Grants and Contracts Administration
A Unit of Regional Engagement
1.1 Policy Statement
The Grants and Contracts Administration is a service unit of North Georiga College & State University and, as such, exists to encourage and assist the NGCSU faculty and staff in their pursuit of external funds. The Mission Statement of the Grants and Contracts Administration appears below and complements the Mission Statements of the Office of Academic Affairs and North Georgia College & State University.
Grants and Contracts Administration
The Grants and Contracts Administration is a service unit of the University operating within the Office of Academic Affairs. This department will continuously seek to provide assistance to the faculty and staff of North Georgia College & State University in all phases of externally funded project development to support research and other activities. Support includes locating funding sources, preparation of proposals, processing and obtaining appropriate sign-off and post-award administration.
The Grants and Contracts Administration shall strive always to support and encourage increased activity in obtaining external funding for research and program development at North Georgia College & State University and to support the Mission and Goals of the Office of Academic Affairs and of North Georgia College & State University .
1.2 Description of the Grants and Contracts Administration
The Grants and Contracts Administration seeks to provide the necessary support to faculty and staff interested in preparing competitive proposals for external funding. The department facilitates administrative review and approval of all proposals for competitive sponsored projects in research, institutional and faculty development activities from the initial planning phase through award and administration. Post-award activities, fiscal arrangements, and grant implementation are the shared responsibility of the researcher or principal investigator, the Office of Business and Finance, and the Grants and Contracts Administration .
1.3 Services Provided by the Grants and Contracts Administration
The Grants and Contracts Administration provides a wide range of support and assistance to the researcher and will assist in all activities related to proposal preparation and administration.
(a) Grants and Contracts can assist in locating potential sponsors. NGCSU subscribes to The Foundation Center Online Platinum, a database resource available in the Stewart Library, the NGCSU Foundation, and the Grants and Contracts Administration. This service provides search capabilities on a large database of private funding sources. Other funding sources are available online from any location.
1.) Grants.gov is the official clearinghouse for federal funding information, applications and announcements. Increasingly, it is also the vehicle for transmitting applications to federal agencies.
2.) FASTLANE is an electronic service of the National Science Foundation. Through FASTLANE you can develop your proposal, submit your proposal for funding, track the progress of your proposal through the NSF review process and manage the award once received. FASTLANE is a restricted service and you must be registered to use it. To register, contact the Grants and Contracts Administration.
(b) The Grants and Contracts staff will assist the principal investigator (PI) in the interpretation of policies, regulations, and guidelines applicable to particular projects. A simple request for assistance is all that is needed to get started.
(c) The Grants and Contracts staff will assist in obtaining proposal guidelines as well as interpreting them upon request. Most federal program deadlines and application forms are now available online, and the staff will happily assist you in locating materials you need online.
(d) The Grants and Contracts staff maintains contact with sponsoring agencies and will assist the principal investigator (PI) in pre-proposal contacts, pre-award negotiations, and post-award activities. Every PI is encouraged to contact program staff to discuss their ideas prior to writing a proposal and as frequently as necessary during the preparation of the final proposal.
(e) The Grants and Contracts staff will assist in budget preparation prior to obtaining full approval for the proposal submission. All budgets, along with the proposal, must be approved by the Grants and Contracts Administration staff and receive full administration approval in the 'sign-off' process. No proposal may leave the NGCSU campus without full approval of the budget and a full review and approval of NGCSU commitment in the activity. Failure to obtain such approval could result in the refusal of NGCSU to accept an award.
(f) The Grants Manager located in the NGCSU Business Office assists in the post-award process. The budget prepared by the PI, often with the assistance of Grants and Contracts staff, becomes a part of the files in the Grants Manager's office and is used to verify all expenditures related to the award. The Accountant works closely with the Grants and Contracts Administration staff to insure that the award funds are properly spent out over the course of the grant period. The Grants & Contracts Accountant assists the PI in obtaining a NGCSU account number and will track the Facilities and Administration recovered costs for the Grants and Contracts Director, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Deans of the various colleges and others needing this information.
(g) The Grants and Contractsstaff will assist, on a continuing basis, in program design and development, editorial services, review of draft proposals and will provide general advice on strategies to maximize the effectiveness of the application effort.
(h) The Grants and Contracts staff will assist:
1). In duplicating and printing services needed to complete the proposal for submission.
2). In internal sign-off procedures. The staff will advise the principal investigator (PI) on internal review procedures and will coordinate the final internal review and signature approval process as expeditiously as possible. Five (5) working days are needed by Grants and Contracts Administration for full review and sign off.
3). In transmitting the proposal to the sponsoring agency by whatever process is necessary to meet the application deadline. The Grants and Contracts Administration customarily uses USPS Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation unless some other method is required to meet the published deadline such as guaranteed overnight delivery.
