From the 2015 NIH Budget Library: Pre-Award Sources to Study Further

Here are the online sources that NIH recommends for further review of budgeting.  Just a good review of the basics:

Summer 2015 Budgeting Review: NIH Budget, Either Modular or Detailed

Modular versus Detailed Budgets

The NIH uses 2 different formats for budget submission depending on the total direct costs requested and the activity code used.

The SF424 (R&R) Application Guide includes two optional budget components—(1) R&R Budget Component requesting detailed budget information; and, (2) the “simplified” PHS398 Modular Budget Component. Note: NIH applications will include either the R&R Budget Component or the PHS398 Modular Budget Component, but not both.

To determine whether to use a detailed versus modular budget for your NIH application, see the flowchart below.

Flowchart explaining when to use detailed or modular budget for NIH applications.

Modular Budgets

NIH uses a modular budget format (applicants request funds in lump sums of $25,000 intervals) for some applications, rather than requiring a full detailed budget. The modular budget format is not accepted for SBIR and STTR grant applications. SBIR and STTR applicants must complete and submit budget requests using the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) Budget component. Applications from foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must include only detailed (non-modular) budgets (see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-06-096).

  •  Creating a modular budget:
    • Select the PHS398 Modular Budget Component form for your submission package, and use the appropriate set of instructions from the electronic application user’s guide. You do not need to submit the SF424 (R&R) Budget Component form if you submit the PHS398 Modular Budget form.
    • Consider creating a detailed budget for your own institution’s use including salaries, equipment, supplies, graduate student tuition, etc. for every year of funds requested. While the NIH will not ask for these details, they are important for you to have on hand when calculating your F&A costs base and writing your justification, and for audit purposes.
    • In order to determine how many modules you should request, subtract any consortium F&A from the total direct costs, and then round to the nearest $25,000 increment.
  • A modular budget justification should include:
    • Personnel Justification: The Personnel Justification should include the name, role, and number of person-months devoted to this project for every person on the project. Do not include salary and fringe benefit rate in the justification, but keep in mind the legislatively mandated salary cap when calculating your budget. [When preparing a modular budget, you are instructed to use the current cap when determining the appropriate number of modules.]
    • Consortium Justification: If you have a consortium/subcontract, include the total costs (direct costs plus F&A costs), rounded to the nearest $1,000, for each consortium/subcontract. Additionally, any personnel should include their roles and person months; if the consortium is foreign, that should be stated as well.
    • Additional Narrative Justification: Additional justification should include explanations for any variations in the number of modules requested annually. Also, this section should describe any direct costs that were excluded from the total direct costs (such as equipment, tuition remission) and any work being conducted off-site, especially if it involves a foreign study site or an off-site F&A rate.

Detailed Budget: Personnel (Sections A & B)

Personnel make up sections A and B of the SF424 (R&R) Budget form. All personnel from the applicant organization dedicating effort to the project should be listed on the personnel budget with their base salary and effort, even if they are not requesting salary support.

  • Effort: Effort must be reported in person months. For help converting percent effort to person months, see: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/person_months_faqs.htm.
  • Salary Caps: NIH will not pay requested salary above the annual salary cap, which can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm. If salary is requested above the salary cap, NIH will reduce that line item to the salary cap, resulting in a reduced total award amount. In future years, if the salary cap increases, grantees may rebudget to pay investigator salaries up to the new salary cap, but NIH will not increase the total award amount. If you are preparing a detailed budget, you are instructed to base your request on actual institutional base salaries (not the cap) so that NIH staff has the most current information in hand at the time of award and can apply the appropriate salary cap at that time.
  • Fringe Benefits: The fringe benefits rate is based on your institution’s policy; the NIH does not have a pre-set limit on fringe benefits. More information on what is included as fringe benefits can be found in the Grants Policy Statement athttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch7.htm#Fringe_Benefits. If you have questions about what rate to use, consult your institution’s sponsored programs office.
  • Senior/Key Personnel: The Senior/Key Personnel section should include any senior or key personnel from the applicant organization who are dedicating effort to this project. “Other Significant Contributors” who dedicate negligible effort should not be included. Some common significant contributors include: 1) CEOs of companies who provide overall leadership, but no direct contribution to the research; and 2) mentors for K awardees, who provide advice and guidance to the candidate but do not work on the project. Likewise, any consultants or collaborators who are not employed by the applicant organization should not be included in section A, but rather should be included in section F.3 of the budget (for consultants) or in section A of the consortium/subaward budget page (for collaborators).
  • Postdoctoral Associates: Postdocs can be listed in either section A or B depending on their level of involvement in project design and execution. If listed in section B, include the individuals’ names and level of effort in the budget justification section.
  • Graduate Students: Graduate students can be listed in either section A or B, but if listed in section B, include the individuals’ names and level of effort in the budget justification section. Tuition remission is included in section F.8 (not section A), but is included in the graduate student compensation limits. For more about the graduate student compensation limit, see: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-017.html. For current NRSA stipend levels, see the NRSA help page at:http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm.
  • Other Personnel: Other personnel can be listed by project role. If multiple people share the same role such as “lab technician”, indicate the number of personnel to the left of the role description, add their person months together, and add their requested salaries together. The salaries of secretarial/clerical staff should normally be treated as F&A costs. Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate where a major project or activity explicitly budgets for administrative or clerical services and individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity [see Exhibit C of OMB Circular A-21 (relocated to 2 CFR, Part 220)]. Be specific in your budget justifications when describing other personnel’s roles and responsibilities.

Detailed Budget: Equipment, Travel, and Trainee Costs (Sections C, D, and E)
  • Equipment: Equipment is defined as an item of property that has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more (unless the organization has established lower levels) and an expected service life of more than one year. Tips:
    • Generally equipment is excluded from the F&A base, so if you have something with a short service life (< 1 year), even if it costs more than $5,000, you are better off including it under “supplies”.
    • If you request equipment that is already available (listed in the Facilities & Other Resources section, for example), the narrative justification must explain why the current equipment is insufficient to accomplish the proposed research and how the new equipment’s use will be allocated specifically to the proposed research. Otherwise, NIH may disallow this cost.
    • General purpose equipment, such as desktop computers and laptops, that will be used on multiple projects or for personal use should not be listed as a direct cost but should come out of the F&A costs, unless primarily or exclusively used in the actual conduct of the proposed scientific research.
    • While the application does not require you to have a price quote for new equipment, including price quotes in your budget justification can aid in the evaluation of the equipment cost to support the project.
  • Travel: In the budget justification, include the destination, number of people traveling and dates or duration of your stay for all anticipated travel. As with the equipment justification, it is important that you clearly state how the travel is directly related to your proposed research (e.g. you can go to a conference to present your research, but not just for the purpose of “staying current in your field”). You should refer to your institution’s travel policy for guidance on how you should arrange the travel, but if your institution lacks a policy, it is expected that you will follow the U.S. federal government policy found here: http://www.gsa.gov/federaltravelregulation.
  • Trainee Costs: Leave this section blank unless otherwise stated in the FOA. Graduate student tuition remission can be entered in section F.8.

Detailed Budget: Other Direct Costs (Section F)
  • Materials and Supplies: In the budget justification, indicate general categories such as glassware, chemicals, animal costs, including an amount for each category. Categories that include costs less than $1,000 do not have to be itemized.
  • Animal Costs: While included under “materials and supplies”, it is often helpful to include more specific details about how you developed your estimate for animal costs. Include the number of animals you expect to use, the purchase price for the animals (if you need to purchase any), and your animal facility’s per diem care rate, if available.  Details are especially helpful if your animal care costs are unusually large or small. For example, if you plan to follow your animals for an abnormally long time period and do not include per diem rates, the reviewers may think you have budgeted too much for animal costs and may recommend a budget cut.
  • Publication Costs: You may include the costs associated with helping you disseminate your research findings from the proposed research. If this is a new application, you may want to delay publication costs until the later budget periods, once you have actually obtained data to share.
  • Consultant Services: Consultants differ from Consortiums in that they may provide advice, but should not be making decisions for the direction of the research. Typically, consultants will charge a fixed rate for their services that includes both their direct and F&A costs. You do not need to report separate direct and F&A costs for consultants; however, you should report how much of the total estimated costs will be spent on travel. Consultants are not subject to the salary cap restriction; however, any consultant charges should meet your institution’s definition of “reasonableness”.
  • ADP/Computer Services: The services you include here should be research specific computer services- such as reserving computing time on supercomputers or getting specialized software to help run your statistics. This section should not include your standard desktop office computer, laptop, or the standard tech support provided by your institution. Those types of charges should come out of the F&A costs.
  • Alterations and Renovations (A&R): A&R does not include general maintenance projects (normally handled under F&A) or projects exceeding $500,000 (considered “construction” projects). A&R can be used for projects such as altering a room to make space for a new grant-related piece of equipment. If applicable:
    • Justify basis for costs, itemize by category.
    • Enter the total funds requested for alterations and renovations. Where applicable, provide the square footage and costs.
    • If A&R costs are in excess of $300,000 further limitations apply and additional documentation will be required.
  • Research Patient Care Costs: Few budgets contain patient care expenses, however if inpatient and/or outpatient costs are requested, the following information should be provided:
    • The names of any hospitals and/or clinics and the amounts requested for each.
    • If both inpatient and outpatient costs are requested, provide information for each separately.
    • Provide cost breakdown, number of days, number of patients, costs of tests/treatments.
    • Justify the costs associated with standard care or research care. (Note: If these costs are associated with patient accrual, restrictions may be justified in the Notice of Award.)
      (See NIH Grants Policy Statement NIH Grants Policy Statement, Research Patient Care Costs)
  • Tuition: In your budget justification, for any graduate students on your project, include what your school’s tuition rates are. You may have to report both an in-state and out-of-state tuition rate. Depending on your school stipend and tuition levels, you may have to budget less than your school’s full tuition rate in order to meet the graduate student compensation limit (equivalent to the NRSA zero-level postdoctorate stipend level).
  • Other: Some types of costs, such as entertainment costs, are not allowed under federal grants. NIH has included a list of the most common questionable items in the NIH Grants Policy Statement (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch7.htm#selected_cost_items). If NIH discovers an unallowable cost in your budget, generally we will discount that cost from your total award amount, so it is in your best interest to avoid requesting unallowable costs. If you have any question over whether a cost is allowable, contact your sponsored programs office or the grants management specialist listed on the funding opportunity announcement.

Consortiums/Subawards

If you are using the detailed budget format, each consortium you include must have an independent budget form filled out.

  • Direct costs:
    • In the rare case of third tier subawards, section F.5 “subawards/consortium/contractual” costs should include the total cost of the subaward, and the entire third tier award is considered part of the direct costs of the consortium for the purposes of calculating the primary applicant’s direct costs.
    • Cost Principles. Regardless of what cost principles apply to the parent grantee, the consortium is held to the standards of their respective set of cost principles.
  • F&A:
    • Consortium F&A costs are NOT included as part of the direct cost base when determining whether the application can use the modular format (direct costs < $250,000 per year), or determining whether prior approval is needed to submit an application (direct costs $500,000 or more for any year).

      NOTE: This policy does not apply to applications submitted in response to RFAs or in response to other funding opportunity announcements including specific budgetary limits.

    • F&A costs for the first $25,000 of each consortium may be included in the modified total direct cost base, when calculating the overall F&A rate, as long as your institution’s negotiated F&A rate agreement does not express prohibit it.
    • If the consortium is a foreign institution or international organization, F&A for the consortium is limited to 8%.
    • If the consortium is with a for-profit entity, such as a small business, the organization must have a negotiated F&A rate before they can charge F&A costs. The default small business rate of 40% is only applicable to SBIR (R43 &R44) and STTR (R41 & R42) applications. See the Division of Financial and Accounting Services (DFAS) at NIH to set up a rate: http://oamp.od.nih.gov/dfas/indirect-cost-branch/indirect-cost-submission
  • Justification:
    • Consortiums should each provide a budget justification following their detailed budget. The justification should be separate from the primary grantee’s justification and address just those items that pertain to the consortium.

Understanding the Out Years
  • We do not expect your budget to predict perfectly how you will spend your money five years down the road. However, we do expect a reasonable approximation of what you intend to spend. Be thorough enough to convince the reviewers that you have a good sense of the overall costs.
  • You may request an escalation factor for recurring costs in accordance with your institution’s policy, depending on NIH’s budget appropriation. NIH will generally provide up to a 3% escalation factor for recurring costs each future year. Consistent with the FY 2009 appropriation, the FY 2008 average cost of competing grants is allowed to increase by 3 percent over FY 2008 (see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-09-066). The adjustment on salaries cannot exceed the salary cap.
  • Any large year-to-year variation should be described in your budget justification. For example, if you have money set aside for consultants only in the final year of your budget, be sure to explain why in your justification (e.g. the consultants are intended to help you with the statistical interpretation of the data and therefore are not needed before the final year).
  • In general, NIH grantees are allowed a certain degree of latitude to rebudget within and between budget categories to meet unanticipated needs and to make other types of post-award changes. Some changes may be made at the grantee’s discretion as long as they are within the limits established by NIH. In other cases, NIH prior written approval may be required before a grantee makes certain budget modifications or undertakes particular activities (such as change in scope). See NIH Grants Policy Statement – Changes in Project and Budget.

Certified Pre-award Research Administrator Exam: Outline of Topics for Study

Here is the RACC’s basic outline of Pre-award Topics for our group study sessions.  I will build on this outline to show the main topics that are covered on the exam.  Here is the direct link of what I have copied below: http://www.cra-cert.org/CPRAbodyofknowledge.html

CPRA BODY OF KNOWLEDGE

Note:   Resources listed below are provided as examples and have been obtained through topic-specific web searches. The list is not intended to be a comprehensive representation of content included on the exam and inclusion on the list doesn’t reflect RACC support of the materials or indicate verification of accuracy of the information.  Links to original sources for funding sources, statutory requirements, grant regulations and common electronic proposal systems are not provided since they are easily assessable with simple web searches.  Candidates for the CPRA exam are encouraged to explore additional resources related to the exam’s content outline.

Links provided are current as of 05-21-2015.

Annotated Content Outline for Certified Pre-Award Research Administrator (CPRA) Exam

I.        Research Partnership and Funding

A.      Setting for research administration

B.      Roles and responsibilities

§         RACC role delineation study

§         Sample campus roles and responsibilities matrix

§         Sample campus guidance

§         Sample campus policy

§         Sample sponsor glossary

§         Sample campus definition

C.      Perspectives for seeking and awarding sponsored funding

D.      Collaborations

§         Sample sponsor definition of multiple PI

§         Sample campus procedure for multiple PI

§         Sample campus guidance on vendor/subrecipient distinction Link 1  |  Link 2

§         Sample campus subrecipient procedure

§         IRS determination of independent contractor

§         Sample teaming agreement

E.       Professional skills development

§         NCURA educational programs

§         SRA meetings and webinars

§         Presentation on strategies for career growth Link 1  Link 2

§         Sample campus training program

F.       Funding and research development

§         Sample sponsor funding opportunities

§         Sample solicited funding announcement

Sample unsolicited funding opportunity Link 1  Link 2

§         Sample campus limited submission programs definition

Sample sponsor limited funding opportunity announcement

§         SRA grants web information

§         Fed Connect.net

§         Sample agency website 

§         Foundation Center website 

§         Sample foundation directory 

§         General explanation of funding opportunity databases

§         Sample organization’s tool for seeking funding 

§         Sample campus listing of electronic funding sources

§         Sample expertise database and funding search tool Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample sponsor funding opportunities

§         Sample sponsor assistance types

§         Sample campus funding alert newsletter

§         Sample campus funding opportunity page

§         Sample sponsor research program

§         Sample sponsor fellowship program

§         Sample sponsor training programs

§         Sample sponsor equipment/instrumentation program

§         Sample campus listing of instrumentation programs

§         Sample sponsor program project/center grants  Link 1  and  Link 2

§         Sample sponsor career development funding program Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus internal funding program Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample of other funding programs Link 1 and Link 2

G.      Overview of grants regulatory framework and legislative process

§         Sample campus listing of federal policies and procedures

§         Description of federal budget process Link 1 and Link 2

§         Definition of congressionally directed funding

§         Sample of statutory requirements Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample of uniform administrative requirements  Link 1 , Link 2 and Link 3

H.      Sponsors

§         Sample of sponsor guidelines on grants to federal entities

§         Description of federal government structure

§         Grants.gov information in agency that provide grants

§         Description of federal budget process 

§         Description of state and local government

§         Definition of private foundation

§         Definition of a corporation

§         Sample campus description of differences between public and private funding sources Link 1 and Link 2

I.        Identification of internal capacity

§         Sample of campus institutional space committee

§         Sample of campus space study

§         Sample sponsor report on recharge centers

§         Sample sponsor guidance on matching funds

J.        Public Relations

§         Sample Wikipedia entries on FOIA, chemical waste and material safety data sheet

§         Sample of state’s public records law

II.      Project Development and Proposal Submission

A.      Proposal Writing

§         Sample sponsor pre-proposal/pre-application guidelines Link 1  Link 2 and Link 3

§         Sample sponsor glossary of proposal types

§         Sample of internal seed grant program

§         Sample campus guidance on writing proposals  Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidance on proposal development process

§         Sample sponsor tips for proposal writing Link 1  and Link 2  and Link 3

§         Sample sponsor definition of senior/key personnel  Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample excerpts of grant proposal

B.      Effective management of proposal teams

§         Sample campus guidance on grant proposal timeline 

C.      Understanding and interpretation of agency guidelines

§         Sample guidance on interpreting agency guidelines

§         Sample sponsor definition of BAA

§         Sample campus guidance on responding to RFP

§         Sample sponsor program announcement

D.      Documentation to meet sponsor requirements

§         Sample campus instructions for subawards in proposals

§         Sample sponsor guidance on JIT

§         Sample sponsor current and pending support Link 1 and Link 2 and Link 3

§         Sample campus example of required proposal components

E.       Institutional clearances and approvals

§         Sample campus proposal review  and internal routing form Link 1  and Link 2  and Link 3

§         Sample campus records retention schedule

§         Sample sponsor requirements for records retention

F.       Electronic research administration

§         Sample campus list of agency eRA systems

§         Sample sponsor overview of eRA

§         Grants.gov guidance on system-to-system interface

G.      Deadlines and target dates

§         Sample sponsor instruction on deadlines and target dates Link 1 and Link 2

H.      Unfunded and revised proposals

§         Sample campus guidance on resubmission of unfunded proposals

§         Sample sponsor guidance on resubmission of unfunded proposals

III.    Budget Design and Development

A.      Budget Preparation

§         Sample campus guide to budgeting

§         Sample sponsor guide to developing budget

§         Sample sponsor description of budget categories

§         Sample sponsor guidance on budget categories

§         Sample campus budget justification 

§         Sample campus budget template Link 1 and  Link 2

B.      Project Costs

§         Sample campus definition of direct and F&A costs Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidance on major project/unlike circumstance Link 1

§         Sample campus policy and guidance on cost sharing Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample sponsor guidance on allowable costs Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidelines on CAS

§         Sample sponsor definition of cost and price analysis

§         Sample campus guidance on cost price analysis

§         Sample campus guidance on program income

§         Sample sponsor guidance on program income

C.      Direct Costs

§         Sample campus explanation of NIH salary cap  Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus time and effort policy/procedures Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus description of salary and fringe benefits Link 1  and  Link 2

§         Sample campus travel guidelines Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample sponsor travel guidelines

§          Sample campus guidance on equipment purchase on sponsored programs Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample sponsor terms and conditions for subawards  Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidance on proposals for subaward support

§         Sample campus guidance on consultants Link 1 and Link 2

D.      Facilities and Administrative Costs

§         Sample campus explanation of F&A costs Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus description of MTDC and unrecovered F&A costs Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample campus policy on waived F&A costs

§         Sample sponsor overview of F&A costs

§         Sample sponsor guidance on developing F&A cost proposal  Link 1 and Link 2

E.       Budget revisions

§         Sample campus internal procedure for budget revisions

IV.    Awards and Pre-award Compliance Considerations

A.      Sponsor reviews

§         Sample sponsor review processes Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus explanation of sponsor reviews Link 1  and Link 2

B.      Site visits

§         Sample sponsor explanation of site visits

C.      Sponsored project awards

§         Sample sponsor description of award mechanisms

§         Sample campus description of award types Link 1  and Link 2  and Link 3

D.      Negotiations

§         Sample campus award negotiation process

§          Sample sponsor terms and conditions Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidance on award terms Link 1  and Link 2

E.       Intellectual Property

§         Sample definition of IP

§         Sample campus IP policy Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus information on types of IP 

§         Sample campus policy on classified research Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample sponsor instructions for classified research

§         Sample campus information on nondisclosure agreement

F.       Assurances, certifications and disclosures

§         Sample campus guidance on reps and certs

§         Sample other guidance on reps and certs Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidance on COI Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidance on export controls Link 1 and Link 2

§         Sample sponsor guidance on export controls Link 1  and Link 2

G.      Research compliance

§         Sample sponsor requirements for human subjects approval and training Link 1  and Link 2 and Link 3

§         Sample campus directives on human subjects training 

§         Sample campus guide to animal care and use Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus radiation safety and chemical safety committees Link1  andLink 2

§         Sample sponsor guidance on biosafety committees  Link 2

H.      Health Information Portability and Accountability Act

§         Sample sponsor guidance on HIPAA Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus guidance on HIPAA Link 1  and Link 2

I.        Responsible Conduct of Research

§         Sample sponsor guidance on RCR Link 1  and Link 2

§         Sample campus training on RCR Link 1  and Link 2

Updates to iEdison system and Review of Bayh-Dole Act

In July 2015, NIH announced that recipients of NIH Extramural Research Funding Agreements can start using a new feature for updates to the iEdison system regarding Bayh-Dole reporting requirements and compliance messages.

Previously, users could change the status of a subject invention or patent to a Not Elect Title – Waive status in iEdison with unresolved compliance issues. This change of status did not delete or remove previously required Bayh-Dole compliance steps or notices to NIH.  The change of status designation simply indicates a recipient’s request to the Government to waive title to the subject invention.  Title waivers are not effectuated while compliance issues remain outstanding.  It is important to note that this is NOT a policy change.

