The Research Office

Wilson Hall
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-2762
(248) 370-4111
research@oakland.edu

Grant & Contract Administration

General

Lifecycle of a Sponsored Project


Upcoming Changes to Grant Regulations - October 2020

Federal grant awards are regulated by the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards ( 2 C.F.R. Part 200). Research administrators tend to just call this document the Uniform Guidance – and it’s changing effective November 12, 2020. Most of this 300-page revision affects things that happen in the background of grants management, and PIs may well never notice the difference. There are a few key takeaways, though, that will change how Principal Investigators manage their awards and implement their projects. In summary, these include:
  • Performance-Based Focus in Award and Evaluation: For awards made after August 13, 2020 and Calls for Proposals issued after November 12, language has been amended throughout the guidance to emphasize substantive program accomplishments and consideration of data relating to programmatic effectiveness. We do not know how this is going to play out yet. There is no on-the ground administrative guidance for grant proposals. However, it is quite likely that funding opportunities will begin to require enhanced performance-related data (e.g. deliverables), and reporting requirements are likely to be revised and enhanced.
  • Termination Standards: Federal sponsors have always been allowed to terminate grants and contracts for cause or lack of funding and other reasons besides. In this new guidance, however, the bases available for termination of an award have been expanded to include authorization for awarding agencies to terminate an award “to the greatest extent authorized by law, if an award no longer effectuates the program goals or agency priorities.” We will have to see how this is implemented, but it could be as strict as thinking of your multi-year awards as a series of one-year grants.
  • Pre-award costs: Pre-award costs are, when authorized, generally to be charged only to the first budget period of an award. This will affect very few people at OU, but it will occasionally happen.
  • Publication costs: Publication costs related to research, when authorized, are generally to be charged only to the final budget period of an award. This is a considerable change. At proposal stage, budgets will only include one year of publication costs.
Please know that when we implement these changes in our office that these are not OU changes or changes implemented by The Research Office for our own purposes. We enforce these new rules because we must, to protect the research enterprise across the university. We will keep you posted as these guidelines develop and possibly change (although this is the “final rule”), and as we know more about implementation. If you have any questions, please contact our office.

Allowable Direct Costs Under the Uniform Guidance (UG)

The Office of Management and Budget Uniform Guidance (UG) sets forth principles for determining costs applicable to Federal grants, contracts, and other agreements with education institutions.  The UG prescribes which costs are allowable and not allowable for recovery and of the costs considered allowable, whether the institution most appropriately should classify the costs as direct or indirect.

 

The expenses listed below are considered unallowable as direct charges to federally sponsored programs:

 
Generally unallowable as a
direct charge to sponsored account

 Account Description

  Books and periodical subscriptions
  General purpose office equipment, i.e., printers, copiers, etc.
  Office supplies
 

Always unallowable as a
charge to sponsored account

 
  Bad debts
  Losses on other sponsored agreements
  Alcoholic beverages
  Meals and entertainment
  Fines and penalties
  Donations and contributions


In order to justify classification of normally indirect charges as direct, the cost must be:

a)  budgeted as a direct cost as a clear indication of the planned need with sufficient justification (refer below to item c); and
b)  not prohibited by sponsor restriction as a direct charge; and
c)  used in quantity or circumstances beyond normal activity or in delivery of a major program.

 

All requests are subject to final approval by The Research Office.


Cost Allocation Standards

Identification of Direct and Facilities & Administrative Costs Under Sponsored Agreements

Costs attributable to sponsored agreements categorically include all:
  • salaries & wages
  • fringe benefits
  • travel
  • supplies & materials
  • equipment
  • other direct costs
  • facilities & administration

Direct costs are charged as actually incurred to implement program objectives.

Salaries & Wages:


For salary personnel, Oakland allocates charges based on the effort apportioned in accordance with the plan-confirmation methodology approved under the OMB Uniform Guidance (UG). Timecard personnel are charged as confirmed by supervisory approval of the bi-weekly timesheet.

Fringe Benefits:

Allocated based on the salary/wages directly charged. Fringe benefit rates are federally approved through the Department of Health and Human Services as the cognizant agency.

Travel Expenses:

Direct charges as actually incurred. Mileage reimbursements are based on the federal per diem rate.

Supplies & Materials:

Direct charged as actually incurred.

Equipment:

Equipment is direct charged. The capitalization threshold for equipment is $5,000 with a useful life of more than one year.

Other direct costs:

Other expenses are direct charged as actually incurred.

Facilities and Administration:

Oakland University has an approved Indirect Rate funding agreement established with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Distinguishing a Grant from a Gift

Sponsored Project or Gift?

Classification of external funds as either a grant or a gift is an important fiscal and fiduciary responsibility for the University. While it may seem counter-intuitive, classification and processing of these awards can be complex and requires the exercise of informed judgment, particularly in cases where the nature of an award is not immediately clear. When this happens, a careful review of award documents is needed in order to understand the donor’s intended use of the funds. The chart below will help users with this determination, but the final determination will be made by the University, possibly in conversation with the funder.  If the award document contains any of the indicators listed under sponsored project in the table below, the funds will be treated as a sponsored project.

Sponsored Programs/Projects

Sponsored programs are defined as those activities funded in whole or in part by sources external to the University, for which there is an expectation (implied or specifically stated) on the part of the funder (the sponsor) for performance - a deliverable or an outcome. Sponsored programs are awarded through various mechanisms such as grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and other legally binding means of transfer. Sponsored activities can include research, artistry, instruction, engagement, student support, and a host of other activities. The Office of Sponsored Programs within The Research Office is the only unit authorized to seek, accept, and administer sponsored agreements.

Research Gift

A research gift is defined as a flexible, irrevocable award of money, equipment, or other property of value given to the University by a donor who wishes to support the scholarly work of a faculty member or any other part of the University’s mission, but who expects nothing of significant value in return other than recognition and disposition of the gift in accordance with the donor’s wishes. The University Advancement Office seeks, manages, and sustains donor gifts.  Where there is a need, research-related gifts and donations may be received and set-up in project cost centers through the Office of Sponsored Programs while simultaneously being recognized as gifts by the Advancement Office

Final Characterization

Final characterization of external support as gift or grant is based on a review of the official award documentation.   In situations where the determination is difficult, the Research Office and University Advancement will side with the preponderance of the evidence and internally document the thinking that led us to the decision we ultimately made.



CATEGORY

GIFT

GRANT OR OTHER SPONSORED PROJECT

Mission of and benefit to the funding source

The donor receives no economic benefit other than the tax-deductibility of the gift

Funding is related directly to the Principal Investigator’s mission and is generally related to the funder’s mission or business activities

Proposal Process

Generally results from a series of interactions between a donor and a member of University Advancement

Generally prepared by a Principal Investigator with the assistance of Sponsored Programs in response to sponsor guidance or an assigned technical agent

Purpose/Scope of Work

Funding is irrevocable, possibly targeting broad areas or supporting specific projects, valid with any use restrictions accepted by the university

Funding commits the University to a specific line of work (research, artistry, instruction, or engagement), which is documented by a research plan or scope of work. Personnel effort can be supported

Project Period

Typically not specified, although it is possible to fund annually funded scholarships, fellowships, etc..

Generally, yes

Budget Development

Line item budgets are generally not required. However, general budgets may contain broad outlines of categories

 

Budget detail is generally required and may include cost-sharing and charges for indirect costs (F&A)

Deliverables

Not generally required, however funder may require a report validating compliance with donor wishes or reporting of pledge payments

Funder requires deliverables that reflect performance levels, data results, or expenditure reporting tied to specific invoicing requirements or milestones

Receipt and Expenditure of Funds

Receipt of funds must occur prior to expenditures. Residual funds are not typically returned to funder

Grants and contracts may be either cost reimbursable of fixed price, based on funder terms. Sponsor may request return of unexpended funds

Compliance Requirements

Project support DOES NOT involve the use of human subjects, vertebrate animals, radioisotopes on humans, radioactive materials, recombinant DNA, human body substances, etiologic agents, or proprietary materials

Project supported MAY involve the use of human subjects, vertebrate animals, radioisotopes on humans, radioactive materials, recombinant DNA, human body substances, etiologic agents, or proprietary materials

Other

Project supported DOES NOT address benefits or rights related to intellectual property or technology transfer, or impose any rest ructions on publication or use of results.

Supported project is NOT linked to other sponsored projects or contracts being conducted by faculty and researchers

Project supported DOES address benefits or rights related to intellectual property or technology transfer and could impose restrictions on publication or use of results.

Supported project IS linked to other sponsored research projects being conducted by faculty and researchers

 

Sponsor is a private foundation or business entity – Entity type is not a distinguishing characteristic of a grant vs. gift.  Private foundations and businesses offer grants and gifts in support of research or other activities.

 

 

Proposed scope of work binds the researcher to a specific line of inquiry or supported activity – Defined scope of work is proposed and awarded.  If proposal is the result of a solicitation for proposals, then the award is a grant.  Unsolicited proposals should be evaluated by the preponderance of other factors enumerated on this list.

 

 

A line item budget is substantive part of proposal – A line item budget may be provided as evidence of responsible stewardship.  The existence of a line item budget is not sufficient in itself to differentiate between a grant vs. gift.  If penalty for deviations exist, the agreement should be considered a grant (performance indicator).

 

 

A financial report is expected or required by sponsor – A financial report may be provided as evidence of responsible stewardship.  This requirement is not sufficient in itself to distinguish a gift vs. grant.

 

Source Document: Uniform Guidance, Appendix III to Part 200



Patent Policy and Procedures

Intellectual Property (IP) issues are increasingly complex.  Shared participation in the development of IP is a joint responsibility of both the University and its faculty.  Such an effort is important to the dissemination of information and to the University’s regional and national economic impact.

Oakland University faculty own their own Copyrights.  Oakland generally does not claim for itself copyrightable material, such as books, articles, theses, papers, lectures, novels, poems, musical compositions, computer software, etc.  Exceptions to this policy are third-party contractual obligations (such as sponsored research agreements) or works produced under specific written agreements between a faculty member and Oakland.

Oakland University faculty own their own patentable IP.  Faculty members are free to utilize their IP as they see fit.  There are a number of ways this can be done:


Option 1:

The inventor may place the invention in the public domain by publishing its details and not seeking patent protection.  Once publicly disclosed, worldwide patent rights are lost except for the US, where (US-only) patents can be sought for one year after disclosure.


Option 2:

The inventor may, on their own initiative, patent the invention and use it however it is warranted.  In this case, the inventor bears full financial and commercialization responsibilities for the patent(s).


Option 3:

The inventor may jointly file a patent with the University.  This begins with the filing of an Invention Disclosure Form.  The University will evaluate the invention and its commercial potential.  If there is a shared mutual interest in proceeding, the Inventor will assign the invention to the University, which will handle the patent application process, expense, and assist with commercialization.  The Inventor and University will simultaneously enter into an agreement that details responsibilities for prosecuting the patent and sharing royalties.

Oakland University Administrative Policy #465 governs the administration of patents.  


Statistical Software

Oakland University offers a number of options for statistical software.  Refer to the UTS website on Campus Software for more information:   https://oakland.edu/uts/faculty-and-staff-services/software/#stats

Proposal Development Assistance

Pre-Peer Review

The Chief Research Officer provides incentives for the pre-peer review of certain federal grant proposals to be submitted by OU investigators. Reviewers receive a stipend for a timely review based on the criteria established by the funding agency. This incentive program includes financial rewards for both the reviewer and the investigator if the proposal is successful (i.e. funded). The PI must allow sufficient time for the review, and should plan their timetable accordingly.

Any OU investigator who is planning to submit a grant proposal to a federal sponsor (e.g. NIH, NSF, DoD) can apply for the pre-peer review program.  The total direct costs for all years of the grant must be at least $200,000. Please direct your request to Dr. David Stone, at dstone@oakland.edu.

Research Development Officers

Research Development Officers bring a set of strategic, proactive, catalytic, and capacity-building skills, designed to facilitate individual faculty members and teams of researchers in attracting extramural research funding, creating relationships, and developing and implementing strategies that increase institutional competitiveness. Please direct your request to Dr. David Stone, at dstone@oakland.edu

ANNOUNCING ARMS - Advanced Research Methodology Services

The Research Office is launching Advanced Research Methodology Services (ARMS), which aims to help faculty improve the quality of the research design and data analysis sections of their grant proposals. The ARMS team will assist with research and analysis upon receipt of funding. We are in the process of building an ARMS team, and are seeking faculty to serve as methodological consultants in areas of their expertise. Contact ARMS Coordinator Dennis Condron to join the team, or to access ARMS for assistance with your own proposal.
Word documents with more information can be downloaded with the links below:

  • ARMS Recruitment (for faculty who would like to be part of the ARMS team)
  • ARMS Summary (for faculty who would like assistance with their grant proposal)
Proposal Support
Contact Information

Grant & Contract Support:

To discuss the processes related to the above areas, please stop by the office or contact Research Office staff.


Proposal Submission to The Research Office

Policy Title: Proposal Submission to The Research Office

Functional Area: Research Administration

Related Policy:                       None

Effective Date:                        April 19, 2018

Approved by:                         David Stone, Chief Research Officer

Responsible Body:                 The Research Office

I. POLICY STATEMENT

The number, size, and complexity of proposals for external support of research, scholarship, and creative artistry are continuing to grow from year to year. In order for The Research Office (TRO) to properly exercise its function to review, approve, and submit proposals in a timely fashion, TRO staff rely on Principal Investigators (PIs) to contact them, and to provide all materials needed to satisfy the proposal requirements to them in a timely manner.  Specifically, PIs must notify TRO staff about impending proposal submissions 15 days in advance, and provide the necessary materials to TRO staff at least five business days before the sponsor’s announced deadline for submission of proposals.  To fulfill that requirement, the procedures outlined in this document have been established.

II. DEFINITIONS

Grant and Contract Officer. A Grant and Contract Officer (GCO) is an employee of The Research Office who has the delegated authority to review and submit proposals on behalf of the University, and to review and sign awards coming to the University from external sponsors. GCOs are assigned to projects based on the sponsor to whom a proposal will be submitted.

Research Development Officer. A Research Development Officer (RDO) is an employee of The Research Office who is assigned to work with researchers, scholars, and creative artists in designated departments, units, schools, or colleges. RDOs work closely with GCOs, but do not have authority to submit proposals on behalf of the University. PIs are encouraged, but not required, to work with an RDO (if one has been assigned to their department or unit) before contacting the appropriate GCO nearer to the submission deadline.

Sponsor’s Announced Deadline. The sponsor’s announced deadline is the date (and time, if one is specified) on which a sponsor stops accepting proposals for a particular program or competition. If a sponsor specifies a range of dates during which it will accept proposals, the sponsor’s announced deadline will be the last day that falls within the announced range.

Signature Authority. The Research Office holds the authority, delegated by the Board of Trustees, to submit proposals and to accept awards for sponsored project activity on behalf of the University. PIs are normally not authorized either to submit proposals or to accept awards for externally funded projects; however, there are certain cases (certain types of fellowships and individual awards, for example) where the PI can submit him/herself. When in doubt, always contact TRO staff for a determination as to whether or not you can submit a proposal or accept an award yourself.

Proposal Routing Form. The EPRA form (or its functional equivalent) is the University’s means of gathering required information about the project for which funding is being sought. It also contains certain factual stipulations, representations, and certifications that TRO staff rely on when making representations and certifications to an external sponsor about information contained within a given proposal. It is therefore important for PIs to fill out the routing form as accurately and completely as possible. If you have questions about the form or any of the information requested on it, contact your GCO for assistance.

