Overview for Using Advance WBS Element Request:


The mechanism, Advance WBS Elements (or “Advance Accounts”), was developed to lessen the negative effects of contractual and administrative delays in setting up new sponsored projects.  Advance WBS Elements are successfully in use at some UT campuses and institutes.


UT regularly experiences three to six month delays with certain sponsors.  Many problems occur when signed award documents are not received before the scheduled start date of a sponsored project.  Specifically, the technical work may be delayed until a sponsored project restricted account (WBS element in IRIS) is established and released for posting charges.  This can severely strain our good relations with the sponsor’s technical representatives.  Or, the work might proceed, but the charges are posted “temporarily” to existing sponsored projects or cost centers.  Multitudes of corrective cost transfers are then necessary when the award document is eventually received.  In the meantime, it is possible that these “temporary” charges were incorrectly billed to the sponsor of the project where they were charged.

With UT’s conversion to IRIS for payroll processing, transfers of salary costs can only be made within the preceding rolling calendar year (always 12 to 24 months and adjusts forward on each January 1.)  This time limit makes it critical that sponsored projects are established in a timely manner so that payroll and other charges can post to the correct account initially and not require cost transfers.  Also, many sponsors and auditors are suspicious of cost transfers unless it happens only infrequently to correct mistakes.


UT has developed a form that is located at the Controller’s Office web site that may be used to request an advance WBS element.  The sponsored project WBS Element can be established in IRIS and released for posting before the signed award document is received from the sponsor.  This mechanism is normally used for those projects that the PI and Department Head feel confident will be eventually awarded by the sponsor.  For example, UT may have unofficial correspondence, such as email, from sponsor program officers that confirms the funding.  Or, the UT PI may have been doing this work for this sponsor every year for the last fifteen years.  There is every reason to be confident that year sixteen will be awarded.

The decision to begin incurring charges must be made based on the evaluation of the PI and Department.  If the proposal is not funded by the sponsor, then any charges to an Advance WBS Element must be transferred elsewhere within the department.