This ability to change a status in iEdison while compliance issues remain unresolved caused confusion among our funding recipients about the status of the subject invention.  This update to iEdison is intended to alleviate this confusion and to assist the user by ensuring that inventions and patents are not mistakenly understood to be waived prior to the resolution of outstanding notification messages.

Background

The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980

Application to Federal Funding Recipients

The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-517; 35 U.S.C. 200-212) and the related Executive Orders 12591 (April 10, 1987) and 12618 (December 22, 1987) provide incentives for the practical application of research supported through Federal funding agreements. To be able to retain rights and title to inventions made with Federal funds (“subject inventions”), the funding recipient must comply with a series of regulations that ensure the timely transfer or licensing of the technology to the private sector, while protecting the rights of the Federal government.

The regulations apply to any subject invention—defined as any invention either conceived or first actually reduced to practice in the performance of work under the Federal award—and to all types of recipients of Federal funding. This includes non-profit entities and small businesses or large businesses receiving funding through grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts as direct recipients of funds, or as consortium participants or subcontractors under those awards.

iEDISON Updates

Users Cannot Waive Subject Inventions and Patents Unless Bayh-Dole Required Compliance Actions are Taken and the iEdison Notification Messages are Resolved

Until all outstanding compliance issues and notification messages are resolved, iEdison will no longer permit a user to waive title to an invention or patent.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of actions that need to be taken and Compliance Notification Messages that an iEdison user may encounter:

  • No written description of this invention (Disclosure) has been uploaded into iEdison;
  • A Government Support Clause is missing (or not accepted) for a non-provisional patent filing;
  • The submitted Confirmatory License is missing (or not accepted) for a non-provisional patent filing;

Also, iEdison Users Cannot Waive an Invention until All Patents Linked to that Invention Have Been Previously Waived and All Reporting Requirements are Satisfied

iEdison users will no longer be permitted to waive an invention if any related patent(s)  has not previously been waived by the user and all reporting requirements satisfied .

– See more at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-119.html#sthash.RkttpRG6.dpuf

ASSIST Submission System Now Open for NIH’s Training and Career Programs

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-126.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

On July 20, 2015,  NIH announces the immediate availability of ASSIST as a submission option for NIH’s Institutional Training and Career Development applications (Ts and K12), other training applications (Ds) and additional research applications. ASSIST is NIH’s on-line system for the preparation, submission and tracking of grant applications through Grants.gov to NIH.

ASSIST support is now available for the following programs:

  • All multi-project grant programs (May 2013: NOT-OD-13-075)
  • Small Research Grant (R03) and Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) programs (January 2015: NOT-OD-15-062)
  • Research Grant (R01), Research Project Cooperative Agreements and Individual Career Development Award (K, excluding  K12) programs (April 2015: NOT-OD-15-098, NOT-OD-15-099)
  • Institutional Training and Career Development programs (Ts and K12), other training programs (Ds), and additional research applications (DP7, R13, R15, R18, R21/R33, R24, R25, R33, R34, R35, R36, R61/R33, RF1, RM1, SI2/R00, U13, U18, U24, U2R, U34, UA5, UF1, UG3/UH3, UH1, UH2, UH2/UH3, UH3, UH4, UM1)

ASSIST will become an option for additional grant programs throughout 2015 (NOT-OD-15-044; timeline).

Use of ASSIST is optional; Grants.gov downloadable forms and institutional system-to-system solutions remain viable alternatives for application preparation and submission to NIH (learn more about options).

Background

ASSIST provides users:

  • Secure web-based data entry
  • Collaboration of multiple users
  • Pre-submission validation of many NIH and Grants.gov business rules
  • Pre-population of data from eRA Commons profiles
  • Pre-submission print/preview of application in NIH format
  • Submission status tracking for both Grants.gov and eRA Commons within a single system
  • Ability to import subaward budget data from external sources
  • Ability to copy application data (excluding attachments) from a previously prepared application

Funding opportunity announcements posted in the NIH Guide for Grants & Contracts that allow ASSIST as an option contain an “Apply Online Using ASSIST” button in addition to the “Apply Using Downloadable Forms” button.

The following resources are available to help applicants prepare their applications using ASSIST:

– See more at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-126.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#sthash.KMFy6J7W.dpuf

NIH’s New MATCHMAKER: Linking Up Other Awards That Match Your Scope of Work

Since 2008, NIH’s Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools, better known as RePORT, has provided easy access to info on NIH funded research.  With the RePort we can enter the name of our institution or investigator to find the current listing of all active NIH grants.  What if your investigator wanted to find out what other awards has ever NIH ever funded with the same science (key concepts and key words match up in the scope of work).

Now a huge advancement has been made with the latest tool from NIH called the Matchmaker. 

 http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter_matchmaker.cfm?new=1

This is the most helpful tool I have seen since the RePort database – it answers the question we are always asking what other grants are being funded and which funding announcement did they use? 

Matchmaker allows you to enter manuscript abstracts, research bios, or other scientific text, and retrieve a list of similar projects from the RePORTER database.

After you submit your text (up to 15,000 characters in length), Matchmaker will analyze it for key terms and concepts, then pull up the top 100 most-similar NIH-funded projects, ranked by match score.

MatchmakerView

You’ll notice that it also returns several graphs to allow you to easily visualize the distribution of NIH institutes or centers funding these projects, what activity codes these projects use, and which study section the project was reviewed in. You can also click on these graphs to further refine your results as well. For example, you can click on a specific activity code and see how the study section or funding IC distribution changes.

** Check out  on Youtube’s the NIH training video on this MATCHMAKER – this is so amazing and helps find funding opportunities and similarities to your proposals viz a viz what has already been funded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k94U9q65Kq0&feature=youtu.be

Exploring NIH’s research portfolio can help you identify the best ICs to reach out to as you put together an application and where your application is likely to be reviewed. It can also help you identify collaborators, potential labs to move into if you’re a trainee, and more. Check out the video below and have fun making your match.

http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2015/01/30/make-the-match-with-reporter/#sthash.NrKOPsSZ.dpuf

Terms and Conditions – Hot Topic in the 2015 Implementation Process

The biggest new change for research administrators in 2015 is the implementation of the new research terms and conditions which will now appear in every grant award notice and must now be typed into every contract or subcontract.  After all, how flexible can we manage investigators’ budgets and whether we have to ask prior permission for routine revisions can make a big difference in our day to day office operations.

In January 2015 at the national meeting of the Federal Demonstration Partnership the directors of grant policy at National Institutes of Health (Michelle Bulls) and at National Science Foundation (Jean Feldman) addressed the national meeting with the following news:

In 2014 the following federal agencies agreed to meet and present a revised new updated collection of “terms and conditions” that would agree with the OMB Omnicircular. NIH and NSF presented 6 major news announcements:

#1 Which federal agencies participated and contributed to this revision of the 2015 Terms and Conditions (also called the RTC)?

Departments from Agriculture (NIFA), Commerce (NIST/NOAA), Energy, Transportation (FAA), Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, NIH and NSF.  The Dept of Defense has held back because DOD plans to rewrite their agency’s own unique set of terms and conditions.

#2 What did the federal agencies agree to and discuss?

These federal agencies wanted to find a common ground where the new Uniform Guidance was expressed and defined as part of their own agency’s grant policy. The forum decided to articulate all the OMB national requirements for both prime and subaward fundings and the group decided to closely scrutinize how all this would be presented for the Prior Approval policies.

#3 What was the final decision or outcome from all their meetings in 2014?

Good news:  these agencies determined that the Policy Matrix will include only Federal-wide Requirements and that each agency would maintain their own agency specific requirements as part of their agency implementation of the Prior Approval Matrix.

By December 2014, these agencies agreed that if

two or more agencies support waiving the prior approval requirement then the prior approval would be waived within the RTC overlay, but, agencies would have the discretion to maintain the prior approval within their agency specific requirements.”

Essentially this leaves the window open to continue to use “expanded authorities” IF THE SPECIFIC AGENCY SPECIFICALLY ALLOWS IT IN THEIR GRANT POLICY GUIDELINES.

So for those of us in biomedical research administration we are still waiting for the official NIH guidelines to be published (in February 2015) to see if the expanded authorities is retained.  Essentially remember that research terms and conditions (RTC) that we see in every grant award and contract refer back to the wording in the agency guidelines.  This is welcoming news that we may still get to benefit from the overall efficiency of expanded authorities – the keystone for most of our day-to-day operations since the mid-90’s.

#4 What’s new for research administration in the spring of 2015?

We all should be on the lookout for the final wording in these documents, which together will disclose all the flexibility of the RTC.   The watchlist has these three websites for final updates throughout 2015:

National Policy Matrix http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/fedrtc/appc_apr14.pdf 

Subaward Matrix http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/fedrtc/appb_june11.pdf

 Prior Approval Matrix http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/fedrtc/priorapproval_oct08.pdf

#5 Since FDP has to revise all their standard forms to incorporate the new OMB Omnicircular, what was the newest change from the FDP representatives?

At the FDP meeting there was heated discussion about what to do in 2015 with the  Award Letter Language.  Is there still a need to provide language in the award notice that specifies an institution’s participation in the FDP?

The decision was yes and that the following language was approved for use by the FDP Terms and Conditions Standing Committee for use in Award Letters:

“This institution is a signatory to the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Phase VI Agreement which requires active institutional participation in new or ongoing FDP demonstrations and pilots.”

 #6 What’s next for us in research administration for this process?

Officially what’s next is that all this will be published in the Federal Register this spring and then the federal govt allows the obligatory 60 days for public comment.  Then, in the spring, the new RTC wording that is shown in the text of the Federal Register announcement becomes law.  After that, we will start to see the new RTC in award notices and all the FDP subcontract forms.

I will blog about that wording as soon as I see the published text in the Register.

Latest 2015 News from NIH Policy Office – THE TOP 10 NEW ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR INVESTIGATORS

Last week NIH officials met in D.C. with representatives from the Federal Demonstration Partnership and with other federal agency reps.  Their intention is to have open discussion about the new OMB A-81 Circular and to hear basically the complaints and fears from the research admnistration community.

Michelle Bulls, the Director  of the Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration at NIH, presented the following top ten announcements to start off 2015:

============================================

ANNOUNCEMENT #1

NIH IS FOLLOWING THE NEW A-81 COMPLETELY – EXPANDED AUTHORITIES LIKELY TO GO AWAY:

Honestly I won’t believe that NIH’s expanded authorities is vanishing until I read with my own eyes in the new NIH Guide takes out the wording.  Ms. Bulls remarked that we need to watch carefully Chapter 8 of the new Guide.  I will definitely post what I find in this blog. It is expected that NIH will publish their office guide by the end of February 2015.

As a result of the publication of HHS’ interim final rule, NIH has already begun making the necessary changes to the NIH Grants Policy Statement in order to reflect NIH’s adoption of the regulations.  

In addition to removing all of the references to the previous OMB Circulars and HHS regulations located at 45 CFR parts 74 and 92. The following are some of the NIH GPS Chapters that have been revised in order to comply with 45 CFR part 75; NIH GPS Chapter 1.1 – Definitions and Terms

===========================================

ANNOUNCEMENT #2

NIH is currently funded under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) signed by President Obama on December 16, 2014.

NIH Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards – FY 2015 NOT-OD-15-050

NIH awarding ICs will develop and post their fiscal policies consistent with overall NIH goals and available FY 2015 funds.

============================================

 ANNOUNCEMENT #3

NRSA awards –

Stipends increased for undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctorals

No changes in tuition, fees, and training related expenses

See NOT-OD-15-048 for details

============================================

ANNOUNCEMENT #4

MONEY MATTERS FOR SALARY AND NEW INVESTIGATORS:

Salary Cap –

Limited to Executive Level II – currently set at $181,500, increasing to $183,300 effective January 11, 2015. See NOT-OD-15-049

New Investigators –

Support on R01 equivalent awards will continue at rates comparable to established investigators.

Additional information at NOT-OD-09-013 and http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/index.htm

 ============================================

ANNOUNCEMENT #5

NIH SETS NEW “CLINICAL” DEFINITIONS

NIH has revised its definition of “clinical trial”. The revision was designed for the following;

  1. To make the distinction between clinical trials and clinical research studies clearer, and
  2. To enhance the precision of the information NIH collects, tracks, and reports on clinical trials

The revised definition will apply to competing grant applications that are submitted to NIH for the January 25, 2015 due date and subsequent due dates.

See NOT-OD-15-015 for details

 ============================================

ANNOUNCEMENT #6

Reminder that the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy becomes effective with NIH grant applications submitted for January 25, 2015, due dates and thereafter.

The new GDS Policy promotes sharing of large scale genomic data generated by NIH research.

Includes human, non-human, and model organism data

Please see NOT-OD-15-027 for reminder.

============================================

 ANNOUNCEMENT #7

NEW NIH PROPOSAL REMINDER:  USE THE NEW BIO SKETCH FORM! NOW UP TO 5 PAGE LIMIT.

NIH and AHRQ encourages applicants to use the newly published biosketch format for ALL grant and cooperative agreement applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015, and will require use of the new format for applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015. 

  1. The revised forms and instructions are now available and adjustments have been made to improve their usability. The following are some of the features of the new format;
  2. Extends the page limit for the biosketch from four to five pages
  3. Investigators can outline the central findings of prior work and the influence of those findings on the investigator’s field work
  4. Investigators involved in Team Science are provided the opportunity to describe their specific role(s) in the work 

See NOT-OD-15-032 for additional information

============================================

ANNOUNCEMENT #8

NIH’s standard due dates for SBIR and STTR programs are changing in response to small business community feedback, congressional mandates, and recommendations from the NIH Scientific Management Review Board to decrease delays between submission and award funding.

The next standard due date is April 5, 2015, and there will not be an August 5, 2015 due date. From then on, SBIR/STTR due dates will fall on September 5, January 5, and April 5.

The current SBIR and STTR Grant Omnibus funding opportunity announcements are being extended one cycle during the transition, to allow submissions on the April 5, 2015 due date and May 7, 2015 AIDS/AIDS-related due date.

Please see NOT-OD-15-038 for additional information

============================================

 ANNOUNCEMENT #9

IMPORTANT REMINDER ON NIH PROGRESS REPORTS IN 2015:

As of October 17, 2014, NIH requires grantees to submit ALL type 5 progress reports using the RPPR module in eRA Commons.

Annual progress reports submitted in any format other than the RPPR will not be processed by the NIH and will require resubmission through the RPPR.

More at NOT-OD-15-014

 ============================================

ANNOUNCEMENT #10

Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (the Policy) issued on September 24, 2014.

Applies to all New and Renewal awards issued on applications submitted on or after January 25, 2015, and to all non-competing continuation awards issued on or after January 25, 2015.

Institutions have one year (until September 24, 2015) to establish the necessary infrastructure to come into full compliance with the Policy.  

See NOT-OD-15-017 for more information.

 ============================================

Some recent notices were published by NIH that effect CENTRAL GRANT OFFICES

  •  NOT-OD-14-084 NIH Updating Grant Closeout Policies and Procedures to Align with New HHS Requirements

  • NOT-OD-14-103 Revised Timeline for Administrative Changes to NIH Domestic Awards to Transition to Payment Management System SubaccountS
  • NOT-OD-14-112 Notice of Annual Reporting Requirements and Revised Financial Closeout Requirements for NIH Administrative Supplements Awarded to Recover Losses Due to Hurricane Sandy under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act

  • NOT-OD-14-113 Revised Policy: Descriptions on the Use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers Required in Annual Progress Reports beginning October 1, 2014   

 

 

Starting 1/26/15, New Fastlane Requirements Entries for National Science Foundation Proposals

On January 26, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will implement changes in FastLane to support the revised version of the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and to run additional automated compliance checks on proposals.

Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 15-1)

A revised PAPPG was issued on November 20, 2014, which incorporates OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), as well as other policy updates. The following changes will be made to FastLane to support the revised PAPPG:

  • Budget Form Update: The budget form will be updated so that the “Residual Funds” line (Line K) will not be editable for all programs except Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR). As this field is currently used for the purpose of collecting fees, “Residual Funds” will be renamed to “Small Business Fee.”
  • Budget Justification Upload: Budget justification can no longer be entered as text. Awardees will be required to upload a budget justification for each organization added to the budget via an upload screen. Already, 95% of proposers take advantage of the upload option.
  • Cost Sharing Notifications Requirement: The existing requirement that only awards with cost sharing of $500,000 or more must submit a cost sharing certificate will be modified to support the revised policy which specifies that cost sharing notifications must be submitted by all awardees with awards that include cost sharing.
  • New Funding Mechanism: The FastLane proposal cover sheet will be updated to include the new funding mechanism type, Ideas Lab. Ideas Lab is designed to support the development and implementation of creative and innovative project ideas. These projects will typically be high-risk/high-impact as they represent new and unproven ideas, approaches, and/or technologies.

  • Automated Compliance Checks

FastLane will begin to run an additional 24 automated compliance checks on proposals to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the PAPPG, Chapter II.C.2 of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG). These checks will validate a proposal for compliance with page count, proposal sections per type of funding mechanism and budget related rules for proposals submitted in response to the GPG, Program Announcements and Program Descriptions. At this time, these checks will not be enforced for proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations.

  • Page Count: Page count rules will be enforced on the following proposal sections:

o   Project Description: 15-page limit [exceptions: 8-page limit for Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and 5-page limit for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)]

o   Budget Justification: 3-page limit for the proposing institution and a separate, 3-page limit for each sub-recipient organization

o   Mentoring Plan: 1-page limit

o   Data Management Plan: 2-page limit

  • Budget: Budget-related checks will focus primarily on proposal duration and requested amount. For example, the system will enforce a maximum requested amount of $200,000 for a RAPID proposal and $300,000 for an EAGER proposal.
  • Proposal Section: Proposal sections will be enforced by their funding mechanism for Program Announcement, Program Description and other GPG-type funding opportunities. For example, an error message will appear if a Project Description was not provided for an EAGER proposal.

The checks detailed above will be triggered when the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions are selected by a proposer or proposing organization. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message will display when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the organization will not be able to submit the proposal until it is compliant. To view a detailed list of all compliance checks, click here.

We’re asked to direct any questions to the policy office at NSF:  policy@nsf.gov

The 2015 DATA Act and Special Requirements for Reporting to USASpending.gov

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-101) became law on  5/9/2014 as the latest evolution of the former FFATA Transparency initiative.  Like FFATA,USASpending.gov will be the primary source for public information under this law.  It will contain data supplied by both Federal agencies and by federal grantees/ contractors.  It will become the one-stop shop for federal spending where all the data fields are connected, standardized and published quarterly.

By the summer of 2015 the OMB/Treasury will announce the specifics we need to have in our IT systems such as what new XML or XBRL universal data elements and unique grant and contract identifiers.  By May 2018 the OMB/Treasury must start fully publishing the government’s grant and contract spending for public inspection.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-113publ101/pdf/PLAW-113publ101.pdf

What’s New for Grant Awardees and Contractors?

By May 2015, the OMB and Treasury Dept must define common data elements for financial and payment information reporting.  Then by May 2016 at the latest, awardees must begin using these data elements in their reporting to USASpending.gov.

  • A unique Federal identifier will be required for all awards – we need to start this year to develop the IT infrastructure to work with the mandatory data fields.
  • DATA Act does not specify reporting frequency or level of subaward reporting
  • FDP anticipates reporting will build upon existing FFATA reporting requirements.

What’s New for Federal Agencies?

Agencies will continue to report award-specific information to USASpending.gov in line with requirements laid out by Treasury.  Additionally, agencies will report at least quarterly on the following information based on yearly appropriations:

  • Amount appropriated and obligated for each appropriations account,
  • Amount of funds obligated/outlayed for each Federal budget program activity,
  • Amount of funds obligated/outlayed for each budget object class, and
  • Amount obligated (by object class) for each Federal budget program activity.

The timeline of events:

May 9, 2014 DATA Act signed into law (Public Law 113-101)
May 9, 2015 OMB and Treasury finalize government-wide financial standards, including common data elements, unique award identifiers, and fields.
Begin pilot program on recipient reporting based on common data elements defined by OMB and Treasury
May 9, 2016 Initial report due to Congress on lessons learned from pilot reporting program
May 9, 2017 Recipient reporting begins on all Federal funds based on common data elements defined by OMB and Treasury
Agency reporting begins on spending from each appropriations account
Pilot program on recipient reporting ends

Now Published on YouTube: Dec 4, 2014 OLAW Webinar on Biomedical Research Oversight

On 12/4/14,  DHHS’ Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare held a webinar on Biomedical Research Oversight.  The seminar is now up on YouTube:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKPbl4duGUE

Key point for 2015:  investigators are asked to make sure that their reports and other documents are “FOIA ready.”  Essentially under the 1966 law of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) any documentation submitted to OLAW is part of the official agency and government record.  Anything you document or report to your institutional IACUC committee could be requested for under FOIA and disclosed. 

Anything sent to the federal agency will be subject to public review (after documents have been “scrubbed” for privacy issues).  Often OLAW does NOT inform the institution or the investigators that they have released this information as a response to a FOIA investigation or request.

Remember there are all sorts of documents that can be requested in a FOIA request, such as IACUC committee minutes, your specific IACUC protocols, medical and necropsy records and any emails involving animal care discussions.

It was noted in this OLAW webinar that often many of the FOIA requests are from groups searching just to test the state open records. Often investigators or their institutions are unaware and frequently not informed from the federal agency that information on their research projects has been released to the media or activist group.

See also OLAW’s resources page:

 http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/educational_resources.htm#a_12042014

 See below also the Dec 1, 2014 announcement from NIH on the importance of how and what you “self report” in routine documentation:

===========================================================================

Notice of Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy on Shared Animal Welfare Concerns

Notice Number: NOT-OD-15-028         Release Date: December 01, 2014

This Notice is to inform awardee institutions of the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) policy regarding animal welfare concerns shared by OLAW and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Animal Care (AC).

The Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory animals (Policy, IV.F.3.) requires Assured institutions to self-report any serious or continuing noncompliance to OLAW. Institutions may also choose to share self-reports of noncompliance with AC as a demonstration of their commitment to continual animal welfare improvement, timely correction of noncompliance, and prevention of reoccurrence.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, OLAW frequently shares self-reports of serious animal welfare concerns involving USDA regulated species with AC Animal Welfare Operations (formerly called AC Regional Offices). Serious animal welfare concerns may include unanticipated death of animal(s), and unexpected and unrelieved pain or distress to animal(s). OLAW will contact AC to share serious animal welfare concerns and issues of interest to both agencies. Institutional self-reports are shared with AC after OLAW’s investigation is completed.

AC will not cite an institution for past self-reports to OLAW if the incident:

  • did not cause serious adverse effects;
  • had no history of repeat noncompliance;
  • was corrected in a timely manner; and
  • led to effective preventative measures.

AC will cite the institution if any of the above criteria are not met.

Complaints from third parties involving previously reviewed noncompliance or any events over 3 years old will not be reexamined by AC or OLAW. This policy is in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding that was designed to foster continual improvements in animal welfare, reduce redundancy in oversight, and reduce regulatory burden.

USDA AC has reviewed and concurs with this policy and has published consistent guidance in the November 2014 Tech Note.

NIH’s New 2015 Biosketch Form

On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, NIH released NOT-OD-15-024 confirming the required use of a new Biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015.

Prior to January 25, 2015, applicants have the option to use the old or new Biosketch format. The new Biosketch format extends the page limit from four to five pages and it allows researchers to describe up to five of their most significant contributions to science along with the historical background that framed their research. Researchers can outline the central findings of prior work and the influence of those findings on the Researcher’s field. Those involved with Team Science now have the opportunity to describe their specific role(s) in the work.

Each description can include a listing of up to four relevant peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research products such as audio or video products; data and research materials; databases; educational aids or curricula; instruments or equipment; models; protocols; and software or netware that are relevant to the described publication. Researchers will also be allowed to include a link to a full list of their published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as MyBibliography or SciENcv.

December 5, 2014 Update: NIH released guidance to allow those who are already working on large grant applications due in early 2015 to continue using the old Biosketch format. NIH is encouraging use of the new Biosketch format for grant applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015 and will require use of the new Biosketch format for grant applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015.

What’s New for Investigators this Spring 2015 on Federally Funded Projects

Starting today through Jan 15, representatives from the Federal Demonstration Partnership and all the major federal agencies will convene in D.C.  to discuss what’s new for researchers in 2015.  I should be able to get the discussion handouts that will announce the latest new items for research teams later this week in this blog.

Here are the “hot topics” for investigators and research teams:

  1. FDP and federal govt will discuss the pros and cons of the  new terms and conditions on research grants:  NIH and NSF will announce more details on the expanded authorities (participating Michelle Bulls, National Institutes of Health; Jean Feldman, National Science Foundation).  What this means is that investigators must now get accustomed to asking prior permission for budget revisions in excess of 25% of total budget and investigators must now ask permission in advance for their first no-cost extension.  Research teams are effected by this directly if they are working on subawards where there will be two layers of responses:  one from our prime awardee and the other from the federal program director.
  2. 2.  In 2015 the OMB and Treasury are responsible for implementing the DATA Act. In a separate blog posting this week I will report on the the current status and plans for the DATA Act.  What this means for individual investigators is a gradual trend towards having uniform data points on one universal website. Not a lot new here – but investigators perhaps should be sensitive about what data points they report for future FOIA requests.
  3. 2015 is the year for Export Controls Reform – the federal govt is announcing their “higher fences around fewer items” approach.  Details to follow on with whom you can subcontract and whether your lab still uses materials from the “control list.”  Good news is that the federal govt is moving many items off the Commerce Control List (CCL), which had been a cumbersome annoyance for some labs on Defense grants.
  4. The new NIH and NSF biosketch format is required on applications starting May 25, 2015.  I will report on specifics to the Bio Sketch in a later blog posting.
  5. Report from the FDP Research Compliance committee will discuss the recent NIH initiatives in clinical research.  This will be big news for some labs.  More details when I get them from the attendees this week.
  6. NEW FOR GRANTS.GOV PROPOSALS starting in Feb 2015, researchers can now start using extended characters in text fields (such as the descriptive title).  Prior to this upgrade in Grants.gov proposals would be kicked out of the system for use of scientific notation characters.
  7. NEW FOR INVESTIGATORS is the implication of a rapid expansion of data sets and administrative requirements for investigators to provide wide data sets on their progress reports.   This will probably take effect in late summer. More details when I can get them.

What’s New for 2015 Biomedical Patent Law in Sponsored Medical-Tech Research: Will it be OK to Patent Human Genes on U.S. Research?

Remember back in the summer of 2013 when a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that “naturally occurring” human genes cannot be patented because genetic code is a “product of nature”?

At issue in the June 2013 Myriad Genetics Supreme Court case was whether Myriad could own outright the human genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 (the DNA coding that in certain arrangements activates breast and ovarian cancers).   If they own the genes then they could determine who/what institute could produce research or tests that directly impact all other types of cancer research.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-398_1b7d.pdf

If Myriad owned these genes outright, then it could actually charge royalty fees to other clinics or  federal/CPRIT research grants from doing independent diagnostic or research testing.

After all who could afford the proposed $500,000 royalty fee that Myriad wanted to charge for use of their “invention”?   Even the director of NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, was concerned that if Myriad won ownership then any research on DNA might carry a large royalty fee to investigate the genetic arrangement, essentially preventing or delaying independent NIH research from moving ahead in discovering  cancer treatments or cures.

Although Myriad Genetics lost this federal case, the justices allowed patents based on laboratory reconstructions of human DNA, which are called complementary DNAs, or cDNAs.

So what’s new now for 2015 and beyond?   In an unusual 180 about-face, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just released two weeks ago its own new interim guidance on the patentability of human genes that may allow biotech companies to obtain patents on naturally arranged human genes:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/16/2014-29414/2014-interim-guidance-on-patent-subject-matter-eligibility

The USPTO is revisiting the standard code in Title 35, Part II (complete wording here:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2013-title35/html/USCODE-2013-title35-partII-chap10-sec101.htm).

Starting this month and through February 2015, comments can be forwarded regarding this change in policy prior to the Patent Office’s final publication this spring.

FY2015 Stipends Increase by 2%

FY2015 award stipends on NIH training grants (T32, T90)  and NIH individual fellowships (F32) are increased by 2%. However, the other components of the budgets (i.e. tuition and fees, institutional allowances, training costs) remain unchanged.

http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-048.html

New stipend levels for post-docs:

Career Level Years of Experience Stipend for FY 2015 Monthly Stipend
Postdoctoral 0 $42,840 $3,570
1 $44,556 $3,713
2 $46,344 $3,862
3 $48,192 $4,016
4 $50,112 $4,176
5 $52,116 $4,343
6 $54,216 $4,518
7 or More $56,376 $4,698

Senior Fellows (F33 only):  the amount of the Kirschstein-NRSA stipend to be paid must be commensurate with the base salary or remuneration that the individual receiving the award would have been paid by the institution with which he or she has permanent affiliation on the issue date of the fellowship award. In no case shall the stipend award exceed the current Kirschstein-NRSA stipend limit set by NIH.  The level of Kirschstein-NRSA support will take into account concurrent salary support provided by the institution and the policy of the sponsoring institution.  NIH support does not provide fringe benefits for senior fellows.

Effective 1/11/15, NIH Increases Salary Cap to $183,300

NIH has increased the formal Executive Level payscale from $181,500 to $183,300, effective January 11, 2015.

So for all federally sponsored research (either as a prime awardee or subawardee), investigators cannot be paid in excess of the salary cap.

NIH will not send out any modifications or increase budgets to any current awards about the new salary limit, but internally awardees are allowed to make the payroll adjustments to reflect this new change.

Remember the rationale behind the salary cap is for the federal government to pays its fair share of research

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-049.html

Copied below is the section of Q&A responses from NIH:

Questions & Answers

  1. Q: If a grant award (competing or non-competing) has already been issued in FY 2015, will an adjustment be made?
    A: No adjustments will be made. However,rebudgeting is allowable.2. Q: Can I rebudget grant funds or charge contracts issued in prior years (see Salary Cap Summary, FY 1990 – FY 2015) funds to allow for the 2015 salary cap increase?
    A: Yes, provided funds are available and the increase is warranted. Prorated figures should be used for the applicable months, i.e., the $183,300 level is effective beginning January 11, 2015.

    3. Q: If an application/proposal fails to provide needed salary information, will an adjustment be made based on the new rates?
    A: No adjustment will be made if an application fails to provide adequate information regarding the individual’s actual salary level.

    4. Q: Does the NIH appropriation language link the salary cap to a Federal Executive Level or to a dollar level?
    A: The link is to the Federal Executive Level pay scale (i.e., Executive Level I for FYs 2001-2011, Executive Level II for FYs 2012-2015).

    5. Q: As the cap is linked to Federal Executive Levels, can grantees/contractors with ongoing awards rebudget/charge up to the various salary caps, based on the fiscal year of the award and the time the salary expense is incurred?
    A: Yes, salary may be charged in accordance with the FY cap(s), as long as the levels are consistent with the individual’s institutional base pay. Please refer to the salary cap summary with times frames for existing salary caps, at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm.

    6. Q: Will grantees be permitted to submit revised categorical budgets reflecting higher base salaries?
    A: Not as a general rule. NIH policy for categorical budgets states that grantees should always reflect actual base salaries in the requested budgets or provide an explanation indicating that actual institutional base salary exceeds the current salary limitation. As a general rule, NIH will use the information available in the existing application and make adjustments for the salary cap based on information available at the time of award.

    The following are examples of the adjustments that NIH will make when salaries exceed the current salary limitation:

    Example 1. Individual with Full-Time Appointment (based on grant award/contract issued on or after January 11, 2015 with salary limitation of $183,300)

Individual’s institutional base salary for a FULL-TIME calendar year appointment  $ 200,000
Research effort requested in application/proposal – 6 months (50%)
Direct Salary requested $  100,000
Fringe benefits requested (25% of salary) $   25,000
Subtotal $ 125,000
Applicant organization’s F&A (indirect) costs at a rate of 45% of subtotal $   56,250
Amount requested – salary plus fringe benefits plus associated F&A (indirect) costs $ 181,250
If a grant/contract is to be funded, the amount included for the above individual will be calculated as follows:
Direct salary – restricted to a RATE of $ 183,300
Divided by 12 months multiplied by 6 months (50%) $   91,650
Fringe benefits (25% of allowable salary) $   22,913
Subtotal $  114,563
Associated F&A (indirect) costs at 45% of subtotal $   51,553
Total amount to be awarded due to salary limitation $ 166,116
Amount of reduction due to salary limitation
($181,250 requested minus $166,116 awarded) $ 15,134

Example 2. Individual with Half-Time Appointment (based on a grant award/contract issued on or after January 11, 2015 with salary limitation of $183,300)

Individual’s institutional base salary for a HALF-TIME calendar year appointment $  100,000
Research effort requested in application/proposal – 1.8 months (30% of 6 months)
Direct Salary requested $   30,000
Fringe benefits requested (25% of salary) $    7,500
Subtotal $   37,500
Applicant organization’s F&A (indirect) costs at a rate of 45% of subtotal $   16,875
Amount requested – salary plus fringe benefits  
plus associated F&A (indirect) costs $   54,375
If a grant/contract is to be funded, the amount included in the award for the above individual will be calculated as follows:
Direct salary – restricted to a RATE of $   91,650
Divided by 6 months multiplied by 1.8 months (30%) $   27,495
Fringe benefits (25% of allowable salary) $     6,874
Subtotal $   34,369
Associated F&A (indirect) cost at 45% of subtotal $   15,466
Total amount to be awarded due to salary limitation $   49,835
Amount of reduction due to salary limitation
($54,375 requested minus $49,835 awarded) $       4,540

Example 3. Individual with a Nine-Month Appointment (based on a grant award/contract issued on or after January 11, 2015 with salary limitation of $183,300)

Individual’s institutional base salary for a nine-month calendar year appointment $   150,000
Research effort requested in application/proposal – 2.7 months (30% of 9 months)
Direct Salary requested $   45,000
Fringe benefits requested (25% of salary) $   11,250
Subtotal $   56,250
Applicant organization’s F&A (indirect) costs at a rate of 45% of subtotal $   25,313
Amount requested – salary plus fringe benefits  
Plus associated F&A (indirect) costs $   81,563
If a grant/contract is to be funded, the amount included in the award for the above individual will be calculated as follows:
Direct salary – restricted to a RATE of $  137,475
Divided by 9 months multiplied by 2.7months (30%)     $   41,243
Fringe benefits (25% of allowable salary) $   10,311
Subtotal $   51,554
Associated F&A (indirect) cost at 45% of subtotal $   23,199
Total amount to be awarded due to salary limitation $   74,753
Amount of reduction due to salary limitation  
($81,563 requested minus $74,753 awarded) $       6,810

US DOD Announces 2015 Grant Funding Available

 

Department of Defense
United States Army Medical Research Materiel Command
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

Released: December 17, 2014

http://cdmrp.army.mil/pubs/press/2014/funding_press_release15.shtml

NEW CDMRP Research Funding for 2015, also using the new proposal submission system of eBRAP

The Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act provides research funding for the following peer reviewed programs managed by the Department of Defense office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP):

  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse Research Program – $4.0 million
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Research Program – $7.5 million
  • Autism Research Program – $6.0 million
  • Bone Marrow Failure Research Program – $3.2 million
  • Breast Cancer Research Program – $120.0 million
  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Research Program – $3.2 million
  • Epilepsy Research Program – $7.5 million
  • Gulf War Illness Research Program – $20.0 million
  • Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program – $50.0 million
  • Lung Cancer Research Program – $10.5 million
  • Military Burn Research Program – $8.0 million
  • Multiple Sclerosis Research Program – $5.0 million
  • Neurofibromatosis Research Program – $15.0 million
  • Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Parkinson’s Research Program – $16.0 million
  • Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes – $10.0 million
  • Ovarian Cancer Research Program – $20.0 million
  • Peer Reviewed Alzheimer’s Research Program – $12.0 million
  • Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program – $50.0 million
  • Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program – $247.5 million
  • Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program – $30.0 million
  • Prostate Cancer Research Program – $80.0 million
  • Spinal Cord Injury Research Program – $30.0 million
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program – $6.0 million
  • Vision Research Program – $10.0 million

What’s New in 2015 for all Federal Grants: MAJOR CHANGES in PRE-AWARD AND POST-AWARD

I attended the Houston grant & contract financial administration for research conference by the National College University Research Administrators organization on December 8-10, 2014 and shared my meeting notes with the other attendees.

I’ve gotten two other email requests this week from others to republish those notes. So I am posting them here.   As we learn the latest developments in the major change in the elimination of the “expanded authorities” I will post those here too.  Here are my notes and references from the NCURA sessions.

Please note that I provide the direct links to the new federal grant regulations after the talking point so you can see the actual language of the requirement.

==========================

The new OMB Uniform Guidance “Crosswalk” – Leslie recommended that we look at the side-by-side comparisons of what’s new in the policy changes.  Here’s that document:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/fedreg/2013/uniform-guidance-crosswalk-from-predominate-source-in-existing-guidance.pdf

Here’s the language comparison document:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/fedreg/2013/uniform-guidance-cost-principles-requirements-text-comparison.pdf

Definitions revised by OMB 81 chart:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/fedreg/2013/uniform-guidance-definitions-text-comparison.pdf

  1. Sample University Guides for Principal Investigators Both Leslie and Mike suggested viewing their institutions’ manuals that acclimate their investigators to their role in the research admin process.  Attached are those manuals from Washington and Montana.

http://www.ehs.washington.edu/manuals/piguide.pdf    and   http://www.washington.edu/research/guide/index.php

http://www.montana.edu/research/osp/documents/grants/OSP_PI_Guide.pdf  and

http://www.montana.edu/research/osp/piguide/

  1. Federal statute 28 USC 1732 (which overrides govt regulations like the OMB)- for imaged scanned financial grant documentation.  Dave Schmidt of Univ of North Dakota talked about how this federal statute will override any leniency in the FAR clauses that require a retention method for federal contracts.

            28 U.S. Code § 1732 – Record made in regular course of business can be of any durable record (scanned PDFs, emails, photocopies etc.) that “accurately reproduces a legible version of the original printed version.”  (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/1732)

  1. Institutional Base Salary (or IBS) – Dave mentioned that under the new Uniform Guidance our institutions must show we have a policy that defines what an institutional base salary is.  At Mike’s campus, there are online resources that define how they refined their “IBS” and its relation to their Effort Reporting system.  It has a good example of how they manage effort reporting:   http://f2.washington.edu/fm/maa/node/151
  1. Council on Governmental Relations White Paper on Effort Reporting Certification Best Practices – Dave mentioned that a good resource to take back to our institutions is the COGR Report on Effort Reporting.  Attached is the full paper from the Council on Governmental Relations on best practices for documenting effort.  Also attached is the 2011 COGR paper on how your payroll system can help integrate that stewardship function.

Direct Links to General Talking Points about New OMB 81 Circular

Subcontracts on Federal Grants:

F&A 10% de minimis

The Guidance allows the awardee to provide a de minimis F&A rate of 10% modified total direct costs (MTDC) to subawardees who do not have a federally negotiated rate. Subaward budgets should clearly state whether the de minimis indirect costs are being utilized. The new rule is that you must award full IDC to your sub if they have a negotiated rate.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.414

Fixed Price Subawards

An award may issue fixed price subs under limited circumstances, usually to higher risk organizations. Under the new Guidance, such subawards require specific sponsor approval, and may not exceed $150,000.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.45200.332 & 200.201

Subaward Performance Monitoring

The new subaward monitoring requirements stress the need for an awardee to document how it monitors subawardees. PIs are reminded that invoices should only be paid if the subawardee is making adequate progress towards achieving performance goals. Expenses should be commensurate with progress to date. Performance issues must be addressed as they arise, for example payments should be withheld and problems escalated, as needed.

Dave mentioned that if you have a high risk subcontract then it should carefully evaluated and monitored through the life of the award, and additional oversight measures may be required depending on the experience level of the institution.

Also, Leslie mentioned that with the subaccount requirement in the invoicing section we must be sure and have on all invoices the data points that identify the awardee and our new FAIN and Subaccount #s. It is now required to have that in our electronic accounting system, and not just typed on the contract.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.330 and 200.331

Cost Sharing

Voluntary cost sharing is not expected in federal research proposals and cannot be used as a factor during the merit review. In order for cost sharing to be considered by the funding agency it must be specified in a notice of funding opportunity. No cost sharing should be budgeted unless it is specifically required by an agency’s funding solicitation. If cost sharing is required in the solicitation,

Mike read to us the elements of cost sharing and I found this list on the MIT and Stanford websites. Both in-kind and cash contributions by a recipient are acceptable as cost sharing when all of the following criteria are met:

  • Verifiable from recipient records,
  • Not included as contribution for any other federally assisted program,
  • Necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient accomplishment of project or program objectives,
  • Allowable as a direct cost under applicable cost principles,
  • Not paid by another federal award (except as authorized by statute),
  • Provided for in the approved budget when required by the federal awarding agency,
  • Conform to other provisions in OMB A-110 as applicable.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.29200.99  & 200.306

Computing Devices Less than $5,000 (tablets etc.)

Computing devices can be direct charged to a federal award if they are essential and allocable, even if they are not solely dedicated, to the performance of the federal award.  Dave and Mike alluded to cell phones that should not be charged to federal projects because it has much more personal benefit in daily use.  Here’s what they said about IPAD or tablet device:  Computing devices means machines that cost less than $5,000 and are used to acquire, store, analyze, process and publish data and other information electronically, including accessories (or “peripherals”) for printing, transmitting and receiving, or storing electronic information.

Purchasers and administrators and PIs monitoring awards must ensure and document that computing devices are essential to the project and allocated appropriately among research awards and discretionary accounts.

Mike, Dave and Leslie all said that the institution should be prepared to defend how a device is essential to the project, but the new news is that it doesn’t actually have to be “solely dedicated to the federal grant.”  Also, Mike and Lesle said that they drive that message home to the PIs by having the tablets tagged as institutional property anyway.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.20 & 200.453

Large Spending at the End of the Grant

Under the Uniform Guidance, $5,000 is the threshold for an allowable maximum residual inventory of unused materials and supplies, including computing devices, at the end of a project.

In general, purchases near the end of a project will likely be subject to additional scrutiny. Like all purchases, they must strictly follow the cost principles of being necessary and reasonable for the performance of the project, allocable to the project based on benefit received and consistently applied.

Dave commented that if a PI hasn’t been spending for months in supplies and then in the final 90 days of the final year you see a huge rush to spend, then the new OMB Guidance supports the institution scrutinizing those last minute purchases.  The logic is that if you are in the final year of a project how could you justify being able to use up all those materials.  Under the OMB 81, the federal government would want their money back on the last minute charges and expect you to transfer the costs off the project before final closeout.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.314

Some Administrative and Clerical Costs Allowed As Direct Costs to Federal Grants

Administrative or clerical staff must be integral to a project in order to be direct charged to a federal award and must be budgeted and justified or have prior written sponsor approval. Under the Uniform Guidance, a project no longer needs to be identified as “major” to include administrative salary, but in general such expenses should be treated as indirect (F&A) costs unless the following conditions apply:

To be integral to the project, the administrative activity should be:

  • essential or vital to the project, and described accordingly in the justification;
  • budgeted at a percentage of a person-month that reflects that essential nature (a minimum of 10% FTE)
  • performed by individuals specifically identified with the project or activity
  • costs that are not also recovered as indirect costs

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.413

Mike went into detail about how for the IDC Rate Proposal you must be very careful if you use this new allowance to not include this in your Rate Proposal.  He said for non-federally sponsored projects, administrative or clerical staff may be direct charged provided they benefit the project and follow those sponsors’ requirements for the award.
|However, Leslie, Mike and Dave all warned that state sponsors insist are more stringent backup documentation of this kind of spending.  The feds are concerned that your got prior approval to do for it to be allowable.

Record Retention Clarification: How Do We Collect and Store Auditable Information

Dave explained that if you have paper versions (sometimes for as many as 20+ years on continuously funded projects) you can retain those versions and you do not have to scan them (Dave says it is much cheaper overall). But if you have nothing but electronic documentations, the Uniform Guidance does not require that you provide paper versions.  The guide encourages federal agencies and universities to use electronic formats rather than paper whenever practicable. While we must still provide or accept paper when it is requested, the guidance says that when original records are electronic and non-alterable, there is no need to create and retain paper copies. Similarly, when original records are paper (e.g. receipts), electronic versions (e.g. pdf scans) may be substituted provided they remain readable, are subject to periodic quality control reviews and are reasonably safeguarded against being altered.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.335

====================

EXPANDED AUTHORITIES

Traditional Expanded Authorities End with OMB Circular 81 on December 26, 2014.  Here’s the traditional definition of expanded authorities from the NIH Guide:

Operating authorities provided in Federal Administrative Regulations (e.g., A-110) to grantees that waive the requirement for prior approval for specified actions (i.e. budget revisions that are 25% less than total award amount, automatic carryforward into next cycle, no-cost date extension for first year only, pre-award costs for the first 90 days prior to the start date).

Leslie and Dave suggested that unless the federal agencies move forward with a specific pronouncement in their new responses to OMB 81, the expanded authorities concept goes away.  We will not know until NIH and others publish their guides. Leslie believes it might be sometime in 2016 when it is finally decided whether OMB will back down on getting rid of expanded authorities.

HOWEVER, NSF just published their new guidelines which Leslie read from showing that they are philosophically supporting the spirit of the Uniform Guidance.

New Dec 2014 NSF Pre-award and Post-award Guide (see attached and link here) which becomes effective in two weeks:

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf15001/index.jsp

The new NSF Significant Changes List that Leslie read from (see attached document she was using):

NSF’s   2/9ths summer salary now can be spread throughout the year and in addition NSF says in the new guide that rebudgeting of investigator salary to include slightly more than the 2/9ths will be allowed AND without NSF prior approval.

Also, now we have to justify all types of travel on budgets and only travel by key investigators on a project are allowed (unless expressly allowed in the proposal guidelines).

Leslie summarized the changes on the list as complying with the OMB’s Uniform Guidance document.

What’s New for 2015 in Sponsored Medical-Tech Research: Will it be OK to Patent Human Genes on U.S. Research?

Remember back in the summer of 2013 when the Supreme Court ruled that “naturally occurring” human genes cannot be patented in medical research because genetic code is a “product of nature”?

At the time, however,  the justices allowed patents based on laboratory reconstructions of human DNA, which are called complementary DNAs, or cDNAs.

Now for 2015 the U.S. Patent Office just released two weeks ago new interim guidance on the patentability of human genes that may move the pendulum back in the direction of investigators obtaining patents on naturally arranged human genes:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/16/2014-29414/2014-interim-guidance-on-patent-subject-matter-eligibility

The Patent Office is revisiting the standard code in Title 35, Part II (complete wording here:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2013-title35/html/USCODE-2013-title35-partII-chap10-sec101.htm).

This opens the window for comments to the guidance before the final publication this spring.

NEW Huron Consulting Resource: Assessing the OMB Uniform Guidance: Major Changes and Impacts

Check out Huron’s new Cliff Notes to the national Omni-circular:

http://www.huronconsultinggroup.com/~/media/Insights-Media-Content/PDF/Education/OMB%20Uniform%20GuidanceFINAL032114.pdf

What’s New for NIH 2015-2016 Post-award Processes

The Uniform Guidance mandates the use of subaccounts in the federal payment system. NIH has responded this fall with three main post-award goals.

  1. By September 2016, ALL FEDERAL AWARDS will have transitioned to the subaccounts system.
  2. As of October 2014, RPPRs will NOT be accepted without Commons IDs.
  3. By October 2015 Grantees will submit Subaccount Transitional Federal Financial Reports (FFRs).

NIH has announced their timeline for implementing the subaccount requirements into their system, gradually over 2015 through 2016:

NIH has started their PMS Subaccounts – Revised Implementation Timeline FY2015

October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015

Competing Awards  •
New funding will continue to be awarded to P subaccounts

Type 3 Awards •

Will continue to be awarded to the same type of account as the parent award
Type 5 Awards •

Will continue to be awarded to the same type of account as the previous budget period

PMS Subaccounts – Revised Implementation Timeline FY2016

October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016

Competing Awards •

NIH will continue to award all new funding to subaccounts

Type 3 Awards •

Beginning October 1, 2015 all type 3 funding will be awarded to subaccounts regardless of parent award account type
Type 5 Awards •

Beginning October 1, 2015 NIH will use an administrative process to transition all non-competing awards to P subaccounts

September 30, 2016 – All federal awards transitioned to subaccounts.

PMS Subaccounts – Implementation Type 5 funding

Beginning October 1, 2015

No change in grantee progress report submission

NIH will award type 4s to transition funding to subaccounts

Grantees will submit Subaccount Transitional Federal Financial Reports (FFRs)

Subaccount Transitional FFRs may include unliquidated obligations. See NOT-OD-14-103 for detailed transition steps. Upcoming Changes in late 2015-early 2016:  NIH Implementation of New HHS Closeout Requirements

Closeout reports and 90 day submission requirements remain the same.   Final guidance dependent on HHS implementation of Uniform Guidance.  •Anticipated changes: •

Shorter timeframe to complete process

New requirements for NIH to initiate “unilateral” closeout if reports are missing or unacceptable

New requirements which may result in a debt obligation to the grantee  For details see NOT-OD-14-084 and Closeout FAQs

Commons ID

NOT-OD-13-097 Commons ID for undergraduate and Graduate Students required with RPPR submissions beginning October 17, 2014 – Applies to students with one person month of effort or more. RPPR will not be accepted without Commons IDs 

NOT-OD-14-129 Era Commons Username Required for Sponsor in Individual Fellowship  Grant applications to NIH and AHRQ o

Notice details application requirements for sponsor role

Lack of sponsor ID can prevent successful application submission

RPPR – 10/17/14 Requirement for ALL T-5s

RPPR required for ALL type 5 progress reports (SNAP and non-SNAP) submitted on or after October 17, 2014 NOT-OD-14-092

Genomic Data Sharing Policy

NOT-OD-14-124 details new GDS Policy o

Promotes sharing of large scale genomic data generated by NIH research •

Includes human, non-human and model organism data

NOT-OD-14-111 details GDS implementation for applications and awards o

Becomes effective with the 1/25/15 application due date

2015 Current Federal Regulations on Conflict of Interest

Public Health Service Regulations
Responsibility of Applicants for Promoting Objectivity in Research for which PHS Funding is Sought (42 C.F.R. Part 50. Subpart F) Responsible Prospective Contractors (45 C.F.R. Part 94)

NSF Regulations
 Guidance for Financial Conflict of Interest

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf10_1/aag_4.jsp

FDA Regulations
FDA Guidance – Financial Disclosure by Clinical Investigators

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM341008.pdf

PRE-AWARD TRAINING: HOW TO SUBMIT APPLICATIONS TO THE AIR FORCE

Here is a current checklist of resources for 2015 when submitting applications to the Dept of the Air Force:

Proposal checklist specific needs required for proposal submission

Contract proposals are submitted in accordance with opportunity announcements. Each announcement contains specific proposal requirements. Please refer to the individual funding announcement for proposal submission guidelines.

Grant proposals are submitted in accordance with individual broad agency announcements. Each announcement contains specific proposal requirements. Please refer to the individual broad agency announcement for proposal submission guidelines.

The announcements may be found at the links above.

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) AFOSR-BAA-2011-1 is the open announcement for submitting proposals to AFOSR This BAA will remain open until replaced by successor BAA

Checklists for Proposal Submissions AFOSR-BAA-2011-1 (PDF)

All other AFOSR Announcements (BAA’s) must be read thoroughly to ensure proposal submission requirements are met.

Format in which proposals can be submitted

Proposals for where the anticipated award vehicle is a Grant must be submitted via Grants.Gov either by your institution’s proprietary platform to System interface with Grants.Gov or directly into Grants.Gov.

The proposal may be submitted either electronically or in hard copy form, but not both. All proposers must include the SF 424 (R&R) form as the cover page. Unnecessarily elaborate brochures, reprints or presentations beyond those sufficient to present a complete and effective proposal are not desired.

How to find specific RFP/PA/BAA information

NOTE: All AFOSR funding opportunities are now posted on Grants.gov .

For electronic submissions in Grants.Gov, all appropriate fields are to be filled out in accordance with BAA Instructions.

  1. Normally the Sponsor will contact the OSP Liaison regarding any issues with validations, or any other proposal questions regarding the SOW or budget. Historically AFOSR Proposals do not fail validations as AFOSR does not have stringent validation requirements like other federal agencies (i.e. NIH)

What are the deadline cycles?

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) AFOSR-BAA-2009-1 is the open announcement for submitting proposals to AFOSR This BAA will remain open until replaced by successor BAA

For other Announcements AFOSR typically accepts proposals by 4 PM on the due date as stated in the announcement. PLEASE READ THE ANNOUCEMENT CAREFULLY TO CONFIRM YOUR PROPOSAL DEADLINE

The AFOSR MURI Program (Full Proposals due March 2, 2010 4PM) and DURIP Program (Normal deadline is late summer Aug/Sept). These are special programs that typically see a number of submissions by MIT faculty. Please refer to Program Announcement to ensure proper proposal submission.

Model Proposal

No Specific format is required by AFOSR. It is important to provide all required information as outlined on the checklist and as requested in the specific BAA

Library of Federal Grant Standard Terms and Conditions (By Agency/By Year)

Agency Specific Research Terms and Conditions are archived below. This is meant to show the baseline before the inclusion and  implementation of the Final Rule on the Uniform Guidance.  Throughout 2015-2016, these documents will be superceded by OMB-81.

DOC – http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/doc_213.pdf

DOD/AFOSR -http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/agencyspecifics/afosr_312.pdf

DOD/AMRAA -http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/amraa_1011.pdf

DOD/ARO –
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/aro_609.pdf

DOD/ONR –

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/onr_211.pdf

DOE – http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/doe_708.pdf

EPA –
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/agencyspecifics/epa_314.pdf

HHS/NIH
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/nih_1210.pdf

NASA –
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/nasa_708.pdf

NSF –
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/agencyspecifics/nsf_314.pdf

USDA/CSREES –
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/csrees_708.pdf

USDA/NIFA –
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/rtc/agencyspecifics/nifa_1014.pdf

Federal Service Desk (FSD) for Federal Grant Award Management

The Federal Service Desk (FSD) is the Help Desk for six systems in Grant Award Management . You may contact FSD (www.fsd.gov) to access:

•System for Award Management (SAM)
•Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)
•Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (eSRS)
•Federal Business Opportunities (FBO)
•Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS-NG)
•FFATA Subaward Reporting System (FSRS)

On December 18, it was announced that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Recipient –Reported data can now be found at at FPDS-NG.gov under Top Requests.  Two files contain Recipient-Reported data:

1) A Cumulative National Summary, and

2) A file for 4th quarter of FY2013 (last reported quarter).  For more information on the ARRA and recipient-reported data please visit recovery.gov.

COFAR Publishes List of Resources to Understand OMB-81

On December 18, 2014, The Chief Financial Officers Council published a useful list of resources to better understand how the Uniform Guidance will be implemented.

Published here:  https://cfo.gov/cofar/#RUUG

Special new addition today is the Crosswalk for Exceptions or Additions to the OMB-81, sorted by federal agency.  It is important to remember that this is still (oddly) called the Interim Final Rule.  60 days after 12/26/2014 the OMB will continue to hear comments and complaints and publish the final final rule in two months.

At the NCURA Financial Administration Workshop last week, we learned that the agencies still can promote their own “exceptions” to the Uniform Guidance and OMB will consider in the next two months.

Resources for Understanding the Uniform Guidance

New Grant Proposal Submission Alternative for NIH in 2015

On December 17, 2014, NIH announced that ASSIST will be open now for all other types of competing funding opportunities.  In January 2015, NIH will open up to R03 and R21 submissions.  Later on, NIH will add the portal for all others.

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-044.html

“ASSIST is NIH’s on-line system for the preparation and submission of cooperative agreement and grant applications through Grants.gov to NIH. This Notice announces NIH’s plans to open ASSIST as an option for submission of applications for most competing cooperative agreement and grant programs in 2015.

ASSIST was first launched in November 2012 for use with NIH’s complex, multi-project grant programs. Since that time, NIH has incorporated applicant feedback into the system – improving existing features and adding others.

ASSIST provides users:

  • Secure web-based data entry
  • Collaboration of multiple users
  • Pre-submission validation of NIH and key Grants.gov business rules
  • Pre-population of data from eRA Commons profiles
  • Pre-submission print/preview of application in NIH format
  • Submission status tracking for both Grants.gov and eRA Commons within a single system
  • Ability to import subaward budget data from external sources
  • Ability to copy application data (excluding attachments) from one announcement to another

Throughout 2015, ASSIST will become an option on a grant program by grant program basis (by activity code). The first set of grant programs will include the Small Research Grant (R03) and Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) programs and is targeted for the end of January 2015. As ASSIST becomes a viable option for each set of programs, additional Guide Notices will be posted.

Use of ASSIST is optional; Grants.gov downloadable forms and system-to-system solutions also remain viable options for application preparation and submission to NIH.”

How To Use the Regulations.gov to Locate Compliance Answers

Regulations.gov is a very deep well of information that posts actual wording of federal regulatory documents, as well as any comments to those regulations.

Here’s direction from the site on how to best use Regulations.gov search engine:

What types of documents can be found on Regulations.gov?

The types of documents that can be found on this site include Proposed Rules, Rules, as well as Notices from the Federal Register – often referred to just as “Notices.” Public Submissions (e.g., comments, citizen petitions, early submissions) and Supporting Materials often associated with regulatory actions can also be found on this site.

How do I find a document?

    1. Search by typing a Keyword, Document ID, Regulation Identifier Number (RIN), Comment Tracking Number, or Docket ID in the search field on the homepage.
    2. You may click the “Search” button or hit “Enter” on your keyboard. This will trigger a site search for relevant content.
    3. On the Search Results page, the documents that are related to your search will be displayed. Depending on the type of search conducted,the types of documents in your results will vary:
      • When conducting a keyword search, the search results will highlight the keyword match in yellow.
      • When conducting a Document ID search, the search results will display the corresponding document. If you want to expand the search to see if the Document ID was found in the body of other documents, click the “more documents” link above the results. In some cases you will either see the same results or a broader list of results.
      • When conducting a RIN search, you will see two types of results:
        1. If the RIN is used on one docket, you will see a Featured Result box with a link to open the Docket Folder. The documents contained in the Docket Folder are listed below it.
        2. If the RIN is used on several dockets, then you will see all the related results. If you want to expand the search to see if the RIN was found in the body of other documents, click the “more documents” link above the results. In some cases you will either see the same results or a broader list of results.
      • When conducting a Docket ID search, the search results will display the Featured Result box with a link to open the Docket Folder.
      Once you find the document of interest, click the title to view it.Note: You can also view your results using the grid view. If you want to view the keyword match hover over the magnifying glass icon to see a summary of its contents.
  1. (Optional) Use the filters on the left side of the Search Results screen to further narrow your results.
  2. Alternatively, you may use the Browse tab to find Federal Register related documents (i.e., Notices, Proposed Rules, and Rules) by selecting the desired Category (e.g., Banking and Financial).
  3. What can I comment on?

    Comments are accepted on documents such as Federal Register Notices or Proposed Rules. Additionally, some agencies allow you to comment on another person or organizations’ comment.

    When can I comment?

    Most Federal agencies accept comments on documents within a defined timeframe, known as the open comment period.

    To be sure that you find documents with an open comment period, on the Search Results page, select the “Open” checkbox filter under “Comment Period” in the filters. Alternatively, from the homepage you can find a list of all the regulations with comment periods closing today or in the near future (e.g, 15 days, 30 days) by selecting options under the “Comments Due Soon” header.

    How do I comment?

    1. Find a document of interest.
    2. Click a “Comment Now!” button on the Search Results page. You are taken to the Comment Form, “Your Information” screen.
    3. Enter your comment. If you want to attach any files, click the “Choose file(s)” button. Be sure to complete any contact information fields that are required. Once you have completed this information click the “Continue” button.
    4. Now you will see the “Your Preview” screen. This shows you how your comment will appear on Regulations.gov. Any contact information you provide that will appear on Regulations.gov is indicated as well as the information that will not appear. Once you have reviewed the information, you can either edit your comment further by clicking the “Edit” button at the bottom of the screen or submit your comment.
      If you click the “Edit” button you will return to the “Your Information” screen, where you can modify the information you provided.
      When you decide to submit your comment, you must first agree to the disclaimer and check the box. This will enable the “Submit Comment” button.
    5. Once you have submitted your comment, “Your Receipt” is viewable. Be sure to save your comment tracking number in case you want to find your comment (i.e., Public Submission) once it is made viewable on Regulations.gov. Additionally, you can receive an emailed copy of your comment receipt by entering your email address in the field and clicking the “Email Receipt” button. When you have successfully emailed the comment receipt you will see the message “Your email receipt was sent successfully”.
    6. Check your inbox to ensure that you received your comment receipt.

    Do some agencies request different information?

    Yes, you may notice that some Federal agencies request different information. If you have questions about a particular comment form, please contact the agency directly.

    Will my contact information be posted on Regulations.gov with my comment?

    While the form may ask for several items, only the fields followed by a “Globe” icon will be viewable on Regulations.gov.

    How do I find my comment once I’ve submitted it?

    Once you submit your comment, the “Your Receipt” screen will display your “Comment Tracking Number”. We recommend that you email this number to yourself, by entering your email address in the field and clicking the “Email Receipt” button. When you have successfully emailed the comment receipt you will see the message “Your email receipt was sent successfully”.

    Your submitted comment may not be immediately viewable on Regulations.gov. Given that certain dockets may receive thousands of comments, a Federal agency may need several weeks for processing and review before posting to Regulations.gov. After the comments are posted, you can find and view your comment on Regulations.gov by searching on your Comment Tracking Number. In some cases, such as mass mail comment campaigns, an agency may elect to post a single comment that represents multiple duplicates.

  4. Search by Comment Tracking Number

    The quickest way to find a comment that you have personally submitted is with its Comment Tracking Number. The Comment Tracking Number is a unique number that is permanently tied to your comment. You can find it on the confirmation screen once you submit your comment.

    Search by Keyword

    Using a keyword you can find your previously submitted comment. Just type your keyword in the Search field provided on the homepage. For example, if you are looking for a comment submitted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, simply type his name in the Search field, and then either click the “Search” button.

    If your keyword search retrieves too many results, they can be narrowed by using the filters provided on the left side of the Search Results page. To further refine your results you can also enter another term to search within your results. When you find the comment, which will be listed as a “Public Submission” Document Type, click the Title to view it.

    If you’re searching for your own comment and do not get any results, it may be because your comment has not yet been posted to Regulations.gov. Given the fact that certain regulations may receive thousands of comments, a Federal agency may need several weeks to process and review these comments before they can be viewed on Regulations.gov.

    If you have questions about a particular comment, please contact the agency directly.

NSF Training on the Guidelines for January 15, 2015

Today we received a letter from Ms. Feldman, director the policy office at NSF, announcing NSF Training on the Guidelines for January 15, 2015.

—————————-

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to make you aware that revised versions of the NSF Grant General Conditions (GC-1) and the Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) have been posted to the NSF website.   These documents have been updated to implement changes necessitated by 2 CFR § 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance).

The Research Terms and Conditions (RTCs) normally are applicable to NSF grants to universities and other non-profit organizations. However, the RTCs are currently being revised by a working group of the National Science and Technology Council’s Research Business Models Subcommittee.  Until the RTCs become effective, the GC-1 will serve as the applicable terms and conditions for all NSF grants.

The revised GC-1 will apply to all new NSF grants and funding amendments to existing NSF grants issued on or after December 26, 2014, and similarly, the CA-FATC will apply to NSF cooperative agreements.  Parallel changes will be made to the remaining suite of NSF terms and conditions.

If you have any questions on these changes, please contact the DIAS/Policy Office on (703) 292-8243 or by email to policy@nsf.gov.

Regards,

Jean Feldman

Head, Policy Office

Division of Institution & Award Support (DIAS)

Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management

What’s New forSubcontracts on Federal Grants in The New Uniform Guidance or OMB 81

Subcontracts on Federal Grants:

F&A 10% de minimis

Before the OMB 81, if we subcontracted to a small business or an international research unit, they didn’t have a formal negotiated IDC rate. Well now, OMB 81 mandates a minimum rate that must be used. The Guidance allows the awardee to provide a de minimis F&A rate of 10% modified total direct costs (MTDC) to subawardees who do not have a federally negotiated rate. Subaward budgets should clearly state whether the de minimis indirect costs are being utilized. The new rule is that you must award full IDC to your sub if they have a negotiated rate.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.414

Fixed Price Subawards

An award may issue fixed price subs under limited circumstances, usually to higher risk organizations. Under the new Guidance, such subawards require specific sponsor approval, and may not exceed $150,000.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.45200.332 & 200.201

Subaward Performance Monitoring

The new subaward monitoring requirements stress the need for an awardee to document how it monitors subawardees. PIs are reminded that invoices should only be paid if the subawardee is making adequate progress towards achieving performance goals. Expenses should be commensurate with progress to date. Performance issues must be addressed as they arise, for example payments should be withheld and problems escalated, as needed.

If you have a high risk subcontract then it should carefully evaluated and monitored through the life of the award, and additional oversight measures may be required depending on the experience level of the institution.