4). In completing periodic and final reports required by sponsoring agencies, when such assistance is requested by the P. I.
Relationship with the NGCSU Foundation
The Grants and Contracts Administration is the central coordination point for proposals that involve an external grant or contract and the University. Proposals to non-governmental sources (corporations, foundations, etc.) which do not involve contractual obligations may be submitted in the name of the NGCSU Foundation. The Grants and Contracts staff will always work with the NGCSU Foundation to assure proper reporting of all grants, contracts and gifts to the University.
Annually the Grants and Contracts Administration prepares a list of all current and pending grants. This information is reported to the University System of Georgia´s Board of Regents. To maintain an accurate description of those funds which North Georgia College & State University is receiving from outside sponsors and those commitments which are made by the University, it is absolutely necessary that all grants and contracts for externally funded research activities be processed through this office.
1.4 Human Subjects
If the proposal actively involves human subjects, it must be reviewed and approved by the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB). IRB approval is required by the Code of Federal Regulations, 45 CFR 46.
Faculty members contemplating sponsored research, or projects, involving human subjects should inform the Grants and Contracts Administration and the IRB Administrator as soon as possible. This notice should be presented early enough to provide time for the Board to examine the research protocol(s) and to make recommendations regarding methodology or project structure. Strict compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations 45 CFR 46, which governs the protection of human subjects, is an absolute necessity for any research project conducted at North Georgia College & State University .
No research involving human research subjects should be conducted, by faculty or students, without prior review of the North Georgia College & State University Institutional Review Board.
Note: Compliance with 45 CFR 46 and the requirements of is the North Georgia College & State University Policy is the responsibility of the Project Director. The NGCSU Human Research Subjects Policy and IRB requirements may be accessed at the following web address: http://www.northgeorgia.edu/IRB/
1.5 Intellectual Property Policy
The Intellectual Property policy has been reviewed and accepted by the Faculty Senate. It has also been favorably reviewed, with minor revisions, by the legal office in the Chancellor's office of the Board of Regents. The policy is available online at Faculty Manual Section 7.5.1
It is the responsibility of every member of the faculty to understand the rights and responsibilities contained in this document as it relates to their professional activities.
Faculty members considering research or projects in which a patent or copyright might be appropriate for materials produced are urged to consult the Director of Grants and Contracts and become cognizant of all official policies before making application including copyright, patent applications.
1.6 NGCSU Research Using Animals
Proposals involving the use of animals follow published guidelines:
Reptiles and Amphibians - American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH)
PROPOSAL PROCEDURES AND DEVELOPMENT
2.1 Proposal Development
The procedures below are a guide for proposal writers. The steps outlined are in sequential order and take a writer from the start of the project-idea, through the application process, to a completed proposal.
2.2 Steps to Follow in Proposal Development
(a) Obtain preliminary informal approval of your project from your department head and dean or director. Begin a blue GRANT PROPOSAL FACT SHEET AND SIGN-OFF FORM, available in the Grants and Contracts Administration.
(b) Discuss your proposal idea with staff in the Grants and Contracts Administration. A search for possible funding sources can begin if you do not have a source in mind.
(c) Obtain the appropriate guidelines, application forms, and other required data for your project via on-line services or from the Grants and Contracts Administration.
(d) Set your timeline working back from the deadline. Keep in mind the deadline for reception of your proposal at the sponsoring agency and the processing time within the University (5 working days) for appropriate sign-off and approval. Plan your work to accommodate the time necessary to complete the total proposal process.
(e) Write a draft of the proposal, carefully following the guidelines of the Request for Proposal (RFP). Have a colleague review and comment. The staff in the Grants and Contracts Administration is available for suggestions and draft reading.
(f) Begin work on the budget. Be sure to work with the staff in the Grants and Contracts Administration particularly if this is your first proposal.
(g) Submit a rough draft of the proposal and budget to Grants and Contracts for review. A blue Grant Proposal Fact Sheet and Sign-off Form used to obtain administrative approval of your proposal should have been initiated earlier. As principal investigator, you should ask your department head to sign approval of your project at this point.
(h) Submit your final proposal with budget, the blue Grant Proposal Fact Sheet and Sign-Off Form, and the program guidelines to the Grants and Contracts Administration. Your blue form should have the signatures of your department head(s) at this point. The full proposal with blue sign-off form attached will be reviewed by Grants and Contracts and then distributed for administrative approval and sign-off. At a minimum, the Grants and Contracts Administration staff should receive the budget and a detailed abstract of the project which can be used to obtain signature approval of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Business and Finance, and the President. Allow 5 working days for the signoff/approval and mailing process.
The process requires approval by the Vice President for Academic Affairs for all aspects of the activity, particularly as it affects faculty assignments, release time and replacements. The Vice President for Business and Finance must review the budget for approval. If the budget is in accord with University policy, and all other parts of the proposal are acceptable to the University, your proposal will be approved.
