Update on Research Administration

April 9, 2010

UCLA Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

To:  Faculty, Deans, Vice Chancellors, Vice Provosts, Chief Administrative Officers, ORA staff

Dear Colleagues:

One year ago, I released results of a comprehensive assessment of the research administrative infrastructure at UCLA conducted by the Huron Consulting Group (see www.evc.ucla.edu for a summary of the findings).  Since that time, the Office of Research Administration (ORA) has implemented a variety of initiatives that are already producing substantial improvements in financial performance, service to faculty, and mitigation of compliance risk.

The implementation project, now known as the Research Administration Process Improvement and Deployment (RAPID) project, has created a variety of work groups that enable broad participation of central and campus administrators, fund managers, systems analysts and compliance staff.  Chancellor Block, Vice Chancellor Peccei, and I are deeply appreciative of their outstanding work.  We especially commend Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Marcia Smith, who has served as project director for the implementation initiatives in addition to her ongoing responsibilities.  Virtually every department in the Office of Research Administration has undergone significant change in the last year in response to the Huron assessment, with benefits for researchers across the campus.

We are pleased and encouraged by the RAPID accomplishments to date, which include the following:

  • The Recovery Act workgroup successfully implemented tools and procedures to address the unprecedented reporting requirements associated with Recovery Act awards while minimizing the reporting burden for PIs.
  • The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) granted full accreditation to UCLA’s Human Research Protection Program.
  • RAPID Faculty Advisory Committee provided specifications that are being used to develop a PI Fund Management Tool for research faculty at UCLA.
  • RAPID financial reporting work group is streamlining reporting processes to save time and increase the on-time submission of required reports.
  • A new proposal logging system tracks proposals upon receipt in the Office of Contract and Grant Administration to enable greater efficiency and accountability.
  • The reorganization of compliance offices has improved management and performance for both human research protection and animal research oversight.
  • “Letter of Credit” (LOC) process re-engineering is increasing the timeliness of cash reimbursements to the University while reducing staff effort.
  • Other RAPID teams are working to improve performance in award setup, effort reporting, invoicing, and cost transfer processing and controls.
  • Comprehensive reports on transaction metrics have been developed to enable tracking and assessment of performance.

In the past year, our research program has continued to grow and we are on track to exceed last year’s $968 million in awards.  The growth in UCLA’s research program, along with increasing administrative requirements related to federal regulations and compliance reporting, has placed tremendous pressure on our research administration infrastructure.  Please join me in expressing our pride and appreciation to the staff who are working diligently and successfully to support our principal investigators and researchers.

I encourage you to share this memo with staff in your unit whose responsibilities include supporting the research enterprise.


Scott L. Waugh
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost