6.6 Changes to infrastructure projects

The guidelines presented in this section apply to all changes that take place after a project has been approved by the CFI.

6.6.1 Changes to the infrastructure

The CFI funds specific items of a research infrastructure project that have been subject to a merit review. As such, institutions are expected to use CFI funds to purchase the infrastructure items identified in the proposal.

Making acceptable changes

In a small number of instances, changes to an infrastructure item identified in the proposal may be necessary (e.g., enhanced functionalities). The purchase of a new infrastructure item not included in the proposal may also be essential. In these instances, institutions must ensure that the proposed change or new item is acceptable by satisfying all of the following criteria:

  • The institution will still be able to complete the remainder of the project as initially presented to the CFI in the proposal
  • The infrastructure is directly related and essential to the project
  • The proposed change has a positive impact on the project and research objectives, and/or the proposed change will benefit the portfolio of CFI-funded projects at the institution
  • The new or replacement item constitutes an eligible cost
  • The institution will be able to operate and maintain the infrastructure over its useful life and will assume all related costs.

If all of the above criteria are met, the institution can make the change or purchase the new item if it is satisfied that a compelling justification exists. Modifications to a proposed vendor or model (with similar functionalities) are acceptable, as they do not constitute a change to the nature of the infrastructure. Pre-approval from the CFI is not required for changes to infrastructure items that have a positive impact on the project. For new items (including increases in the quantity of an item), pre-approval from the CFI is required only if the related cost is more than $50,000. An appropriate oversight framework must be in place at the institution to ensure that actual purchases are in line with the infrastructure items identified in the proposal and that any proposed changes, including the purchase of a new item, are acceptable.

In its final financial report for each project, institutions must describe the changes to the infrastructure from what was initially described in the proposal. Changes to the composition of infrastructure items within a functional group should also be described at that time. If changes have been made to the construction and renovation information provided in the proposal (e.g., changes in floor plans, size and nature of the space), the revised floor plans (where applicable) and a description of the changes must be forwarded to the CFI with the final financial report. The CFI reviews all spending related to a project, including infrastructure changes and new items (if any), following the receipt of the final financial report. The CFI reserves the right to review any changes to ensure that they are acceptable, as outlined above.

Changes having a negative impact

Institutions should not make changes that have a negative impact on a project and its research objectives. If this is ever necessary, pre-approval from the CFI must be obtained, regardless of cost implications. The following examples of such changes are presented for illustrative purposes:

  • The non-purchase of an infrastructure item included in the proposal or a decrease in the quantity of an item that negatively impacts the extent or quality of the research
  • The purchase of an infrastructure item with significantly different functionalities detrimental to the research project or resulting in a significant change in scientific methodology or an overall loss of functionality due to, for example:
    • A significant decrease in infrastructure output capacity
    • Deterioration in the infrastructure output quality
    • A decrease in the infrastructure’s life expectancy
  • The purchase of an item with lesser functionalities at a lower cost to compensate for unforeseen increases in construction costs
  • A change in the nature of constructed or renovated space (e.g., change of wet lab to office space) or a reduction in the total amount of space that lowers the number of researchers being accommodated
  • A change in the location of equipment or CFI-funded space that negatively impacts the project and its research objectives
  • The purchase of a new item that would prevent an institution from purchasing other essential items initially requested in the proposal, and thus negatively impacting the project.

Changes requiring pre-approval from the CFI

Unless otherwise instructed by the CFI, institutions must obtain pre-approval from the CFI for:

  • Any change having a negative impact on a project and its research objectives, regardless of cost implications
  • Any new item (including increases in the quantity of an item) for which the cost exceeds $50,000.

Although the above thresholds and guidelines establish minimum requirements, judgment should be used and the CFI consulted if it is felt that this is warranted, or if there are uncertainties about any given change.

Submitting a change request

Institutions must submit change requests through the amendment module in CAMS. All requests for changes should include a rationale for the change, demonstrating how it is essential to the approved project and describing the impact of the change on the project. The CFI may seek the advice of expert reviewers for requested changes.

6.6.2 Delays in the acquisition of the infrastructure and project completion

To ensure that the significant investments made in CFI-funded projects deliver the expected benefits, the timely implementation and completion of projects is important. In some instances, significant delays in implementing a project can also reduce the relevance and/or competitive edge of the infrastructure. Therefore, it is important for the institution and the CFI to carefully monitor the implementation of each project.

To achieve this, institutions must have effective processes and mechanisms in place to monitor the implementation of its projects. Institutions are expected to tailor the nature and extent of their oversight activities to the risk of each project (e.g., quarterly monitoring for higher-risk projects, monitoring on an annual basis for lower-risk projects). If delays occur, mitigation measures should be implemented as appropriate. If actual or forecasted delays are expected to have a negative impact on a project and its research objectives, the institution should notify the CFI on a timely basis. The notification should include detailed information regarding the nature of the delay and its impact on the project.

The CFI monitors the implementation of projects using the forecast information provided in financial reports; therefore, it is important that this information be reasonably accurate. If there are delays in a given project, the CFI may need to revise the timing of its instalments to the project to more closely match the actual purchases for the project.

Project completion

Institutions must normally complete the project within the anticipated end date indicated in the award agreement. Institutions can incur expenditures after the anticipated end date without requesting pre-approval from the CFI as long as the actual end date falls within six months of the anticipated end date. The actual end date of a project is the date at which the infrastructure has been acquired or developed and is operational and all expenditures have been incurred (i.e., goods received, services rendered or work performed). The end date is not the date of submission of the final financial report.

However, institutions must request pre-approval from the CFI if they will not be able to acquire or develop the infrastructure within six months of the anticipated end date per the award agreement. If the end date of a project has been extended once, any further revisions to the end date require pre-approval from the CFI. Institutions have six months after the actual end date to submit the final financial report. See the examples in Figures 4 and 5.

Figure 4: End date (pre-approval from the CFI not required)

Anticipated end date (per award agreement) Actual end date Final financial report due date
December 31, 2016 * March 15, 2017 * September 15, 2017

(*) Actual end date is less than six months after anticipated end date therefore CFI approval is not required.

Figure 5: End date (pre-approval from the CFI required)

Anticipated end date (per award agreement) Actual end date Final financial report due date
December 31, 2016  ** August 31, 2017 ** February 28, 2018

(**) Actual end date is more than six months after anticipated end date therefore CFI approval is required. Any further revisions to the end date require pre-approval from the CFI.


6.6.3 Other changes

Institutions must immediately notify the CFI if any of the following changes occur or are anticipated:

  • There will be a change in project leader
  • There will be a change in status of any of the candidates of a John R. Evans Leaders Fund project
  • The institution is unable, for any reason, to complete a project or is unable to comply with award conditions (Termination procedures will be established on a case-by-case basis.)

6.6.4 Differences in total eligible costs

Upon project completion, the amount of the final CFI contribution is calculated based on the actual total eligible costs incurred for the project. The final CFI contribution is limited to the maximum allowable CFI funding share of eligible costs (typically 40 percent) or the maximum CFI amount, whichever is lower. If the total eligible costs are higher than the estimated costs indicated in the award agreement once all infrastructure items have been acquired, the institution is responsible for excess expenditures.

Acknowledging that many institutions are managing a complex portfolio of CFI-funded projects, the CFI may consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests to use the CFI funding of one or more projects with cost savings for other related projects that have experienced cost overruns. Such requests should be made to the CFI Senior Programs Officer assigned to your institution. The CFI will communicate its decision after careful review of the request and the particularities of the situation.