Once these approvals have been obtained, the President is given the proposal for final review and approval. It is a courtesy to allow at least one full working day for the President to review and remember to allow a minimum of five (5) working days for the total sign-off/approval process.
Grants and Contracts staff will make a final copy for submission to the agency, prepare multiple copies, mail packets, etc. as needed.
Sign-off is that process by which all aspects of the proposal can be reviewed and approved by the designated University administrators. The sequence of sign-off and approval is as follows:
1.) Department Head - (if more than one department is involved, each department head must sign and approve the proposal)
2.) Occasionally, based on the activity and the requirements of the funding agency, other departments and units of the institution may be asked to review and sign-off as well.
3.) Vice-President for Academic Affairs
4.) Vice-President for Business and Finance
6.) When signed/approved by all of the above the proposal returns to the Grants and Contracts department for final processing, copying, etc. for mailing, by the published deadline, to the indicated agency.
The PI is responsible for obtaining the signatures from department head(s).
Grants and Contracts Responsibility
Once department head(s) have signed the blue form, the sign-off form and the proposal can be given to Grants and Contracts. Grants and Contracts staff will then arrange for the balance of the administrative review and approval. All signatures, as required by NGCSU, the Board of Regents, the University System of Georgia, and the sponsoring agency, must be obtained before a proposal can leave the NGCSU campus.
Note: Failure to obtain review and approval may result in refusal to accept the award by North Georgia College & State University.
Should your proposal not be approved for any reason, the administrator declining to sign the Sign-Off Form will inform the Director of Grants and Contracts. The Director will contact the proposal writer(s) and attempt to resolve the problem. If necessary the proposal will be pulled and the PI(s) will be asked to re-consider the project.
Note: All proposals require review by the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Business and Finance, and the review and signature of the President, even in those few instances in which the sponsoring agencies may not require it.
2.3 Application Procedures
Application for financial support from sponsoring agencies is accomplished by the submission of a formal grant proposal, which has passed through the internal review process. The proposal is the document on which the University and the sponsor base their commitments of funds, facilities, and services for the performance of the research or project.
The written proposal may be the only contact that the funding agency's evaluation committee has with the project. It is essential that the proposal be technically sound and clearly written. The proposal must address the requirements listed in the guidelines or request for proposal (RFP) and describe the project in the clearest possible terms. Funding agencies review and evaluate proposals with reference to four major considerations:
(a) The significant results to be obtained from the research project,
(b) The resources required to conduct the project in terms of existing and projected commitments of the agency and the University,
(c) The cost effectiveness and efficiency of the project, and
(d) The competency of the investigator to undertake the proposed research.
Other criteria may also exist as set by various organizations and the PI is expected to carefully review the guidelines to determine that his/her proposal meets all funding criteria. The Grants and Contracts office will, if given sufficient time, review the proposal prior to submission to ascertain its completeness.
Most sponsors furnish standard application forms, which must be used, (If requested, staff in the Grants and Contracts Administration will obtain these forms for you.) In the absence of specified forms and proposal formats, use the sample format which follows. During preliminary planning, the PI should consult with Grants and Contracts staff to obtain all guidelines and forms. The sample format (following) covers all the major elements identified by most grants administrators as essential to a sound proposal.
SAMPLE FORMAT Title Page
This page should include the following information:
(a) short title that gives a clear indication of the essential nature of the project,
(b) name and address of the agency to which the proposal is being submitted,
(c) name, title, address, and telephone number of the PI,
(d) name and address of the University,
(e) date of project duration (the starting date being set no later than the date when the first formal commitment for equipment or personnel must be made),
(f) total estimated cost of the project,
(g) signature of the PI, and
(h) signature and title of the University President, who is the sole authority for approving and accepting grants at North Georgia College & State University .
The abstract should be written in simple straightforward language. All pertinent aspects of the sponsored activity, including a summary of the objectives and a description of the results to be expected, should be contained in the abstract. Most abstracts for grant purposes run fewer than 350 words and are limited to one double-spaced typed page or less.
Table of Contents
A separate page showing the major sections of the proposal, with referenced page numbers, is sufficient in most instances. Your proposal should be numbered sequentially and every page should be numbered. This protects you if your proposal gets 'messed up' somewhere along the way.
The introduction should be a statement containing information about the region, the University, your college and your department, the objectives of the research and background information leading into the body of the proposal.
This section includes at least the following elements:
(a) a statement of the problem and objectives,
(b) a review of the literature and related research, in terms of need for the project,
(c) hypotheses to be tested or results expected,
(d) research design, methodology, and evaluation, and
(e) benefit of effort (increase in knowledge, new curriculum, etc.).
