Grants and Sponsored Contracts
What is my role as Department Head?
As Department Head, you are responsible for all budget activity (including grant accounts) that occurs within your department, as well as compliance in all university policies such as conflict of interest, Grants and Sponsored Contracts Policies, and state and federal regulations. Some key roles of the Department Head:
- Approve proposals for grant/contract, review and approve any cost sharing/matching terms, and/or Facilities and Administrative costs. The Department Head should be comfortable that the Department is able to fulfill the level of support needed to successfully complete a proposed grant or contract. In addition, the Vice President for Research and Economic Development must approve any such terms. (The Principal Investigator must receive approval from the Department Head prior to committing funds for cost sharing/matching terms.)
- The university’s Office of Research Administration (ORA) is available to assist at any time with the grant proposal. Ensure that the ORA is involved well in advance of any formal submission of a grant/sponsored contract, so that ORA can approve the terms of the grant/contract, and contribute any additional favorable terms or conditions for the Department. The support that ORA can provide includes extensive and critical components of the Grant / Sponsored Contract success:
- Assisting in writing a competitive proposal
- Assisting in developing a reasonable project budget
- Reviewing and editing proposal drafts
- Copying proposal documents and mailing to the funding agency
- Submitting proposals electronically
- Assisting in the project start-up
- Coordinating the protection and transfer of university-owned intellectual property
- Offering workshops about the proposal development process, and other related topics
- The ORA is available to address any compliance issues in advance. The ORA is available to provide guidance and education in the areas of animal care and use, biosafety, conflict of interest, export control, human subjects, research, intellectual property, radiation safety, responsible conduct of research, and technology transfer. This office also develops web-based compliance training courses and certification.
- The university’s Grants and Contracts Accounting unit should be contacted in preparation of the grant/contract. This office helps in the following areas:
- Ensuring that funds received from the external sponsors are spent in compliance with funding agency regulations as well as university policies.
- Grants and Contract Accounting is the university’s official preparer of financial reports for externally funded sponsored research and programs
- Grants and Contract Accounting can assist when a contract/grant is audited.
- As supervisor over the Principal Investigator or Project Director, the Department Head should ensure compliance with university and federal/state requirements; and confirm that effort reporting is being performed timely and accurately for the contract.
- In addition, the Department Head should ensure that there are no apparent conflicts of interest with the PI and the Sponsor, or any breach of university policy (including research policies below). This may be done via the outside compensation reporting process, and with review and monitoring of the project. The result of any conflict may create a perception of lack of independence on the part of the PI, and/or severely blemish the credibility of the university or its programs.
- Review the fiscal and program activity and expenditures for the contract, and respond to any questions or concerns from the Grants and Contracts Accounting Office and Office of Research Administration.
What key areas should be monitored by the Department Head?
- Ensure that the department works with Office of Research Administration in the pre-award phase of the project.
ORA services range from grant search, budget/proposal development, review and university sign-off. In addition, ORA has the responsibility for contract and grant review, negotiation and university acceptance, and research agreements, along with serving as liaison with the sponsoring entities. Areas such as proposal preparation and budget development, grant and contract documents, compliance with federal, state and university regulations, obtaining campus approvals, assistance in negotiation, and other needs can be supported by Research Administration. An electronic database is available that provides information on funding opportunities.
- Monitor your grant accounts and status of the project and billings.
Grants and Contracts Accounting ensures that the financial reporting and compliance monitoring is in place.
The Principal Investigator does not have the authority to expend funds on a sponsored project until the grant account number is set up. No charges may be made against existing accounts that are not permanent charges, and charges may not be transferred later as a mechanism for starting the grant in advance. See the Grants & Contracts Policies Expenditure Guidelines.
It is also the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to make prudent use of funds awarded for the project, and to assure that the expenditures are appropriate and directly relate to the intent of the award. Finally, the Principal Investigator is responsible for ensuring that transactions are completed and charged to the accounts within the timeframe of the grant. Otherwise, the grant funding may be forfeited.
