Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU)

The morning of February 8th, 2022 saw the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, joined by other dignitaries to induct the Makerere University Grants Administration and Management Unit (GAMSU) Steering Committee.

In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor thanked Prof. William Bazeyo, former Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration (DVCFA) for his contribution to the University. In particular, the Vice Chancellor appreciated Prof. Bazeyo’s efforts in sourcing for funds and setting up the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), noting that the Fund was a result of Prof. Bazeyo’s negotiation skills. He also thanked the different University staff who had been called upon to prepare and make presentations on various aspects in an effort to guide the GAMSU Steering Committee.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.

“I am glad that institutionalization of Makerere University’s Grants Administration and Management Unit is coming to fruition,” Prof. Nawangwe noted. He added that the GAMSU was established because there was need for a unit to coordinate all the funding received by Makerere University.

“As management, we envisage that this unit will be a one stop centre of the University and its members, and will support checking of all receipts from our donors” he said.

According to the Vice Chancellor, the University Management is optimistic that with the introduction of GAMSU, the number of grants received by Makerere University will increase. “I call upon all of us to learn from units which have been successful in grants management, which include but are not limited to the College of Health Sciences specifically the School of Public Health”.

R-L: Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, Prof. Grace Bantebya, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi and Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze listen to proceedings at the induction session.
R-L: Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, Prof. Grace Bantebya, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi and Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze listen to proceedings at the induction session.

Among other functions, GAMSU is charged with;

  • Tracing allocation of funds
  • Checking on what the resources are being used for
  • Conformity to the required laws guiding accountability
  • Adherence to reporting and accountability requirements
  • Offering training sessions to researchers on various aspects including accountability, dissemination of research outputs
  • Facilitating performance or research implementation while ensuring that funds are properly being utilized

The University Secretary Mr. Yusuf Kiranda shared the GAMSU Policy, Purpose and Operationalization plan at the induction session. He highlighted five key aspects of the policy which included;

  • The need for GAMSU to facilitate the research process more than control it
  • Coverage of the entire ecosystem of grants management at Makerere university
  • Grants Administration is the responsibility of various officers in the University of which GAMSU is part
  • Ultimately Finance management is governed by Treasury instructions and other government laws

The University Secretary also emphased that it was important to have all grants declared to the University Council and consequently approved in the budget. “Any project operating in the University yet not declared to Council shall be closed,” he added.

The University Secretary, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda.
The University Secretary, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda.

Mr. Kiranda also sought to distinguish between GAMSU and Mak-RIF, so as to alleviate the tendency to think of the two units as one and the same. He noted that whereas the GAMSU policy is set to work on projects funded by grants as per section 44 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Mak-RIF is not categorized under projects funded by grants. He further explained that Mak-RIF is budget appropriation by the Government of the Republic of Uganda to support research and innovations at Makerere University. As such, GAMSU and Mak-RIF are two clearly separate entities by Government law and University policy.

The outgoing Head of Mak-RIF and GAMSU Prof. William Bazeyo in his remarks shared lessons learned, the opportunities, as well as challenges in implementing the research and innovations fund initiative. He hailed the Makerere University Vice Chancellor for his good stewardship and for convening the engagement in which all could share experiences for the betterment of service delivery and operations at higher institutions of learning.  He pledged to continue supporting Makerere to take advantage of the various opportunities out there, from which the University can benefit and thrive even more.

The Outgoing Head of GAMSU and Mak-RIF, Prof. William Bazeyo.
The Outgoing Head of GAMSU and Mak-RIF, Prof. William Bazeyo.

According to Prof. Bazeyo, the enabling factors for Mak-RIF’s success included; the multi-disciplinary team at the Mak-RIF Secretariat, able Grants Management Committee (GMC), IT and communications office, finance management team, monitoring and evaluation team, as well as adherence to standard Government of Uganda payment rates and procedure among others.

Some of the lessons learned included; the great potential for research and innovations at Makerere University and the immense capacity of some colleges to absorb more research funds.

A map of Uganda showing Mak-RIF coverage by 2021. The number of projects to be implemented are; Western-72, Eastern-86, Central-130, Northern-62, West Nile-10, Karamoja-3 and Nationwide-35.
A map of Uganda showing Mak-RIF coverage by 2021. The number of projects to be implemented are; Western-72, Eastern-86, Central-130, Northern-62, West Nile-10, Karamoja-3 and Nationwide-35.

