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A: The Principal Investigator (PI) is the person who is responsible for the substantive and financial development, management, and oversight of a sponsored project. The PI writes the proposal, develops the budget, secures cost share commitments, seeks university approval for the project, carries out the substantive work if the grant is awarded, ensures compliance with any export controls, manages the award budget and writes any technical reports.
A: A Request for Proposal (RFP) can be issued by either a private or government organization. Typically, the RFP provides specific information about a program or line of research that the sponsor wishes to fund. The RFP also provides information about budget parameters, mandatory forms, additional information required, restrictions, the legal due date, and submission format. Your OSP pre-award administrator will review the RFP with you to ensure that administrative requirements are met.
A: For most proposals, it takes three days. OSP requires receipt of submission ready proposal, three full business days prior to the sponsor’s submission deadline.
Approval for IRB, animal care, and IP to be retained by the sponsor at the end of the award have pre-approval procedures that may take additional time.
OSP will do everything possible to accommodate compressed time frames for proposal submission, but cannot guarantee that all university decision makers will be available for approval and signature. If there is a compressed time frame, it is critical the PI contact the VCR to discuss the situation as soon as possible.
A: OSP pre-award administrator requires the complete proposal at least 3 full business days prior to the sponsor’s proposal submission deadline. You can expect that OSP will:
A: You should notify your designated OSP pre-award administrator of any planned proposal as soon as possible. Please provide a link to or copy of the RFP and the due date. Early notification will allow time for you PAA to read the guidelines and assist with the development of a comprehensive budget. It will also provide time for the university's internal approval process.
A: Assuming a reasonable length of time between proposal development and submission, you can expect that your grants and contracts administrator will:
Please note: Proposals will not be submitted if the full proposal package is not received 3 full business days prior to submission deadline.
A: OSP does not write proposals, but the OVCR offers specialized proposal development assistance for multi-investigator projects that are large, complex, or otherwise strategic to the institution. Customized assistance may include solicitation analysis, project management of the proposal process, and narrative development support. PIs can maximize Proposal Development staff services by securing assistance early in the process and enabling their Proposal Developer to function as a full project team member through proposal submission.
A: OSP PAAs can meet with university faculty and staff to discuss the opportunity and assist with understanding of the RFP. OSP PAAs can help develop budgets and justification along with the creation of the e-PSRS. In addition, OSP can provide institutional information that is frequently requested by sponsors. This information may include, but is not limited to, general university capability statements, lists of past awards and examples of similar projects. OSP also completes all the business forms necessary for a proposal submission and assists with sponsor requests for university financial information including: financial statements, tax exemption certificate, and audit reports.
A: Always check the guidelines for sponsor-specific proposal content and format requirements. A generic checklist below is provided for cases in which such guidelines do not exist.
To ensure the quality of the technical proposal, Principal Investigators should prepare answers to the following:
A: Salary must be based on your institutional base rate and will be calculated according to whether you are paid for nine months or twelve months of effort.
A: For proposal budgets that cover multiple years it is suggested, when allowed by the sponsor, that the budget reflect for annual salary increases. The annual salary increase figure used by OSP is 1-3% per year. This increase, which is for budgeting purposes only, is not guaranteed.
A: PSRS refers to the university’s Proposal Signature Routing Sheet. It is the approval process by which the PI, Co-PIs, PI Department Chairs, and Deans. PSRS signatures indicate agreement to the proposal and concurrence that the proposal can be sent to the sponsor. All signatures must be obtained before the proposal can be submitted. The Vice Chancellor of Research is the signatory authority for the University.
A: Signatures required vary with the type of project being proposed. When the Principal Investigator signs the approval form, he or she is approving the entire proposal and assuming responsibility for:
The Principal Investigator may not delegate his or her authority to approve proposals.
Academic unit heads and college Deans certify the academic soundness of the project, facility and space availability, cost sharing (other than any indirect cost waiver that is a documented sponsor policy), course release arrangements, and the compatibility of the project's goals with the teaching unit's objectives.
Proposals are routed through the appropriate levels for approval based upon the nature of the proposal. A project involving faculty or staff from more than one unit must be routed through all units involved. Your OSPPA administrator can provide information about specific signatures needed for your project.