Proposal Materials. The number and type of documents required as part of a proposal package will vary from sponsor to sponsor and even from program to program, depending on the nature of the work proposed and on other factors. Generally, proposals will include some form of introductory statement, a research or project narrative describing the amount and type of work to be done, a budget, and one or more supporting documents/materials.

Limited-Submission. In some cases, a sponsor limits the number of proposals that may be submitted by a single institution. If an institution submits more than the allowable number of proposals, some or all of them will be rejected and returned without review. In order to avoid that unhappy situation, TRO will announce deadlines and procedures for an internal competition to be held whenever it becomes apparent that there are more investigators or teams interested in submitting proposals than there are allowable slots. Only those investigators/teams whose projects are selected through the internal competition process will be allowed to submit formal proposals to the external sponsor for such competitions.

III. PROCEDURES

  • Proposal and Award Process
  • The lifecycle of a sponsored project can be roughly separated into pre-award and post-award phases, depending on where things happen with respect to the receipt of an award from the sponsor to carry out the project. The Lifecycle of a Sponsored Project chart provides a brief overview of the full process, and identifies the major steps involved. TRO encourages researchers, scholars, and artists to contact the appropriate RDO or GCO as soon as they think they might want to submit a proposal, as this provides TRO staff with the maximum possible time to plan workflows, review applicable guidelines and procedures, register in any new systems that may be required, and to obtain subcontract or subaward proposals. The more time we have, the more support (and the better the quality of that support) we can provide.

  • Working with RDOs
  • Researchers, scholars, and artists can meet with the RDO at any stage in the proposal process. Research development assistance is usually most helpful early in the process of developing a research project or a proposal to support such a project. Working with an RDO or a faculty fellow is not required in order to submit a proposal for external support, but it is nevertheless strongly encouraged if one is available. The RDO or faculty fellow will normally alert the appropriate GCO to any upcoming submissions (and vice versa), so it is not usually necessary to alert both when you have a proposal on the horizon. As you and the RDO or faculty fellow complete work on a proposal component, send it to the appropriate GCO for inclusion in the proposal file.

  • TRO Deadline
  • To ensure that workload is effectively distributed and to be able to robustly support out faculty, researchers, scholars and artists should notify The Research Office that they intend to submit a proposal at least three weeks (15 business days) prior to submission.  If the faculty member is working with an RDO, rest assured that notification has been made.  If the faculty member is working independently, please send an email to gcsradmin@oakland.edu indicating that there is a proposal planned for an upcoming deadline.  Including a link to the relevant guidelines would be quite helpful. 

  • Moreover, in order to ensure that TRO has sufficient time to review and revise proposal components, prepare proposal budgets, and assemble and review proposal packages for submission to external sponsors, PIs must notify TRO staff about impending proposal submissions, and provide the necessary materials to TRO staff at least five business days before the sponsor’s announced deadline for submission of proposals. The more complex the proposal, the more time is required to prepare, review, and submit it. For proposals with multiple subawards, or that involve intellectual property or export control concerns, or where the PI is requesting a reduction or a waiver of some or all of the University’s federally negotiated indirect cost rate, this deadline is increased to seven business days before the sponsor’s announced deadline for proposal submission.

  • Proposals received by the TRO Deadline will be given priority. Proposals received after the deadline will be processed based upon their readiness for submission and the amount of time available before the sponsor’s announced deadline, taking into account the workload of TRO staff. TRO reserves the right to refuse to submit proposals or to withdraw submitted proposals that were received too close to the sponsor’s announced deadline to ensure compliance with all applicable sponsor and University guidelines, policies, and procedures, in order to protect the University’s good name and reputation and to avoid any possibility of sanctions or other adverse consequences from the sponsor.

  • Provision of Necessary Materials
  • In order to create a proposal file and begin the necessary compliance reviews before submission, the cognizant GCO must have, at a minimum, the following documents/components in hand by the applicable TRO Deadline:

    1. A copy of the applicable proposal guidelines from the sponsor (or a link to where these may be found);

    2. A complete proposal budget, including all required materials for each subcontract or subaward, and any necessary supporting information (e.g., vendor quotes for capital equipment, documentation of consultants’ fees, etc.) for particular items of cost, whether or not these supporting materials must be provided to the sponsor; and

    3. A substantially complete narrative or scope of work for the project, to be used to assess the reasonableness of the proposed budget.

  • Bear in mind that the RDO or GCO will help you to develop the budget and many budget drafts are often required as the project evolves.  However, by the beginning of the 5-day window, the final budget must be locked down.

  • Other proposal materials required by the sponsor may be submitted either before or after the applicable TRO Deadline, as these are less critical and usually easier to review. The PI or project team may continue to polish and revise the proposal narrative up to the sponsor’s announced deadline if necessary, as long as no changes to the original scope of work or objectives of the proposal are made, unless corresponding changes are also made to the originally proposed project budget.

  • Deadlines After Normal Office Hours
  • Some sponsor deadlines occur outside TRO’s normal office hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday). When this is the case, the TRO deadline for submission will be 5 p.m. irrespective of the actual sponsor-announced deadline.

