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K-State Today

October 8, 2015



Steering committee investigates research administration systems

By Karen Burg

Dear faculty and staff,

Capture, management and submission of research proposal and grant documents and necessary reports is increasingly complex. Researchers on campus frequently observe that they don't know where proposals are "in the system" or whether, for example, all contracts have been signed.

After funds are awarded, the Office of the Vice President for Research administrative challenge lies in maintaining communication among necessary offices and individuals, including the principal investigators, to proactively manage project budgets and invoicing, to manage compliance protocols and reporting, and to ensure grant project milestones are met. Our current systems are piecemeal and often burdensome. A unified research administration system that provides streamlined electronic routing, status monitoring, approval and seamless electronic submission while eliminating redundancies and facilitating rapid record retrieval, data management and reporting would significantly improve our researchers' experiences.

To address this issue, and in collaboration with Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for Information Technology Services Ken Stafford, I have asked a steering committee composed of a diverse user group and information technology staff to evaluate business requirements and workflow with respect to commercially available systems. The members of the committee are:

Project manager: Jennifer Gehrt, associate director, Information Systems Office
Facilitator: Ian Czarnezki, director of operations, Office of the Vice President for Research
Paul Lowe, associate vice president for research and director, PreAward Services
Loren Wilson, director, Information Systems Office
Shannon Fisher, director of sponsored programs, Division of Financial Services
Heath Ritter, program director, University Research Compliance Office
Beth Montelone, associate dean for research, College of Arts & Sciences
Jason Woodworth, research associate professor, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry
Chassy Nichols, business financial specialist, Engineering Research and Graduate Programs
Geneva Jahnke, budget/fiscal officer, College of Agriculture
Lisa Duer, grant administrator, College of Veterinary Medicine

This group met initially via video conference with counterparts at two research universities that use commercially developed research administration systems to begin learning about pros and cons of various options. The committee is currently engaging in formal analysis of current K-State research workflows, processes and business requirements and applying that information to the systems review. Recommendations will be made by early next year. Please join me in thanking these volunteers for their time, and please contact them directly or email orsp@k-state.edu if you have questions or suggestions. As always, the goal is to minimize the administrative burden to allow the research, scholarly and creative activities and discovery technical experts to focus on what they do best!

Best wishes,

Karen J.L. Burg