How to Manage Thuthuka Project Changes

How to Manage Thuthuka Project Changes

Introduction

A single Annual Progress Report (APR) must be submitted by the grant holder, in a format provided by the NRF, documenting progress made, research outputs, institutional financial contribution and expenditure of project funding.

However, based on unusual or extenuating circumstances the Thuthuka Programme permits exceptions to reporting requirements or meeting deadlines.  A deviation from the general reporting requirement will only be considered in cases due to illness, injury, bereavement, or personal circumstances which may affect performance and/or render a grant holder unable to report on the outputs for the reporting period. These are considered extenuating circumstances as they are unforeseen and beyond the control of the grant holder.

Grant holders must notify the Grant Management Systems Administration (GMSA) in writing of the intention not to submit an APR or of a late submission for the period under reporting 30 (thirty) days prior to the closing date for the submission of APRs. Such a notification must be submitted via the research office and must contain detailed reasons and justification for ‘Request for Non-Submission of APR’. Notifications received by the GMSA after the closing date for the submission of APRs will not be accepted.

Managing changes during the project life cycle

Changes may occur during the project life cycle. As the recipient of a Thuthuka grant and the custodian of public funds you will require information and resource to enable you to successfully manage your project during its life cycle.  Please note the following on how to manage the award and subsequent changes (planned or unanticipated) as they arise during the project life cycle.

Change Requests

Prior approval requests

All change requests must be preceded by prior NRF-approval made in writing (e-mail is acceptable) to the GMSA at least 30 days before the proposed change. The request must have institutional endorsement and be submitted to the NRF via the Research Office. Failure to obtain required prior approval from your research office may result in processing delays or your paperwork being returned or the request being turned down.

Request for transfer of or additional funding

Requests for additional funding or the transfer of funds on an existing Thuthuka grant has to be submitted in writing via the institution’s Research Office for endorsement and submission to the GMSA. The NRF will only consider such requests based on a detailed budget and relevant information, providing a strong motivation for the request and indicating the impact on the project.  It should be noted that funds in any of the four student support categories may not be transferred to Operating Costs.

Grant holders might find it necessary to apply for additional funding over and above the initial amounts awarded, for various reasons. In this case the NRF requires the following:

  • Inform the NRF in writing via an additional funding request form. The grant holder will require information on the following aspects to complete the template adequately;
  • Report on cost incurred by the project up to the date of the request;
  • Ensure that amounts requested are justified and adequately verified by supporting documentation; and
  • NRF will not be responsible for expenses incurred without prior authorisation.

Changes in grant holder

This change may be triggered by a number of things, from a change of status of a grant holder to a grant holder’s untimely death in which case the grant and/or project needs to be transferred or handed over to someone else. For this type of change to be approved, the institution, must provide evidence that the grant holder(s), nominated to take over the project, is suitably qualified and able to achieve the research aims of the project before the NRF will agree to continue the grant funding.

Requests’ for changes in grant holder or grant transfer has to be approved by the grant holder’s immediate Supervisor and/or Principle Investigator (whichever is applicable), declaration and acceptance by nominee taking over the grant and endorsement by the Head of Department approving these proposed changes. The NRF will only consider request for changes submitted via the Research Office. Grant holders should notify, the GMSA in writing of the proposed changes as soon as possible. Note the following:

  • Wrap up any outstanding financial issues related to the termination in accordance with the NRF conditions of grant; and
  • Find a suitable replacement to continue with the work and recommend the appointment of the replacement to the NRF for ratification.

Changes in project scope

Changes may occur where a project scope needs to be modified from the original research proposal/project design.  Project changes must be approved by the immediate supervisor and requires endorsement by the Head of Department wherein it reassures the NRF these changes has minimal and/or no adverse impact on the project’s ability to meet its original objectives and students.

The request must have institutional Designated Authority (DA) endorsement and be submitted to the NRF via the Research Office. Grant holders should notify, the GMSA in writing of the proposed changes as soon as possible. For designated GMSA persons refer to the Grant Administration contact from the Thuthuka pocket guide.   

Premature project closure

The NRF should be notified timely of the intention to close the project mid-term through the submission of all required reports and adjustments to amounts due by the grant holder or the NRF. This entails winding down a project’s activities as efficiently and effectively as possible in order to minimize any adverse impact on the students, collaborators and team members involved. This process usually also allows for the capturing of benefits and lessons learnt. The purpose is to ensure that all deliverables as set out in the project proposal have been met and to plan for any post-project activities, if any, in cases of succession.

 

Project termination could become a possibility where a project becomes defunct or when the grant holder approaches the NRF with a request for termination. The NRF can declare a project defunct when through monitoring and evaluation, it establishes that project objectives are not being met or stands a reasonable chance of not being realised.  In this case the NRF requires the following:

  • The grant holder must wrap up any outstanding financial issues related to the termination in accordance with the NRF conditions of grant.

 Premature termination of grant

If a grant holder is unable to complete a research project for which the NRF has awarded a grant, it is the responsibility of the grant holder, through the institution’s DA, to notify the NRF’s GMSA staff of the intention to prematurely terminate the project. Premature termination of a research project may occur for a number of reasons. Taking into account the circumstances and reasons for termination, the grant holder, in consultation with the NRF, will decide on the best course of action and possible outcomes, including, but not limited to, the final termination of the project and the recall of funds expensed. Irrespective of the decision taken, the grant holder is required to submit a Project Closure Report to the NRF. The grant holder must ensure that each student involved in or directly linked to the project completes a progress report on their research project, which is endorsed by the grant holder and the institution’s DA. These progress reports will be used in considering any further applications for NRF funding to complete the work, according to the criteria applicable to the programme to which any such application is submitted.

Exclusions:

 Applicants in the PhD Track working on their doctoral dissertation may not transfer the Thuthuka grant to another grant holder.

Note that some change requests may be referred for additional review before a final decision is taken.