  • Post-Submission Issues and Requests
  • Once a proposal has been submitted, the PI should immediately review a copy of the submitted documents (either after receiving a copy from the cognizant GCO or downloading such a copy from the sponsor’s submission portal), to ensure that everything is correct and accurate. (It is rare, but it does sometimes happen that documents are garbled in transmission, or a sponsor’s submission processing algorithm interferes with the spacing of figures, charts, etc., or the formatting of special characters.) If an issue is discovered, the PI should alert the cognizant GCO as soon as the issue is noted, so that appropriate corrective action (if any) may be taken immediately. If there is still time before the sponsor’s announced deadline, it may be possible to submit a corrected version of the proposal and, in some cases, sponsors may (but are not required to) allow submission of updated documents.

  • It is also sometimes the case that staff at the sponsor will spot an issue with some component of a proposal, and request an update. If the cognizant GCO is not contacted directly or copied on the communication requesting such an update, the PI should alert him/her immediately: usually, such sponsor requests come with very tight deadlines that must be met. Sponsors may also request the submission of supplementary materials, revisions to the project’s scope and/or budget, or Just In Time information. Again, if the cognizant GCO was not copied on or contacted directly regarding such requests, the PI should alert him/her immediately so that appropriate action may be taken.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I am interested in submitting a proposal to a sponsor that does not allow indirect costs on the proposal budget. Must I still submit the proposal through TRO?

Answer: Usually, yes. If the sponsor requires any kind of institutional approval or certification, or if the project involves research with human or animal subjects, or other compliance concerns, the proposal must be submitted through TRO. As long as none of those cases apply, and where funds will be paid directly to the investigator (as with NEH and similar fellowship programs), you may submit the proposal yourself. However, TRO recommends that you contact us (and provide a copy of the sponsor’s guidelines under which you plan to apply) for a determination before proceeding. In all cases, you are encouraged to have TRO staff review the budget and other documents for compliance with the applicable guidelines, even if you submit the proposal as an individual.

Question: A colleague of mine just alerted me to a funding opportunity that would be perfect for my research, but there are only three days left before the sponsor’s announced deadline. Can I still submit the proposal?

Answer: Yes, provided that you have all of the necessary proposal materials ready to go and alert TRO as soon after becoming aware of the opportunity as possible, and there are no obvious significant compliance issues. Bear in mind, however, that other proposals may be given priority if they were received by the TRO Deadline, and that the level of support TRO can provide will necessarily be less than it would normally be if the proposal had come to us ahead of the TRO Deadline.

Updated 5/7/2021

Award Support
Overview of Award Support Administration

Award Support consists of processes that occur between award inception and award close-out. During this period, Research Office staff, the Principal Investigator, and departmental administrators must continually monitor the award fund to ensure the project is running smoothly.

Some of the most often utilized post-award activities include:

Expenditure Approval
Expenditures charged to a sponsored project are reviewed and approved by the Research Office to confirm that the expense is consistent with the terms and conditions of the award and to identify that sufficient documentation and justification is provided.

An expense is allowable on a sponsored project if it meets the following criteria:

  • Reasonable – a prudent person would have purchased this same item and paid same price; an arms-length arrangement.
  • Allocable – expense is allocated to a project in proportion to the benefits derived to the program objectives; the investigator is the responsible person who determines the proportional charge to the project.
  • Consistently Treated – like expenses are treated the same by the institution given same circumstances.
  • Allowable – all three above criteria met and the expense is permitted as a direct cost per the terms and conditions of the award.

Expenditures on Federal agreements are subject to the provisions of the OMB "Uniform Guidance (UG) 2 CFR 200 Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards." If you have questions regarding the allowability of an item, you are encouraged to contact the Research Office prior to placing the purchase.  We will make our determination based on this document:  https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2013-30465 Consult this document if you want more information regarding expenditures on Federal awards.

Cost Transfers

The Research Office assists with proposal budgeting and reviews costs that are charged to sponsored projects at Oakland University.  This process ensures a fair degree of reasonable allocation and allowability of costs to sponsored projects.  However, occasionally errors in posting and allocation occur in any accounting system.  It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to periodically review and ensure the reasonable allocation and accuracy of costs charged to the sponsored project.  A periodic review should occur within a reasonable period of 30 days from posting to the ledger.  Generally, error corrections should be completed within 60 days.

Error corrections initiated beyond  60 days or after the project end date are continually an area of audit scrutiny, also requests that appear to use a remaining balance on a fund near or beyond the project end date may be questioned.  Losses or disallowed costs on other sponsored projects are not allowable cost transfers.  To ensure the fiduciary duty of Oakland University as a responsible financial steward of sponsored funding, unusual circumstances in timing or amounts will be scrutinized for propriety and denied without adequate justification and documentation.  It is preferred that a positive, proactive approach to managing sponsored funding is taken by Principal Investigators and supporting administrative personnel.  If you require assistance with reviewing financial reports, reconciling costs to planned budgets, system or report accessibility, or tracing an error in posting, please contact the Research Office for assistance.

Budget Monitoring/Amendment
The Principal Investigator is responsible for expenses charged to his/her award and should meet with the departmental administrator periodically to review the program. As a result of this review, a need may arise to amend the program budget. Sponsors have differing guidelines for budget modifications and whether or not sponsor approval is required. You are encouraged to contact the Research Office for advice in this instance.

No-Cost Extensions

To discuss the processes related to the above areas, please stop by the office or contact Research Office staff.


Fund Number Set Up for New Awards

When a grant or contract proposal has been approved for funding by the agency, OU will receive an official award notification or a fully executed contract.

