Research Foundation Update (06/30/2014)

Hello to all,

As fiscal year 2014 comes to a close, it is a good time to provide the research community with an update of activities here at the Research Foundation and what to look forward to in the new year.

As many experienced researchers realize, the summer season is the absolute busiest time of year here at the Research Foundation.  This summer is proving to be exceptionally so!  There has been a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes in connection with the conversion to our new accounting system.  The full integration of general ledger, human resources, grant administration, purchasing and financial reporting is being aligned with existing web-based capabilities to form an effective enterprise resource planning platform.  The human resources and payroll modules of the new systems are fully up and operating and we have been processing dual payrolls since early May.  With approximately seven hundred individuals currently on payroll this has been a significant undertaking and the staff has truly risen to the occasion.  

The general ledger module has been populated with detail financial data for the previous four fiscal years (2010 through 2013) and the current year through May 31st.  Dual processing of June transactions is under way.  The design of the new general ledger has required the development of a new project numbering methodology that enhances our ability to group related projects and task order activities.  The new system will also enhance our electronic requisition to purchase order to accounts payable processes.  The new systems will build from the existing electronic requisition system to alleviate additional changes for external users submitting requisitions.

We are currently developing an automated web-based payroll authorization (e-108) tool internally by our IT and HR staff that will significantly improve the efficiencies in hiring and payroll.  We anticipate having this module available to the research community in time for the fall semester hiring.  In an effort to significantly improve the timeliness and accuracy of committed payroll obligations necessary for effective project management by faculty researchers we are in the process of having a robust payroll encumbrance system developed.  The new grants administration module provides a significant number of additional fields for tracking award information, compliance and reporting requirements that will assist administrators in support of faculty researchers.  We are also in the process of developing project financial reports that we anticipate will be more user friendly. 

The Research Foundation staff is fully committed to making this system conversion a big success and to continually improve the customer service to the research community.  There will be more information forth coming and will be distributed as we approach the roll-out of the individual modules.

In addition to the new system activities there have been other significant activities going on:  

  • WELCOME TO NEW STAFF –  We are excited to have some new staff joining the Research Foundation team:  

 

Finance – LaToya Sorrell joined the Foundation on June 26, 2014 as a staff accountant with over seven years of previous accounting experience.  Ms. Sorrell holds a Master of Science Degree in Accounting from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration / General Management from Bryant & Stratton College.  

Grant Administration – John Stover III joined the Foundation on December 4, 2013.  Mr. Stover is a 1999 ODU graduate and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services Counseling.  Mr. Stover has previous grant administration and coordination experience with the National Democratic Institute, NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Institute of Education all of which are non-profit organizations in the Washington. DC area.

Annemarie Delgado joined us on April 7th as a Grant and Contract Administrator III position with an emphasis in proposal submission.  Ms. Delgado has over 15 years of research administration experience and worked for the Research Foundation from 1997 to 2003.  Additional prior university research administration experience includes Norfolk State and EVMS and most recently has been with George Washington University and Wentworth Institute of Technology in Massachusetts.  Ms. Delgado holds two masters degrees from ODU: one in English and one in Public Administration and holds a Certified Research Administrator designation. 

Richard Seegers joined the Foundation as a temporary assisting with system implementation processes on March 3, 2014 and accepted the Grants & Contract Administrator position on April 28, 2014. Mr. Seegers received his Bachelor of Science Degree (Business Administration- Minor Industrial/Organizational Psychology) – James Madison University and has 19+ years of experience in Management positions with emphasis in business development, budget management, corporate trainer and Operations Management.  

April Bennett joined us on May 4, 2014 with 2 ½ years’ experience in cradle to grave grant administration. Ms. Bennett has a Master of Science in Acquisition and Contract Management, Florida Institute and a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration General Management from Marylhurst University as well as a Bachelors of Science: Theology, Mid-Atlantic Christian University.

    

  • OUTREACH ACTIVITIES – On April 23rd, the Foundation hosted an Information Session and Open Forum for Faculty on Customer Service and Process Improvement.  We used this opportunity to provide a demonstration of the new electronic payroll processing form and review the steps taken improve our operations and services since the external review and ombudsman report in 2012.  We continue to stress the importance of feedback from the research community and our commitment to process improvement.  The feedback that we received at this event and afterwards have been quite positive as to the format and content. 

We will intend to host such an event at least once each semester during the academic year.  We currently have reserved a room in Webb Center for Wednesday, September 10, 2014 during the activity hour from 11:00 – 12:30.  We will distribute more information as the time approaches.

  • FEEDBACK SURVEY – As mentioned above, the Research Foundation remains focused on providing the best customer service possible to support the university and the research community.  Since last November the signature line on all e-mail correspondence from Research Foundation core staff members has contained a link to a feedback survey.  The survey allows for anyone interacting with our core staff to provide immediate comments, either positive or negative.  Survey responses are anonymous to the employee.  Foundation management reviews on a continuous basis and takes action as appropriate.  Please continue to make use of this tool, as your feedback is most important to us.
  • FACILITIES AND AMINISTRATIVE RATE PROPOSAL (F&A) – FY13 was the base year for our F&A rate proposal (Indirect Cost Rate).  The proposal was submitted to the Office of Naval Research in January 2014.  The proposal is currently under audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).  Once the audit is completed the rate will be negotiated with ONR and will become effective for awards after the agreed-upon effective date.  The proposal as submitted was approximately 1% higher than the prior rate proposal that resulted in the current 53% On-Campus rate.
  • GSA SCHEDULES – We are currently in negotiations with the General Services Administration in developing a GSA Rate Schedule for certain contracts.  The first schedule is for contracts covering Professional Engineering Services.  It is anticipated that having a GSA contract vehicle will expedite certain DOD funding opportunities.

I very much look forward to fiscal year 2015 being one that will enable the Research Foundation to make significant enhancements to the services we provide the research community while continuing to be cost-effective and responsive to the needs of the faculty.

With regards,

Julian

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