Principal Investigators (PIs), research assistants and accountants in the College of Computing and Information Sciences on 23rd November 2023 were equipped with knowledge and skills on Accountability protocols to increase their knowledge on managing funds.
The half-day blended Worksop which attracted 30 participants was officially opened by the Principal CoCIS, Prof. Tonny Oyana and facilitated by the Manager Accounts and Reports Makerere University Mr. Lubowa S Gyaviira and the Team Leader, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Mr. Tom Vok Elwana.
The training highlighted the common accountability challenges, accountability procedures and approvals and submission of accountability reports.
Noting delays in accountabilities, Prof. Oyana said, he would like to see the college conduct research and grow big rather than being blacklisted by development partners and donors.
The Principal said, the college has established itself in four principle areas of research where it draws credibility namely; the Sensing Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Human Computer Interaction research and Information seeking research.
He observed that sometimes researchers under estimate the reasons to be financially knowledgeable and hence the need for the training.
“Everything happens because of money. If you are a poor manager of your money, then, you cannot pursue the activities you set. So, financial responsibilities and discipline are very important if you are to be a good negotiator”, He said.
Motivated by the need to build a system that is prudent and robust and building an inclusive place to learn, work and succeed, Prof. Oyana shared his experience of what he has learnt as critical.
“First of all, know your financial status and spend within those limits. Never destroy someone’s credibility. I also recommend responsible financial discipline and not to go by peer pressure.
The minute you indicate a budget, you have controls. You don not shift budget items from other controls. If you want to spend and move items that are 10% and above, you need to get permission from the treasury”, Oyana advised.
The Principal also advised researchers to learn and follow the approval structures and policies, stick to their values and ethics and, ensure funds are used for intended activities.
If they want to be ethical, the Principal advised scientists to strive for excellence and make good returns to those that entrust them with the resources.
Prof. Oyana extended the call for discipline in the laboratories on grounds that laboratories run on ethics and honest. He stressed that it is good practice to follow scientific evidence because Science does not depend on rumours but on data and evidence.
Oyana also urged every researcher to have a research gap, be visionary and ensure laboratories have good practices and procedures and, provide data and scientific evidence to back hypotheses.
He reminded researchers that the primary duty of research is contributing to the body of knowledge and secondly to train and mentor young scientists to contribute to their knowledge.
Account for all advances received within 14 days of the completion of the activity and in any case not later than 60 days or Refund the money.
Giving an overview of Accountability procedures and approvals, Mr. Lubowa Gyaviira represented by Mr. Tom Elwana underscored the need for researchers to know the regulations for accountability when planning.
Key Accountability procedures as extracted from relevant laws, policies and procedures that govern public financial management include but not limited to; Public Finance Management Act 2015; Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act; Treasury Instructions 2017 and; Makerere University Financial Manual 2014.
Elwana said accountability helps to establish whether the funds advanced were used for the intended purpose and whether all documentation relating to the accountability was presented for review.
Section 10 paragraph 10.20.11 and 10.20.12 of the Treasury Instructions, 2017, requires all advances to be retired as soon as the necessity for their use ceases to exist or within sixty (60) days upon completion of the activity or by closure of business of the last working day of the financial year in which the advance was issued.
“The Makerere University Financial Procedures Manual 2014 under section 4.6.4 enjoins staff to account for all advances received within 14 days of the completion of the activity and in any case not later than 60 days.
Failure to comply with standing instructions leads to the withholding further advances; Recovery from payroll; and or Disciplinary action in accordance with laid down procedures”, he said.
Elwana explained that staff advanced funds should follow the accountability and approval process from the unit accountant to the Internal Audit/examinations and compliance office which delivers to the Secretary directorate of internal Audit, who shall ensure it is stamped received, recorded in the Register.
He said, a report for accountability must be attached and receipts indicating clearly amount of advance being accounted while outstanding advances at end of year will be posted to the general ledger to make up the funds balance.
“Balances on advances not utilized at the end of the work/research should be surrendered to the Head of accounts and a receipt should be issued.
Failure to submit accountability will necessitate refund of all unaccounted for funds by the implementer.
After clearance of all accounted funds, a Journal Voucher (JV) is issued to show clearance of total amount accounted for, ” Elwana emphasized
Submission of projects to GAMSU, a MUST requirement to implement any activity
Elwana told researchers that all project PIs must not only register their projects and budgets with the Makerere University Grant Administration, Management and Support Unit but also submit quarterly reports to this unit.
“GAMSU has an application and is calling upon PIs to submit their projects for capturing in their data. Failure to be captured, they may not implement their activities”, Elwana warned
Makerere University established the Grant Administration, Management and Support Unit which is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing all projects and grants within the university. This measure, Elwana explained was an agreement with Government to allow the university oversee and receive the grants instead of the funds going directly to the consolidated fund.
The key responsibility of GAMSU is to ensure that the reporting is streamlined within the university. GAMSU requires quarterly accountability reports from all grants and projects.
Submission of all budgets by all projects and grants is also mandatory as part of the accountability reports required by the University and Government.
As a matter of emphasis, on submission of accountability reports, PIs were advised to pay attention to their MoUs since different funders have different requirements.
The two presentations are attached for details.
Principal Communication Officer, CoCIS