Improving Research Administration - News

October 15, 2018
Teal Sexton named Regional Director of the Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities region.

Teal Sexton has been named the Regional Director supporting the Social Sciences / Arts & Humanities region.

Teal brings an accomplished academia portfolio of professional experience to this new role as Regional Director. She began her career in Administration at Humboldt State University in 2009 and steadily assumed greater responsibility in finance positions. Teal began her career at UC Berkeley in 2014 as an Analyst in Financial Planning and Analysis, serving most recently as  Interim Director of that department.

Teal’s vision is to strike a balance between what technologies can facilitate and what people need to do in order to provide effective and efficient service. Teal drove the design and implementation of Cal Answers and PI Portfolio, two systems that Berkeley faculty and staff use extensively to manage their human and financial resources;  her systems expertise will enable continuous improvement of CSS service delivery.

Teal holds an MBA from Humboldt State University and a Masters in Information Technology from Cal State Fullerton. She begins her new role as Regional Director on November 13, 2018.


August 23, 2018
Max Auffhammer named Regional Associate Dean of the Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities region

Professor Maximilian Auffhammer has accepted an appointment as the Regional Associate Dean for the CSS Regional Service Center serving the Divisions of Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Undergraduate Studies, and affiliated Organized Research Units. Professor Auffhammer is the George Pardee Jr. Professor of International Sustainable Development and a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the International and Area Studies Program. 

Professor Auffhammer has an outstanding record of service to the University, including serving as Director of the International and Area Studies Teaching Programs, and most recently as Associate Dean in the Division of Social Sciences.  His outstanding administrative service experience and commitment to the University make him ideally suited to for this new role.

The Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities Region is one of six integrated service centers, or "regions", being established to improve the delivery of services including research administration, human resources, travel reimbursement, and other administrative functions. Dr. Auffhammer is working with campus and unit leadership to develop staffing and service delivery plans, and a search for a Regional Director to lead the administrative staff in this region is underway. 


June 20, 2018
Adam Berke named Regional Director of Biological Sciences region

Adam Berke,  a manager  of research administration in Campus Shared Services for the past five years, has been named the new Regional Director of the Biological Sciences Region, serving the College of Natural Resources, the Biological Science Division, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, along with other related research units, museums, and field stations.This regional service delivery model has been designed to build a better sense of community across academic and administrative units supporting Berkeley’s academic enterprise.

Adam experience includes managing a team of 67 contract and grants administrators that manage pre and post-award, as well as the audit compliance of 1,066 sponsored awards, totaling over $1.1 billion. In that role, Adam's team administered the research funding for 810 principal investigators stretching over 75 unique organized academic research units and several professional schools. Adam is a graduate of UC Berkeley, earning a B.S. in Environmental Economics and Policy, and is currently working on a Master of Business Administration at Gies College of Business, University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana. 

Adam joins Professor Rebecca Heald, recently named Regional Associate Dean of the Biological Sciences Region.  Over the coming months, Adam and Dr. Heald will oversee the transition to operations for the Biological Sciences region and space will be identified on campus to locate service teams closer to academic clients. 


May 31, 2018
Rebecca Heald named Executive Associate Dean for Biological Sciences region

Professor Rebecca Heald has accepted appointment as the Executive Associate Dean for Research for the Regional Service Center serving the College of Natural Resources, the Biological Science Division, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, along with other related research units. Dr. Heald is the Flora Lamson Hewlett Chair and a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology; and is an internationally recognized cell biologist with a strong record of service, including, most recently a five-year term as Division Head of the Cell and Developmental Biology Division in MCB.

The regional service center is one of six such centers organizing at Berkeley to provide administrative support services to clusters of academic and administrative units. Services will include research administration, human resources, travel reimbursement, and others administrative support. Dr. Heald is working with campus and unit leadership to develop staffing and service delivery plans for the region.