A: You can expect your assigned OSP pre-award administrator to:
A: Full–time University faculty and regular staff working on sponsored projects are eligible for University benefits. FICA is withheld from the salaries of all employees paid through the University payroll system, including part–time staff. Exceptions are graduate students in assistantship or fellowship categories. The employer's portion of FICA and retirement are charged to sponsors as direct costs. The University and the employee share coverage for other benefits according to the options available at the time of hiring.
A: Indirect costs, also known as Facilities and Administration (F&A) or overhead costs, are expenses not directly attributable to any one project and incurred by the University for its facilities and services. Indirect costs are not profit, but are real costs to the University to support sponsored activities. Examples include building maintenance and operation, utilities, libraries, computer services and other facilities, payroll, accounting, purchasing, research administration, departmental administration, personnel services, and general administration. The University attempts to recover a small portion of these costs through the inclusion of indirect costs in proposal budgets. All universities have indirect rates.
If the sponsor has a written policy limiting the amount of indirect costs that may be recovered, the university will honor that policy.
A: Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) is determined by subtracting the cost of equipment, tuition, fellowships, and subcontract amounts over $25,000 from the total direct costs to determine the F&A base, to which the applicable rate is applied.
A: The Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) basis excludes assessment of indirect costs on:
A: The University honors any published sponsor policy prohibition on recovery of indirect costs. Some private organizations and some government programs stipulate in their guidelines that they only allow a small percentage of indirect costs to be included on their grant budgets. In these cases, the budget can be developed according to these guidelines. If the sponsor has no written prohibition, full indirect costs must be included.
A: At least three (3) business days are needed to process a proposal to allow for appropriate thorough review and to obtain corrections, if needed.
A: OSP maintains the university registry for several electronic proposal submission and grants administration platforms including NSF Fastlane, NIH Commons, the GMS System for the Department of Justice, and Grants.gov.
A: No. Your submission of a proposal through the university indicates that you are submitting as a university employee rather than a private practitioner. As such, all budgets must represent your compensation through the university in compliance with Human Resources and payroll rules and regulations.
A: Yes, they may under certain guidelines. Please contact OSP to determine appropriateness and the F&A cost and to begin the approval process.
A: OSP will advise you to begin the protocol submission process with the applicable compliance committee.
A: The Office of Sponsored Programs reviews various proposal information including, but not limited to, research compliance issues; whether costs are allowable, allocable, and reasonable; if cost sharing is required, whether F&A requirements of the sponsor are being met; along with verifying that sponsor requirements and University guidelines and objectives are met. Information concerning sponsor type, funding source, and other variables are entered and tracked by the Office of Sponsored Programs.
A: When preparing proposal budget/financial plans, several budget categories are excluded when arriving at the base amount to which the appropriate F&A rate is applied (see definition from NSF Grant Proposal Guide below).
(v) Participant Support (Line F on the Proposal Budget):
This budget category refers to costs of transportation, per diem, stipends and other related costs for participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with NSF-sponsored conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities and workshops." (See GPG chapter II.D.7). For some educational projects conducted at local school districts, however, the participants being trained are employees. In such cases,
the costs must be classified as participant support if payment is made through a stipend or training allowance method. The school district must have an accounting mechanism in place (i.e., sub-account code) to differentiate between regular salary and stipend payments. Generally, indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on participant support costs. The number of participants to be supported must be entered in the parentheses on the proposal budget. These costs also must be justified in the budget justification section of the proposal. Some programs, such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates, have special instructions for treatment of participant support.
In the absence of a sponsor specific restriction, the budget category of participant support should not be excluded from the F&A base. The exclusion of participant support is a National Science Foundation specific policy. If uncertain, review your FOA to determine applicability.
A: No, the principal investigator and other investigators must personally sign the ePSRS.
A: University policy states that all proposals for funding and research awards be signed by the Vice Chancellor of Research.
A: No, all contracts are issued to the Board of Curators and they have delegated authorization to the President who has re-delegated responsibility to each campus Chancellor who has re-delegated that signatory authority to the Vice Provost of Research or Director of Sponsored Programs.
