Director, Grant Administration

Job Summary

Reporting to the Vice-President, Resources, and Chief Financial Officer (VPR & CFO), the Director, Grant Administration leads and manages the development and implementation of effective grant administration framework that ensures the stewardship of IDRC resources and provides a service that brings together three inter-related determinants: the project management modality; the legal relationship; and the financial framework.

The Director is responsible for synthetizing information from a broad range of sources, and effectively utilizing the transformed information in the execution and fine-tuning of the grant administration framework; administering annual program expenses of about $150 million; establishing sound project administration policies, procedures and systems and ensuring their effective and efficient deployment; managing and leading a small team of professionals and a large team of support staff distributed in all IDRC offices; planning and prioritizing work activities and assignments to meet divisional goals and Branch objectives related to grant administration; and, establishing excellent communication with external clients and with other divisions and regional offices of IDRC.

Primary Duties or Responsibilities

Advising on Project Management and Other Issues

Leads the development of project administration policies in the Centre — they cover the entire project life cycle, from inception to final closure after implementation, and are approved by the Vice-President, Resources.

At the onset (while program implementation plans are being prepared), defines with the Program Leaders, Associate Directors and Directors of Program Areas the most cost-effective ways of delivering their programs. This may involve the development of administrative procedures (including but not limited to the accountability regime) appropriate to the nature of the work.

Plays a substantive role in the elaboration of major projects and programs to ensure their viability from a grant or project administration point of view.

Maintains a strategic overview of IDRC’s project activities with a view of monitoring impacts on the current design and delivery of project modality, legal agreements and the financial control framework.

Works in collaboration with the Finance and Administration Division and Program and Partnership Branch (PPB) management in setting program expenditure, commitment and allocation targets; monitors progress towards the targets and suggests measures to deal with the variances.

Supports the Manager, External Funds in advising program staff on the project management aspects of their administrative negotiations with prospective co-funders.

Interprets and implements Centre project administration policies; approves exceptions in own area or recommends when exceptions to such policies should be made.

In concert with Programs and Partnership Branch management, identifies on-going training needs and opportunities for program staff with respect to their accountability in the financial and administrative aspects of project management; assists in the delivery orientation training and of on-going training to program staff; evaluates the impact of the training and makes adjustments as necessary.

Is a full member of Resources Branch Management team and participates on Centre standing committees such as the Resources IMT Application Council, Programs IMT Application Council and from time to time on ad-hoc committees.

Management of the Grant Administration Function across IDRC

Establishes, communicates and implements sound policies, procedures, tools and systems for the effective and efficient delivery of programs while respecting the program and financial control framework of the Centre.

Works with General Counsel and all regional directors to put in place a process to monitor, directly and with the assistance of grant administration managers, and to regularly review country agreements and the procedures that govern IDRC’s granting operations to institutions in those countries.

Ensures the effective and efficient deployment of Grant Administration resources (human, systems and controls) to support the Centre’s program delivery in all IDRC offices. Work with managers to ensure that all grant administration employees treat all Centre recipients equally and in a consistent manner regardless of the administrative unit for the project, and that the integrity of project data is maintained throughout the Centre.

Ensures the existence of a grant information system to assist program management in the pre-approval review of project grants; the planning and recording of projects in pipeline; the recording of allocations and project budget commitments.

Coordinates the work of all Grant Administration Managers who implement the Institutional Risk Assessment process at the Centre, which includes, but not limited to, the development, implementation and provision of an effective and efficient risk assessment methodology, risk assessment tools and a financial control framework.

Ensures the maintenance of an appropriate service level and communication with internal and external clients in matters related to grant administration and directs grant administration employees to ensure that quality support is provided in accordance with recognized standards.

Maintains a good working relationship and excellent communication with the principal recipients of the Centre, particularly those located in Canada. Sees that the Grant Administration Managers do likewise with the principal recipients based outside of Canada.

Provides advice and allocates resources required for the proper management of Programs as well as projects which fall outside the initiatives, such as corporate projects, program complements, etc.

Provides business process and information system training to all grant administration employees, in regional offices as in Ottawa.

