Cost Extension only. In the event the department is aware that the new year of an award will be assigned a new award number (by the Sponsor), a new FP may also be needed in Rams-Spot.

Transferring Principal Investigators (Internal and External-Prime Sponsor)
Grants and Contracts Accounting (G&C) requests your assistance with alerting both G&C and OSP when the department receives notification that an internal Principal Investigator and/or an external (prime) Principal Investigator is separating/transferring. This form of separation may impact the awarding period of performance and/or the University’s ability to be appropriately reimbursed by the Sponsor. If assistance is needed, we are happy to partner with you to navigate these instances.

What should we do, if a Sponsor sends an award directly to the principal investigator and/or department administrative staff? Per the Sponsored Programs Award Review, Negotiation, Acceptance and Notification Policy, “Only an Authorized Official may execute agreements on behalf of VCU. Please forward the agreement to the Office of Sponsored Programs via the RAMSā€SPOT system for review and negotiation.” Additional guidance is provided in the link below.
Sponsored Programs Award Review, Negotiation

What should we do, if a subawardee notifies the University and/or Principal Investigator that additional funding is needed to meet the objectives of an existing award?
The Principal Investigator should not obligate University funding without having the appropriate subaward agreement from the Office Sponsored Programs. Per the Sponsored Programs Award Review, Negotiation, Acceptance and Notification Policy, “Only an Authorized Official may execute agreements on behalf of VCU. Please notify Office of Sponsored Programs if a modification of an existing agreement needs to be considered. Additional guidance is provided in the link below. 
Sponsored Programs Award Review, Negotiation

Cost Transfers on Sponsored Projects – Focus of increased audit review:
Effective immediately, all cost transfers to sponsored programs are subject to be reviewed for detailed documentation. You should ensure that your department has established written internal controls to minimize questionable cost transfers, as well as other non-compliant post 60-day cost transfers, and that the internal controls are documented in your department’s ARMICS measures. Federal regulations require additional documentation to support ALL cost transfers to sponsored program indexes. Costs may not be shifted to other research projects or from one budget period to the next period solely to cover cost overruns. Cost transfers based on funding considerations are prohibited (i.e., cannot transfer costs to use up remaining funds).
G&C Cost Transfer Procedures

Effort Reporting and ECRT Updates


Thank you for your continued input regarding the ECRT Upgrade Implementation. Overall, the transition has been mostly smooth, however, the following are updates to address some issues that have arisen:

  1. For the semi-annual period (12/10/16 to 06/09/17) that was released on 8/22/17, only effort statements with sponsored VCU were released. Effort statements that are entirely clinical (or with non-sponsored pay) were released on the evening of 8/23/17. Email notifications were sent to these certifiers on 8/24/17 that effort statements are now ready for certification.
  2. Chrome and Firefox are the preferred browsers for ECRT; however, some users are finding they are having issues with Chrome. If you are experiencing issues with Chrome, please take some screenshots of your issue, and try to see if the issue is not resolved by using Firefox.

Additional resources that can facilitate maneuverability are available by contacting effort reporting staff: (1) A Quick Card that gives you an idea of the main changes to the system, and also includes step-by-step processes for Manual Card Certification, and Cost Transfers, and (2) A conversion chart of the new versus old icons used in the system. Additionally, we've had a lot of people attend ECRT Upgrade Training, but we do have two more sessions scheduled for the week of 8/28/17 if you would like to register:

Your assistance is needed with the upcoming and past due effort reporting deadlines:

Quarterly certifications period 12-10-16 to 03-09-17 were due by 06-14-17

Semi-Annual certifications period 06/10/16 to 12/09/16 were due by 04-21-17

Semester certifications period 12-25-16 to 05-09-17 were due by 08-14-2017

Quarterly certifications period 03-10-17 to 06-09-17 are due by 09-14-17

Semester certifications period 05-10-17 to 08-09-17 are due by 11-14-2017

Semi-Annual certifications period 12/10/16 to 06/09/17 are due by 10-21-17

Remember to conduct proactive reviews (especially before grants close-out), communicate frequently with your faculty to verify the accuracy of their commitments, and to complete the processing of all ECRT cards assigned.

Other Effort Links:

Effort Reporting’s website:
Helpful Tools:

Grants and Contracts Accounting/Effort Reporting extends our gratitude to you for all that you do to assist our office and to minimize non-compliance risks on sponsored programs at VCU.

Please don’t hesitate to contact a G&C/Effort Reporting staff member if at any time you have questions that cannot be answered by content on the Controller/G&C website.

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