A: F&A costs are calculated on the first $25,000 of each subcontract, for the entirety of the project, not per year.
A: Although NIH has adopted the modular budget format for budgets of $250,000 per year and less, S&T requires a detailed itemized budget for internal purposes. Under Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), the burden is on the university to apply costs consistently. OSP requires a detailed budget in order to assure that costs are in general compliance with CAS.
A: Notify your assigned OSP Pre-award administrator as soon as possible. Your proposal will be retroactively routed through the university approval process. All signatories will review your proposal to see if they agree with parameters, conditions, budget, and commitments that were made. In the most extreme cases, you may be asked to withdraw the proposal. The university always reserves the right to request modification of or reject an award received when the proposal was not submitted through OSP.
A: Discuss the grant with your department chair and ask for their approval to begin transfer discussions with your former institution. Once you have received this approval, contact your assigned OSP administrator to arrange transfer logistics. OSP staff will need to work closely with the staff at your previous institution, so be prepared with their names and contact information. Once all details have been agreed upon between the two institutions, the proposal, budget, and letters agreeing to accept the transferred grant will go through the university proposal routing approval process.
A: Occasionally, sponsors require the university to make a contribution to a project's total cost needs. This is known as cost-sharing. Cost-share can include faculty time, remitted tuition, or the assistance of a graduate research assistant. Cost-sharing must have the advance concurrence of the Department Chair or Center Director since their budgets are usually affected.
Because cost sharing will be examined and/or audited by the sponsor organizations, the budget proposal must include the dollar value of all such services. Unless the sponsor makes cost share a requirement of the proposal budget, it is strongly discouraged. In the case of NSF, cost share is prohibited unless specified in the RFP. Contact your OSP administrator for assistance with calculating costshare for the proposal budgets.
A: Fastlane is the National Science Foundation's electronic proposal and award system. It is the point of entry for submission of proposals, revised budgets, progress reports and requests for no-cost extensions.
A: Please contact your OSP administrator.
A: The NIH salary cap is the highest amount of direct salary that a faculty member can charge to a grant. The amount is tied to the category of Executive Level I of the Federal Executive Level Pay Scale. This amount is subject to change.
Salary rates by year can be found at the following website: http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm.
If a faculty member's salary is higher than the NIH cap, the proposal budget should reflect the actual base salary. Therefore, should the cap be increased, the university is permitted to recover salary at the higher rate.
A: Up to 3 on each proposal, per PI/Co-PI.
A: The Office of Sponsored Programs.
A: You can expect that your grants and contracts administrator will:
A: The Grant Award Summary, (GAS) is a document issued to the PI at award set up time indicating award amount, award begin and end dates, budget, cost sharing (if applicable), project number, project title, sponsor name, name of grants and contracts administrator in OSP who will be responsible for award management and the project’s MoCode.
A: Hiring actions are initiated by the PI in conjunction with the personnel administrator/HR in their unit. Individuals hired on a sponsored project are subject to all S&T policy and procedures as well as the terms of the grant agreement. Personnel hired may be graduate students, undergraduate students, postdoctoral associates, staff, or consultants. Each category may require different paperwork; please contact OSP or HR for details.
A: S&T employees or current S&T students cannot be paid as consultants. Please contact your OSP administrator for more information if you want to include these positions on your grants. The personnel action will need to be initiated by your unit.
A: Grant fund expenditures should be made according to the approved budget that is part of the grant agreement. If you need to spend funds differently from the way it appears in the approved budget, you may need to request a rebudget of your grant funds. Please contact your award grant and contracts administrator.
A: The Principal Investigator must request such action from OSP in writing. If sponsor approval is required, OSP will obtain such approval before the rebudget is authorized.
A: Consultants or subcontractors perform essential services on awards that are not available from existing project personnel. The Principal Investigator must discuss all proposed agreements in advance with their OSP administrator to determine if the work will be performed under a service agreement or a subcontract. Service agreements are processed and signed through Business Services. Payments to consultants are processed by the department. Subcontractors must be identified at the time of proposal submission and are approved by the sponsor. Subcontract agreements are processed through OSP. Payments to subcontractors will be initiated by OSP with payments processed through shared services.
