The primary goal of the Research Receivables Negotiations Section for Research Accounting is to recover overdue receivables from sponsors for expenses incurred under their awards. Efforts are made to minimize the amount of time taken to recover funds.
The University wishes to maintain an amicable working relationship with sponsors. Efforts are made to work with the sponsor to collect amounts due. The first step is to find out why the payments have not been made. If the reason is the need for deliverables from the PI, then the PI will be contacted to discuss the delivery of the required materials. If we are unable to get a response from the sponsor by e-mail or telephone, then the Receivables Manager will send a letter to the sponsor. A copy of this letter is sent to the PI and OPAM. If payment has not been received and/or an appropriate response has not been made by the specified date, then another phone call will be made. If there is no response then the Assistant Controller will send a letter with a copy to the Department Head and / or the Dean.
Many payments to the University are now made by electronic means. These payments are made to one of the accounts established for this purpose and the distribution of funds to specific accounts is administered by the University Treasurer’s Office. There are several accounts, which receive these funds. There is an account for each campus as well as one specifically for Amherst campus Research Accounting Section.
Those who currently pay electronically are mainly federal government such as: US Fish & Wildlife, Office of Naval Research, NASA, USDA, Defense Finance & Accounting, US Geological Survey, and industry sponsors. The Amherst campus is interested in increasing electronic payments from non-federal sponsors.
In order to pay by electronic means, the originator requires information from the University (bank name, account #, routing #) and the University requires that the bank have originator information to handle payments which arrive. This is accomplished by supplying the originator with a form completed by the bank (we supply to University Treasurer) entitled: "Payment Information Form for Direct Deposit Payments: ACH Vendor Payment System".
Receipt of Payment
The Treasurer’s Office sends to the Research Receivables Manager a list by fax of payments received. This list is reviewed to identify account #, award #, originator amount or any other information which may help in identifying the correct destination for the amount. If the amount is a payment for an award not yet received from OPAM, the money is deposited to the Unclassified Receipts account.
Reply to Treasurer’s Office
As quickly as possible, the deposit data, which includes the appropriate research Speedtype and Account number(s) for the deposit, is e-mailed to the Treasurer’s Office. If the amount cannot be identified, a reply is provided to the Treasurer’s to that effect. The Wire would then be held in the Treasurer's Office Unclassified Receipts Account until a claim is made.
Copy to Accountant
A copy of the fax from the Treasurers’ Office is provided to the appropriate accountant to file in the Research Award folder.
Effect on Aging Reporting
It is important that replies are made quickly to the Treasurer’s Office and that the journal entries are processed in a timely manner. At month end, if the payments are not posted, the billings will show as overdue and may result in Accountant follow up on payments with sponsor in error.
Payment for research performed at the University for most federal agencies is done through a letter of credit. The Controller's Office requests that cash be drawn down from the Federal Reserve, for deposit into a campus bank account. The amount drawn is based on actual expenditures of Federal Research Awards.
Organization and Function
The Research Receivables section reports to the Controller. This section is staffed by the Manager of Accounts Receivable & Billing (David Bennett phone 413-545-1421; fax 413-545-6088; e-mail bennett [at] umass.edu). The function of this section is to:
- Submit federal draws to the University Treasurer’s Office which, in turn, submits the draws to the appropriate federal agencies. After the Treasurer's Office receives thefunds, the Treasurer’s Office submits the journal upload provided by Research Receivables staff. This reverses the accounting entry for draw in transit and posts cash to each project/grant.
- Report expenditures to the appropriate federal agencies on or before the reporting deadlines and according to the agency’s reporting requirements.
- Perform ongoing reconciliations of grants to assure that authorized amounts, expenditures and receipts as shown on the letter of credit report, the University accounting system and on the individual grant report (Financial Status Report or Report of Cash Transactions) are in agreement.
- Investigate and follow up on any letter of credit variances from funds drawn and what we are allowed to report.
- Notify research accountants when research awards are due to close off letter of credit reports.
The grant accountant is responsible for preparing the Financial Status Reports (FSRs) as required by each agency according to the requirements of the contract.