If the award notification is received by the Principal Investigator (PI), please inform the Research Office as soon as possible. Please note: it is important to forward the entire award notification package to the Research Office including any payments received, acceptance letters to be returned to the agency, etc. These items will be processed by the Research Office.

Upon receipt of the award letter, the Research Office will request a fund number from the Accounting Office. It takes 3 to 5 working days for Accounting to process the request and assign a fund number. The Research Office will send the PI and department/school Budget Manager an e-mail providing the fund number, a copy of the award notification, and a summary of any special terms and conditions. A signature card will be sent separately through campus mail. Please feel free to contact the Research Office with any questions regarding your new award.

Expenditure Approval

Expenditures charged to a sponsored project are reviewed and approved by the Research Office to confirm that the expense is consistent with the terms and conditions of the award and to identify that sufficient documentation and justification is provided.

An expense is allowable on a sponsored project if it meets the following criteria:

  • Reasonable – a prudent person would have purchased this same item and paid same price; an arms-length arrangement.
  • Allocable – expense is allocated to a project in proportion to the benefits derived to the program objectives; the investigator is the responsible person who determines the proportional charge to the project.
  • Consistently Treated – like expenses are treated the same by the institution given same circumstances.
  • Allowable – all three above criteria met and the expense is permitted as a direct cost per the terms and conditions of the award.

Expenditures on Federal agreements are subject to the provisions of the OMB Uniform Guidance (UG) "Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards."  If you have questions regarding the allowability of an item, you are encouraged to contact the Research Office prior to placing the purchase.  We will make our determination based on this document:  https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2013-30465.  Consult this document if you want more information.


Adjustments to Your Budget

The Research Office assists with proposal budgeting and reviews costs that are charged to sponsored projects at Oakland University.  This process ensures a fair degree of reasonable allocation and allowability of costs to sponsored projects.  However, occasionally errors in posting and allocation occur in any accounting system.  It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to periodically review and ensure the reasonable allocation and accuracy of costs charged to the sponsored project.  A periodic review should occur within a reasonable period of 30 days from posting to the ledger.  Generally, error corrections should be completed within 60 days.  

Error corrections initiated beyond  60 days or after the project end date are continually an area of audit scrutiny, also requests that appear to use a remaining balance on a fund near or beyond the project end date may be questioned.  Losses or disallowed costs on other sponsored projects are not allowable cost transfers.  To ensure the fiduciary duty of Oakland University as a responsible financial steward of sponsored funding, unusual circumstances in timing or amounts will be scrutinized for propriety and denied without adequate justification and documentation.  It is preferred that a positive, proactive approach to managing sponsored funding is taken by Principal Investigators and supporting administrative personnel.  If you require assistance with reviewing financial reports, reconciling costs to planned budgets, system or report accessibility, or tracing an error in posting, please contact the Research Office for assistance.

Budget Monitoring/Amendment

The Principal Investigator is responsible for expenses charged to his/her award and should meet with the departmental administrator periodically to review the program. As a result of this review, a need may arise to amend the program budget. Sponsors have differing guidelines for budget modifications and whether or not sponsor approval is required. You are encouraged to contact the Research Office for advice in this instance.

Procedure to Request Salary Payment from Sponsored Funding

The Summer Pay Request (SPR) form should be used for faculty employees who have an academic year appointment.  This form can be obtained from your departmental administrator.  For employees who have full calendar year appointments, a Change of Status (COS) form or online request should be used.  

 

The faculty member should complete the Summer Payment Request (SPR) form for External Grants or Contracts.  This form should be submitted with the Faculty Special Pay form and reviewed by the Dean’s Office before submission to the Research Office.  The Dean’s Office will route the required forms to the Research Office for all grant or contract funding requests.

 

Oakland University guidelines for payments to faculty employees outside the regular service period stipulate that no more than 45% of base salary may be paid for teaching and other related duties over the course of the entire summer term.  Any payment request should comply with the Oakland University guidelines and sponsoring agency restrictions, if applicable.  

  1. Enter the identifying information for the employee who will be working during the summer term.  Please be aware that the home department for the employee may be different than the unit responsible to approve charges to the fund.  The Faculty Special Payment (FSP) form requires signatures of the persons responsible to approve charges.  Obtain the FSP form from your departmental administrator.

  2. The Summer Payment Request must be signed by the employee who will receive payment during the summer term.

  3. Either the payment amount or the percentage of efforts should be completed; both are not necessary.
  4. An Earnings Code of 324 and Subaccount C053 must be used for the transaction to correctly allocate fringe benefits.

  5. The Banner transaction number is a required field on the form and should be entered prior to sending the forms to the Research Office.  If the amounts change due to the 45% limit or sponsored restrictions, the electronic transaction will be sent back to the Dean’s Office with comments.  The transaction should be corrected online.

