Grants and Contracts

POLICY STATEMENT
 
The Office of Grants and Contracts is formally charged with the responsibility of providing services to faculty and staff for securing external support from federal, state, and nonfederal sources including foundations and corporations. Only the President, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Director of Grants and Contracts are the authorizing official to commit the University in all related matters involving contracts and grants.
 
DEFINITIONS
 
None
 
PROCEDURES and RESPONSIBILITIES
 
The Office of Grants & Contracts will assist faculty and staff in identifying, preparing, and obtaining research, educational, and service grants and other funding opportunities.
 
All proposals which use the name and resources of Delta State University and which may result in an award to the University or an award to an individual functioning in a university capacity involving restricted funds must adhere to University policies and procedures for submitting a proposal, accepting an award and administering the project.
 
External support to the University may be described as sponsored programs or projects awarded as a result of an application submitted to a funding agency by the University on behalf of a full-time faculty or staff member. These programs/projects usually involve research, instruction, or other sponsored activities and are usually submitted based on defined guidelines established by the funding agency. The following categories are excluded from this definition: direct payments to individuals, such as fellowships, unless the funding agency requires the University to administer the funds, gifts and bequests to the University, and student financial aid.
 
Listed below are abbreviated statements regarding representative policies and procedures and general terms that impact contract and grant activity (research administration):
 
Academic Release Time
Many funding agencies will provide funding to pay a portion or all of the salary for faculty to be released from regular teaching duties to carry out projects during the academic year. When proposals request release time, it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) to secure approval from the respective departmental chair or director and dean of the college. Ultimately, the Provost has final approval of these requests before proposals are approved by the Director of Grants and Contracts. A portion of the recovered pool of academic salaries from funded projects is distributed to the colleges to provide additional funds for support of the research enterprise.
 
Acknowledgement of Funding Sources
Any publication, recording, performance, presentation or other scholarly activity that is the result of a sponsored project should acknowledge the resources contributing financial support. This acknowledgment should recognize all funding sources including the University’s contribution to projects. As an example, if funds were provided by the Provost for internal development efforts and the project resulted in a publication, performance, presentation, etc., the University should be acknowledged for providing this support.
 
Authorizing Official
The President, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Director of Grants and Contracts are formally charged with the responsibility to commit the University on proposal submissions, acceptance of awards and contracts. This includes related certifications required by funding agencies during the proposal and award process. These authorizing officials must also approve all negotiations and re-allocations of funds that occur after the original proposal has been submitted.
 
Certifications
There are various certifications (sometimes called assurances) required at the time of proposal submission and/or award acceptance. These are used to assure federal agencies that the University has applicable policies and procedures in place to successfully carry out the project. These certifications require authorized signatures; authorized university officials include the President; Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs; and the Director of Grants and Contracts.
 
Contracts
A contract is a financial assistance mechanism used by a Federal and/or non-Federal funding agency for specific inquiry directed towards particular areas of research and development, instruction or other sponsored activities needed by the funding agency. A contract usually involves defined deliverables and/or services expected to be performed by the grantee within a specified project period.
 
Contract performance is closely monitored by the funding agency to ensure accomplishment of contract goals or deliverables.
 
A contract is usually issued as either a fixed-priced contract or a cost-reimbursement contract. A fixed-priced contract is used when the agency agrees to pay a “fixed amount” regardless of the actual costs of the project. That is, price adjustments are not made after the award of the contract, regardless of the actual costs of the performance of the work. Therefore, if a fixed-priced contract is under budgeted, the University must absorb the cost difference.
 
A cost-reimbursement contract is used when the agency agrees to pay the University for costs that are allowable, allocable and reasonable in performing the project. The agency will usually establish a “not-to-exceed cost” or a “cost ceiling” for the contract. Once that ceiling has been reached, the University stops work and incurs no further liability.
 
Only authorized university officials may sign a contract between a funding agency and the University. Authorized officials include the President; Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs; and the Director of Grants and Contracts.
 
Cooperative Agreements
Cooperative agreements, as a financial assistance mechanism, are similar to grants in that they are awarded by the funding agency to assist and support research and related activities. They differ, however, in that while grants require minimal or no involvement of the awarding agency during the performance of project activities, cooperative agreements involve a substantial cooperation and/or coordination between the funding agency and the University.
 
