Research Administration

Case study

Background

In 2002, the federal government introduced grants.gov, a
central storehouse for information on over 1,000 federal grant
programs and access to $500+ billion in annual awards. Many
federal agencies now require proposal submission via
Grants.gov. To facilitate compliance, several UC campuses are
participating in the development of a community‐source
research administration application, Kuali Coeus (KC). KC is
developed by universities for universities and is available free
of charge to any institution wishing to use it. In particular, the
KC Proposal Development module will support proposal
preparation, approval workflows, and online submission to
sponsored projects offices. In 2006, UC Davis Safety Services
engaged with the Kuali Foundation. UC Berkeley Research
Administration and Compliance (RAC) followed in 2008. Each
campus has tendered functional and technical resources to
contribute to the development of the KC application.

Goal

Most research administration business processes drive the
purchasing, storage, and physical handling of large quantities
of paper, directly impacting faculty and staff productivity. The
goal of this project is to deliver comprehensive, integrated,
web‐enabled tools that reduce wasted/duplicated effort and
simplify business processes for faculty and staff engaged in the
submission of research proposals, conduct of research
projects, and compliance with research regulations.

Successes

Many of the successes arising from this effort can be directly
attributed to cross‐campus collaboration. UC Berkeley and UC
Davis are active in KC as Sustaining Partners, and successfully
advocated for extending member benefits and responsibilities
to all interested campuses. The UC system is in discussions
about approaching the Kuali Foundation as a single tencampus
Sustaining Partner, with resource contributions across
all campuses and KC modules. Within the UC system, UC
Berkeley is pursuing common ground with the Office of the
President (UCOP) and other campuses participating in KC
development. In early 2009, the Berkeley, Davis, Irvine,
Merced, and San Diego campuses joined together as the
University of California Kuali Coeus Partners (UC‐KC) to
leverage Davis’s KC Board vote and Berkeley’s KC Functional
Council vote. The group includes participants in all KC
functional subcommittees and maintains KC Board and
Functional Council representation. A weekly web conference meeting, open to any campus wishing to attend, facilitates
distributing information and obtaining campus feedback for
functional needs, priority setting, and decision making to
influence the direction of KC development. The group makes
extensive use of collaboration tools hosted at UCLA to
document issues and solutions, and is developing a shared
source code repository to be hosted at Davis for UC
customizations to KC as campuses implement the system.

Challenges

RAC’s partnership with the Kuali Foundation requires
contribution of key staff time to work as directed by the KC
Functional Council. As such, resources working on the project
are always operating at capacity. Also, as the KC application is
rolled out, the need for outreach and training will be
significant. Furthermore, the scope of the project is itself a
challenge; when completed, the KC application will support
pre‐award, post‐award, and compliance functions. Efforts todate
have focused on pre‐award and post‐award; compliance
will ultimately require more resources. In particular, the KC
modules supporting Conflict of Interest and Protocol
Management for research involving human or animal subjects
are critical needs and remain on the project roadmap. These
priorities will be constantly competing for resources.

Initial investment

For Fiscal Years 2008–2011, RAC has received $751,000 in
competitive funding from the Berkeley Information Technology
Bank, and it will request an additional $190,000 for Fiscal Year
2012. Berkeley project staff are also tendered at specific levels
(30‐40%) to the Kuali Foundation on an ongoing basis.

Fiscal results, current and anticipated

For the Berkeley campus alone, the KC Proposal Development
module will directly impact 3,000‐4,000 proposals submitted
each year by nearly 1,500 faculty in 175 campus departments
requesting $1‐2 billion in funding. The efficiencies introduced
are expected to free up valuable time so that faculty and
senior professionals can pursue more productive activities,
such as submitting higher‐quality research proposals.

Current action and next steps

In May 2010, Kuali released proposal development, proposal
budget, and award management modules. Future versions will
be released through 2013 and will include Conflict of Interest,
Protocol Management, and other critical modules.

Concluding statement

Each UC campus is unique; however, each campus must work
within the same legal and regulatory compliance framework in
the conduct of research. Working together to achieve research
efficiencies will be key to maintaining UC research leadership.
The UC‐KC partners are developing strategies to help
researchers and research administrators achieve this goal.