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Research Accounting Specialist II

Company: Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Location: San Diego
Posted on: July 9, 2024

Job Description:

DescriptionJob Summary
Position is responsible for the financial, post-award management of a portfolio of Salk Faculty sponsored research projects, which include government grants, private agency/foundation grants, gifts, and internally funded projects. The role involves interpreting guidelines to ensure compliance with sponsor terms, Institute policies, and federal regulations related to financial management. This position operates in a fast-paced, complex environment. Additionally, the RACT Specialist II may be assigned other post-award responsibilities by management.
Who We Are
The Salk Institute is an internationally renowned research institution that values . We seek bold and interactive leaders passionate about exploring new frontiers in science. Our collaborative community embraces diverse perspectives and unique life experiences, fostering innovation, and a sense of belonging. Together, we strive to improve the wellbeing of humanity through groundbreaking research.
Founded by Jonas Salk, developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine, the Institute is an independent, nonprofit research organization and architectural landmark: small by choice, intimate by nature, and fearless in the face of any challenge. Salk's vibrant community comprises a diverse and talented group of individuals, each playing a crucial role in driving our mission forward. From to dedicated and brilliant , the Institute is united by a shared passion for scientific exploration and innovation.
What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be
Fund Management, Compliance and Analysis

  • Reviews all individual award documents for applicable sponsors' terms and conditions, regulations, and restrictions. Maintains current knowledge of sponsors' requirements serving as a source of information on fiscal policies and procedures. As situations arise, research funding agencies' policies, applying a working knowledge to interpret policies and communicate information to PI's and/or designees. Advise PIs/designees on options or alternatives and effectively recommend courses of action on fiscal matters in order to serve scientific needs while also complying with Institute and sponsor policies.
  • Independently analyzes current and historical funding/spending trends in order to identify budget deficiencies or surpluses by lab and grant by grant as well as budget categories within individual grants. Customizes projections to PI's and administration when needed. Communicates issues to Management and PIs/designees via in-person meetings, phone calls or written emails.
  • Manages financial and administrative aspects of accounting and grants to ensure compliance with internal and external requirements, and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Monitors expenditures throughout the budget period and life of a grant/gift to ensure compliance with funding source and Institute policies.
  • Reviews grant cash receipt allocation as received and monitors grant accounts receivables on a quarterly basis. Makes inquires to funding agencies on delinquent payments as applicable and notifies the Assistant or Senior Director, Research Accounting of situations as appropriate.
  • Reviews and approves source expenditure documents including purchase orders between $2,500 - $5,000, payment check requests, travel expense requests, invoices, and monthly recharge center charges. This includes ensuring animal expenditures are appropriate by grant per approved protocol.
  • Maintains audit support and backup expenditure documentation for electronic grant files and journal entries in compliance with institute and sponsor policies.
  • Exercises discretion about significant matters related to fund management and financial status of the lab when determining action plan when meeting with PI's and/or administration.
  • Conducts a summary review of monthly laboratory financial reports for personnel distribution/adjustments, budget line item restrictions, equipment budget adjustments, correct budget period allocation of expenses, open commitments, and Facilities & Administrative (indirect costs) expense allocation. Takes necessary action as needed for compliance with institute and sponsor policies.
  • Communicates with the PI or designee on all lab personnel related changes. Personnel Action Requests (PAR's) are reviewed for compliance when funding changes occur. HR entry is analyzed to ensure proper setup for the different grant or fellowship funds. Visa status, work rules, and funding type need to be understood to review data. Retroactive entries and other distribution changes are also reviewed with the lab and entered by RACT. Knowledge of effort versus distribution is important in order to adhere with government rules and regulations.

    Accounting and Labor Distribution

    • Prepares, processes, and/or reviews budget entries per awards and prepare and processes journal entries in the financial accounting system using a solid working knowledge of accounting.
    • Review and track outgoing consortium agreements. Consortium invoices received from subrecipient institutions pertaining to federal awards are scrutinized for compliance per the OMB Uniform Guidance regulations. Various levels of review are performed based on level of risk assessment. Non-federal consortium agreement invoices are reviewed for compliance with funding sources.
    • Manages the labor and effort distribution of personnel in H/R, Payroll system for all lab employees. Understanding the complexity of various visa's, fellowship and grant status, effort reporting, as well as fund number changes is critical when updating the system. Details such as fund number and account code are required for a successful labor month end process. Errors result in the delay of the monthly close for payroll as well as other ramifications. Staying on top of the diversity of lab personnel due to the various types of funding requirements, must be maintained appropriately in the HR system.
    • Effort allocation is regulated by the federal government and information must be current and correct in the HR system. Effort input into the system is reported, certified by the faculty, utilized by Grants Administration for reporting and proposal submission and reviewed during the annual audit.
    • Obtains and analyzes information using applicable systems including those focusing on financial accounting, accounts payable, payroll, human resources, procurement, and ARD protocols; identifies problems and troubleshoots as needed.
    • Apply and interpret accounting principles when performing department month-end close and/or reconciliation of payment management system of federal awards.