November 6, 2017
Award Processing Time Dashboard now available on CalAnswers

Cal Answers now features a new dashboard that allows faculty and principal investigators to view award set-up processing times. The Award Processing Time dashboard can be found under Financial Dashboards on the Cal Answers home page.

Award processing time is the number of days it takes from when the Sponsor Notice of Award is first received in the Sponsored Projects Office, to when the award is set-up and ready for spending in the Berkeley Financial System (BFS) and the project can begin. Using the new dashboards, PIs can now find real-time data on typical award-set up times to better anticipate when research will be able to begin.

The charts in the Award Processing Time Dashboard display both mean and median processing time; the mean may be impacted based on a few number of complicated awards that were held up. The linear median shows the overall trend in award-processing time for the range of periods displayed. Data tables are displayed below the charts to show the exact mean and median values and the number of awards that were processed each period.

October 3, 2017
Samantha Yee hired as Regional Director of first pilot region

Samantha Yee has accepted an offer to be the first Regional Director of the new administrative region supporting the College of Chemistry and the Division of Mathematical & Physical Sciences.

Samantha is bringing an accomplished portfolio of professional experience from more than 15 years in research administration at UC San Francisco. As Senior Associate Director in the Office of Sponsored Research at UCSF, Samantha currently directs operations, policy, training, and outreach, for an office with more than 145 staff and an annual volume of 6,000 proposal submissions and 3,200 awards.

Samantha’s research administration career at UCSF has included managing both pre- and post-award efforts as a Contracts & Grants Specialist, Research Administration Manager, and Pre-Award RMS Team Manager. Samantha is a graduate of UC Berkeley, earning her B.A. in 2002, and is currently working on a Master of Public Administration specializing in Public Finance at San Francisco State University. She will begin her new role at Berkeley in the beginning of November.

Samantha will serve as Regional Director for the College of Chemistry and the Division of Mathematical & Physical Sciences in a new structure integrating administrative support for faculty and other principal investigators at Berkeley. This regional approach has been designed to build a better sense of community across academic and administrative units supporting Berkeley’s research enterprise and for this community spirit to be a foundation for improved service.

May 30, 2017
Results from First Annual Research Administration Satisfaction Survey

As part of the effort to continuously improve research administration, UC Berkeley administered a first annual survey of faculty and principal investigators' satisfaction with research administration support services. Data and observations from the survey will be used to inform the RA Improvement Initiative efforts and the design of the regional service pilot. Going forward, the survey will be administered annually to measure the effectiveness and progress of the improvement efforts. The next annual survey is scheduled for spring semester, 2018.

The survey was administered from February 8 through 22, 2017 and sent to 2,051 faculty and professional researchers who currently participate in internally-funded or sponsored research. A total of 408 completed responses were received. A high-level summary of responses indicates that progress can be made in several areas: 57.6% of respondents reported being "Dissatisfied" or "Somewhat Dissatisfied" with end-to-end support services and processes; 7.8% of respondents reported being "Neutral" (neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied); while 34.6% of respondents reported being "Satisfied" or "Somewhat Satisfied." When looking at support teams, nearly twice as many respondents working with ERSO responded being "Satisfied" or "Somewhat Satisfied" as compared to PIs working with other support teams.

Respondents were also asked three optional free-form questions:

  1. What specific ideas do you have to improve research administration at UC Berkeley?
  2. What works well in the research administration at UC Berkeley?
  3. Any additional comments?

More than 700 qualitative responses were received to these questions.

When asked to rate satisfaction with individual service qualities or attributes, "timeliness" and "accuracy" polled above average, while respondents named, "communications" and "taking initiative" as the service qualities with which they were least satisfied. While improving communication is evident, the RA Improvement Initiative team is reaching out to faculty to better understand what success would look like in improving "taking initiative." Results of these efforts will be shared with the team designing the regional service pilot.