A: The situation should be discussed with your OSP administrator as soon as it becomes a problem. The agreements with contractors are typically written so that there are clear performance and payment milestones. The longer you wait to formally bring it to the contractor's attention, the less time we have to recify the situation and the more difficult the situation becomes. OSP can work with you and any other offices in the university necessary to resolve the issue.
A: The PI on the project is responsible for the approval of expenditures on grants and contracts. The fiscal approver of each department is then responsible for the approval in the accounting system. OSP staff are available as a resource if those approving expenditures have questions about grant account expenses.
A: OSP is responsible for invoicing to sponsors and preparing all financial reports. In some instances, the contract may have special reporting or invoicing requirements. These special cases will be coordinated in advance between the Principal Investigator and the grants and contracts administrator managing the award.
A: Most sponsored projects require technical reports detailing progress. These reports are part of the contractual agreement between the sponsor and the university.The PI is responsible for preparing the technical reports.
Failure to submit reports on a timely basis may not only adversely affect the Principal Investigator's (and the university's) ability to receive further support from the sponsor, but may also result in a loss of payment for costs already incurred.
A: OSP sends a copy of the award document outlining the reporting requirements to the PI. It is the responsibility of the PI to review and note report due dates.
A: Discuss this with your OSPpost-award administrator as soon as it becomes an issue. Research shifts that create a redirection of the statement of work described in the original proposal must be negotiated with the sponsor. The PI may request changes in scope or period of performance to OSP. OSP will review and seek sponsor approval of such changes.
A: This issue is addressed during the grant close-out period. Grant funds are to be used only for the purpose of the grant. If the work is complete, in most cases the funds must be returned to the sponsor, unless the sponsor contract contains specific provisions otherwise. Please check with your OSP post-award administrator about your specific grant or contract. What is grant close–out? The grant close-out period is the period 60-90 days before the end of the award 30 to 90 days following the period of performance in which the Principal Investigator and OSP reviews the technical and financial aspects of the award to make sure that all goals have been met and that all funds are properly expended.
A: The grant award summary (GAS) specifies the dates of the period of performance of the grant. The final financial reporting requirements are handled by OSP. The Principal Investigator is responsible for the final technical report. OSP handles any non-financial contractual paperwork required to close the grant.
A: Occasionally, the completion of grant or contract work my require more time than originally specified. Discuss this with your OSP grants and contracts administrator. It may be possible to request a no-cost extension from the sponsor. A no-cost extension will extend your porject's end date without adding funds. A sponsor may not agree to such extension.
The Principal Investigator must notify OSP in writing of the need for a no–cost extension at least 60 days prior to the project expiration date so that OSP can obtain the sponsor's approval.
A: The university is subject to audit by sponsors for specific programs and is also audited for its administration of sponsored programs in accordance with the OMB Circular A-133. Auditors representing sponsors will periodically examine the university's records for the purposes of:
A: Office supplies (pens, paper, notebooks, clips, stamps, envelopes, ink cartridges/copying toner, local telephone service, etc.) are those costs that are incurred for a “common or joint objective” of the university and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project. While one can easily recognize that a notepad might be “needed” for a research project, it is not feasible to have to set up an accounting system to track all of the department’s notepad inventory in order to direct cost them to all the various accounts/projects on which they are used. So, although it is possible to practically direct charge any cost to a project, the accounting system that would be required and the staff effort to ensure each unit of these various costs are properly distributed makes it an unrealistic and inefficient way of handling such costs.
Therefore, the federal cost principles expect the University to normally absorb these charges within unrestricted operational accounts and recover those costs through the indirect cost reimbursement process. This expectation holds true even where in some cases the federal sponsor imposes F&A rate restrictions on certain grant programs.
Clerical staff, i.e., those individuals that provide general support to departmental functions and whose time associated with each of the many individual tasks may not be included in a grant budget, unless allowed by the contract.
The F&A recovery process generates revenue dollars for the university as sponsored projects are invoiced. It is these revenues that “replenish” the departmental accounts from which the departmental supplies, services, and clerical support were charged. Federal cost principles expect the University to be reimbursed by the F&A cost recovery process, and not by direct charging these costs to a project.