  6. Submit a Faculty Special Payment form for each funding source.  Please note the following:

a. An FSP form has only one funding source indicated because the signers on the FSP are the persons responsible for oversight of the single fund. 

            
b. The signatures obtained on the FSP certify that the fund fiduciaries approve of the commitment against the fund.  However, the signature obtained on the SPR is confirmation of the employee's commitment to perform activity during the summer term.  If the employee becomes aware of a change prior to the 10th workday of the month, an email notification should be sent to ougcsr@oakland.edu to stop payment. 

            
c. The employee will receive an Effort Certification report at the end of the summer term to confirm the activity actually performed during the summer term.  If there is a significant difference of planned vs. actual activity, a refund may be due to the sponsoring agency. Summer payments are made for activity that occurs during the summer term only.  It is not appropriate to request payment for work completed during the academic term in the summer; to do so is a violation of compliance with grant/contract terms and Oakland University policy.

            
d. The limit of 45% applies to all activity during the summer term, including teaching and other related professional duties.  Salary above the base academic term amount is unallowable for a comparable period of time, i.e., $50,000 academic pay would limit summer pay to $22,500 (45% x $50,000), however, if only 1/2 the summer term is worked, the limit would be $11,250.  If a faculty member received $4,800 for teaching during this time, research pay would be limited to $6,450.

            
e. Sponsor restrictions override Oakland University policy.  If the sponsor does not permit summer pay or restricts pay and/or benefits, Oakland University will not approve payment of the sponsor funds in excess of these restrictions.

The Research Office fax number is (248) 370-2973.  Emails may be sent to ougcsr@oakland.edu for questions related to summer salary approvals.


Meal Policy

The Research Office Guidelines on Allowability of Meals (non-travel status)for Reimbursement on Sponsor Funded Agreements

The University recognizes meals as an appropriate expense of University funds if hosting activities of outside guests contribute to, or result from, legitimate university-related business.  Federal and state funded agreements reimburse meal expenses only while an employee is in travel status or when meal expense is an integral part of the program and is included within the sponsor-approved budget.

Meals that are in accordance with university policy must be reviewed by the Research Office if reimbursement is requested from a grant or contract.  The terms of the grant or contract agreement will govern whether reimbursement is approved by the Research Office.  If business meals are unallowable per grant or contract restriction, employees should consult with their departmental budget manager prior to engaging in the activity.

Allowable meal expenses per university policy #208 “Business Meals and Hosting Expense” (non-travel status):

  1. Local business meals and meal expenses incurred by employees while hosting university guests within the constraints of good taste and reasonableness; 
  2. When employees are required to participate in a non-recurring event such as a retreat, workshop or seminar;
  3. When employees are required to participate in a business meeting outside of the regular work hours of 8 to 5 p.m.;
  4. When students are involved in a meeting for advancement or training purposes.

Guidelines for Reimbursement from Federal and State Sources

 

Federal and state guidelines allow meals while employees are in travel status, for subjects and patients under study, or where specifically approved as part of the project activity, provided that such charges are not duplicated in per diem or subsistence allowances.

 

Meals provided to a potential recruit are not reimbursable from a federal source, but the university may reimburse this hosting expense from non-federal sources.  Federally reimbursable employee recruitment costs are limited to help-wanted advertising costs, costs of travel by applicants to and from pre-employment interviews for a specific assignment, and the travel costs of university employees while engaged in recruiting personnel. 


Meeting and conference costs, including meals, are only allowable if such costs are specifically and clearly identified in the proposed scope of work and budget, as modified and approved by the sponsoring agency.  When certain meals are an integral and necessary part of a conference (e.g., working meals where business is transacted), sponsor funds may be used for such meals.  Federal or state funds are not otherwise to be spent for meals or coffee breaks for intramural meetings of an organization or any of its components, including, but not limited to, laboratories, departments and centers.


Travel Regulations

Charging International Travel to Federal Sponsors

 

The Federal Travel Regulations establish requirements for charging travel costs to federally funded grants, contracts, and other agreements.  Of special concern is the restriction on use of foreign carriers.  If you are making travel arrangements that require the use of foreign carriers you must adhere to the following requirements (cost savings is not a valid exception to these requirements):

 

You are required by 49 U.S.C. 40118, commonly referred to as the “Fly America Act,” to use U.S. flag air carrier service for all air travel funded by the U.S. Government, unless:

 

    1)  You cannot purchase a ticket in coach class of service on a U.S. flag air carrier, and a seat is
            available in coach class of service on a foreign air carrier; or

    2)  [for non-stop direct service] such use would extend your travel time, including delay at origin, 
            by 24 hours or more; or

    3)  [where non-stop service is not used] such use would

  • Increase the number of aircraft changes you must make outside of the U.S. by 2 or more; or
  • Extend your travel time by at least 6 hours or more; or
  • Require a connecting time of 4 hours or more at an overseas interchange point.

The code of a U.S. flag air carrier must be noted as part of the flight number on the airline ticket, flight coupon (boarding pass), or passenger receipt.  A two character code is designated just to the left of the flight number.  Compare the airline codes on the ticket with those on the list below to determine whether or not the flight is on a US Flag air carrier.  For proposed travel, you may wish to consult with your travel agent or the Research Office.


Alaska Airlines (AS)

Continental Airlines (CO)

Frontier Airlines (F9)

United Airlines (UA)

American Airlines (AA)

Delta Airlines (DL)

Northwest Airlines (NW)

US Airways (US)

Airtran Airways (FL)

American West (HP)

American Trans Air (TZ)

Hawaiian Airlines (HA)

Midwest Express (YX)

Southwest Airlines (WN)

Spirit Airlines (NK)

 

 

All requests are subject to final approval by The Research Office.


Invoicing

  The Research Office completes all invoicing for sponsored projects.  If an invoice is needed for an awarded project please contact the Research Office for assistance. 

