Date:15 July, 2005
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Office of the Vice Provost
and Dean of Research and Graduate Policy
15 July 2005
To: Stanford Faculty and Research Administration Staff
From: Arthur Bienenstock
Vice Provost and Dean, Research and Graduate Policy

I am sorry to report that Stanford University continues to have difficulties with the certification of sponsored project expenses. If uncorrected, this could lead to significant difficulties for the university and for individual faculty members, including the disallowance of uncertified expenditures.

This year, our annual review of compliance with federal, state and institutional requirements (the A-133 audit) resulted in a "reportable condition" related to uncertified expenditures. This is basically one level below that at which the government could cut off all federal support.

In our current condition, we have been advised that individual sponsors may choose to disallow payment of uncertified expenses on their projects. In order to protect these funds, we are immediately beginning a closer monitoring of certifications. Any Principal Investigator who fails to certify expenditures may find that spending on those project accounts will be frozen until the problem can be corrected.

As a reminder, all Principal Investigators are required to certify project expenses at the end of each quarter on a timely basis. Your signature assures that, to the best of your knowledge, all expenses charged to the account for that quarter were appropriate, and, where required, corrections have been or will be made in the university's accounting system. The deadline for PI certifications is 60 days after the close of each quarter, and it is my expectation that 100% of sponsored accounts will be certified.

Vacations or sabbaticals are not valid reasons for delaying certification. Your signature may not be delegated, but in the case where a PI feels he or she cannot satisfy this requirement due to unusual personal circumstances, he or she should contact Ann George ( or 3-9721) in my office.

I would like to comment on the difficulties we experienced last year when the university's new financial systems were introduced. After a lot of hard work, the initial data problems have been corrected. If you are still experiencing difficulties with the accuracy of your reports, please contact Ken Schulz ( or 5-1733). In the meantime, I would remind you that your certification includes recognition of the fact that errors may need to be corrected after certification. You should feel free to note anything requiring correction directly on the expenditure statement, and sign the certification statement. Your administrator should then initiate any necessary corrections.

We are also seeking to improve the manner in which data are presented on the expenditure statement. If you have relevant suggestions or concerns, please contact Anne Hannigan ( or 3-1176).

Additional information about expenditure certification can be found as part of the part of the Financial Reports web page located at the following url: (or just type "expenditure" in your Stanford web browser).

I welcome any questions or comments about this important issue.

Arthur Bienenstock
Vice Provost,
Research and Graduate Policy