Remember: The descriptions may vary considerably in design, in view of the specific intentions of the proposal or the procedures and traditions of a particular discipline.
List such items as laboratory equipment and apparatus, laboratory space, field resources, library services, data processing capabilities, and other institutional services. Include an explanation of any equipment you propose to buy with grant funds. Include any University facilities to be utilized in conjunction with the proposed project. If appropriate, discuss handicapped access.
Vitae and bibliographic information on the PI and other professionals are necessary in this section. Your vita should be SHORT. This means usually no more than two to three pages. Always put only what is relevant for the particular project you are working on at the moment and leave out everything else! Many agencies are getting very demanding about size of vitae.
Describe the number and academic level of any graduate and undergraduate assistants, as well as secretarial and clerical personnel who will work on the project. Frequently a short description will be appropriate here with full vitae included only for key personnel in the Appendix.
Describe the entire length of the project, from anticipated date of award through the final reporting period. Often the entire length of the project extends beyond the period for which initial funds are requested. Time lines, PERT charts or other means of identifying the activity schedule are valuable in this section.
The budget must be a carefully considered, accurate cost statement, which is second in importance only to the central project idea. To assure conformity with University and sponsoring agency policies, the budget should be reviewed by Grants and Contracts staff prior to finalizing the proposal. Be sure your budget numbers add up!
Budget Explanation (Budget Narrative)
Often the budget page is accompanied by additional pages (the budget narrative) explaining the distribution of salaries and wages, nature of fringe benefits, prices of equipment, categories of travel expenditures, major supply items, and computation of indirect costs. The Grants and Contracts Administration will provide assistance in development and format for the budget and budget narrative if requested. Never make your reader guess about how you arrived at a particular amount.
It is the responsibility of the PI to know the deadlines for submission of the proposal and to allow adequate time for the institutional review process and for proposal preparation, printing, and mailing.
Five working days are required for the review process. In most cases, this time is sufficient for approval of a final draft, plus printing the required number of copies, packaging and mailing. Every effort will be made to expedite the local review process and help the PI obtain the necessary local approvals. Time to review is essential to the completion of a competitive proposal. Grants and Contracts staff will do everything possible to get proposals approved and meet submission deadlines.
2.5 Sponsor's Evaluation
Sponsors usually outline the criteria used to evaluate proposals sent to them. An applicant has a better probability of receiving an award when the agency's purposes and funding criteria are considered in the preparation of a proposal. In most cases, the prospective sponsor considers:
(a) Significance. The project should focus on problems of major importance. The anticipated outcome of the project should produce results of potential value to others. There should be a clear prospect of accomplishing the proposed project. The PI should be concerned with the development of new knowledge applicable to the problem or one which can be defined as a test of previous assumptions or conclusions.
(b) Design or Operational Plan. The problem should be well defined. The purpose and value of the project, its plan of development, method of approach, expected outcome, and need for implementation should be clear. The proposal should reflect a familiarity with the historical background of the problem, an awareness of similar projects that have been previously undertaken, and an adequate knowledge of other related activities. Questions to be answered and hypotheses to be tested should be well formulated and clearly stated. The proposal should fully outline the procedure to be followed and include information on applicable points such as sampling techniques, controls, types of data to be gathered, and statistical analyses to be completed. Evaluation procedures should be clearly stated and related to each stated activity goal.
(c) Personnel and Facilities. The role of all professional personnel involved in the project should be clearly stated. The applicant should have facilities available which are adequate for carrying out the project. The PI should have a history of professional experience in the project area or a clearly demonstrated competence for conducting work in that area.
(d) Economic Efficiency. The proposal should be reasonable in terms of overall costs. Emphasis should be given to the favorable relationship between probable results and total expenditures. The period of time required for efficient production should be clearly stated and a general timetable provided. Any parallel requests for support from other agencies for the same project should be indicated. Many agencies require matching funds. The ratio of requested or matching (in-kind) contributions must be addressed in the budget and budget narrative.
2.6 Proposal Rejections
It is the policy of North Georgia College & State University to ask each applicant to request a critique of all proposals not accepted for funding. These reviews provide valuable information for investigators and for Grants and Contracts staff to utilize in subsequent proposals which the University may submit to the same agency. Critiques are kept with non-funded proposals and are invaluable for future proposal preparation. In addition to a sponsor's lack of funds for project support, the most common reasons for proposal rejections are:
(a) guidelines were not followed,
(b) the project did not respond directly to the sponsor's priorities or mission,
(c) the research plan and objectives were not clear,
(d) the proposal contained poor methodology or research design,
(e) the applicant displayed a lack of knowledge or the proposal duplicated previous work,
(f) the applicant's qualifications and experience were not sufficient or appropriate to the planned activity,
(g) the budget request was unreasonable in terms of the projected outcomes or proposed timetable, and
(h) the project could not reasonably be completed in the time proposed.
