Quarterly Financial Review

Learn about the quarterly review process for Sponsored Projects at Columbia University. 


It is a longstanding requirement that a Principle Investigator (PI) is responsible for all aspects of a project. This includes ensuring that all expenditures are reasonable, allocable and allowable to the project. 

Federal grants management regulations known as the Uniform Guidance reinforce the need for regular monitoring of a project’s progress and expenditures as part of ongoing award management. Columbia applies this aspect of the guidance to all sponsored projects.

Who needs to perform this review? 

Any PI with sponsored research funding (with GG, PG, & IN designations) is required to review expenditures on all active awards. 

Using the WebViewer

The tool available to help you with the quarterly financial review process is the Sponsored Project Reports WebViewer. It was developed to provide a way to electronically access pre-run reports in a PDF format on a monthly and quarterly basis.

You will also be emailed this link whenever new report publications become available.

For Administrators

Administrators with PAD (access to payroll information at a detailed level) are able to access the Webviewer and see all active projects and activities associated with a Principle and/or Scope Investigators where these projects/activities are owned by the department for which they have security.  For more information, review the Using the Sponsored Project Reports WebViewer job aid.

The Project Reporting Jump Pages found in the Project Lifecycle Reports in FDS (learn more) are also useful tools. 

For more detailed information about project specific reports in FDS, see the job aid Frequently Used Project Lifecycle Financial Reports

For general guidance about reporting options at Columbia, navigate to the Getting Started with Reporting web page. 

Reading the Reports

For each sponsored project or activity you view, you will see the following indexed on the left side of your screen:

  • Cover Sheet 
  • Sponsored Project Quarterly Financial Report (or SPFR) Summary
  • Sponsored Project Quarterly Financial Report Detail
  • Payroll Summary Quarterly Report
  • Payroll Detail Quarterly Report
  • SAPO Budget vs. Encumbrance Report

If you are a PI with a project and also the Scope-I on an activity of that project, you will see the project listed first, then the activity. 

Questions to Ask During the Review

Before beginning a financial review, we suggest you review effort reports to reacquaint yourself and ensure comfort with the % effort of staff on your projects. Salary charges on your awards will reflect this allocation. If effort is not correct, contact your administrator. Visit Documenting Personnel Costs (Effort Reporting) to learn more.

The purpose of this quarterly review is to verify the appropriateness of expenditures on your sponsored projects.   

  • Do you agree with the level of actual expenditures by category on the project?  
  • If an expenditure level does not look correct, or you do not have familiarity at the category level, have you reviewed the detail information (i.e. Payroll Detail Report)?
  • Are the salary and non-salary expenditures tracking as you would expect relative to the project budget?
  • Is the rate of spending on a sustainable path?
  • Can you confirm that sub-award expenditures are appropriate? (see the SAPO report)

Documentation of Review

After looking at your project’s financials, you will need to document your review. Your school or department will provide specific guidance on how to do this, along with time frame expectations. Some schools or departments may have their own documentation process, while others might choose to use the documentation template provided on the WebViewer which includes review language and places for needed signatures.

Through this documentation process, PIs not only confirm their review of project financial activity but will also have an opportunity to identify any expenditures that require further review, additional information, or correction. 

Do I need to go through this review process for every project?

Yes, you will need to perform a financial review for each one of your active sponsored projects.

Learn how to use the Sponsored Project Report WebViewer

Go to the WebViewer

View the Sponsored Project Report WebViewer tool

Learn how to use FDS Jump Page Reports

For guidance on Using the FDS Jump Page Reports.

Learn more about Reading Quarterly Reports

For guidance on reading the reports, refer to the Quarterly Financial Review QuickGuide.