Only authorized university officials may sign a cooperative agreement. Authorized officials include the President; Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs; and the Director of Grants and Contracts.
 
Cost Sharing
The University may be required to contribute to the costs of a sponsored project as stated in funding agency guidelines. In some cases, these expenses may be in the form of “in-kind” costs such as contributed effort of personnel (salary and fringe benefits) who are supported by non-sponsored funds. At other times, there may be a requirement for “cash”, particularly for equipment related projects.
 
When cost sharing funds are required, the Principal Investigator is required to discuss these needs with the respective chair/director and dean. Grant proposal budgets which include a commitment of matching salary funds by the institution must have the prior approval of the Provost. If these areas cannot provide the total cost share required for the project, the PI should contact the Director of Grants and Contracts for assistance in determining possible cost sharing areas.
 
Cost sharing may also come from non-university, third-party arrangements. These arrangements must be documented at the time of proposal submission.
 
The University is required to document all cost sharing/matching funds just as it tracks agency dollars. These become auditable expenditures and the primary responsibility for documentation rests with the Principal Investigator.
 
Facilities and Administrative Costs (F & A)
Facilities and Administrative costs (formerly called indirect costs) are actual costs incurred by the University that cannot be readily identified or associated with a single sponsored project or activity. These costs are normal business activities of the University such as utilities, public safety, libraries, building and equipment use and maintenance, accounting, payroll, and academic and sponsored administration.
 
The determination of F & A costs rates are based on a cost proposal submitted by the University to its respective federal cognizant agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. This proposal contains all of the “F & A” categories that relate to direct costs necessary to conduct the primary functions of the institution such as teaching, research and other activities. Rates are then negotiated and a final rate agreement is signed establishing the required rates for all projects submitted to external funding sources. The current negotiated rates are applied against salaries and fringe benefits.
 
Unless stated through a published rule of the sponsoring agency, F & A costs are not waived or reduced. Any reduction of rates must be documented at the time of proposal approval.
 
Distribution of recovered F & A costs: F & A cost recovery partially reimburses the University for actual costs incurred for conducting sponsored projects. A portion of the F & A costs recovered is distributed to the Principal Investigator’s home department to underwrite project development costs. Each department establishes its own criteria for handling these funds so faculty/staff are encouraged to understand the departmental policies as well. Below is a breakdown of these funds:
 
30% – Provost Office
30% – Office of Finance
40% – PI’s home department and college.
 
Fringe Benefits
Fringe benefits are actual personnel expenses associated with any salary paid by the University. Fringe rates are determined by the Office of Finance. Every salary (excluding students) associated with contract and grant activity has a corresponding fringe rate to be charged. These benefits include such items as workmen’s compensation, health insurance, FICA, etc.
 
Gifts
If funding is designated by an individual or organization as a gift and no financial or programmatic reports are required by the individual or organization, the Delta State University Foundation is responsible for the activity. Any request for gifts from an outside agency should be coordinated with the Foundation Office staff.
 
Grants
Grants, as a financial assistance mechanism, are used when the idea for the research or training project is initiated by the investigator following the conditions and criteria established in the agency guidelines; when no substantial program involvement is anticipated between the funding agency and the institution; and there is no expectation on the part of the funding agency for delivery of a specified product or service for the use or benefit of the funding agency. However, funding agencies do expect grantees to share with the public any results, products or model projects that further the knowledge of the discipline, the research community and/or society as a whole.
 
Human Subjects
The Human Subjects Committee (Institutional Review Board, “IRB”) assures that adequate protection of human subjects’ rights and welfare are carried out in accordance with federal guidelines. This Committee, composed of representatives from all colleges as well as a community representative, is required to review all research projects involving human subjects before initiation of data collection. Human Subjects Review Form is available at /academics/gradstud/Human/index.html.
 
Indirect Costs
The name has been changed by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to Facilities and Administrative Costs. This change more accurately reflects the pool of expenses that are used to calculate these rates. A more detailed description is listed under Facilities and Administrative Costs.
 