Rejection need not be the end for a good idea -- it should be viewed as just a stop in the road, a new place to begin. Once you receive all the reviewer's comments, you can take the next step:
(a) rewrite the proposal and re-submit for the next competition
(b) find a new agency to submit the proposal to
(c) consider new ways of presentation; a joint proposal with another researcher, working through a consortium, or some other cooperative method.
3.1 Fiscal Considerations
The budget of a grant proposal is second in importance only to the description of the principal ideas of the project. While budget preparation requires special consideration to comply with the various policies of the University and the funding agency, the budget statement is a straightforward discussion of how you plan to spend grant funds. The Grants and Contracts staff can play a valuable role in this phase of your proposal preparation by offering suggestions and coordinating your efforts with the Grant and Contracts Accountant in the Office of Business and Finance.
If the funding agency provides a specific budget form, it must be used. In most cases, special forms will be included by the agency as part of the application package. It is always useful to prepare a detailed budget breakdown for your proposal even though the special budget page is all that is required for your application to the agency. This breakdown, or line item budget, will help you calculate the financial support required for the various components of your project; personnel time and costs for the project staff, travel, equipment, etc. as well as any allowable facilities and administrative (indirect) costs. A line item budget also allows for an easier internal review by the University administrators. A line item budget is also invaluable in determining the actual extent of any University commitment (matching or cost sharing on a cash or in-kind basis) included in the proposal.
(a) Review the rules and regulations for the budget, as provided in the agency's guidelines. Ask for help from the Grants and Contracts staff if you need it.
(b) Calculate the amount of time that you and other professionals involved in the project will have to contribute.
(c) Calculate the time required for assistants and secretarial or clerical help, consultants, honoraria, travel, lodging, and subsistence.
(d) Estimate costs for equipment, ($3,000 or more for State, $5,000 or more for Federal), supplies, printing, duplication, media services, staff services, postage, telephone, data processing time, etc. Determine what items can be supplied on-campus and what will have to be purchased from off-campus vendors. Get accurate quotes on all items. Sometimes it may be necessary to obtain multiple quotes on high cost equipment.
(e) Contact the Personnel Office (Grants and Contracts can assist, too) to determine appropriate salary and wage statements for project staff, fringe benefits (when applicable), and procedures for hiring staff, if funded. Currently (effective July 1, 2005) the fringe benefit percentage in use at NGCSU is 25% (approximation).
(f) Calculate the indirect costs (44%) for the project period for facilities and administrative costs not covered in a direct cost line item. Take 44% of the Personnel and Fringe Benefit line items. Indirect costs are considered general revenue for the university and, in essence, reimburse the institution for the expense of having the project on campus, and are added to the direct cost of the project to give a total project cost.
(g) Grants and Contracts staff will assist you with the preparation of the final copy of the budget, including all appropriate forms to be included in the proposal application. Most of these forms are accessible online and many can be completed online as well.
(h) The final budget is included with the narrative portion of the application and processed through institutional review.
3.3 Direct Costs
Budgets are composed of two primary categories; direct costs and facilities and administrative costs (indirect). Direct costs include all items that can be categorically identified and charged directly to the specific project. Most sponsors allow direct costs funding for the following categories:
(a) Personnel Calculate the percent of time spent on the project for each individual and prorate the salary for the proposed implementation period of the grant. All personnel decisions should be cleared with your department head and dean prior to final budget preparation.
1.) Principal investigator or project director. Cost is based on salary of the selected individual for the percentage of time devoted to the activity.
2.) Other on-campus professionals: This includes faculty replacement costs through use of part-time instructors. Cost is calculated on the cost of the replacement faculty, or other professionals, based on the time (days, months, number of classes to teach, etc.). To obtain an accurate dollar cost check with your Department Head or the Personnel Office for current pay range.
3.) Undergraduate students also may be employed through funded projects as student assistants. A Student Assistant is not a College Work Study Student. Students on the College Work-Study Program (CWSP) may not be paid from a second source of federal funds. Although the PI is responsible for the selection and hiring of all such assistants, appointment forms must be processed through the usual University channels. Pay scale should conform to that current within the University for student workers. Student Assistants are paid the current minimum wage.
4.) Technicians, statisticians, and other professionals can be employed under sponsored projects. All University personnel regulations, as well as the regulations of the funding agency, must be adhered to regarding advertising the position(s), interviewing and hiring. North Georgia College & State University is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate regarding race, sex or disability.
5.) Secretarial and all other clerical help necessary for the performance of the funded project must be hired in strict compliance with all University and funding agency regulations (see technicians, etc. above). Many Federal agencies now consider clerical support as included in the Facilities and Administrative (Indirect) Costs factor and will not pay for these as a line item charge. Be sure to check the guidelines carefully and if in doubt contact the agency to clarify this point.