      • Upon receipt of grant awards and gift agreements from a multitude of varied funding sources, responsible for independently scheduling, preparation and submission of external financial reports by varied, mandatory deadlines. Reporting requirements, formats and level of detail required are very diverse per individual funding source.
      • Prepares internal report of expenditure spreadsheets on each 12-month budget period of each federally sponsored grant within 90 days of end date reconciling budget awarded, direct costs and indirect costs expended, and funds received. This process includes closeout actions on funds.
      • Prepares funding and expenditures analysis for budget forecasting and identifying historic trends as needed by senior management and/or principal investigators to enable Principal Investigators (PIs) and members of management to monitor the financial performance of research funding.
      • Creates without assistance, specialized reports for administration and/or PI's dependent upon individual requests or financial questions that require deeper analysis.

        Communication and counsel to scientists regarding research funding

        • Serves as primary contact for PIs or designees regarding post-award research funding including financial management, compliance, institute policies and procedures which often requires applying comprehensive knowledge and independent judgment when policies and guidelines are not clear or specifically stated.
        • Responds promptly to questions and requests for information. Investigates problems and issues that arise regarding grant data including questions from PIs or their designees, members of administrative management, and personnel from other departments (Human Resources, Grants Administration, Payroll, etc.).
        • Provides counsel to PIs or their designees on grant fund management and budget planning. Arranges and meets face to face with PIs or designees twice each year or as needed.
        • Facilitates processes both within Research Accounting and within other administrative departments as needed in relationship to grant fund management and compliance. This may include communicating with personnel of all levels within the Institute both within labs and administrative departments.
        • Develops and maintains positive relationships with outside funding agencies as needed regarding policies, reporting requirements and payments. Provides competent and timely feedback as requested.

          Project work & Other duties as assigned

          • Provides project support as needed to the Sr. Director of Research Accounting, Assistant Director/Manager, and the CFO in the area of post-award administration of research grants/gift.

            Performs additional tasks which may include

            • Assist with training of new RACT staff on systems and post award administration in areas of compliance and post award administration.
            • Independently identifies areas of process improvement and assists in creating and implementing solutions. Evaluates processes and procedures in order to enhance efficiencies and continued compliance.
            • Other post award related projects

              What we Require

              • Bachelor's degree or equivalent
              • Preferred: Bachelor's degree Finance, Accounting, or business related field
              • Minimum of 3 years of accounting/finance experience to include a minimum of 2 years of post award administration or related experience.
              • Experience using accounting and financial reporting systems.
              • Knowledge of OMB Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200) and the NIH policy statement.
              • Excellent organizational, analytical, and time management skills.
              • Ability to multi-task and work within inflexible deadlines.
              • Strong attention to detail.
              • Excellent customer service and verbal and written communication skills appropriate for interactions with a broad array of individuals. Interpersonal skills must include tact, good judgment, diplomacy, and flexibility to relate to diverse scientific research staff, faculty, executive management, administrative staff, and external contacts.
              • Knowledge of accounting, accounting cycles, and commonly accepted accounting terminology and principles including reading and understanding financial statements, reading and using the general ledger to identify expenses and liabilities, journal entries, etc. Ability to accurately monitor expenditures and maintain data, documenting exceptions as needed.
              • Strong verbal and written communication skills
              • Ability to maintain confidentiality
              • Thorough knowledge of current NIH, OMB, DHHS, and other research-related policies and procedures, guidelines, and standards.
              • Strong computer skills with an emphasis on proficiency in Microsoft Excel.
              • Experience using accounting and financial reporting systems. Ability to design, analyze, and prepare financial reports.
              • Ability to learn and maintain knowledge of applicable systems including those focusing on financial accounting, accounts payable, payroll, human resources, purchasing (SalkShop), and ARD protocols for data extracting and troubleshooting.

                What We Can Offer
                The expected pay range for this position is $72,750 to $85,000 per annum. Salk Institute provides pay ranges representing its good faith estimate of what the institute reasonably expects to pay for a position. The pay offered to a selected candidate will be determined based on factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the qualifications of the selected candidate, department budget availability, internal equity, geographic location, and external market pay for comparable jobs.
                Salk Institute offers competitive, including medical, dental, vision, retirement, paid time off, tuition reimbursement, patient advocacy services, and transit/parking program.
                Salk Values
                The Salk Community, both scientists and administrators, worked together to define values that we believe support Salk's pursuit of excellence. To be truly the best scientific institution requires not only incredible discoveries, but a common understanding of how we should work together to enable those discoveries.
                The acronym provides a simple way to remember each of the values and reminds each of us of the importance of what we do each day.
                Equal Employment Opportunity Statement
                The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to providing equal access to opportunities for students, employees, applicants for employment and other visitors. Salk has also adopted and maintains a policy to encourage professional and respectful workplace behavior and prevent discriminatory and harassing conduct in our workplace.
                Accordingly, the Institute prohibits harassment and discrimination in employment on the basis of, and considers all qualified applicants for employment without regard to, actual or perceived race, color, religion, religious creed (including religious dress and grooming practices), national origin, ancestry, citizenship, physical or mental disability, medical condition (including cancer and genetic characteristics), genetic information, marital status, age, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, veteran and/or military status (disabled veteran, veteran of the Vietnam era, other covered veteran status), political affiliation, and any other status protected by state or federal law.

Keywords: Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego , Research Accounting Specialist II, Accounting, Auditing , San Diego, California

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