- Generally, the university’s policy for expenditures should apply to the grants and contracts.
However, please see Grants and Contracts Expenditure Guidelines, which provides specific guidelines and addresses certain categories of expenditures and their application to grants and contracts. For example, consultant services should be procured and paid consistent with university policy; alcoholic beverages are not allowed expenditures; contingency funds or reserves are not allowable expenses; entertainment is not allowed; cost transfers are addressed; leave benefits should be the same as those paid from other university funds, and all travel reimbursements, both to the university and non-university employees, are subject to state and university policies. Federal contracts require us to follow our policies for consistency. Other regulations apply but will never be less restrictive than the university’s policies and regulations.
- Effort reporting is typically a large portion of the grant or sponsored contract.
The Department Head should continue to require that timely and accurate effort reporting is in place for departmental grants. Government sponsors will pay only for those portions of employee effort that are actually devoted to their projects, and this is an area that is typically audited to confirm the accuracy of our payroll charges by verifying that the percentage of the employee’s salary charged to the grant reasonably approximates the actual proportion of the employee’s FTE effort which was devoted to that project.
- Monitor reported outside compensation and any potential conflicts of interest with faculty and sponsor.
A clear conflict of interest exists when a faculty member receives compensation from a sponsor for which he is, or directly supervises, the Principal Investigator.
- Ensure that program income, if any, is accurate and promptly deposited.
Program income is the gross revenue earned from activities for which the direct costs have been charged to a grant (or sub-grant) or counted as direct cost toward meeting a cost-sharing or matching requirement. Program income is only allowable if the award allows for such. Examples are fees for lab testing, funds generated from the sale of goods or services, usage or rental fees for equipment or computers.
Grants and Contracts Accounting should be informed once it is known that program income will be generated, and they will assist in establishing the proper method of accounting for the income. The Department Head should ensure that adequate internal controls are in place in billing, receiving, and depositing/accounting for program income.
What policies and resources are available for Contracts/Grants?
Effort Reporting information and Form
What are policies and resources available for Funded Research?
Key specific Policies, Procedures and Information - Research
- Policy on use of Human Subjects
- Policy addressing Animal Subjects
- Policy addressing Institutional Biosafety
- Policy addressing Personnel Compensation
- Policy addressing Extra Compensation
- Policy addressing Distribution of Indirect Costs
- Information - Cost Sharing Categories
- Policy addressing Use of Computers
- Policy addressing Misconduct in Science
- Policy addressing Export Controls
- Policy addressing Conflict of Interest
- Policy addressing Intellectual Property - Copyright Policy
- Procedures regarding Student Support
- Policy addressing University Centers
- Policy addressing Use of Space
On a practical basis – what should I do?
- Most Department Heads have experience in contracts and grants; however if you are new to the process, familiarize yourself with the grants and sponsored contracts managed by your faculty, and become familiar with the above university policies.
- Help in this area is abundant! Feel free to contact the Office of Research Administration, to address policy questions. Feel free to contact Grants Accounting regarding proper accounting requirements and approvals. Feel free to also contact the Office of Research Administration to address compliance questions.
- Review the budget accounts for larger contracts and raise questions quickly where there may be a deficit or the activity is not normal or being posted timely.
- Work with the Office of Research Administration (ORA) and with the Grants and Contracts Accounting groups to understand any current issues, policies and/or future considerations.
- Be fully aware of the impact of any cost-sharing agreements specified within a proposal.
- Visit the website for Office of Research Administration, which provides current Research News, Grant and Compliance Information, Federal Regulations, Forms, Training, and much more.
What if I have questions?
- If you have questions regarding accounting/billing/fiscal matters, contact:
Location: Carrington 113
- If you have questions regarding proposal and award, compliance and grant/project approval matters, contact:
Office of Research Administration
- If you have any question regarding misconduct or conflict of interest, or other compliance matters, contact:
Director of Research Administration
You may also contact your Dean, the university’s Legal Counsel or Internal Audit and Risk Management.