Also,notice that with the subaccount requirement in the invoicing section we must be sure and have on all invoices the data points that identify the awardee and our new FAIN and Subaccount #s. It is now required to have that in our electronic accounting system, and not just typed on the contract.

Here’s the Exact Wording from the Applicable Uniform Guidance section: 200.330 and 200.331

What’s New for The New Uniform Guidance or OMB 81

The new OMB Uniform Guidance “Crosswalk” gives the best review of what’s new in the OMB 81.  Here we can look at the side-by-side comparisons of what’s new in the policy changes.

Here’s that document:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/fedreg/2013/uniform-guidance-crosswalk-from-predominate-source-in-existing-guidance.pdf

Here’s the language comparison document:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/fedreg/2013/uniform-guidance-cost-principles-requirements-text-comparison.pdf

Definitions revised by OMB 81 chart:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/fedreg/2013/uniform-guidance-definitions-text-comparison.pdf

NSF’s Proposal Modernization Outreach Begins Dec 2014

NSF ‘s online session last week served as an overview to NSF Proposal Submission Modernization planning for PIs/SPOs.  Essentially it sounded like that they initially just wanted  to share the announcement of the transition from Fastlane to Research.gov for proposal submissions.

NSF Proposal Modernization Transition from Fastlane to Research.govNSF did not record the webinar, but I was able to get the PowerPoint slides that the speakers used.  See attached.

The main takeaway is that as of December 2014 there are no new instructions for proposal submission at NSF.

Per the discussion in the slides, NSF is going to gradually roll this out through 2015.  By the end of the rollout they believe that each submission template will show the new proposal requirements for that specific submission and add more data fields which the twenty-year old Fastlane system (can you believe it rolled out in 1994?) cannot adapt to.

NEW NSF Grant Guidelines in Effect as of December 26, 2014

The NSF Policy Office has now published information about the new grant proposal and award procedures that will take effect on December 26, 2014 via their  revised version of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 15-1).  The PAPPG has been revised to implement 2 CFR § 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance).

The Uniform Guidance incorporates language from eight existing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars into one consolidated set of guidance in the Code of Federal Regulations.  The PAPPG also has been revised to incorporate other significant changes and clarifications unrelated to the Uniform Guidance implementation.

The PAPPG is comprised of documents relating to the Foundation’s proposal and award process and consists of the:

(a) Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) for guidance on the preparation and submission of proposals to NSF; and

(b) Award & Administration Guide (AAG) to guide, manage, and monitor the award and administration of grants and cooperative agreements made by the Foundation.

As mandated by OMB, the new PAPPG will be effective December 26, 2014.  In addition to the significant changes to implement the Uniform Guidance, other important revisions include:

  • Acknowledgement of the implementation of NSF’s new financial system (iTRAK);
  • Addition of an NSF electronic capabilities modernization status matrix to assist the community as NSF transitions our electronic capabilities to Research.gov;
  • Additional compliance checking regarding the type of proposal mechanism used;
  • Expansion of the budget justification section to reflect that each subaward must include a separate budget justification of no more than three pages;
  • New coverage on the Ideas Lab funding mechanism;
  • Description of new prior approval requirements; and
  • Numerous clarifications throughout the document.

The PCORI Grant Opportunities: Online Training and Free Training in Houston (2/2015)

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization located in Washington, DC. Congress authorized the establishment of PCORI in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

From their website:  “The goal of PCORI’s National Patient Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) is to create a large, highly representative, national network for conducting comparative effectiveness research (CER). Concomitant with PCORnet Phase I, PCORI is launching a demonstration to support the first randomized comparative effectiveness research trial within PCORnet. PCORI intends to fund a clinical trial that will begin to test PCORnet’s data infrastructure, using efficient recruitment strategies embedded within the clinical care setting to ensure broad representation from the patient community.

The trial is expected to use the network’s ability to capture relevant patient-centered outcomes from real-world clinical settings, optimize cross-network data collection, build management, and analysis strategies, identify a suitable dissemination plan, and engage patients, clinicians, and health system leaders throughout the research process. The clinical trial will investigate the optimal maintenance dose of aspirin for patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).”

PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research, or CER, as well as support work that will improve the methods used to conduct such studies.

From their website:

“The goal of our work is to determine which of the many healthcare options available to patients and those who care for them work best in particular circumstances. We do this by taking a particular approach to CER called Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, or PCOR, research that addresses the questions and concerns most relevant to patients, and we involve patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders, along with researchers, throughout the process.”

PCORI is hosting a free two-day interactive workshop, “Getting to Know PCORI: From Application to Closeout,” in Houston on February 19-20.  The workshop is designed to provide applicants with the tools and strategies to develop a winning application. This workshop will offer an overview of PCORI and our funding announcements, application processes, research focus areas, post award requirements and much more.  Attendees will have the opportunity to meet PCORI staff, ask questions, obtain resources, and network with other participants. On hand to offer additional insight will be our contract administrators, research program officers, engagement officers, and notable awardees who can provide both programmatic and administrative intelligence to help you apply for and manage a PCORI award

Analysis of New CPRIT Financial Reporting Processes

Here are the latest training videos for the processing of CPRIT FSR reports.

http://www.cprit.state.tx.us/funded-grants/grantee-resources/

Analysis of the Omnicircular

What does the Grant Reform really do? Why is this a major advancement in research administration?

Outlined below is the text from the OMB Memorandum M-14-17:

  • The Omnicircular will integrate eight overlapping OMB circulars into one set of policies
  • Providing a set of uniform definitions for federal assistance
  • Requiring pre-award consideration of merit and risk;
  • Strengthening internal controls while providing administrative flexibility
  • Provisions for exceptions to support new innovative programs that improve cost­ effectiveness while achieving outcomes;
  • Streamlining and clarifying guidance on sub-recipient monitoring;
  • Providing consistency on negotiated indirect cost rates by creating a minimum rate for recipients and requiring agency-head approval for deviations from negotiated rates;
  • Simplifying reporting requirements for time and effort while strengthening the requirement for effective internal controls;
  • Targeting audit resources based on risk by raising the single audit threshold from $500K to $750K and focusing audits on material weaknesses; and
  • Strengthening audit follow-up by requiring greater accountability and monitoring results more closely

    Read the entire OMB Memorandum here:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2014/m-14-17.pdf

The COFAR Training Videos the OMB Omnicircular Grant Reform

No news has impacted grants and contracts in the US in the past 50 years as the enactment of the OMB Omnicircular for Grant Reform which was announced a year ago in the Federal Register.

Effective December 26, 2014, all new federal and federal-flowthrough funding must be handled under this collection of regulations. That means any new award issued on/after 12/26/14 AND any new amended funding on existing awards will be impacted by this.

The new Omnicircular will consolidate previous circulars into one circular and it directly effects how funds can be spent, how auditors will review processes of the instition’s internal controls, how indirect costs rates will be negotiated, how to handle “blended funding” and new procurement rules.

Originally aired live on October 2, 2014, this training video below is the entire session presented by the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR).

In the blog posts following this session, I will outline the presenters’ comments on all these new mandates in the Code of Federal Regulations.

New Fall Processing for NIH Grants: Using FRAM and Commons

NIH provided this YouTube training video on how to use the FRAM in processing closeouts in Commons:

FRAM

Training Videos for Financial Research Administrators at Houston Methodist

Test to see if this works:

FCOI_presentation_201204

Discussion of the Uniform Guidance: Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

COFAR Releases Frequently Asked Questions

2014-08-29 Frequently Asked Questions

On Friday, August 29, 2014, COFAR released the second set of FAQs in support of 2 C.F.R 200 Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.  Over two hundred thoughtful questions and comments have been received from grantors, grantees, and grant management and oversight professionals throughout country.

COFAR Releases Details on the Omni-Circular – 2 CFR 200

 

COFAR Releases Frequently Asked Questions

2014-08-29 Frequently Asked Questions

On Friday, August 29, 2014, COFAR released the second set of FAQs in support of 2 C.F.R 200 Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.  Over two hundred thoughtful questions and comments have been received from grantors, grantees, and grant management and oversight professionals throughout country.  If you have additional questions or comments please send them to cofar@omb.eop.gov.

 

https://cfo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/2014-08-29-Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf

CFRA Exam Prep: Historically How NIH Allows for Budgeting on Out Years

Change in Allowable Requested Budget Levels of Renewal (Type 2) R01, U01, and P01 Applications for the National Cancer Institute


Notice Number: NOT-CA-08-026

Key Dates
Release Date:  August 15, 2008

Issued by
National Cancer Institute (NCI) (http://www.cancer.gov/)

Purpose

Since Fiscal Year 2001, the NCI has had a policy that limits (to 20%) the increase in first-year direct costs that may be requested in any Type 2 R01, U01, or P01 renewal application (formerly called “competing continuation” application) over the award amount in the last year of the prior project period (i.e., over the last Type 5 award).  In order to more closely align budgets proposed in renewal applications with actual funding levels, the NCI is revising this direct cost “cap” policy as outlined below.

The change affects all Type 2 R01, U01, and P01 renewal applications regardless of the amount of budget request or budget format (i.e., modular or non-modular). This change is effective for renewal applications that have receipt/submission dates on and after October 1, 2008. This Notice supersedes the previous Notice on the direct cost “cap” policy (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-CA-01-016.html ).

For all such renewal applications, the direct cost budget request for the first year cannot generally exceed an increase of 10% over the direct cost budget awarded for the last year of the prior project period (i.e., the last Type 5 award). This dollar cap for the direct cost increase is exclusive of any consortium/sub-contractual component of Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs that may appear as direct cost in the budget of the applicant organization. Determination of the allowable costs for typical situations is discussed below. Additional details and calculation examples are provided on a Frequently Asked Questions web page (http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/grantspolicies/newbudgetcap-faq.htm).

Case 1: Non-modular Budgets.  All U01 and P01 renewal applications (regardless of requested budgets) and any R01 application that involves a request for direct cost budget in excess of $250,000 in at least one year of the project period must use a non-modular (detailed or itemized) budget (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/modular/modular.htm). This rule applies regardless of whether the prior award has been based on modular or non-modular budget. In addition, the NIH policy (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-06-096.html) requires that non-modular budget format is used by all foreign applicants regardless of the dollar amount requested

For the renewal applications that use non-modular budget format, the requested direct costs in the first year budget must not exceed 110% of the award amount for the last year of the prior project period (i.e., an allowable increase is up to a maximum of 10% over the direct costs of the last Type 5 award).  The permissible direct costs that can be requested for the subsequent years of the proposed project may be increased only by the allowable cost-of-living factor.

Case 2: Modular Budgets.  Any R01 renewal application  that involves a request for direct cost budget not exceeding $250,000 in any year must use a modular budget (with the exception for foreign applicants noted above).

For renewal applications involving use of the modular budget format, the applicants may determine allowable direct costs by first calculating 110% of the last Type 5 award level and then rounding up the resulting dollar amount to the nearest “modular” amount.

A typical modular application will request the same number of modules for each year; however, well-justified modular increments (up to the specified modular ceiling) or decrements in the total direct costs for any year of the project that reflect substantial changes in expected future activities may be requested at the outset. For example, a major equipment purchase in the first year may justify a higher overall budget in that year, but not necessarily in succeeding years. There is no provision for escalation in future years. NIH requires additional narrative budget justification if there is a variation in the number of modules requested from year to year. An increase in modular levels in subsequent years may be possible in certain situation but will require prior approval by the NCI (see details under Case 3).

Note: If in any year, the budget exceeds $250,000, a non-modular (itemized) budget format must be used for the entire application (which then falls under Case 1). Even if the budget does not exceed$250,000, but an uneven annual budget allocation is sought, an application may fall under Case 3.

Case 3: Alternative Calculations of Allowable Direct Costs (NCI Approval Required). In certain situations (e.g., the examples given in the next paragraph), calculations for the 10% “cap” rule may be modified by:

  • Basing the determinations of permissible direct costs on average direct costs awarded during the entire prior project period (rather than only on the last Type 5 award); and/or
  • Defining the permissible direct costs for the entire project period of the renewal application to allow flexibility in budget allocation in individual years.

These provisions may apply to the renewal of projects in which the last Type 5 award may be substantially lower than awards made in preceding years. In addition, the nature of some projects proposed for renewal may require variable budget allocations for one or more years. For example, such situations may be characteristic of some epidemiological and clinical research projects. In justifiable situations (assessed on a case by case basis, see below), the NCI may allow applicants to use this alternative way to calculate permissible direct costs.

If this alternative is used, the maximal permissible direct costs for the entire proposed project period should be determined as follows. First, the average direct costs per year awarded during the entireprior project period are calculated. Next, 110% of this average value is calculated to provide the nominal base for permissible costs in the first year on the renewal project. For applications involving non-modular budgets, this nominal base amount is escalated by the allowable cost-of-living factor for the remaining years of the proposed renewal project (but no such escalation is allowed when a modular budget is involved). The sum of these nominal values represents the maximal permissible direct costs for the entire proposed project period. This “total cap” amount may then be allocated for individual years at the applicant’s discretion as needed and appropriate for the nature of the project.

Applicants who are interested in this option MUST contact the NCI Program Director (Program Official) and Grants Management Specialist named on their current awards prior to submission of renewal applications. Prior approval of the NCI is required before any application with a budget using these alternative schemes can be accepted for review .  The prior approval should be referenced in the application in the budget justification and the cover letter.

Case 4: Supplements in Prior Project Period. If the original award that is subject to renewal is associated with currently active supplemental award, the supplemental direct cost and the direct cost of the original award for the last year of the prior project period may be combined to form a base for the renewal budget request. However, this provision applies only if the work funded by the supplement will continue in the new project period.

Potential Future Supplements. This policy limits only the direct costs of the renewal requests and does not prevent potential competing and/or administrative supplements in the future, after a competing award has been issued. However, if the cumulative direct costs (main renewal award plus any supplemental request) exceed the original cap value, awardees will be required to obtain NCI permission prior to applying for such competing and administrative supplements..

Other Considerations.

Applicants submitting renewal applications are also cautioned that:

In addition to this new cap policy, the NCI may still mandate further reductions of awards to fit within the likely constraints of the budget.  All awards, therefore, continue to be subject to future overall NIH and NCI cost-containment principles in effect at the time of award issuance.

Any grant application requesting a budget of $500,000 direct costs or more in any year requires approval prior to submission (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-05-004.html).

For unsolicited U01 cooperative agreements at any budget level, prior written approval of the NCI is required for permission to submit a renewal application as a U01. No prior approval is needed for renewal U01 applications submitted in response to a specific funding opportunity announcement (and their subsequent renewals) as well as those U01 awards that were originally funded as R01 awards and later converted to the U01 mechanism.

To assure careful consideration, all requests for prior approvals should be received by the NCI at least six weeks prior to the actual application receipt date.

Applicants who fail to adhere to the above-stated policy and associated requirements will likely face delays in the acceptance of application submission, assignment, peer review, and/or award issuance.  Moreover, non-complying applicants will not be considered  for any interim administrative supplements that might otherwise be available to bridge gaps in funding.

Exemptions from this policy may be granted in unusual situations. Requests for exemptions should be made in writing and sent to the appropriate NCI Program Director (Program Official). Every effort will be made to advise applicants on the options available to sustain their ongoing research.

CFRA Exam Prep: How to Build an NIH Grant Budget

s you begin to develop a budget for your research grant application and put all of the relevant costs down on paper, many questions may arise. Your best resources for answering these questions are the grants or sponsored programs office within your own institution, your departmental administrative officials, and your peers. They can answer questions such as:

  • What should be considered a direct cost or indirect cost?
  • What is the fringe benefit rate?
  • What is the graduate student stipend rate?
  • What Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs rate should I use?

Below are some additional tips and reminders we have found to be helpful for preparing a research grant application, mainly geared towards the SF424 (R&R) application. (Note: these tips do not supersede the budget instructions found in the relevant application instruction guides: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm).

Cost Considerations

An applicant’s budget request is reviewed for compliance with the governing cost principles and other requirements and policies applicable to the type of recipient and the type of award. Any resulting award will include a budget that is consistent with these requirements.

Information on the applicable cost principles and on allowable and unallowable costs under NIH grants is provided in the NIH Grants Policy Statement under Cost Considerationshttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch7.htm. In general, NIH grant awards provide for reimbursement of actual, allowable costs incurred and are subject to Federal cost principleshttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch7.htm#cost_principles .

The cost principles address four tests that NIH follows in determining the allowability of costs. Costs charged to awards must be allowable, allocable, reasonable, necessary, and consistently applied regardless of the source of funds. NIH may disallow the costs if it determines, through audit or otherwise, that the costs do not meet the tests of allowability, allocability, reasonableness, necessity, and consistency.

Budgets: Getting Started
  • Know your limits! Carefully read the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for budget criteria. You should look for limits on the types of expenses (e.g. no construction allowed), spending caps on certain expenses (e.g. travel limited to $10,000), and overall funding limits (e.g. total costs cannot exceed $300,000 per year). Relevant FOA sections include:
    • II.1 (Mechanism of Support),
    • II.2 (Funds Available),
    • III.2 (Cost Sharing or Matching), and
    • IV.5 (Funding Restrictions).
  • Identify all the costs that are necessary and reasonable to complete the work described in your proposal.
  • Throughout the budgeting process, round to whole dollars and use only U.S. dollars.
  • The best strategy is to request a reasonable amount money to do the work, not more and not less because:
    • Reviewers look for reasonable costs and will judge whether your request is justified by your aims and methods.
    • Reviewers will consider the person months you’ve listed for each of the senior/key personnel and will judge whether the figures are in sync with reviewer expectations, based on the research proposed.
    • Significant over- or under-estimating suggests you may not understand the scope of the work.
    • Despite popular myth, proposing a cost-sharing (matching) arrangement where you only request that NIH support some of the funding while your organization funds the remainder does not normally impact the evaluation of your proposal. Only a few select programs require cost-sharing, and these programs will address cost-sharing in the FOA.

What is the difference between allowable direct costs and allowable facilities & administrative (F&A) costs?

Direct Costs: Costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.

F&A Costs: Costs that are incurred by a grantee for common or joint objectives and that, therefore, cannot be identified specifically with a particular project or program. These costs also are known as “indirect costs.”

  •  The total costs requested in your budget will include allowable direct costs (related to the performance of the grant) plus allowable F&A costs. If awarded, each budget period of the Notice of Award will reflect direct costs, applicable F&A, and in the case of SBIR or STTR awards, a “profit” or fee.
  • F&A costs are determined by applying your organization’s negotiated F&A rate to your direct cost base. Most educational, hospital, or non-profit organizations have negotiated their rates with other Federal (cognizant) agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services or the Office of Naval Research. If you are a for-profit organization, the F&A costs are negotiated by the Division of Cost Allocation (DCA), Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS) in the Office of Acquisition Management and Policy, NIH.
  • What is your direct cost base?
    • For most institutions the negotiated F&A rate will use a modified total direct cost (MTDC) base, which excludes items such as: equipment, student tuition, research patient care costs, rent, and sub-recipient charges (after the first $25,000). Check with your sponsored programs office to find out your negotiated MTDC base.
    • When calculating whether your direct cost per year is $500,000 or greater, do not include any sub-recipient F&A in the base but do include all other direct costs as well as any equipment costs.   NOTE:  Direct cost requests equal to or greater than $500,000 require prior approval from the NIH Institute/Center before application submission.  For more information, see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-02-004.
    • For many SBIR/STTR grantees, 40% of modified total direct costs is a common F&A rate, although rates at organizations may vary.

Modular versus Detailed Budgets

The NIH uses 2 different formats for budget submission depending on the total direct costs requested and the activity code used. 

The SF424 (R&R) Application Guide includes two optional budget components—(1) R&R Budget Component requesting detailed budget information; and, (2) the “simplified” PHS398 Modular Budget Component. Note: NIH applications will include either the R&R Budget Component or the PHS398 Modular Budget Component, but not both.

To determine whether to use a detailed versus modular budget for your NIH application, see the flowchart below.

Flowchart explaining when to use detailed or modular budget for NIH applications.

Modular Budgets

NIH uses a modular budget format (applicants request funds in lump sums of $25,000 intervals) for some applications, rather than requiring a full detailed budget. The modular budget format is not accepted for SBIR and STTR grant applications. SBIR and STTR applicants must complete and submit budget requests using the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) Budget component. Applications from foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must include only detailed (non-modular) budgets (see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-06-096).

  •  Creating a modular budget:
    • Select the PHS398 Modular Budget Component form for your submission package, and use the appropriate set of instructions from the electronic application user’s guide. You do not need to submit the SF424 (R&R) Budget Component form if you submit the PHS398 Modular Budget form.
    • Consider creating a detailed budget for your own institution’s use including salaries, equipment, supplies, graduate student tuition, etc. for every year of funds requested. While the NIH will not ask for these details, they are important for you to have on hand when calculating your F&A costs base and writing your justification, and for audit purposes.
    • In order to determine how many modules you should request, subtract any consortium F&A from the total direct costs, and then round to the nearest $25,000 increment.
  • A modular budget justification should include:
    • Personnel Justification: The Personnel Justification should include the name, role, and number of person-months devoted to this project for every person on the project. Do not include salary and fringe benefit rate in the justification, but keep in mind the legislatively mandated salary cap when calculating your budget. [When preparing a modular budget, you are instructed to use the current cap when determining the appropriate number of modules.] 
    • Consortium Justification: If you have a consortium/subcontract, include the total costs (direct costs plus F&A costs), rounded to the nearest $1,000, for each consortium/subcontract. Additionally, any personnel should include their roles and person months; if the consortium is foreign, that should be stated as well.
    • Additional Narrative Justification: Additional justification should include explanations for any variations in the number of modules requested annually. Also, this section should describe any direct costs that were excluded from the total direct costs (such as equipment, tuition remission) and any work being conducted off-site, especially if it involves a foreign study site or an off-site F&A rate.

Detailed Budget: Personnel (Sections A & B)

Personnel make up sections A and B of the SF424 (R&R) Budget form. All personnel from the applicant organization dedicating effort to the project should be listed on the personnel budget with their base salary and effort, even if they are not requesting salary support.

  • Effort: Effort must be reported in person months. For help converting percent effort to person months, see: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/person_months_faqs.htm.
  • Salary Caps: NIH will not pay requested salary above the annual salary cap, which can be found athttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm. If salary is requested above the salary cap, NIH will reduce that line item to the salary cap, resulting in a reduced total award amount. In future years, if the salary cap increases, grantees may rebudget to pay investigator salaries up to the new salary cap, but NIH will not increase the total award amount. If you are preparing a detailed budget, you are instructed to base your request on actual institutional base salaries (not the cap) so that NIH staff has the most current information in hand at the time of award and can apply the appropriate salary cap at that time.
  • Fringe Benefits: The fringe benefits rate is based on your institution’s policy; the NIH does not have a pre-set limit on fringe benefits. More information on what is included as fringe benefits can be found in the Grants Policy Statement athttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch7.htm#Fringe_Benefits. If you have questions about what rate to use, consult your institution’s sponsored programs office.
  • Senior/Key Personnel: The Senior/Key Personnel section should include any senior or key personnel from the applicant organization who are dedicating effort to this project. “Other Significant Contributors” who dedicate negligible effort should not be included. Some common significant contributors include: 1) CEOs of companies who provide overall leadership, but no direct contribution to the research; and 2) mentors for K awardees, who provide advice and guidance to the candidate but do not work on the project. Likewise, any consultants or collaborators who are not employed by the applicant organization should not be included in section A, but rather should be included in section F.3 of the budget (for consultants) or in section A of the consortium/subaward budget page (for collaborators).
  • Postdoctoral Associates: Postdocs can be listed in either section A or B depending on their level of involvement in project design and execution. If listed in section B, include the individuals’ names and level of effort in the budget justification section.
  • Graduate Students: Graduate students can be listed in either section A or B, but if listed in section B, include the individuals’ names and level of effort in the budget justification section. Tuition remission is included in section F.8 (not section A), but is included in the graduate student compensation limits. For more about the graduate student compensation limit, see: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-017.html. For current NRSA stipend levels, see the NRSA help page at:http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm.
  • Other Personnel: Other personnel can be listed by project role. If multiple people share the same role such as “lab technician”, indicate the number of personnel to the left of the role description, add their person months together, and add their requested salaries together. The salaries of secretarial/clerical staff should normally be treated as F&A costs. Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate where a major project or activity explicitly budgets for administrative or clerical services and individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity [see Exhibit C of OMB Circular A-21 (relocated to 2 CFR, Part 220)]. Be specific in your budget justifications when describing other personnel’s roles and responsibilities.

Detailed Budget: Equipment, Travel, and Trainee Costs (Sections C, D, and E)
  • Equipment: Equipment is defined as an item of property that has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more (unless the organization has established lower levels) and an expected service life of more than one year. Tips:
    • Generally equipment is excluded from the F&A base, so if you have something with a short service life (< 1 year), even if it costs more than $5,000, you are better off including it under “supplies”.
    • If you request equipment that is already available (listed in the Facilities & Other Resources section, for example), the narrative justification must explain why the current equipment is insufficient to accomplish the proposed research and how the new equipment’s use will be allocated specifically to the proposed research. Otherwise, NIH may disallow this cost.
    • General purpose equipment, such as desktop computers and laptops, that will be used on multiple projects or for personal use should not be listed as a direct cost but should come out of the F&A costs, unless primarily or exclusively used in the actual conduct of the proposed scientific research.
    • While the application does not require you to have a price quote for new equipment, including price quotes in your budget justification can aid in the evaluation of the equipment cost to support the project.
  • Travel: In the budget justification, include the destination, number of people traveling and dates or duration of your stay for all anticipated travel. As with the equipment justification, it is important that you clearly state how the travel is directly related to your proposed research (e.g. you can go to a conference to present your research, but not just for the purpose of “staying current in your field”). You should refer to your institution’s travel policy for guidance on how you should arrange the travel, but if your institution lacks a policy, it is expected that you will follow the U.S. federal government policy found here: http://www.gsa.gov/federaltravelregulation.
  • Trainee Costs: Leave this section blank unless otherwise stated in the FOA. Graduate student tuition remission can be entered in section F.8.

Detailed Budget: Other Direct Costs (Section F)
  • Materials and Supplies: In the budget justification, indicate general categories such as glassware, chemicals, animal costs, including an amount for each category. Categories that include costs less than $1,000 do not have to be itemized.
  • Animal Costs: While included under “materials and supplies”, it is often helpful to include more specific details about how you developed your estimate for animal costs. Include the number of animals you expect to use, the purchase price for the animals (if you need to purchase any), and your animal facility’s per diem care rate, if available.  Details are especially helpful if your animal care costs are unusually large or small. For example, if you plan to follow your animals for an abnormally long time period and do not include per diem rates, the reviewers may think you have budgeted too much for animal costs and may recommend a budget cut.
  • Publication Costs: You may include the costs associated with helping you disseminate your research findings from the proposed research. If this is a new application, you may want to delay publication costs until the later budget periods, once you have actually obtained data to share.
  • Consultant Services: Consultants differ from Consortiums in that they may provide advice, but should not be making decisions for the direction of the research. Typically, consultants will charge a fixed rate for their services that includes both their direct and F&A costs. You do not need to report separate direct and F&A costs for consultants; however, you should report how much of the total estimated costs will be spent on travel. Consultants are not subject to the salary cap restriction; however, any consultant charges should meet your institution’s definition of “reasonableness”.
  • ADP/Computer Services: The services you include here should be research specific computer services- such as reserving computing time on supercomputers or getting specialized software to help run your statistics. This section should not include your standard desktop office computer, laptop, or the standard tech support provided by your institution. Those types of charges should come out of the F&A costs.
  • Alterations and Renovations (A&R): A&R does not include general maintenance projects (normally handled under F&A) or projects exceeding $500,000 (considered “construction” projects). A&R can be used for projects such as altering a room to make space for a new grant-related piece of equipment. If applicable:
    • Justify basis for costs, itemize by category.
    • Enter the total funds requested for alterations and renovations. Where applicable, provide the square footage and costs.
    • If A&R costs are in excess of $300,000 further limitations apply and additional documentation will be required.
  • Research Patient Care Costs: Few budgets contain patient care expenses, however if inpatient and/or outpatient costs are requested, the following information should be provided:
    • The names of any hospitals and/or clinics and the amounts requested for each.
    • If both inpatient and outpatient costs are requested, provide information for each separately.
    • Provide cost breakdown, number of days, number of patients, costs of tests/treatments.
    • Justify the costs associated with standard care or research care. (Note: If these costs are associated with patient accrual, restrictions may be justified in the Notice of Award.)
      (See NIH Grants Policy Statement NIH Grants Policy Statement, Research Patient Care Costs)
  • Tuition: In your budget justification, for any graduate students on your project, include what your school’s tuition rates are. You may have to report both an in-state and out-of-state tuition rate. Depending on your school stipend and tuition levels, you may have to budget less than your school’s full tuition rate in order to meet the graduate student compensation limit (equivalent to the NRSA zero-level postdoctorate stipend level).
  • Other: Some types of costs, such as entertainment costs, are not allowed under federal grants. NIH has included a list of the most common questionable items in the NIH Grants Policy Statement (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch7.htm#selected_cost_items). If NIH discovers an unallowable cost in your budget, generally we will discount that cost from your total award amount, so it is in your best interest to avoid requesting unallowable costs. If you have any question over whether a cost is allowable, contact your sponsored programs office or the grants management specialist listed on the funding opportunity announcement.

Consortiums/Subawards

If you are using the detailed budget format, each consortium you include must have an independent budget form filled out.

  • Direct costs:
    • In the rare case of third tier subawards, section F.5 “subawards/consortium/contractual” costs should include the total cost of the subaward, and the entire third tier award is considered part of the direct costs of the consortium for the purposes of calculating the primary applicant’s direct costs.
    • Cost Principles. Regardless of what cost principles apply to the parent grantee, the consortium is held to the standards of their respective set of cost principles.
  • F&A:
    • Consortium F&A costs are NOT included as part of the direct cost base when determining whether the application can use the modular format (direct costs < $250,000 per year), or determining whether prior approval is needed to submit an application (direct costs $500,000 or more for any year).

      NOTE: This policy does not apply to applications submitted in response to RFAs or in response to other funding opportunity announcements including specific budgetary limits.

    • F&A costs for the first $25,000 of each consortium may be included in the modified total direct cost base, when calculating the overall F&A rate, as long as your institution’s negotiated F&A rate agreement does not express prohibit it.
    • If the consortium is a foreign institution or international organization, F&A for the consortium is limited to 8%.
    • If the consortium is with a for-profit entity, such as a small business, the organization must have a negotiated F&A rate before they can charge F&A costs. The default small business rate of 40% is only applicable to SBIR (R43 &R44) and STTR (R41 & R42) applications. See the Division of Financial and Accounting Services (DFAS) at NIH to set up a rate: http://oamp.od.nih.gov/dfas/indirect-cost-branch/indirect-cost-submission
  • Justification:
    • Consortiums should each provide a budget justification following their detailed budget. The justification should be separate from the primary grantee’s justification and address just those items that pertain to the consortium.

Understanding the Out Years
  • We do not expect your budget to predict perfectly how you will spend your money five years down the road. However, we do expect a reasonable approximation of what you intend to spend. Be thorough enough to convince the reviewers that you have a good sense of the overall costs.
  • You may request an escalation factor for recurring costs in accordance with your institution’s policy, depending on NIH’s budget appropriation. NIH will generally provide up to a 3% escalation factor for recurring costs each future year. Consistent with the FY 2009 appropriation, the FY 2008 average cost of competing grants is allowed to increase by 3 percent over FY 2008 (see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-09-066). The adjustment on salaries cannot exceed the salary cap. 
  • Any large year-to-year variation should be described in your budget justification. For example, if you have money set aside for consultants only in the final year of your budget, be sure to explain why in your justification (e.g. the consultants are intended to help you with the statistical interpretation of the data and therefore are not needed before the final year).
  • In general, NIH grantees are allowed a certain degree of latitude to rebudget within and between budget categories to meet unanticipated needs and to make other types of post-award changes. Some changes may be made at the grantee’s discretion as long as they are within the limits established by NIH. In other cases, NIH prior written approval may be required before a grantee makes certain budget modifications or undertakes particular activities (such as change in scope). See NIH Grants Policy Statement – Changes in Project and Budget.

Other resources to help you create your budget

2014 CFRA EXAM PREP: The Contracting Rulebook and Bible: Federal Acquisition Regulations

The Contracting Rulebook and Bible: Federal Acquisition Regulations

No discussion of government procedures and rules is complete without talking about the basic rulebook for government contracts: the Federal Acquisition Regulation, commonly known as “the FAR.”

The FAR, which had its beginnings in the Armed Services Procurement Regulation established in 1947, is considered the Bible for federal government contracting. The FAR contains all the rules governing the contracting process as well as all the forms and clauses used in contracts.

The FAR has recently gone through a significant rewrite to reflect and implement all of the changes made by all the recent laws. In order to do business with the federal government, you definitely need to have a basic knowledge of what is in the FAR and how to use it.

No discussion of government procedures and rules is complete without talking about the basic rulebook for government contracts: the Federal Acquisition Regulation, commonly known as “the FAR.”

The FAR, which had its beginnings in the Armed Services Procurement Regulation established in 1947, is considered the Bible for federal government contracting. The FAR contains all the rules governing the contracting process as well as all the forms and clauses used in contracts.

The FAR has recently gone through a significant rewrite to reflect and implement all of the changes made by all the recent laws. In order to do business with the federal government, you definitely need to have a basic knowledge of what is in the FAR and how to use it. 

The FAR is designed to be a guide, not a limiting rulebook. Under recent changes in the law, contracting officers can use “good business practices” that make sense in making decisions and in negotiating terms instead of having to consult a rulebook on each decision.

 

The FAR is divided into 53 parts, each part dealing with a separate aspect of the acquisition process. The first six parts deal with general government acquisition matters and the next six parts deal with aspects of acquisition planning. The rest of the FAR deals with other topics, such as simplified acquisition threshold (formerly known as small purchases), large dollar value buys, labor laws, contract administration, applicable clauses and forms.

Relevant parts for small businesses include Part 19, Small Business Programs, and Part 52, which contains the standard terms and conditions contained in a government contract.

Although the FAR is the primary acquisition regulation for the federal government, each government agency may issue an agency acquisition supplement to the FAR. We therefore have the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), the General Services Acquisition Regulation Supplement (GSARS), and the National Aeronautics Space Administration FAR Supplement (NASFARS), just to name a few. Many of these are on the Internet at the agency’s web site.

These supplements are not stand-alone documents, but must be read in conjunction with the FAR. Therefore, when preparing a proposal or quote, remember to look at the relevant supplement, in addition to the FAR, to make sure added requirements don’t apply. The FAR has more than 1000 pages and a supplement may be another 1000 pages, but only a relatively small portion is used in any single contract. That is why it’s important, when dealing with a government office, to ask which regulation governs their acquisition procedures. Make sure that you read any changes to the rule before you quote. Don’t assume. Congress gave the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) the authority to develop its own acquisition regulations; therefore it is not bound by the FAR. Although the FAA has chosen to adopt or adapt many parts of the FAR, don’t assume that its provisions are all just like those in the FAR. Some quasi-government agencies, like the Tennessee Valley Authority or United States Postal Service, are not bound by the FAR, but many of their acquisition regulations are adaptations of FAR provisions.

You can buy a copy of the FAR in hard copy from the Government Printing Office (GPO) or read it online or buy it from a third party like CCH, Law & Business. If you order the FAR from the Government Printing Office, make sure that the price includes all updates, as they occur, so you will always have current information when you prepare a proposal. Updates are important because of the potential impact on the way you will bid. It could change the cost and therefore your quote!

When you view the FAR on the Internet, make sure that you check the update date for the same reason. The softbound type is current until the next update.

The Department of Defense is transforming a significant portion of the DFARS to the DFARS Procedures, Guidance and Information (PGI). The PGI is a companion resource to the DFARS. DFARS PGI is a new, web-based tool so the entire acquisition community can simply and rapidly access non-regulatory Department of Defense (DoD) procedures, and guidance and information relevant to FAR and DFARS topics.

The DFARS still remains the source for regulation and implementation of laws, as well as DoD-wide contracting policies, authorities and delegations. In other words, DFARS will answer the questions, “What is the policy?” and “What are the rules?” DFARS PGI will connect the acquisition community to the available background, procedures and guidance, answering the questions, “How can I execute the policy?” and “Why does this policy exist?”

It is believed DFARS PGI will not only provide a rapid method of disseminating non-regulatory material to contracting officers and the entire acquisition community, it will also serve as a real-time training tool by making relevant information available on your topic of interest. DFARS PGI is new and will be evolving in the months ahead. It’ll be in simpler language, in an easy-to-follow format, and with new tools for searching and retrieving current and past information on FAR and DFARS requirements.

 

Just remember that the government is ready to do business, on a competitive basis, with competent, qualified companies that can supply the products or services it requires at a reasonable price. You, the new contractor, must know what their game plan is. Once you have some understanding of the federal buying process, you can enter this market with greater confidence and be successful and profitable.

2014 CFRA EXAM PREP: Besides FARs and FASA, what other laws govern federal contracting…

Study the FAR Part 52 and DFARS Part 252

 Government contracting rules, regulations and procedures dictate how you do business with the government. The two most important laws you need to be aware of are FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) and FASA (Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act). However, there are numerous other laws that have an impact on government contracting that you should also keep in mind.

 

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The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act is a United States law that was enacted in 1994 with the goal of lowering procurement barriers. This Act enables simplified procurement procedures where the procurement is limited, facilitates reliance of Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology, and promotes the use of fixed-price Performance Based Contracting.

The law alters the United States government procurement strategy from lowest bid to best value. The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act and the Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1996 removed the traditional oversight mechanisms that had been in place for decades and paved the way for a new method of awarding federal government contracts. Contracts must meet 90% of their performance goals or face termination.

 

Government Procedures

The federal government conducts its business through authorized agents, called contracting officers:

  • The Procurement Contracting Officer (referred to as the “PCO”) places contracts and handles contract terminations when the contractor defaults.
  • The Administrative Contracting Officer (referred to as the “ACO”) administers the contracts.
  • The Termination Contracting Officer (referred to as the “TCO”) handles contract terminations when the government terminates for its convenience.

Depending on the situation, the same person may be all three.

Because the government is a sovereign entity (in other words, it is the ruling power), it has rights that commercial businesses do not have. For example, the government has the right to unilaterally revise the contract, so long as changes are within the parameters of the contract.

This means the government can change the quantity it is contracting for, or how it is packaged or how it is being shipped. The contractor is entitled to equitable cost adjustment, but must comply with the changes. The government also has the right to cancel the contract if the need for the product or service no longer exists. Here again, the contractor would be entitled to reimbursement for costs incurred.

Because taxpayer dollars are being spent, the government can impose extensive audit and surveillance requirements under the terms of a contract. However, extensive and stringent requirements are usually imposed only on higher priced contracts (i.e., contracts of $100,000 or more in value) and thus are not usually applicable to contracts with small businesses.

FASA and FARA

Now we come to the recent laws. The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (FASA) was revolutionary in its impact on the federal acquisition process. It repealed or substantially modified more than 225 statutes and pushed the contracting process into the 21st century.

Among other things, it simplified the federal procurement process, reduced paperwork burdens, and transformed the simplified acquisition process to electronic commerce.

Before the law could be fully implemented, the Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1996 (FARA, also known as the Clinger-Cohen Act) was passed to correct some deficiencies in the earlier legislation and to make more changes. These last two laws were significant events because of the vast changes they made in the way that the government conducts it business. The system is continuing to make adjustments to the new, more open environment.

 

 

How the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (FASA) Affects Your Contracting Business

What was so significant about FASA to the interests of small businesses? Here are some of the specific changes that this law made:

  • Changed the small purchase level from $25,000 and under to between $3,000 and $100,000, and provided that all these purchases can enjoy “simplified acquisition procedures,” which in effect reserves all of these purchases for small business. Two of the main purposes of the simplified acquisition procedures are to reduce administrative costs and to improve contract opportunities for small, small disadvantaged, small service-disabled-veteran, and small women-owned businesses.
  • The government was mandated to use electronic means to issue and award small purchases (termed by the law as “Simplified Acquisition Purchases” or “SAP”). That means that for contracts under $100,000, there is now a tremendous effort by the government to go “paperless.” What does paperless mean? Well, it simply means that the government is entering the era of electronic commerce and technology for doing business. So much for the myth of being buried by government paperwork and red tape.
  • Encouraged government buying offices to use credit cards on all requirements under $3,000. Basically, the intent was to get these “nuisance” buys out of the buying office and simply let the government user buy what was needed quickly and efficiently. This means two things for small businesses: minimal paperwork and a real opportunity for any business that accepts credit cards to increase its business. As we mentioned earlier, in 2005 alone, the federal government spent almost $17.8 billion in credit card purchases in the under-$3000 range. The government now just goes to a local store and buys what it needs.
  • Established commercial items as the preferred products for the government to buy if they meet the government need; to do otherwise requires a justification as to why it is necessary. This last little change is having a major impact on the process. First of all, it has meant a reduction in government personnel that small businesses have to deal with. The more the government buys commercial items, the less it will need buyers, production specialists, pricing specialists, quality assurance specialists and other personnel that were required when the government designed to its own specifications. Second, it has meant that only if the commercial market cannot satisfy the government’s need can the government buyer require that items be built to government specifications. In other words, most government specifications and standards will be used only with contracts greater than $100,000, so you, the small business contractor, will have fewer government requirements to worry about.

Government Purchasing Thresholds

Micro-purchases (credit cards)

for contracts up to $3,000

Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP)

for contracts for $3,001 to $100,000 (scheduled to increase to $150,000 in 2010)

Simplified Commercial

for contracts $100,000 to $5,000,000

Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS)

no dollar limits, any dollar size contract

Commercial Items

for contracts over $3,000

Sealed Bids/Negotiations

FAR Parts 14 & 15 apply for contracts $100,000 and up

Chart of Laws That Affect Government Contracting

The following chart provides a summary of government contracting rules and how they impact a small business trying to contract with the government.

Laws that Affect Government Contracting

Public Law

Result

Purveyor of Public Affairs Act of 1795

Allowed the government to buy needed supplies and materials to perform government functions.

Civil Sundry Appropriations Act of 1861

Continued the principle of advertised procurements for the next 86 years.

Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890

Protected small companies and their labor force from large business.

Armed Services Procurement Act of 1947

Continued the sealed bid as the preferred method of procurement, placed procurement rules in one location and gave us the Armed Services Procurement Regulation (ASPR), which was the beginnings of today’s rulebook, the FAR.

Eight-Hour Work Law of 1892

Set the eight-hour workday.

The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931

Set the minimum wage on the construction site at the local prevailing wage.

Buy American Act

Required the government to buy only American products.

Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act of 1936 (note that this law was drastically changed in 1994)

Required a supplier to certify that it was the manufacturer or a regular dealer. This was an attempt to do away with the “broker.”

Small Business Act of 1953

Established the Small Business Administration.

Berry Amendment of 1941, (later modified in 1994, 2002 and 2006)

Mandated that the Department of Defense buys certain items from U.S. or qualifying countries.

Truth in Negotiation Act of 1962

Required both prime and subcontractors on contracts over $500,000 to certify the cost data submitted under the solicitation.

Public Law 95-507, Amendment to the Small Business Act (1978)

Formalized the Small Business Subcontracting Plan requirement in contracts over $500,000 to large businesses. Set goals for large primes.

Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (FASA)

Revolutionary in its impact on the federal acquisition process. It repealed or substantially modified more than 225 statutes and pushed the contracting process into the 21stcentury. Among other things, it simplified the federal procurement process, reduced paperwork burdens, and transformed the simplified acquisition process to electronic commerce.

Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1996 (FARA) or (Clinger-Cohen Act)

Before FASA could be fully implemented, this Act became law and corrected some deficiencies in the earlier legislation and made more changes.

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

These regulations control the import and export of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List.

2014 CFRA EXAM PREP: What are FAR flowdown clauses

Many persons and organizations have, from time to time, produced lists of flowdown clauses, but they are rarely good for very long due to changes in the regulations. Also, such lists are hard to produce because there is no single combination of flowdowns that is applicable to every prime-subcontract relationship.

It is important for you to understand that there are two kinds of flowdown clauses: (a) mandatory, and (b) essential, but not mandatory. Mandatory flowdown clauses are those that the prime must flowdown because the clause in its contract with the government require it to be flowed down. The Service Contract Act clause is an example.

Essential flowdown clauses are those that the prime must flow down to protect itself, even though its contract with the government does not require it to be flowed down. The Termination for Convenience clause is an example.

It takes a careful study of FAR Part 52 in order to understand which clauses must and should be flowed down to subcontractors and which need not be flowed down. It is a complex problem and there is no easy solution.

For 2014 CFRA Exam Preparation: FARs Basics

FEDERAL CONTRACTING
FEDERAL ACQUISITION REGULATIONS

 Government contracts contain a host of standard terms and conditions, called “clauses”. Many of the clauses are by regulation non-negotiable. In fact, Federal procurement case law provides that a mandatory contract clause that affects fundamental acquisition policy will be read into the contract even where the Government inadvertently omitted it.

It’s not uncommon for a typical Government contract to contain 50-75 standard FAR clauses. The prospective government contractor should carefully review all clauses contained in any government solicitation. Although some resemble counterparts found in the commercial arena, many government contract clauses have no commercial equivalents. Three of the more prominent clauses unique to standard government contracts are: (1) the “Termination for Convenience” clause; (2) the “Changes” clause; and (3) the “Default” clause.

A. Termination for Convenience of the Government

Almost every government contract will contain some type of “Termination for Convenience” clause. This clause permits the Government to terminate the contract, at any time, without cause, when in “the Government’s best interest”. The right to terminate without cause arose from the Government’s need to adapt acquisition needs — and hence, the taxpayer’s dollars — to changes in situations and technologies. For example, a contract for continued production of a certain military weapon may be rendered unnecessary by the abrupt conclusion of a war. Or, Congress may refuse to fund an expensive new fighter aircraft because of the end of the Cold War.

The standard FAR clause inserted in fixed-price supply contracts is the clause found in FAR 52.249-2. It provides, inter alia , that “the Government may terminate performance of work under this contract in whole or, from time to time, in part if the Contracting Officer determines that a termination is in the Government’s interest.” Although this right is quite broad, the Government may not terminate a contract in bad faith or otherwise abuse its discretion.

A contract is terminated for convenience by Government issuance of a written notice of termination. FAR 52.249-2(a). This notice must contain: (1) a statement that the contract is being terminated for the convenience of the Government; (2) the effective date of termination; (3) the extent of termination; (4) any special instructions; and (5) the steps the contractor is to take to minimize the impact on personnel. FAR 49.102(a).

Thereafter, as set forth in the standard “Termination for Convenience” clause — the contractor is to: (1) stop work immediately on the terminated portion of the contract; (2) terminate all subcontracts related to the terminated portion of the prime contract; (3) advise the Government of any special circumstances precluding stoppage of work; (4) perform the continued portion of the contract if the termination is partial; (5) take any action necessary to protect property in the contractor’s possession in which the Government has an interest; (6) notify the Government of any legal proceedings growing out of any subcontract; (7) settle any subcontractor claims arising out of the termination; and (8) dispose of termination inventory as directed by the Government.

In return for the Government’s right to unilaterally terminate, the contractor is entitled by the regulations and clauses to recover certain costs. See , e.g. , FAR Subpart 49.2. More specifically, the contractor may recover (a) its performance costs incurred up to the date of termination; (b) certain costs that continue after the date of termination ( e.g., idle facilities or idle capacity costs); (c) so-called “termination settlement expenses” (i.e. , the costs to terminate the contract and submit a termination claim to the Government); and (d) profit or fee for work performed. These amounts are requested in the termination settlement proposal (or claim) that is to be submitted by the Contractor within one year of the termination’s effective date.

  1. ” Changes” Clause

The “Changes” clause is probably the most powerful clause in the Government’s arsenal of standard terms and conditions. It enables the Government to make unilateral changes to the contract during performance, so long as those changes fall within the contract’s scope. Under the standard “Changes” clause used in fixed price supply contracts, the CO may make changes, in writing, to: (1) the drawings, designs, or specifications when the item is being specifically manufactured for the Government; (2) the method of shipment or packing; or (3) the place of delivery. FAR 52.243-1. The change doesn’t necessarily work to the disadvantage of the contractor, however, because the contractor is entitled to an “equitable adjustment” to the contract if the change results in increased contract costs or time of performance.

Under the “constructive change” doctrine, informal government actions or inactions not initially identified or admitted to be changes — but which require extra work — by the CO may nonetheless constitute changes. Typical categories of constructive changes that have been recognized by the administrative boards of contract appeals and the courts are: (1) informal extra work directives; (2) defective government specifications or impossibility of performance; (3) incorrect contract interpretations taken by the Government causing extra work; and (4) failure of the government to cooperate during performance.

If the formal or constructive change causes an increase or decrease in contract price, the CO must equitably adjust the contract in writing. The contractor must assert its right to this equitable adjustment in writing within a specified time period (usually 30 days) of the CO’s written formal change order, or before final payment if it is constructive change. Failure to agree on the equitable adjustment to which the Contractor is entitled constitutes a dispute under the “Disputes” clause. Regardless of any dispute, however, the contractor must continue performing under the contract, including any changes the CO may have made. FAR 52.243-1(e).

  1. ” Default” Clause

The standard “Default” clause resembles the “termination for cause” term often used in the commercial marketplace. It permits the Government to terminate a contract for default where the contractor breaches the contract — i.e. , fails to (1) deliver the supplies or perform the services within the time specified in the contract; (2) make progress, thereby endangering performance of the contract; or (3) perform any other material provision in the contract. FAR 52.249-8(a)(1). If the Government intends to exercise its right to terminate under the second or third referenced circumstances, it must first notify the contractor in writing and allow the contractor to “cure” its deficient performance within ten days. FAR 52.249-8(a)(2). The standard “Default” clause, however, excuses the failure to perform where such failure arises from causes beyond the control and without the fault or negligence of the contractor (e.g., acts of God, fires, floods, strikes, and unusually severe weather). FAR 52.249-8(c).

Similar to the “cover” right provided the non-defaulting party under the U.C.C., the standard “Default” clause entitles the Government to reprocure the supplies or services required under the terminated contract, and charge the excess costs to the terminated contractor
FAR 52.249.8(b). This right is in addition to any other rights the Government may have under the contract or at law.

  1. THE TREATMENT OF COSTS/PRICING OF CONTRACTS

Three of the most complicated and burdensome requirements under non-commercial item government contracts mandate compliance with (a) the FAR’s so-called “cost principles”; (b) the Cost Accounting Standards; and (c) the Truth in Negotiations Act. These requirements necessitate the development of relatively complex, government contract-unique accounting and data collection systems prior to entering into the contract. Even if a contractor enters into only one non-commercial item contract, if the contract is large enough, the contractor may be subject to these obligations, as noted below.

  1. FAR “Cost Principles” And The Cost Accounting Standards
  2. The FAR Cost Principles

The cost principles set forth in FAR Part 31 define when and to what extent costs can be recovered under a government contract. If these principles apply, before the contractor may recover a particular cost it must be (a) allowable, (b) allocable, and (c) reasonable. These cost principles establish basic guidelines for the allowability of some fifty specific types of contract costs. Notably, the cost principles preclude or severely limit the recovery of certain ordinary business expenses which a company might typically allocate to commercial operations (e.g., interest expenses, selling costs, entertainment costs, bad debts, lobbying costs, and executive compensation above a certain threshold). If awarded a negotiated non-commercial item contract valued at more than $500,000, a contractor would need to modify its accounting system to ensure that such unallowable costs are not charged to the Government.

Part 31 also establishes general guidelines for determining the reasonableness and the allocability of costs. A cost is reasonable if “in its nature and amount, it does not exceed that which would be incurred by a prudent person in the conduct of competitive business.” FAR 31.201-3. A cost is “allocable” if “it is assignable or chargeable to one or more cost objectives on the basis of relative benefits received or other equitable relationship.” FAR 31.201-4. Pursuant to a standard FAR clause, the Government can recover from the contractor any costs initially paid but ultimately found not allowable, reasonable, or allocable to the contract.

Three of the most complicated and burdensome requirements under non-commercial item government contracts mandate compliance with (a) the FAR’s so-called “cost principles”; (b) the Cost Accounting Standards; and (c) the Truth in Negotiations Act. These requirements necessitate the development of relatively complex, government contract-unique accounting and data collection systems prior to entering into the contract. Even if a contractor enters into only one non-commercial item contract, if the contract is large enough, the contractor may be subject to these obligations, as noted below.

  1. FAR “Cost Principles” And The Cost Accounting Standards (Cont’d)
  2. The Cost Accounting Standards

The Cost Accounting Standards (“CAS”) (a) dictate the way in which a contractor must maintain its accounting system and (b) instruct contractors how to account for certain types of costs. The CAS generally apply to any negotiated contract over $500,000 (a “covered contract”). Sealed bid contracts are not subject to the CAS.

There are two types of CAS coverage: (a) “modified” coverage and (b) “full” coverage. CAS, 9903.201-2. Modified coverage requires only that the contractor comply with four of the nineteen CAS:

  1. CAS 401 – Consistency in Estimating, Accumulating, and Reporting Costs (CAS, 9904.401);
  2. CAS 402 – Consistency in Allocating Costs Incurred for the Same Purpose (CAS, 9904.402);
  3. CAS 405 – Accounting for Unallowable Costs (CAS, 9904.405);
  4. CAS 406 – Cost Accounting Periods (CAS, 9904.406).

These four CAS may not dramatically differ from what many commercial entities presently follow under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”). Thus, they may not require substantial modifications to a contractor’s accounting system.

Modified — rather than full — CAS coverage may be applied to a contractor in either one of two situations: (1) it has a “covered contract” ( i.e. , a negotiated contract over $500,000) that is less than $25 million awarded to one or more business units that, in the preceding accounting period, received less than $25 million in net CAS-covered awards; or (2) the “covered contracts” of its business units receive more than $25 million in net CAS-covered awards, but no single contract is in excess of $1 million. CAS Regs., 9903.201-2 (b); 9903.301.

In contrast, full CAS coverage applies to any contractor business unit that:

  1. received a single CAS-covered contract award of $25 million or more; or
  2. received $25 million or more in net CAS-covered awards during its preceding cost accounting period, provided that at least one award exceeded $1 million. CAS Regs., 9903.201-2.

Full CAS coverage is much more burdensome. If it applies, the contractor must (a) comply with all of the CAS; (b) prepare a “Disclosure Statement” that describes the Company’s cost accounting system and practices; (c) adhere to the disclosed accounting practices consistently in estimating, accumulating, and reporting costs; and (d) agree to a contract price adjustment (per a standard FAR clause) if the Company fails to comply with the CAS or its disclosed practices. CAS Regs., 9903.201-2 (a); 9903.202-1. Currently, there are nineteen CAS. See CAS Regs., Part 9904.

In addition to the sealed bid contract exception, there are a number of other exemptions to the CAS. Among these are: (1) negotiated contracts and subcontracts less than $500,000; (2) contracts and subcontracts in which the price is set by law or regulation; (3) firm-fixed-price contracts for the acquisition of commercial items; (4) contracts and subcontracts to be executed and performed outside the United States, its territories, and possessions; and (5) firm-fixed-price contracts awarded without submission of any “cost or pricing” data. CAS Regs., 9903.201-1(b).

  1. Truth In Negotiations Act Requirements

Under the Truth In Negotiations Act (TINA), 10 U.S.C. § 2306a, 41 U.S.C. § 254b, a government contractor or subcontractor is required to submit so-called “cost or pricing data” if any negotiated contract, subcontract, or modification is expected to exceed $500,000. As defined by the FAR, “cost or pricing data” comprise all facts that prudent buyers and sellers would reasonably expect to affect price negotiations significantly. FAR 15.401. The submission of such data allows the CO to ascertain the reasonableness of the offered prices. In addition, the contractor and subcontractor must certify that the data are accurate, current, and complete. Id. ; FAR 15.406-2. Pursuant to TINA, if it is found after award that the contractor submitted data which were not accurate, current, and complete, as certified, the contract price may be reduced accordingly (again, pursuant to a standard FAR clause).

As implemented by the FAR, TINA exempts from its coverage a contract of any dollar amount where (1) the price agreed upon is based on adequate price competition, (2) the price is set by law or regulation, (3) the agency is acquiring a “commercial item” as defined in FAR 2.101, or (4) the agency grants a waiver. FAR 15.403-1(b). The FAR provides guidance for determining when these exceptions apply. FAR 15.403-1(c).

  1. Government Audit Rights

Under certain circumstances, the Government has the right to audit a contractor’s price proposal prior to negotiations, as well as to audit directly pertinent records, books, and other data of the contractor at any time up to three years after final contract payment. See, e.g. , FAR 52.215-2, “Audit and Records — Negotiation” clause. The Government’s broad audit rights provide it with the means to monitor and enforce a contractor’s obligations under the cost principles, the CAS, and TINA, described above.

  1. UNIQUE BUSINESS PRACTICES AND ETHICAL RESPONSBILITIES

The federal Government has long imposed unique business practices and ethical responsibilities on its contractors. Congress and the Executive Branch, however, multiplied considerably the number and types of ethical considerations governing federal contracts after the defense procurement scandals of the 1980s (e.g., ” Operation Ill Wind”). As a result, contractors and prospective contractors must ensure that their employees comply with these ethics-related statutes and regulations, or face civil, administrative, or criminal sanctions.

  1. Prevention of Bribery and Illegal Gratuities/Compliance Training

With limited exceptions, contractors are restricted by criminal statutes and contracting regulations from providing goods and services to the personal benefit of federal employees. These restrictions apply to anything of monetary value — including gifts, entertainment, loans, travel, favors, hospitality, lodging, discounts, and meals. The restrictions are set forth in certain Office of Government Ethics (OGE) regulations. As a result, many of the activities a contractor may undertake with respect to its commercial customers (e.g., taking a prospective client to dinner) are prohibited when interacting with federal government employees. Some exceptions to the gratuities rules do exist, however. For example, contractors may provide federal employees (a) modest items of food and refreshments offered other than as part of a meal; (b) favorable rates/discounts available to the public or all Government employees; and (c) greeting cards and items with little intrinsic value (e.g. , plaques, trophies). Federal employees may also accept non-cash gifts of $20 or less, not to exceed $50 annually from any one person or company.

Because of these stringent rules, contractors must train employees who deal with the federal government. It is essential that contractors’ employees understand these restrictions. As a result, it is quite common for government contractors to conduct regular employee training.

  1. False Claims and False Statements

Contractors must ensure that no false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements are made to a federal agency. 18 U.S.C. § 1001. A false representation with respect to a company’s ability to comply with government contract requirements may subject the company and its management and employees to criminal liability. False statements can also arise in the submission of required reports during contract administration or in the submission of affirmative action reports.

Depending upon the circumstances, a contractor that makes a false statement to the Government may face civil or criminal liability for such a statement. The civil and criminal False Claims Acts impose sanctions for the submission of false or fraudulent claims. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733; 18 U.S.C. § 287. When the Government relies upon a false statement in awarding a contract, and subsequently makes payments under that contract, the invoices may be considered a false claim. Lax billing oversight and failure to bill strictly in accordance with the contract can also lead to a false claim. In addition, non-compliance with TINA, the CAS, and the cost principles (see above) can give rise to false claim liability.

  1. Conflicts of Interest

Federal statutes and regulations prohibit contractors from discussing employment with certain federal officers and employees. 41 U.S.C. § 423(c); 18 U.S.C. § 208(a). In addition, former federal employees are restricted from performing certain services once they depart the Government. 41 U.S.C. § 423(d); 18 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). These latter restrictions vary in length and scope depending upon the status of the former federal employee and the work performed while in Government service.

Contractors must implement procedures designed to (a) prevent improper employment discussions with current federal employees and (b) ensure that former federal personnel hired by the company do not illegally work on matters that create a conflict of interest. Failure to comply with such procedures may result in harsh sanctions being imposed by the Government

  1. Kickbacks

Statutory and contractual provisions prohibit the giving or receiving of a kickback for the purpose of improperly obtaining or rewarding favorable treatment in connection with a federal contract or subcontract. 41 U.S.C. §§ 51-58; FAR 3.502. In addition, contractors are prohibited from including the amount of a kickback in a contract price. Kickbacks include money, fees, commissions, credits, or any type of compensation. Favorable treatment includes obtaining unwarranted waivers of deadlines, and obtaining acceptance of non-conforming goods. Contractors must ensure that employees are properly trained not to offer or accept kickbacks.

  1. Lobbying Restrictions

Government contractors are prohibited from using appropriated funds to attempt to influence the award or modification of a contract. 31 U.S.C. § 1352; FAR Subpart 3.8. This prohibition is implemented in a government contract by a standard FAR clause. “Appropriated funds” include all amounts generated by a federal contract other than profit. This prohibition is implemented in a government contract by a standard FAR clause. Contractors must either (a) establish a policy against hiring government contract lobbyists or (b) adjust their accounting systems to prevent costs associated with such lobbyists from being charged to a government contract.

  1. Procurement Integrity

Government contractors are prohibited from obtaining contractor “bid or proposal information” or “agency source selection information” prior to the award of a federal contract. 41 U.S.C. § 423; FAR 3.104-4 and -5. Contractor bid or proposal information includes cost or pricing data, proprietary information about operations or techniques, and indirect costs. Source selection information includes proposed costs or prices, source selection plans, cost or price evaluations, and other sensitive procurement information. Contractors must train their employees not to solicit or obtain this type of information from federal employees.

  1. SOCIO-ECONOMIC OBLIGATIONS

The Government imposes a wide range of socio-economic obligations on its contractors as part of long-standing federal efforts to further these policy objectives through federal contracting. Many of these requirements were strengthened as a result of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

  1. Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

A government contractor or subcontractor (regardless of tier) with a contract or subcontract over $10,000 must not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Such a contractor or subcontractor must also take affirmative action to ensure that applicants and employees are treated without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Executive Order 11246, as amended; FAR 52.222-26. More notably, if the contractor or subcontractor (a) has fifty or more employees and (b) has a contract of $50,000 or more, it must also develop and keep on file at each “business establishment” a written so-called Affirmative Action Plan (AAP). The AAP details specific measures the contractor must take to guarantee equal employment opportunity by addressing the problems and needs of members of minorities groups and women.

Additional affirmative action regulations apply to handicapped individuals, special disabled veterans, and veterans of the Vietnam era. FAR 52.22-35 and -36. Under the equal opportunity and affirmative action regulations, contractors must also (1) submit annual compliance reports (EEO-1, “Employer Information Report”; and the VETS 100 Form); (2) post in conspicuous places the hiring and employment notices provided by the Government; (3) agree to grant the Government access to its records to determine contractor compliance with EEO requirements; (4) list job openings at state agencies for qualified veterans; and (5) flow down the FAR “Equal Opportunity” and other affirmative action clauses to covered subcontractors. The failure to remain compliant with respect to the submission of such required reports can result in disqualification from receiving award of a contract. See , e.g. , Pub. L. No. 105-339, § 1354 (prohibiting agencies from entering into contracts with firms that have not submitted their VETS 100 Report for the preceding fiscal year).

  1. Subcontracting Plan

If a government contractor receives a contract worth $500,000 ($1 million for construction) or more and there are subcontracting opportunities, the contractor is required to submit a written subcontracting plan to the Government. The subcontracting plan outlines in detail the efforts the contractor will make to assure that small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, and businesses located in historically underutilized business zones, will have an equal opportunity to compete for subcontracts. FAR 52.219-9. The plan must also contain total dollar and percentage dollar goals for subcontracting to these entities. The contractor’s material management or purchasing division must also develop procedures to implement the subcontracting plan.

  1. Labor Standards/Service Contract Act

Compliance with certain labor standards have long been a mandate for Government Contractors. Such requirements are essentially reflected in four labor statutes: (1) The Walsh-Healey Act, governing supply contracts, 41 U.S.C. § 43; (2) the Davis-Bacon Act, governing construction contracts 40 U.S.C. 276a — 276a-7; (3) the Service Contract Act (SCA) of 1965, governing service contracts, 41 U.S.C. § 351, et seq. ; and (4) the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, 40 U.S.C. § 327-333, requiring payment at 1 1/2 times the basic rate of pay for all hours worked by laborers or mechanics, in excess of 40 hours per week. The SCA seems to be the statute that involves the most controversy.

The SCA applies to every government contract over $2,500, when the principal purpose of the contract is to furnish services in the United States through the use of service employees . A service employee is any person engaged in the performance of a contract other than a person employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity. 29 C.F.R. Part 541.

The SCA requires contractors to pay service employees who are performing on the contract not less than the rates required by the Secretary of Labor. Such rates are contained in wage determinations, which the agency usually appends to the solicitation and the resulting contract. Failure to comply with the SCA can result in withholding of payments under a government contract or debarment of the contractor from further contracting for a set period of time.

  1. Drug-Free Workplace Requirements

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, Pub. L. No. 200-690, obligates a non-commercial item Government contractor, who has a contract over $100,000, to meet certain requirements designed to keep the work place free of illegal drugs. In particular, a Government contractor must agree to (1) publish a statement and notify employees in writing that illegal drugs are prohibited in the work place; (2) publish and notify employees of the action the contractor will take against violators of the drug prohibition policy; (3) establish a drug-free awareness program for employees; (4) notify employees that compliance with the drug prohibition is a condition of employment, and that employees must notify the contractor of any violation of Federal or state drug abuse statutes occurring in the work place within 5 days of conviction; (5) notify the Government contracting agency within 10 days of receipt of an employee conviction notice; (6) take appropriate personnel action within 30 days of receipt of an employee conviction notice; (7) require that the convicted employee participate in an approved drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program; and (8) make a good faith effort to maintain a drug-free work place through the implementation of these requirements. The Drug-Free Workplace Act does not, however, require drug testing of employees.

  1. COMMERCIAL ITEM ACQUISITIONS

The ever-expanding list of unique government contract statutes and regulations have contributed significantly to acquisition costs for the federal government. Indeed, a Congressionally-mandated study found that the Defense Department sometimes paid a premium of 30-50% more, and in some cases 100% more, for its products compared to the same or similar ones sold to commercial companies. Acquisition Law Advisory Panel, “Streamlining Defense Acquisition Laws: Report of the Acquisition Law Advisory Panel to the United States Congress,” at 8-13 (Jan. 1993). As a result, Congress passed the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994, Pub. L. No. 103-355, in part to capture for the federal government some of the benefits and efficiencies of commercial contracting.

FASA established a preference — applicable to both military and civilian agencies — for the acquisition of “commercial items.” 10 U.S.C. § 2377; 41 U.S.C. § 314b. In particular, it requires that, to the maximum extent practicable, agencies acquire commercial items to meet their particular needs. Id. The FAR contains a detailed definition of “commercial item.” The term includes (a) items, other than real property, that have been sold, leased, or licensed to the general public; or offered for sale, lease or license to the general public; and (b) services of a type offered and sold in the commercial marketplace based on established catalog or market prices for specific tasks performed under standard commercial terms and conditions.

Congress also sought to streamline the terms and conditions applicable to commercial item contracts in an effort to make federal contracting more attractive to commercial suppliers. Accordingly, FASA mandated that the FAR contain a list of clauses that are consistent with “standard commercial practice,” and that such clauses be included in contracts for the acquisition of commercial products and services. To preclude agencies from unnecessarily including various unique government contract clauses in commercial item contracts, the Act provides that “to the maximum extent practicable, only the contract clauses [mandated by law and executive order, or consistent with commercial practice] may be used in a contract . . . for the acquisition of commercial items . . . .” Pub. L. No. 103-355, § 8002(b)(3).

As required by the FASA, the FAR now contains standard terms and conditions applicable to commercial item acquisitions. FAR 52.212-4. These clauses were intended to mirror the terms and conditions found in the commercial marketplace. The CO may tailor the FAR’s commercial item contract clauses to adapt to market conditions for each acquisition, but may do so only in a manner that is consistent with standard or customary commercial practices (unless a waiver is obtained). In addition, each commercial item contract is to contain a list of laws and executive orders that apply to the commercial item being acquired.

Commercial item contracting significantly reduces the burden associated with government contracting. TINA, CAS, the FAR cost principles, and many socio-economic requirements are inapplicable to commercial item contracts. As a result, commercial entities that previously avoided government contracting because of the unique costs, risks, and obligations imposed by federal contracts have begun responding to government solicitations. Unfortunately, some agencies have been slow to utilize the new, streamlined commercial item acquisition procedures.

  1. THE GOVERNMENT CONTRACT DISPUTES PROCESS

Almost since government contracting began, there has been a special process followed for disputes arising under a government contract between the Government and the contractor. Until 1978, this process was governed solely by a “Disputes” clause found in almost all government contracts. In 1978, this process was codified by the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (CDA), 41 U.S.C. §§ 601, et seq . This process applies to all disputes arising under or relating to a government contract.

As a waiver of sovereign immunity, courts and administrative boards of contract appeals construe the CDA narrowly. Accordingly, a contractor that has a dispute with the Government must be careful to follow the CDA’s mandated procedures, or it risks waiving or otherwise losing its right to proceed against the agency. Administratively, the FAR implements the CDA through the standard “Disputes” clause, which defines the rights and duties of a contractor in dispute with the Government. Notably, a contractor must continue performance pending resolution of a dispute with the Government.

  1. Presentation of a “Claim”

A contractor initiates the disputes process by presenting a “claim” to the CO. The “Disputes” clause defines a claim as “a written demand or written assertion by one of the contracting parties seeking, as a matter of right, the payment of money in a sum certain, the adjustment or interpretation of contract terms, or other relief arising under or relating to [the] contract.” FAR 52.233-1 (c). According to the clause’s definition, a claim must (1) be in writing; (2) request a “sum certain”; and (3) demand a final decision. A significant, and relatively confusing body of case law has attempted to define these elements.

If the claim is over $100,000, it must also be certified by the contractor. FAR 52.233-1(d)(2). The contractor must attest that (a) the claim is made in good faith, (b) the supporting data are accurate and complete to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, (c) the amount requested accurately reflects the contract adjustment for which the contractor believes the government is liable, and (d) the individual certifying is duly authorized to do so on behalf of the contractor.

  1. Contracting Officer’s Decision

If the contractor and Government are unable to negotiate a resolution to the dispute, the CO must issue a “final decision.” This is a written articulation of the agency’s position with respect to the claim. A contractor may not commence litigation until the CO issues such a decision. However, if, after the passage of time, the CO fails to provide the contractor a final decision, the contractor may attempt to appeal the CO’s so-called “deemed denial” of the claim to an administrative board of contract appeals or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (COFC).

  1. Appeal to a Board of Contract Appeals

There are eleven agency boards of contract appeals (BCAs). The largest of these BCAs is the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA), located in Falls Church, Virginia. About thirty full-time judges hear administrative disputes at the ASBCA.

A contractor initiates an appeal to the appropriate BCA by filing a “Notice of Appeal”. The Notice must be filed with the BCA within ninety days of receipt of the CO’s final decision. Failure to file the notice within this time defeats the board’s jurisdiction to hear the case. The Notice of Appeal is usually a simple letter stating that the contractor is appealing the CO’s final decision. The date of the final decision and the contract number should be included in the notice.

The recorder (i.e., the clerk) of the applicable BCA will then inform the Government and the contractor that the case has been “docketed”. Under the standard BCA rules, the contractor (now, “appellant”) must file a complaint within thirty days of the docketing notice. The Government then has thirty days to file its answer. Agency counsel typically represent the Government before the various BCAs.

Litigation at the BCAs is somewhat less formal than in most courts. Although the BCA’s administrative judge generally follows the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence in making procedural and evidentiary decisions, the judge need not abide by those Rules. Discovery is available in much the same fashion as before federal district courts or the COFC.

BCA judges will travel to accommodate the interests of the parties. In other words, if the circumstances of the case make it more reasonable to hold hearings away from the BCA’s offices in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the parties can request the judge to hold the hearings at a different locale.

After the complaint and answer have been filed, and the discovery has occurred, a hearing will be held. Thereafter, post-hearing briefs are filed. Decisions of the BCA are rendered by a three-judge panel (although usually only one judge will preside at the hearing). The BCA’s decision may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

  1. Appeal to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

A contractor initiates a proceeding at the COFC by filing a complaint within one year after the contractor receives the CO’s final decision. Failure to file the complaint within this twelve-month period will result in dismissal, since this failure defeats the COFC’s jurisdiction to hear the case.

The Government has sixty days in which to file an answer to the contractor’s complaint. The agency will be represented by an attorney from the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Thereafter, discovery may be conducted by both parties. The COFC, like the BCAs, will also hold a trial away from its courthouse.

Unlike the BCAs, the COFC has promulgated procedural rules patterned after the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Parties before the COFC will generally encounter a more formal and judicialized procedure than would be found before a BCA. A decision of the COFC is rendered by a single judge. That judge’s decision may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

September 2014 CFRA Exam – Study Outline

RACC published our study outline for this September 2014 and March 2015 exams.

http://www.cra-cert.org/

 

logo

 

The Certification Examination for Financial Research Administrators will be

weighted in approximately the following manner:

I. Governing Framework ………………………………………………………..25%

II. Project Costs ……………………………………………………………………..35%

III. Reporting …………………………………………………………………………25%

IV. Fiscal Compliance ………………………………………………………………15%

 

The CFRA examination is based upon the federal regulations in existence prior

toDecember 26, 2013. Examinations will be updated to reflect new

regulations after December 26, 2014, this being the time frame for sponsoring

agencies to implement the new regulations.

I. Governing Framework

A. Statutory Requirements

1. FOIA

2. Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT)

3. Non-delinquency on federal debt

4. IRS classification of institution

5. Salary cap

6. Other

B. Regulations

1. Administrative Requirements (2 CFR Part 215)

2. Cost Principles (2 CFR Part 220)

3. Audit Guidelines (OMB Circular A-133)

4. Federal Acquisition Regulations (mandatory clauses for cost

reimbursable contracts, clauses based on institution types)

5. Other

C. Agency Policies

1. DHHS

2. NSF

3. DOD

4. Other

D. Awards

1. Types and characteristics of sponsors

a. Federal, state and local government

b. Nonprofit

c. For profit business and industry

d. International Entity

e. Sponsor Responsibilities

2. Forms of Federal Assistance (discretionary, mandatory, block,

formula)

3. Specific Award Terms and Conditions

4. Budget flexibility and budget restrictions (cost reimbursable, fixed

price, task order, deliverable-based)

5. Period of performance and pre-award costs

6. Incremental funding and limitation of costs

7. Other

E. Institutional Policies and Procedures (policy development and

implementation)- 8 –

II. Project Costs

A. Types of funding

B. Budget Structure

1. Role of the budget and characteristics of effective budgets

2. Budget models, templates and forms (Modular, Line item, SF424

form, Grants.gov)

3. Understanding sponsors’ budget guidelines

4. Types, definitions and uses of budget categories

5. Budget templates and forms

6. Calculations of budget costs

a. Institutional base salaries

b. Effort and calendar months

c. Fringe benefits

d. F&A costs

e. Other

7. Budget justification

8. Major Functions of Institution A-21

9. Revised budgets and rebudget of costs

10. Other

C. Composition of Costs

1. Total Project Costs

2. Direct Costs

a. Salaries and wages (federal requirements for employee

compensation on sponsored projects, institutional base

salary, post-differential allowance for employees based

abroad, percentage of effort/calendar months)

b. Equipment (definition)

c. Travel (per diem, FLY US,)

d. Recharge or cost centers

e. Other project-related costs

3. F&A Costs

a. Development of F&A rate proposal (cognizant audit agency)

b. Methods for developing F&A rate (simplified method, direct

allocation, multiple allocation, F&A cost rate proposal

method)

c. Types of F&A costs (predetermined, provisional, fixed, final)

d. Components of F&A costs (formula)

e. F&A cost base types (MTDC, TDC, S&W)

f. Waiver of F&A costs

g. Major Project/Unlike Circumstances (criteria and

application)

4. Fringe Benefit rates (calculation, composition)

D. Allocation of Costs

E. Budgets for specific funding programs

1. Clinical Trial Costing (per patient budgets & billing)

2. Training grant budgets (stipend levels, budget restrictions for trainee

expenses)

3. Other

F. Cost sharing (cash & in-kind contributions; criteria, types, documentation)

G. Program Income

H. Project expenses

1. Pre-award Costs

2. Noncancelable costs

3. Cost Overruns & Residuals

4. Disallowed expenses

5. Accelerated expenses

6. Other

I. Expanded authorities- 9 –

III. Reporting

A. Institutional Award Reporting (reports on awards and expenditures,

NSF/national rankings, benchmarking)

B. Cost Recovery

1. Invoicing (deliverable based billing, scheduled payments, cost

reimbursable, fixed price, billing practices)

2. Letter of Credit and other electronic methods for drawing down

funds

3. Nonpayment

4. Payments

C. Financial Reports

1. Reporting Periods

2. Federal Financial Reports (FFR)

3. Relinquishment Statement

4. Authorized Signatory & Certification Statement

5. Other

D. Institutional Reports

1. Income Statement

2. Balance Sheet

3. Other

E. Closeout

1. Process for closing awards

2. Components of final financial report and required documentation

3. Unliquidated obligations

4. Carryover of unobligated funds

5. Records retention

6. Property Reports

7. Other

F. Subcontracting plan (small disadvantaged business goals)

G. F&A Cost recovery distribution- 10 –

IV. Fiscal Compliance

A. Financial Management systems

1. Characteristics and Impacts of Financial Systems Implementation

2. Cost Accounting Standards

3. Effort certification and reporting

4. Cost transfers

5. Equipment

B. Cash Management

1. Optimizing Revenue

2. Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Collections

C. Financial Risk Assessment and Management

1. Cost and Fund Accounting

2. Ethics, Accountability and Delegations of Authority

3. Fraud and Bad Debt

4. Performance Metrics

5. Award Type

6. Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI)

D. Expense Monitoring (shadow systems, committed expenses, unexpended

balance, electronic tools)

E. Procurement

1. Bid process, vendor profiles and procurement standards

2. Procurement card management & monitoring

F. Subrecipient Monitoring (invoice review, verification of expenses, site

visits)

G. Clinical Trial Management Systems

H. Audits (internal and external)

1. Audit preparation (roles, responsibilities, expectations, involved

parties)

2. Audit findings and corrective actions

I. Fiscal compliance from sponsor’s perspective (how gov’t monitors

spending –certificate of accuracy of F&A costs (DOD), certificate of

costing pricing data (contracts $100,000), report of current expenditure

and projected expenses (DOE))

 

In the following questions, choose the one best answer.

——————————————————————————————————

1. A nonprofit institution with federally sponsored agreements is required to

file a Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Disclosure Statement when fiscal

year funds surpass a MINIMUM of

1. $10,000,000.

2. $15,000,000.

3. $25,000,000.             CORRECT ANSWER

4. $50,000,000.

 

2. A PI whose institutional base salary is $250,000 has committed 30% effort

to an award. If the negotiated fringe benefit for the institution is 27.5%,

what is the total amount that can be charged to this grant for the PI’s

effort?

1. $68,750

2. $75,000

3. $89,375  

4. $95,625      CORRECT ANSWER

——————————————————————————————————

3. Which of the following is NOT a best practice for cost transfers?

1. Transfers have a direct benefit to the project onto which a cost is

being transferred

2. Transfers of expenditures from one sponsored project to another

may be processed at any time    CORRECT ANSWER

3. Faculty and staff make every effort to allocate costs to appropriate

project when costs are incurred

4. Expenses must be transferred within 90 days following month in

which original charge was posted.

——————————————————————————————————

The following references may be of some help in preparing for the examination.

The list does not attempt to include all acceptable references, nor is it

suggested that the Certification Examination for Financial Research

Administrators is based entirely on these references or that RACC endorses

these publications. In some cases, individual experience is the best reference.

BOOKS

Kulakowski, Elliott C. and Chronister, Lynne U. Research Administration and

Management. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2006.

ONLINE MANUAL

Division of Cost Allocation Practices Manual for Reviewing College and

University Long-Form F&A Cost Rate Proposals

https://rates.psc.gov/fms/dca/c&u.html

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Council on Governmental Relations (COGR)

http://www.cogr.edu/

National Association of College and University Business Officers

http://nacubo.org

National Conference on College Cost Accounting (NACCA)

http://costaccounting.org

National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA)

http://www.ncura.edu/

Society of Research Administrators International (SRA)

http://www.srainternational.org/sra03/index.cfm

FEDERAL FUNDING AGENCIES AND OTHER

RESOURCES

DHHS: http://www.hhs.gov

DOE: http://www.energy.gov/

ED: http://www.ed.gov/

Grants.gov: http://grants.gov/

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov

NIH: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/oer.htm

NSF: http://nsf.gov/

 

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and OMB Circulars

2 CFR Part 215 (OMB Circular A-110): Uniform Administrative Requirements

for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and

Other Non-profit Organizations

2 CFR Part 220 (OMB Circular A-21): Cost Principles for Educational

Institutions

2 CFR Part 225 (OMB Circular A-87): Cost Principles for State, Local, and

Indian Tribal Governments

2 CFR Part 230 (OMB Circular A-122): Cost Principles for Non-Profit

Organizations

OMB Circular A-102: Grants and Cooperative Agreements with State and

Local Governments

OMB Circular A-129: Policies for Federal Credit Programs and Non-Tax

Receivables

OMB Circular A-133: Audit of Institutions of Higher Education and Nonprofit

Organizations

What Are The Risks of Not Complying with NIH Close-out Guidelines?

Preparing and Submitting Reports

  1. How long do we have to submit final reports? 

All reports required for closeout must be submitted no later than 90 days after the project end date.

  1. Where can I find instructions on what to include in each report? 

An overview of the closeout requirements is found in section 8.6 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement.  Forms and instructions for specific closeout reports can be found on the Grant Forms page under the heading “Grant Closeout” in the lower portion of the forms table.   

  1. How do I submit the final reports to NIH? 

The Final Federal Financial Report must be submitted through the eRA Commons at https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons.  (Also see eRA Commons User Guide.)

Grantees are strongly encouraged to submit the Final Progress Report and the Final Invention Statement (if applicable) through the eRA Commons or may submit those to the address below.

National Institutes of Health
Office of Extramural Research
Division of Central Grants Processing
Grants Closeout Center
6705 Rockledge Drive, Room 5016 
Bethesda, MD 20892 (for regular or U.S. Postal Service Express mail)
Bethesda, MD 20817 (for other courier/express deliveries only) 

Fax: 301/480-2304
E-mail: NIHCloseoutCenter@mail.nih.gov

  1. Does the final quarterly cash transaction report need to be submitted to PMS at the same time we submit the final expenditure FFR (SF425) to NIH? 

On the normal PMS reporting cycle, a quarterly cash transaction report is due within 30 days of the end of the calendar quarter.  A quarterly cash transaction report covering the final quarter of the project period may be submitted before or after the final expenditure FFR is due.  For example, for a grant that ends on December 31, the quarterly federal cash report covering the final quarter of that award is due on January 31 even though the final expenditure FFR is not due until March 31.  For a grant that ends on April 15, the federal cash report covering the final quarter of that award is due by July 31, even though the final expenditure FFR is due by July 14.  (See B.5 regarding potential reporting problems to check before submitting the Final FFR.)  Note: For grants ending October 1, 2014 or later, if the grantee submits a final expenditure FFR but does not reconcile any discrepancies between expenditures reported on the final FFR and the last cash report to PMS, NIH is required to close the award at the lower amount.

  1. What are some potential reporting problems we should check before submitting the Final expenditure FFR? 

Final expenditure FFRs must indicate the exact balance of unobligated funds and may not reflect any unliquidated obligations. 

The total expenditures reported on the Final expenditure FFR should match the total Federal cash disbursements—i.e., cash drawdowns—reported in PMS.  The total Federal cash disbursements amount is derived from the cumulative cash disbursements based on your organization’s last quarterly cash transaction report to PMS.  Coordinating the timing of your organization’s submission of a final cash transaction report with the Final expenditure FFR would be useful to ensure these totals correspond with one another and preempt the need to reconcile discrepancies that would prevent NIH’s from accepting the Final expenditure FFR.  

Note: Unobligated funds must be returned to NIH or must be reflected by an appropriate accounting adjustment in accordance with instructions from the GMO or from the payment office.

This question does not apply to grants awarded under the PMS B subaccounts.

How to Prepare and Submit Closeout Reports to NIH

Preparing and Submitting Reports

  1. How long do we have to submit final reports? 

All reports required for closeout must be submitted no later than 90 days after the project end date.

  1. Where can I find instructions on what to include in each report? 

An overview of the closeout requirements is found in section 8.6 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement.  Forms and instructions for specific closeout reports can be found on the Grant Forms page under the heading “Grant Closeout” in the lower portion of the forms table.   

  1. How do I submit the final reports to NIH? 

The Final Federal Financial Report must be submitted through the eRA Commons at https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons.  (Also see eRA Commons User Guide.)

Grantees are strongly encouraged to submit the Final Progress Report and the Final Invention Statement (if applicable) through the eRA Commons or may submit those to the address below.

National Institutes of Health
Office of Extramural Research
Division of Central Grants Processing
Grants Closeout Center
6705 Rockledge Drive, Room 5016 
Bethesda, MD 20892 (for regular or U.S. Postal Service Express mail)
Bethesda, MD 20817 (for other courier/express deliveries only) 

Fax: 301/480-2304
E-mail: NIHCloseoutCenter@mail.nih.gov

  1. Does the final quarterly cash transaction report need to be submitted to PMS at the same time we submit the final expenditure FFR (SF425) to NIH? 

On the normal PMS reporting cycle, a quarterly cash transaction report is due within 30 days of the end of the calendar quarter.  A quarterly cash transaction report covering the final quarter of the project period may be submitted before or after the final expenditure FFR is due.  For example, for a grant that ends on December 31, the quarterly federal cash report covering the final quarter of that award is due on January 31 even though the final expenditure FFR is not due until March 31.  For a grant that ends on April 15, the federal cash report covering the final quarter of that award is due by July 31, even though the final expenditure FFR is due by July 14.  (See B.5 regarding potential reporting problems to check before submitting the Final FFR.)  Note: For grants ending October 1, 2014 or later, if the grantee submits a final expenditure FFR but does not reconcile any discrepancies between expenditures reported on the final FFR and the last cash report to PMS, NIH is required to close the award at the lower amount.

  1. What are some potential reporting problems we should check before submitting the Final expenditure FFR? 

Final expenditure FFRs must indicate the exact balance of unobligated funds and may not reflect any unliquidated obligations. 

The total expenditures reported on the Final expenditure FFR should match the total Federal cash disbursements—i.e., cash drawdowns—reported in PMS.  The total Federal cash disbursements amount is derived from the cumulative cash disbursements based on your organization’s last quarterly cash transaction report to PMS.  Coordinating the timing of your organization’s submission of a final cash transaction report with the Final expenditure FFR would be useful to ensure these totals correspond with one another and preempt the need to reconcile discrepancies that would prevent NIH’s from accepting the Final expenditure FFR.  

Note: Unobligated funds must be returned to NIH or must be reflected by an appropriate accounting adjustment in accordance with instructions from the GMO or from the payment office.

This question does not apply to grants awarded under the PMS B subaccounts.

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