Internal Approval of Projects
All projects submitted by the University must go through an internal approval via the Office of Grants and Contracts Internal Approval Form. This process requires the signatures of at least the following persons: Principal Investigator, Chair/Director of Department, College Dean, Vice President for Finance, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of Grants and Contracts. A copy of this form can be obtained from the Office of Grants and Contracts.
 
Legal Entity
The Delta State University is the legal entity for all obligations relating to contract and grant activity.
 
Letters of Inquiry(Sometimes called Letters of Intent)
Most non-Federal sponsorship such as foundations and corporations will often ask for a brief (e.g., three to five pages) concept paper of the proposed project. A funding agency will usually require the letter of inquiry to include the following information: Who, What, When, How Much.
 
“Who” refers to a description of the organization and a brief summary of achievements, particularly as they relate to the problem or issue to be addressed. “What” is a statement of the problem or need you plan to address and an explanation of how it will be addressed, including a description of anticipated achievements or outcomes. “When” is a description of the time frame of the proposed activities. “How much” refers to an estimated cost for the project or activity and what is being requested from the funding agency.
 
Management of Sponsored Projects
Several offices are involved with the expenditure of restricted funds. However, the Office of Finance is responsible for approving all expenditures resulting from a restricted fund account. The Principal Investigator must contact the DSU Office of Finance to establish internal procedures immediately after award notification. That office will be involved with the principal investigator throughout the management process relating to restricted fund accounts.
 
All University policies and procedures relating to expenditure of funds must be followed for all contract and grant activity (i.e., purchasing rules, property management, human resources, etc).
 
Mississippi University Research Authority Act (The “Mura” Law)
In summary, the Mississippi Legislature approved this Act to “create the Mississippi University Research Authority to promote economic development within the state through cooperative technological innovations activities….”
 
This Act basically provides a legal framework for university faculty and staff to commercialize their research; establishes working procedures and legal relationships to enable business participation; implements appropriate control and review procedures; encourages employee/faculty participation in commercializing research; and follows a model already proven successful in other states.
 
Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD)
Only regular, full-time faculty and/or staff may serve as a Principal Investigator or Project Director on a grant and/or contract. Sponsors may at their discretion further define and restrict those allowed to direct projects or act as Principal Investigators. With permission of the Provost, part-time employees or non-paid representatives of the University may serve as PI.
 
Reporting Requirements
The Office of Finance is responsible for submitting all fiscal reports to funding agencies. It also is involved in all audits on restricted funds and is responsible for maintaining copies of all final technical reports for audit purposes. The Office of Grants and Contracts is responsible for maintaining all records of grants, contracts and cooperative agreement activity for the purpose of reporting.
 
Salaries and Wages
Compensation on sponsored projects must not exceed an employee’s authorized base rate of pay at the University. The Office of Grants and Contracts will provide assistance to faculty/staff in calculating salaries for sponsored projects during the proposal development process prior to formal submission of projects.
 
Recent changes in the OMB Circular A-21 (Costs Principles for Educational Institutions) have caused federal agencies to review the use of salaries for administrative and clerical staff as direct costs for projects. Federal sponsors now take the position that the salaries of administrative and clerical staff should not normally be treated as direct costs. Their view is that these should be a part of the F & A costs.
 
However, there are circumstances when these salaries may be a direct cost on a project; the Office of Grants and Contracts will work with the PI/PD in determining when these are applicable as direct costs on federal projects.
 
Grant proposal budgets which include compensation for current University employees must adhere to the following:
·         the additional grant responsibilities will not interfere with the contractual obligations of the employee.
·         the level of compensation requested is reasonable with regard to the services rendered.
·         Employees not exceed 50% of their contractual salary and/or hours during the academic year.
 
Exceptions to the above must be approved by the Provost.
 
Summer Salary for Faculty
Many agencies allow faculty to budget “summer salary” as part of the direct expenses associated with a project. The rate of pay will be based on the academic pay rate (9-mo. salary). Agency guidelines will stipulate if there are any restrictions or limitations relating to salary. Therefore, this becomes a part of the overall budget discussion with the Office of Grants and Contracts during the proposal development phase.
 
RELATED DOCUMENTS
  • OMB Circular A-21
  • Mississippi University Research Authority Act
  • Office of Grants and Contracts’ Internal Approval Form
Print Friendly
Search: