GAMSU Sensitizes Staff at School of Law on 2020 Policy

On Wednesday, 8th June 2022, the Makerere University Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU) team led by Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo held a meeting with Makerere University School of Law (SoL) staff to sensitize them on the Grants Administration and Management Policy approved by Makerere University Council in 2020. The GAMSU team also highlighted the functions and roles of the Unit as well as the support available to staff in-order to ensure improved research and grants administration for Makerere University. GAMSU is governed by a Steering Committee of 9 members, chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration. The Steering Committee is supported by the Secretariat led by the Head, GAMSU, currently Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo.

The Grants Administration and Management Policy, 2020 outlines the functions of GAMSU as thus: Ensuring that Makerere University is registered with various funding agencies where necessary; Supporting Faculty and other staff of the University in the preparation of grants applications including; eligibility checks for grant opportunities, proofing adherence to applications; Support award winners in the grant negotiations and coordinate with relevant University authorities for project account set up wherever necessary; Following up with Principal Investigators to ensure timely compliance with grant contract conditions and University Policies; Maintaining a database of all grants in the University; Ensuring that all projects comply with the laws and policies of the university; Undertake monitoring, evaluation and quality assurance in the execution of grants at the University; Follow-up with Principal Investigators to ensure timely compliance with grant contract conditions and University policies; Ensuring that concluded projects are appropriately closed out in accordance with University policies and guidelines; and Maintaining a database of all grants in the University.

In his remarks, Prof. Christopher Mbazira, Principal School of Law (Ag.) welcomed the GAMSU team to SoL. “We all are aware that Makerere University’ current strategy is premised on becoming a research-led University, therefore we are excited to host GAMSU today, learn more and look forward to working with you to attract more research funds as well as streamline grants administration”, Prof. Mbazira said. He invited Prof. Bantebya to address the meeting.

Prof. Bantebya thanked participants for making the time to attend the meeting. She explained that the main purpose of GAMSU is to streamline the administration and management of grants and contracts within the various units of the University as well as provide a supportive eco-system for grants mobilization and management. Prof. Bantebya added “Specifically, the objectives of GAMSU include: establishing a framework for grants mobilization and management within the University; creating a platform to track and monitor grants within the University; establishing strategic global partnerships with other institutions with the intent to solicit funds for scholarships, research and infrastructure development; providing guidelines through which projects funded by grants link to existing laws, policies and regulations governing Makerere as a public University; and defining the roles of different University Officials in the mobilization, management, and administration of grants at the University”. Prof. Bantebya reiterated that GAMSU will work to support both Academic and Administrative Staff to develop proposals, she encouraged everyone to get involved adding that this will allow PIs to concentrate on research and proposal development rather than the time consuming administrative processes. She further revealed that trainings will be organized and encouraged everyone to attend when opportunity arises. Prof. Bantebya encouraged members to consider GAMSU as a one-stop centre for all needs to do with grant administration and management.

Ms. Susan Winfred Kyamulabi, Accountant – GAMSU made a presentation on grants financial management, focusing on financial planning, financial control, administration and records management, as well as reporting and auditing. Ms. Kyamulabi also highlighted the warning signs to look out for in grants administration including sudden massive unexplained requests; unusual patterns in deposits and cash in transit; photocopied documents and electronic signatures among others. “Reports on Income and Expenditure, Physical Performance, Accountability, and Audit will be expected to be submitted to GAMSU to streamline documentation” she added.

Mr. Yunusu Musisi, End User Support Administrator briefed staff on the GAMSU Database Management System under development, its benefits and some of its features. Mr. Laban Lwasa, GAMSU – Administrator informed staff that a Capacity Needs Assessment Survey was initiated to establish the needs of staff in the various Colleges and Departments. The survey will guide GAMSU on support activities required for each unit. He encouraged participants to take the survey.

Some of the issues arising in the discussions after presentations were: Monitoring progress and close out reports when Post Award phase underlined as a major weakness; monitoring of project expenditure sometimes for unplanned activities which has resulted into penalties for the University; amount of institutional overheads and sharing at various management levels; the need for regular guidance and sensitization on grant administration; funders that give in kind support in lieu of overheads; projects where staff are fully funded by project funds as opposed to University employees and support required for the groups; the need to harmonise reporting formats; always ensuring aligning all grants and projects to Government of Uganda guidelines under which we operate.