On Campus

UCalgary could lose $80 million in research funding

University scrambles to clean up its handling of federal research grants.

Sloppy management of federal research grant funding has seen the University of Calgary put on notice to clean up its practices by the end of March, or risk losing more than $80 million a year. In February, a report from the federal granting councils concluded that the way the university has administered research funding is “unsatisfactory,” and said that “immediate action” is needed.

The report was conducted by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council. The councils were following up on a 2006 investigation, and found that many of the recommendations from that report had not been implemented. Any decision as to University of Calgary’s funding eligibility would also affect grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Update: The report is in still in draft form, and is therefore confidential. However the University has a distributed a summary of the councils recommendations, available here.

The granting councils are concerned over a failure to ensure that expense claims such as for travel and graduate student salaries meet the requirements to be funded through federal research grants. There is also concern that costs not directly associated with research, like office supplies, are being expensed through the councils.

Although the granting councils have not actually threatened to pull funding, the university administration is warning faculty that loss of research money is a distinct possibility. “Unfortunately, the situation has become so serious we now run the immediate risk of having our eligibility for NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR funding suspended or withdrawn,” read a widely distributed memo from the administration.