6.) Personnel Hired under a Grant: Personnel hired under the auspices of a funded project are classified as temporary, soft money personnel.
(a) PIs should recognize that such personnel in this category receive appropriate salary, duties, responsibilities, and benefits comparable to those for individuals in similar positions elsewhere in the University. The PI should consult with the Personnel Office on the NGCSU campus concerning current or projected salaries for these positions.
(b) All personnel hired under a specific award/grant must be informed by the PI that their employment period coincides with the award period, and that the University cannot assure continued employment beyond the period for which grant funds are available.
(b) Fringe Benefits Fringe benefits accompanying salaries paid by the grant must also be charged to the grant. Consultants are not eligible to receive fringe benefits. The Personnel Office or the Grants and Contracts Administration can provide details of fringe benefits for salaried personnel. The current fringe benefit calculation is based on a 25% of 'fringable' salaries and wages for 12 month and 9 month salaried personnel. Always check with the personnel office or the Grants and Contracts office to be sure these rates have not changed.
(c) Consultants Outside consultants may be paid through grant funds. North Georgia College & State University does not have set fees and hourly rates for consultants; individual agreements are based on the nature of the consultation. However, all honoraria, consultants' fees, travel expenses, subsistence, and related expenses must conform to established University policy for reimbursement.
(d) Subcontractors If subcontracts are essential to the successful completion of a sponsored program, a contract shall be drawn between the University and the sub-contractor. Contact the Grants and Contracts Department staff to set up any contract. There are University requirements as well as state and federal regulations that may come into play with any contract.
(e) Travel All travel paid from grant funds must conform to University travel policies as stated in the Faculty Handbook. The University reimburses for expenses incurred in making approved trips, according to the following procedure:
1.) Expenses must be itemized in detail on the weekly travel expense statement.
2.) Receipts for hotel bills must be attached to the request for reimbursement.
3.) Travel by private automobile is currently reimbursed on a per mile basis ($ .28 per mile). In addition, the reverse side of the weekly travel expense statement must be completed in detail regarding places visited and the actual mileage. Rental cars should be arranged at 'least cost' fees and may be, in some instances, preferable to personal auto use. The University encourages the use of a rental car whenever there is a cost saving possible.
4.) Transportation by commercial transport (air, rail, and bus) will be by minimum fare service. Ticket stubs must be submitted as evidence of this expenditure.
5.) Receipts for meals are not required for reimbursement but should be obtained to verify actual expenditures. Meals are reimbursable at the current rate of $36 per day (see Appendix E for current rate), including tax and tips.
6.) Receipts for Taxi fares, and other such out-of-pocket expenses, must be presented for reimbursement.
Note: This statement of travel considerations is intended solely as a guideline for the grant proposal writer. It should not be construed as complete or authoritative. Always consult Office of Business and Finance or Grants and Contracts staffs for details of current travel policy should you have any questions.
(f) Equipment Equipment may be purchased or rented, according to the policies of the grantor under the program guidelines. The equipment budget should reflect the price of freight, installation costs, and maintenance contracts, as appropriate.
(g) Supplies and Materials Supplies and consumable materials should be itemized on the budget explanation (narrative) page.
(h) Other Direct Costs These costs are items that can be identified and related to the project and not included in the Facilities and Administrative (Indirect) costs calculations:
1.) Communications - costs of telephone, electronic communications.
2.) Computer time - Consult the Office of Information & Instructional Technology for current rates.
3.) Publication charges, graphics and printing, duplication, media services, final report costs, etc. (University regulations apply as do program guidelines).
4.) Miscellaneous costs such as postage, telephone, FAX, and any other items necessary to successful project operation that can be reasonably identified as a line item.
3.4 Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs (Indirect Costs)
The University's calculated indirect cost rate is 44% of salaries and wages only. This rate was negotiated with the Department of Health and Human Services, the cognizant agency for the institution.
The Facilities and Administrative costs are those that have been incurred for common or joint objectives of the University and the sponsored program and which, therefore, cannot be identified specifically in reference to a particular project. Facilities and Administrative costs include items such as building operation and maintenance, laboratory space, library services, utilities, and administrative services. Indirect costs related to the conduct of a sponsored program are just as real as the direct costs and ultimately must be provided for either by the sponsor or by the University.
All externally funded projects and research will provide for indirect cost recovery unless prohibited by law or state or federal regulations. An indirect cost rate based on an audit by a department of the federal government is assigned to the University at selected intervals. Since this rate is subject to change, the PI should contact the Grants and Contracts Administration for the current indirect cost percentage.
North Georgia College & State University has a policy of requesting and recovering the total allowable indirect costs for all Grants and Contracts, unless prohibited by a specific program's guidelines. Exceptions may be made in some instances and should be discussed with the Director of Grants and Contracts. Decisions on Facilities and Administrative costs are made on a case by case basis.