The quantitative and qualitative responses are summarized in a one-page Key Findings report, and a 50-page Detailed Summary Report. These results have been shared with leadership of the research administration functional offices (Campus Shared Services, Sponsored Projects Office, Industrial Alliances Office, Contracts & Grants Accounting) as well as leadership and working teams of the RA Improvement Initiative.

The RA Improvement Initiative team welcomes your comments or ideas about the RA Satisfaction Survey.

May 9, 2017
Award Set-up Improvements

The RA Award Set-up Working Group has announced the first of more than 21 planned enhancements to the award set-up process, including improved communications to keep PIs informed about the status of their award set-up, better transparency to the progress of award set-ups, and process improvements giving PIs the option of starting work while the award set-up is still in progress.

Communications improvements include a new automated email from Contracts & Grants Accounting (CGA) sent to PIs and RAs when an Award Set-up is complete signifying funds are available to spend. An automated email will also be sent to PIs and RAs when the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) receives a notice of award from a proposal sponsor, detailing next steps.

Improvements have also been made to the notice from SPO indicating that an award has been processed and is awaiting fund activation by Contracts and Grants Accounting. This notice has been renamed the Phoebe Award Summary and now features useful award-summary details.

dashboard is online that depicts award-processing time by common sponsors and research categories. The current dashboard reflects the time needed to negotiate awards with sponsors; planned enhancements for a new dashboard will depict dates when the notice of award is received from the sponsor, the award set-up is complete, and when the project funds are available for the PI.

Improvements have been made to Phoebe Search which allows PIs to monitor the status of their award set-up. New status categories have been introduced to inform PIs about which stage their award set-up is currently. Learn more about Phoebe Search or log on.

The recruiting process has been streamlined so the chartfield string is no longer required until an offer of employment is made, allowing PIs to initiate a search and hire process simultaneously to an award being set-up. Additionally, improvements have been made to Fund Advances which can provide PIs with access to funding while their award negotiation is in process. Learn more about Fund Advance or Apply.

The award set-up process includes several steps from when a sponsor sends an official notice of award until the award is negotiated, budgeted, and uploaded into the University’s systems. Although there are several steps involved, there are two important dates to note: the award set-up process begins when the notice of award is received by SPO; the research spending can begin when the award has been negotiated (or a fund advance approved) and the PI has been notified by CGA that the fund has been made active.

Get more information about the award set-up process working group, issues, solutions, and progress.

July 15, 2016
Compliance Information Form for Research Gift Discontinued

The Compliance Information Form for Research Gifts was discontinued and is no longer required with the Form 700-U (Principal Investigator Statement of Financial Interests) when research gifts are received. The Form has been taken down from the COI and SPO websites.

June 17, 2016
PIs Can Now Request Early Review of NIH COI Financial Disclosures

Beginning on June 20, 2016, the COI Committee will conduct early review for new NIH projects with complete positive financial disclosures, at the request of the Principal Investigator. The previous process for review of these disclosures for new NIH proposals had been to conduct that review at the time a JIT (just in time) request arrived from NIH. For funders that do not have an equivalent JIT process (e.g., NSF) review of complete disclosures has always been conducted right after the proposal is submitted.  Any request for early review should be sent to

June 15, 2016
New COI Review and Approval Process

On June 1, the COI Committee began a new review and approval process for all complete non-substantive PHS (specifically including those which are unchanged or unrelated) and NSF financial disclosures, and for State 700-U disclosures that meet certain specified expedited review criteria.

All such disclosures are now reviewed and approved on a rolling weekly basis, leaving the monthly COI Committee meeting for deliberation of more complex and/or complicated cases. This new process will allow the Sponsored Projects Office to set-up many awards more quickly, and Donor and Gift Services to more quickly make gift funds available.

Approval letters will be issued via email from the COI office every Monday or Tuesday. In all cases, the COI office will copy the CSS RA identified with the individual who filed the disclosure, unless another contact is identified.

Please address any questions to COI Coordinator Jyl Baldwin at or send email to