Grant Financial Reporting

All financial reports are submitted by the Research Office. No financial report should be forwarded to a sponsor without the approval of our office.

Grant Close-Out

At the end of a sponsored project the fund will be reviewed for any errors. During this process if any unallowable expenses are discovered the charges must be transferred to a departmental fund. Cost Sharing and Effort Reports will be verified and deficits need to be cleared. Additionally, any open encumbrances must be closed. If the project is fixed price and a balance exists, the Research Office will close-out the fund according to the Close-Out of Fixed Price Agreements instructions.

Sub-Recipient Payments & Monitoring

Sub-recipients submit invoices directly to the Research Office. After initial review the Research Office forwards the invoice to the Principal Investigator/Department for approval. Invoices should be processed through accounts payable as any other expense to the grant.

Before the invoice is approved by the PI it should be reviewed to insure that charges are correct and allowable for the billing period in question. If the PI does not agree with any charges the invoice should not be approved and the sub-recipient should be notified of any issues. Invoices should only be approved if the work is satisfactory to the PI.

Extension Request

 
Requests for Performance Period Extensions

 

Sponsor funded agreements contain a number of provisions that govern the performance expectations of all parties.  These provisions become obligations upon acceptance of Oakland University whether the funding mechanism is a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or other restricted funding type.  The performance period is almost always clearly outlined in a sponsoring agreement or within the proposal.  Oakland University, unless permitted to extend the end date by the terms of the sponsored agreement, will require the explicit permission of the sponsor to extend the performance period.  Under some federal grants, the university has “expanded authority” to extend the performance period one time for one year or less.

 

To request an extension of the end date of a sponsored agreement, you will need to provide the following:

1. Provide a request or notification to the Research Office Grant Officer prior to the end date of the award. 

a. Federal agreements that permit expanded authority must be made at least 10 days prior to the end date. 

b. Other requests should be made at least 30 days prior to the end date to allow time for the sponsor to respond.

c. If the sponsoring agreement grants explicit permission to extend the end date and you wish to exercise this provision, you must adhere to the notification requirements specified in the terms of award.

2. Provide a justification that succinctly outlines the basis for the extension request and the follow-on activity planned during the extension period.  A request solely to expend unused funds will be denied unless the sponsor terms of award specify that the project may be extended until the funds are exhausted.  Unspent funds at the end of the project performance period are either returned to the sponsor or closed out to an unrestricted fund if permitted under the terms of award.

3. Provide a concise budget for use of the remaining funds.

Requesting No Cost Extensions for the National Science Foundation (NSF)

 

Users will need to log-in to research.gov at the following URL: Research.gov


You will need to know your NSF log-in ID and password.  If you have forgotten these, contact your Proposal Support Specialist at gcsradmin@oakland.edu.


After logging in, locate the Awards and Reporting tab, in navy blue towards the top of the page. Within that, click on Notifications and Requests.


Then, towards the lower left, a button that says Prepare New will appear. Click that.  This will bring up a list of possible requests. In this situation, you want No-Cost Extensions – third from the top.


Step Two should automatically populate based on your request in Step One.


Step Three is to enter your NSF award number, which is 7 digits long. This number can be found on your NSF award letter, your internal OU Notice of Award, and -for awards made since 2019- in your Cayuse record. And of course NSF keeps a record of the award numbers; search on your own name within research.gov and your grant award numbers will show up immediately.


Once you have done this, you are in the substance of the request. You may choose a date up to one year in the future. The site also asks for the unexpended balance to the nearest dollar. We can give you this figure as can your Business Manager/Assistant Dean.


In the text box provided, state your reasoning for requesting a No-Cost Extension. It is NEVER sufficient to say that you need to spend down remaining funds. You must offer a scientific reason – or possibly a natural or cultural event (such as COVID-19) that prevented you from adhering to your original timeline for the science and for the expenditures. Similarly, explain how you intend to spend the funds by the newly proposed end date.


Clicking Save and Submit automatically routes the request to the Office of Sponsored Programs for review, final approval, and submission to NSF.


If you have questions regarding this policy or procedure, you may contact the Research Office at (248) 370-2552 or email your inquiry to research@oakland.edu or gcsadmin@oakland.edu.

 

All requests are subject to final approval by the Research Office.
Time & Effort
Reporting
Principal Investigators on sponsored projects must complete Time & Effort Reports three times per year according to the following schedule: at the completion of fall term, at the completion of winter term, and at the completion of summer term.  


Starting in July, 2020, the new effort reporting system for people with active grant awards is live.  All PIs will receive an email which includes a link to the needed effort reports.  Please review them and certify electronically. 

Effort Reports should be reviewed for accuracy. For example:

  • Individuals who appear on the report but never worked on the project
  • Hours/percentages are incorrect
  • Individuals who worked on the project and are not listed on the report

If the report is accurate, that is literally all you need to do.  No downloading, no printing, no emailing the form back to the office is required; this is now a fully electronic system.  If the report needs adjustment, you can use the comments box to make simple changes (e.g. Person X worked 10 hours/week rather than 20).  If the story is more complicated and you need more room than the comment box allows, then feel free to email Andrea Buford at abuford@oakland.edu.

Link to the new online system:  Online Time & Effort Report Certification

For technical issues with the new online system, email Penny Stilwell at stilwell@oakland.edu.