There is a need to streamline the management of grants and projects at the College level and ensure that the Principal Investigators and project heads have support teams that handle the day-to-day administration of projects clearly spelled out. This and more issues were raised during the sensitization workshop organized by the Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU) in the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) held at the School of Distance and Lifelong Studies Conference room on Tuesday 14th June 2022.
During the deliberations, participants emphasized the need for a well-designed user-friendly information system that would facilitate easy input of project reports and data as mandated by the GAMSU Policy that was passed in December 2020.
It was also noted that there is a need to streamline the administration fees of the various grants and it was proposed that these funds be used in facilitating the processes aimed at accessing more grants by the Principal Investigators. The policy on spending overheads too needed to be reviewed to help teams write more projects.
The Deputy Principal of the College of Education and External Studies, Prof. Ronald Bisaso who received the GAMSU team on behalf of the Principal, Prof. Anthony Mugagga, said he was happy with the excercise, noting that the sensitization will go along way in equipping staff with research and project management skills. He added that there were a number of ongoing programs and expressed the commitment of the leadership at the college to ensuring that the messages got cascaded to the rest of the staff in the college that were not in attendance.
Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, the head GAMSU noted that a number of university staff were silently writing proposals and implementing programs without the knowledge of the University. She said the policy was put in place to facilitate collective writing of proposals and increase the number of researchers that were accessing grants and funds.
She said the GAMSU secretariat was instituted as a support unit but will not interfere with the management of the various programs which she said will continue running following the given university frameworks. ‘All staff in the University should be able to declare projects’, she emphasized while explaining that grant funds were also public funds that needed to be declared.
Prof. Kyomuhendo said the objective of the unit which has representatives from all sectors was to streamline the administration and management of grants in the University and that the unit had embarked on mapping out funding agencies as one of the ways to support those seeking grants. She said GAMSU was to offer support at various stages pre-award, during the award, and post-award and would help share the available grant opportunities across the university.
She said the trend now was the need to work in teams or consortiums involving different people handling varied aspects of the same project. She also urged the college to institute grant units that would serve as focal points for grant management at that level. She encouraged the participants to open up to GAMSU in order to help the University realize its objective of being Research led.
The staff at CEES were also oriented into a number of operations at GAMSU that included the Grants Administration and management Data Base that was presented by Mr. Yunus Musisi. He said that the database would be used to track and monitor grants in the University and therefore would be handy in ensuring compliance with the implementation schedules from start to end.
Mr. George Turyamureeba who made a presentation on financial management informed the participants of the laws and regulations concerning public finance management. He said there were statutory requirements that included submission of quarterly reports that had to be adhered to in the course of program implementation. He also emphasized the concern on ethics as well as accountability not only for the finances but also for all other resources in program implementation.
The CEES representative at GAMSU Dr. Godfrey Mayende, while giving closing remarks noted the need to cascade the sensitization to all levels of staff in the College. He proposed that GAMSU considers involving students for purposes of enabling them to appreciate the grants process in time. He noted that a number of Principal Investigators lacked financial management skills despite being key in the grant processes and urged GAMSU to consider empowering them through training.