Sylvia Bediako is the Research Accounts Officer at King’s College London. Here she explains about her job role and how she works with the MND Association.
The project process starts with our Pre Award Team receiving a request from the Principal Investigator (the main researcher involved in the research project), about their intention to apply for funds for a project from the MND Association. The Pre Award Team then prepare the budget costings and complete the application form, sending this off to the Association (before the deadline!).
If the application is successful, the MND Association will send Kings College London an award letter. We will then set up a project file with a unique 7 letter code /reference.
This code has a bearing to the department, the Principal Investigator, and the funder. As a result of this no two awards have the same grant code (even if it is the same Principal Investigator in the same department). The project file is then used to file all the information about the project from beginning to end.
The project card
A project card is then prepared for the file. This card contains information like the Account Code, the Principal Investigator, Funding Body, Project Title, Award date and total awarded by the Funder. This budget agreed with the MND Association is then put on to our accounting system.
The project card, the award letter, the terms and conditions of the grant, and the college financial procedures with regard to running a research grant are then sent to the Principal Investigator with instructions that only expenditure relating to this grant should be coded to this cost centre using its unique code (this ensures that only research expenditure related to that particular grant is being spent!).
The project begins
Before the project begins we need to recruit staff. All recruitment for staff is authorised by the Research Accounts Officer (who is responsible for that specific grant). The Research Accounts Officer will only authorise the recruitment if the terms and conditions will be met (i.e. start and end date and salary agreed with by the MND Association).
Once a researcher is recruited, the project can begin! However my job doesn’t stop there. A detailed monthly cost expenditure report from the accounting system is sent to the Principal Investigator by the finance team. I also send detailed quarterly cost centre expenditure reconciliations to the Principal Investigator. This reconciliation has the original budget awarded, actual expenditure to date, expenditure commitments and the budget remaining to be spent.
As the Research Accounts Officer, I have to send a request to the MND Association on a quarterly basis requesting for the income for the expenditure incurred on that project. The MND Association then checks every invoice sent to them, as well as copies of invoices £500 and above. If we don’t send this information our invoices to claim income will not be paid!
Not only this, the MND Association also looks at their terms and conditions of the grant and will only pay the invoice if the Principal Investigator has submitted scientific reports, and spending within agreed budgets.
As you can see, looking after the finances of research grants awarded to our researchers is not straightforward. A lot needs to be done in terms of checking and processing expenses relating to a particular research project. It is only through this checking of finances that we can ensure our researchers are spending their funding wisely in order for their project to go in the right direction – towards a world free from MND!