When a rate lower than the one established for the University (44%) is accepted the difference between the two rates would be shown, if permitted by the funding agency, as a contribution by the University.
3.6 Cost Sharing and Matching Funds
Federal research grants generally serve the objectives of both the institution and the federal government. Therefore, cost sharing is frequently required in many Grants and Contracts and may be accomplished through:
(a) Limitation of the proportion of indirect costs payable by the sponsoring agency,
(b) Continued payment by the University of part or all of the salary of faculty members or professional personnel participating in the sponsored program,
(c) In-kind matching of University expenses such as the use of buildings, computer time not charged as direct costs, secretarial and clerical help, and administrative services in support of a sponsored program, and
(d) Payment by the institution of a portion of selected direct costs, such as equipment.
Many agencies require matching funds as a form of cost sharing. To the greatest extent possible, the requirement for matching funds will be met by a statement of in-kind services. Any questions regarding commitment of NGCSU resources should be discussed with Sponsored Programs staff. The amount of the University's cost share is subject to federal audit and records of such cost sharing will be maintained by the NGCSU Grants Manager in the NGCSU Business Office.
3.7 Reassigned Work Load (Release Time)
It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to make arrangements with the Department Head and the Dean for any reassignment of workload required by the proposed research. The reassigned workload must be clearly described, including the dollar value, on the blue sign-off form prior to submission. Final approval of any release time or reassignment rests with the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Reassigned workload may be in the form of time donated by the University on a cost-sharing basis or that which is paid for by the granting agency. The amount of required release time varies with the nature of different proposals.
3.8 Proposal Negotiation
The Grants and Contracts Administration serves as the University's coordination point for all negotiations with funding agencies. It is the intention of the Director of Grants and Contracts to coordinate University-grantor relations during pre-award and post-award negotiations in such a manner as to facilitate the award process and present a uniform University position during the negotiation process. Frequently a PI will be contacted FIRST to negotiate his/her award. The PI is encouraged to work with the Grants and Contracts staff to develop the best response in the negotiation process.
Normally, budget negotiations require simple verification of salary, fringe benefits, indirect costs, reductions/changes in some line items, or clarification of the University's cost sharing or matching funds commitments.
Whenever a budget change occurs in the pre-award negotiations, the PI must prepare a new budget reflecting all changes and reroute the revised budget for local review (from Department Head to President). Once approved by the University, the revised budget will be submitted, in writing, to the funding agency. The PI must always have full institutional review and approval before a revised budget is submitted to a funding agency. Any negotiated/revised budget must be rerouted through University review channels for sign-off and approval before the budget can be sent to the agency.
If the funding agency requires a budget reduction, the principal investigator must also be concerned with the scope of the work. Reductions in the budget may create changes in the scope of the work. To maintain credibility with the funding agency, the PI should consider a work reduction commensurate with any substantial budget reduction. Discussion with Grants and Contracts staff can help determine how to respond to such agency requests.
Often personal and professional relationships develop between individual faculty members and agency staff personnel. The Director of Sponsored Programs encourages the development and maintenance of good contacts and informal discussions with the granting agency personnel. Such informal discussions, however, should never be construed as either agency or University commitments. Written notification of all awards, negotiation activities and acceptances, even when prior word is received through other means, is necessary. No University account will be set up without full and formal notification of the award. This is a matter of University policy and any questions regarding this policy should be discussed with the Director of Grants and Contracts and the Grants Manager.
4.1 Post-Award Procedure Management - General
Post-award administration is the term used for all grants management activities after an award is received. This includes the initial authority to spend the grant money through the fiscal closeout and final reports at the end of the grant period. The post-award section of this manual contains information on obtaining authority necessary to establish accounts, expend funds, and manage and document expenditures. The responsibilities of the principal investigator are described in some detail in this section, as are the services of the Grants and Contracts staff.
In the preparation of this handbook, attention was given to the general requirements of federal grants. There has been no attempt to cover all of the specific regulations for all federal and non-federal agencies and their various programs. With the advent of Web access to documents such as OMB´s A-21 or EDGAR are available to any PI through the use of the Internet. A working knowledge of these documents will assist the PI in managing his/her award properly.
The principal investigator is responsible for strict adherence to the regulations governing any externally funded program. For this reason, it is imperative that every PI make an effort to gain as complete knowledge of federal and University regulations concerning expenditures of grant money as possible. Any questions should be directed to the Grants and Contracts Accountant (fiscal matters) and/or the Sponsored Programs staff.
4.2 Acceptance of Funds
The President of the University formally accepts all sponsored projects funds/awards. Normally, award notices from federal agencies are directed to the President, with a copy to the principal investigator. In some instances, the notice may go only to one or the other. However, the President of the University is always the individual authorized to accept the award by signing the appropriate forms just as the President was the authorized signature allowing submission of the proposal.