Coordinates the application of Centre procedures across all offices to ensure consistency and uniformity.

Establishes performance indicators for Centre-wide grant administration functions.

Monitors and reports grant administration performance to his or her VP on a quarterly and annual basis against the pre-established indicators and ensures centre-wide dissemination of these reports.

Internal Controls

Liaises with corporate functional leaders such as General Counsel and the Director, Finance and Administration to ensure the integrity and soundness of internal controls pertaining to all project-related transactions in the Centre.

At the transaction level, directs the processes related to:

• the signature of all contractual documents related to program disbursements, such as grant agreements, award grant agreements, travel grant notification letters, consulting contracts, etc.

• the administrative clearance for payments made on all projects.

At the corporate level, directs the preparation of and manages an effective periodic review of research project allocations and expenses and:

• works closely with the Finance and Administration Division and PPB management, to set realistic targets for annual and monthly program expenditures, allocations, commitments, lapsing, periodical project cash flow requirements, etc.

• on behalf of VPPP and VPR, prepares messages to communicate targets to program and grant administration employees across Centre.

• monitors progress against the targets and presents the results to the PPB management team as well as to the VPR and Director, Finance and Administration on a monthly basis at meetings or by email.

• proactively follows up with the relevant Program and Grant Administration employees across Centre on planned allocations, commitments and payments.

• provides PPB and RB management with options to manage variances in order to achieve program expense commitment and allocation targets.

Works with the Risk Management and Internal Audit Division on reviews and implementation of recommendations relevant to grant administration processes.
 

Divisional Management

Manages, motivates and leads a team of grant administration employees at all IDRC locations in a manner that is consistent with the mission and values of IDRC and also provides guidance, support and supervision in an environment characterized by mutual respect and clear and open communication.

Reviews, on a periodical basis, the distribution of project responsibilities amongst Grant Administration to ensure a healthily balance of work and personal life, uniform, consistent and efficient support to the program staff and optimization of IDRC resources; reassigns program officer projects between grant administrators as needed and flags with the VPR issues in regional office portfolio sizes.

Sees that job descriptions remain current, reflecting business processes, proper segregation of duties and proper attribution of responsibilities with respect to decision-making (usually with the program officers) and financial disbursement processes (usually with the Finance and Administration Division). Manages the recruitment of grant administration personnel in all offices in concert with Human Resources Division (HRD) and, as needed, with the managers of local operations.

With appropriate guidance from the Human Resources Division, manages the performance of grant administration personnel and participates in the Centre wide annual Performance Review and Assessment process.

Responsible for identifying Grant Administration staff training needs and conceptualizing and guiding the development of such training.

Prepares and submits to the Finance and Administration Division the operational budget of the division and monitors and analyses all day-to-day operational and administrative activities of the division.

Information Management

Serves as the business owner of the central database system of all Centre grants; ensures the existence of an effective and efficient information management unit within his division. Being business owner implies providing data control and end-user training on the system.

Identifies the mission-critical information needs of the various employee groups of the Centre and ensures they are reasonably fulfilled.

Responds to ad-hoc queries for project information from senior management, the President’s Office or external sources.

Ensures that projects are properly coded and indexed for Centre reporting.

Actively participates in system change control decision-making.

Ensures that project administration transactions are properly recorded and filed in Centre systems or physical files, as may be relevant (the organization of the record systems falls under the responsibility of another division).
 

Job Scope

The responsibilities of this position are Centre-wide in scope. The Director’s is directly responsible for an annual operating budget of the division of approximately $4 million.

The Director is responsible for the financial and administrative management of a project portfolio of approximately $210 million in outstanding commitments; more than $150 million in annual program expenses and more than $ 750 million value of active projects, through the institution of adequate policies and procedures.

As a key person in the Centre, the Director is often invited to participate in Centre-wide task forces set-up by the President or by various divisions.  The Director’s range of contributions is as wide as his/her expertise: business law, employee supervision, project management, financial analysis, corporate policies, etc.

The Director and his staff oversees adherence to the established policies and procedures with a view of identifying issues which s/he needs to address or which need to be raised with the appropriate management level.

The Director may act on behalf of the VPR & CFO in his absence.