There are several external and internal factors that are driving the university to implement new processes to improve support of its research activities.
- Sponsor Mandate. Sponsoring agencies, particularly federal agencies, have begun to mandate the use of electronic systems for submission and management of grants. Examples include the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the American Heart Association who require electronic submission of proposals. Other leading Federal sponsors are requiring, or at minimum encouraging, electronic submissions through their agency websites. The federally-mandated and sponsored Grants.Gov initiative provides an electronic portal for proposal submissions and other electronic correspondence both to and from federal sponsors.
- Accountability and Compliance. Increasing federal regulatory burden and auditor oversight of University systems will require that the University of Colorado be able to demonstrate consistency of practices, adherence to regulatory compliance guidelines and proper stewardship of funds at the institution level.
- Competition for Funds. Many of University of Colorado’s peer research institutions are addressing eRA. These universities have invested heavily in both research infrastructure and electronic research administration. The University of Colorado needs to maintain and enhance its position to compete for research funds, as well as becoming an integral partner in shaping the future of research and research administration.
- Risk Management. There are strategic, financial, operational, compliance and reputational risks in the administration, management and reporting for sponsored research programs. An effective electronic research administration system enables the university to mitigate these business risks and ensure the following positive outcomes:
- Effective management of research funds to maximize research outcomes for which those funds are provided
- Proper stewardship of federal, state and private funds
- Good stewardship of the institution's resources (funds, personnel, etc.)
- Avoidance of adverse publicity
- Clarity, consistency and measurability with respect to managing grants
- Administrative efficiencies
- Effective communication with sponsors
- Reduced Administrative Infrastructure. A goal of the University must be able to increase the time that investigators spend on research and decrease the time spent on the administration of their grants.
- Accessibility of Information. As the volume of research grows, there is an increasing demand for data to assist with decision-making at all levels within the university. At a strategic level, this includes trend analysis, projections, “hit rates,” return on investment and other productivity metrics for charting the course and growth of research at the University of Colorado. At an operational level, basic operational reporting and other detailed analyses are required. Other groups (such as the Board of Regents, state legislatures and foundations) are more frequently requesting this type of information from the University. Providing access to this information is one of the key objectives of eRA at the university.