When a grant award notification is received, the PI should examine the document for possible administrative errors or omissions. The PI should send a copy of the award letter to the Grants and Contracts Administration as soon after receiving it as possible. This award letter is the key to starting the process of obtaining a NGCSU account, without which no funds can be spent by the PI.
At all steps in the process of acceptance, account set-up and reporting, the Grants and Contracts Office staff will assist the PI as needed. Any questions about any part of the procedure may be directed to the office staff for clarification or assistance. The Grants Manager will assist the PI s in account management and maintains up to date fiscal records of all awards.
4.3 Establishing an Account
The Grants and Contracts Administration, upon receipt of the award notification, will notify the Grants Manager of the award. The Accountant will obtain an account number, set up the file, and arrange with the PI for a formal request for the money, following the grantor's specified procedures or the initial payment by the sponsoring agency.
The PI must have a NGCSU-assigned account number before committing any of the grant funds. Regardless of the funding source of any grant, all expenditures must comply with the guidelines of the sponsor and with those existing for the University, the Board of Regents, and relevant state policies. Any anticipated variances with established policy must be discussed with the Grants Manager in detail and must be approved by the Director of Grants and Contracts, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Business and Finance.
4.4 Managing and Documenting Expenditures
The PI should maintain a close working relationship with the Grants Manager throughout the project. In this manner the PI and the Accountant can monitor and manage the award money in an appropriate fashion.
Fiscal reports and requests to draw down funds are processed by the Grants Manager, not the Principal Investigator. This means that all expenditures, including equipment purchase requests, must be routed through this office for budget review and compliance with all purchase regulations prior to actual purchase. Expenditures for equipment over $3,000 must be approved first by the Director of Grants and Contracts who will verify that such expenditures are appropriate to the grant.
The Grants Manager prepares monthly statements for the PI, final statements of the account and calls to the PI's attention any unexpended funds, whenever possible.
4.5 Responsibilities of the Principal Investigator
It is the PI's responsibility to maintain oversight of the account and to contact the Grants Manager and/or the Grants and Contracts staff about any questions or discrepancies regarding the account. Acceptance of a sponsored program award by the University commits the University and the PI to conduct the program in a professional manner and in accordance with the policies of the funding agency. It is the responsibility of the PI to ensure that the research effort or program is commensurate with the expectations of the grantor and with the highest ideals of professional inquiry. Although the PI is responsible to the funding agency for conducting a particular project, the normal supervisory relationship between the University and the PI is not altered. The ultimate accountability for any sponsored project rests with the University.
The PI should remember that the support of the various administrative units of the University is available during the conduct of the sponsored activity. Bypassing these units (Department Head, Dean, Sponsored Programs, Vice President for Business and Finance, and Vice President for Academic Affairs) could result in problems or difficulties with acceptance of a grant award.
Throughout the entire implementation of the project, the Principal Investigator must take care to document all activities to ensure proper reporting of all activities and expenditures as required by the sponsor.
4.6 Helpful Suggestions for the Principal Investigator
(a) Do not incur fiscal obligations under new or renewed projects until authority to expend has been received and an appropriate account number has been assigned.
(b) Seek budget negotiation coordination from Grants and Contracts staff.
(c) Read the award guidelines and budget carefully to ensure proper management of the award.
(d) Do not purchase equipment during the last three months of a federal grant. The auditor may disallow the cost of the equipment purchased near the end of a grant.
(e) Under ordinary circumstances, PIs should not order supplies during the last month of a grant.
(f) Verify all charges on the grant with the Grants Manager before such financial commitments are made. Common budget items and recurring expenses, such as salaries, may be verified when the account is established.
(g) Process all budgetary adjustments through the Grants Manager to avoid audit disallowances.
(h) Monitor the grant expenses and encumbrances monthly as a check on the remaining funds. Access to online accounts will be provided for your use in tracking expenditures and fund balances. Accounts are now viewable online and can be checked easily and at your discretion.
(i) Do not make expenditures on a terminated grant account while awaiting assignment of a new account number for a renewal grant.
(j) Do not incur obligations if you have any doubts as to their allowability. Always check with the agency contact for your award and the Grants Manager or the Grants and Contracts staff.
(k) Submit required periodic and final reports on time. Fiscal reports are provided through the Grants Manager for inclusion in reports. Always check with the Grants Manager regarding expenditures and to obtain the current fiscal report prior to completing any activity reports.
(l) The Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance has the fiscal responsibility of ensuring that your award is administered in accordance with the regulations of the funding agency and the University. Questions regarding the correctness of planned expenditures should always be cleared through this office. Your first point of contact for any fiscal questions should be the Grants Manager.