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Certified Approver Program > Description

Certified Approver Program Description


What is the Certified Approver Program?

The Certified Approver Program is a key component of the University's model for the management of sponsored funds. Under this program, many post-award financial transactions that formerly required approval by grant administrators in the Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) are now handled by Certified Approvers in units across campus. As a result, the program offers departments, colleges, and other academic units greater control, responsibility, and authority for their sponsored financial transactions.

What is a Certified Approver?

A Certified Approver (CA) is someone who, based on their proven understanding of the complexity of sponsored funding regulations and University policies and procedures, has the expertise and authority to review and approve a wide variety of financial transactions on sponsored accounts. Most CAs are Civil Service or Professional and Administrative staff members who in the normal course of their duties handle financial planning, accounting transactions, and record keeping. CAs are an important part of the grants management team and work with faculty, staff, department heads, collegiate deans, and SPA to effectively manage sponsored funds (follow this link for specific information about the roles and responsibilities of CAs.)

How are Certified Approvers selected?

After having passed the two-part Certified Approver Exam, CAs are appointed by the Associate Dean for Research or equivalent of their college, upon the recommendation of the unit head or director.

Do Certified Approvers have a limited term of appointment?

No. CAs maintain their eligibilty status on an ongoing basis provided they meet the continuing education requirement, the organizational need continues to exist, and they demonstrate satisfactory performance.

Who coordinates the Certified Approver Program?

The Office of Oversight, Analysis, and Reporting, in conjunction with the Collegiate Research Associate Deans, coordinates the program.

What resources are available for Certified Approvers?
Collegiate Research Associate Deans
Each college or school has an academic administrator (most often an Associate or Assistant Dean) who is responsible for implementing the Certified Approver Program in the college or school. This person plays a role in the conflict resolution process and participates in the CA's performance review. The Collegiate Research Associate Deans (CRAD) meet regularly to discuss this and other programs related to the University's research mission. They are convened by the Assistant Vice President for Research.

Collegiate Certified Approvers

The collegiate CA has the same authority and responsibility as CAs at the unit level, but is available to review difficult decisions and suggest solutions. The collegiate CA is available to act in the absence of a local CA and provide assistance in any other way. This person also plays a role in the conflict resolution process.

Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA)


Grant administrators assist CAs by providing advice and by interpreting sponsoring agency terms and conditions for complex circumstances. They also assist by interpreting University policies that relate to the management of sponsored projects, and by processing related financial transactions. SPA maintains an online reference manual for those who manage sponsored funds at the University of Minnesota.

Office of Oversight, Analysis, and Reporting (OAR)

612-625-9057 or oar@umn.edu

OAR assists in resolving problems, maintaining currency of knowledge of federal, state, and University policies, and providing advice to colleges and to the Vice President for Research on systems and continuous improvement in the quality of grants management.

University Policy and Process Development Office (PPDO)

612-624-8081 or policy@umn.edu

The PPDO develops and maintains the process used by the University to create, revise and distribute University-wide processes, policies, procedures, instructions and forms.

Training Services

612-624-UOHR or orgeff@umn.edu

Training Services offers a variety of courses pertaining to University policy and procedures. Attendance at these courses is not required for CAs.
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