A: A major project requiring a full time clerical employee could possibly be an extraordinary circumstance, thus justifying the direct costing of clerical salaries. Examples of situations warranting such exceptions might include:
These examples are not exhaustive nor are they intended to imply that direct charging of administrative or clerical salaries would always be appropriate for the situations illustrated in the examples. For instance, the examples would be appropriate when the costs of such activities are incurred in unlike circumstances, i.e., the actual activities charged directly are not the same as the actual activities normally included in the institution's facilities and administrative (F&A) cost pools or, if the same, the indirect activity costs are immaterial in amount. It would be inappropriate to charge the cost of such activities directly to specific sponsored agreements if, in similar circumstances, the costs of performing the same type of activity for other sponsored agreements were included as allocable costs in the institution's F&A cost pools. Application of negotiated predetermined F&A cost rates may also be inappropriate if such activity costs charged directly were not provided for in the allocation base that was used to determine the predetermined F&A cost rates.
A: The university defines “equipment” as any tangible, nonexpendable property having: (1) a useful life of more than one year, and, (2) an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. Items not meeting these two conditions are not to be classified as, and placed in, the equipment category.
The costs of additions, major repairs, enhancements, or improvements subsequent to the initial acquisition should be capitalized if the following are met: the costs meets the capitalization threshold; and useful life of the asset is extended beyond its original life; or functionality of the asset is extended and/or the service capacity or efficiency is increased.
Repair or maintenance expenditures that keep the asset in its normal operating condition or that bring the asset back to its original state without either extending the useful life or improving upon the functionality or service capacity of the asset are not considered capital expenditures and should be expensed in the period incurred.
A: Keep in mind that in many cases, as a result of the imposition of the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), federal sponsors no longer perform in-depth reviews of proposal budgets. Under CAS, the federal agencies expect the applicant to be familiar with the Cost Principles and to exclude non-allowed costs from those budgets. As a result, universities cannot depend on the rationalization that a sponsor's non-removal of a cost item from the awarded budget implies sponsor approval of that cost item. In order to position your argument along that line, at a minimum the proposal’s budget should include a separate page titled “Budget Justification” in which those non-routine or normally non-allowed expenses are identified and justified for the project – OSP must make the judgment call, prior to submission, based upon the circumstances of the PI’s justification.
A: The terms, “matching” and “cost sharing” are often used interchangeably. Cost Sharing/matching is used when the sponsor has specified a particular dollar to dollar (or ratio) requirement which must be supplied from non-federal sources in order to receive the federal (or sponsor) funding (i.e., the sponsor has essentially established what the applicant will share). Cost sharing/matching therefore refers to any portion of the project’s costs not borne by the sponsor. For Missouri S&T purposes, all cost sharing is accomplished either as a cash outlay (an expenditure) or as release time. Existing University resources (space, equipment, supplies on hand, etc.) are not allowable sources of cost sharing.
Tips to determine allowability for federal cost sharing or matching:
All of the above conditions must be met in order for a cost item to be claimed or proposed as cost sharing or matching. The concept of “in-kind” cost sharing means that the University is to receive from an entity or individual other than the sponsoring agency or the University’s own sources items such as services and supplies through a process under which no cash transaction takes place.
A: You may request a departmental guarantee using a “departmental guarantee” request form. The department chair will be required to approve.
A: Allowable costs must be reasonable and allocable. A cost is reasonable if the amount paid is consistent with the amount that a prudent person under similar circumstances would pay. A cost is allocable if 1) it was incurred solely to advance the work of the project; 2) if it benefits both the project and the institution in general in portions that can be reasonably approximated; or 3) if it is necessary to the overall operation of the institution.
A: An Effort Verification Report, (EVR) is a certification of the effort spent working on sponsored research projects.
The OMB Uniform Guidance recognizes that faculty research, teaching, consulting, advising of students and administration activities are inextricably intermingled in an academic setting and is too burdensome to attempt to account each separately. Therefore, Federal standards require that faculty certify there effort on research twice a year.
Please note: Failure to certify effort will result in a disallowed salary cost and will be required to be transferred from the project.