Prof. Bazeyo also underscored the need to continue sensitizing and guiding staff on accountability, visibility, impact sharing, frequent engagement with policy makers, deliberate demonstration of inclusiveness, patent acquisition, lobbying for commercialization, among others.

Some of the challenges encountered by Mak-RIF and highlighted by Prof. Bazeyo included; lack of human capacity to solicit, mobilize, write proposals to bring extra resources into the University research kitty, and lack of university budget for research.

An image showing Mak-RIF in numbers as at December 2021.
An image showing Mak-RIF in numbers as at December 2021.

He equally stressed the need to address gender barriers in research leadership, develop mechanisms to support commercialization of research, build a culture of no tolerance to unethical behavior, good remuneration, digitalizing processes, among others.

Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) while sharing experiences from her unit noted that the School’s Grants Management Unit was established in 2012 and operates with 13 staff. Operations of the MakSPH Grants Management Unit are guided by Makerere University’s policies and additional donor specific Standard Operating Procedures.

The Dean MakSPH, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze.
The Dean MakSPH, Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze.

“The Grants Management Unit at School of Public Health was set up to popularize, implement and continuously improve procedures,” Prof. Wanyenze noted, adding that; “Compliance without overly constraining is critical.”

She also stressed the importance of analyzing the status of grants and scientific productivity not only at MakSPH but the entire University. “In so doing, we are able to know and appreciate the status in order to inform any improvements and sustainability efforts,” she explained.

According to Professor Wanyenze, MakSPH despite the great strides in grants management still encounters challenges such as consistency, stability and sustainability, perception of grants money rather than other work that pays, suspicion of corruption, among others.

Mr. Lubowa Gyaviira, Department of Finance, Makerere University.
Mr. Lubowa Gyaviira, Manager of Accounts and Reporting, Department of Finance, Makerere University.

Mr. Lubowa Gyaviira, Makerere University’s Manager of Accounts and Reporting shared about accountability and financial reporting, noting that accountability entails fulfilling our stewardship role. This, he noted, involves reviewing and reporting on an activity entrusted to someone based on a regulatory framework.

“Realistic accountability follows realistic requisitions” Mr. Lubowa emphasized. He also shared that some of the specific reports expected include; quarterly reports, physical performance reports, financial reports and a summary of all funder reporting requirements.

The incoming Head GAMSU, Prof. Grace Bantebya thanked the Makerere University Council for entrusting her with the new responsibility. She re-echoed that GAMSU is set to play a crucial role and pledged to ensure that the team works to support all researchers in order to build the resource base of the university.

The Head GAMSU, Prof. Grace Bantebya.
The Head GAMSU, Prof. Grace Bantebya.

“We continue to request for all the support as we embark on our duties and once again allow me to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the sharing during this Induction session. I pledge my best as we serve humanity.” Prof. Bantebya said.

Other GAMSU Steering Committee members present included; Acting DVCFA and Chairperson of the Steering Committee-Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, Representatives of Sciences-Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, Dr. Charles Masembe and Dr. Agnes Rwanshana Semwanga, Representatives of Humanities-Dr. Hellen Nambalirwa Nkabala, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi and Dr. Godfrey Akileng, Representative of the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT)-Dr. Robert Wamala and Representative of the Finance Department-Mr. Gyaviira Lubowa. A Legal Advisor will be co-opted to the Steering Committee as and when the need arises.

The Chairperson Mak-RIF, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi.
The Chairperson Mak-RIF, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi.

Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi, the incoming Mak-RIF Chairperson thanked the Makerere University Council and Prof. William Bazeyo for the continued guidance and committed service to his alma mater. He noted that he was happy to join the Mak-RIF team because it is a strong team.

Prof. Nawangwe later handed over the tools of office to Prof. Bantebya and Prof. Masagazi Masaazi and all joined in a congratulatory cake cutting and sharing.

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Well done and Congratulations to All!

Compiled By: Harriet Adong, Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management at Makerere University-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN)

Contributor: Christine Ninsiima, Accountant at Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)

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