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Wayne State University

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Dec 17 / RAS

Fringepocalypse Redux

The October 1 fringe rate adjustment has been rolled back to the pre-October rates.  That is, the 26.6% combination that was previously in place is now in place again, replacing the 21.4% combo that was temporarily in place.  This will remain (we think) until October 1, 2015, when the rate will be revisited again.  These rates have been in effect since November 17, so all proposals since that time period should use these rates (note that we are back to nine classes); any proposals that went out with the four-class rates will still be charged at the currently enacted rate, should they be funded.

 

Note that a BAO memo was released earlier this week, clarifying the steps taken to ensure rate adherence in the system.  The re-updated values have been entered into Banner to identify the rates for each corresponding e-class, effective October 1, 2014. This update has been done and should be reflected with Pay Period 25, so be sure your personnel are aligned to match their new/old classes.  Budget adjustments on affected indexes will also be enacted to make up for previous adjustments and reclassifications on the 4-class rate.

 

We know this can be confusing.  We’re happy to help you sort things out if you’re not quite sure what you are seeing on your accounts.  Give us a shout if you need us!

Dec 10 / RAS

Internal Affair

Many submissions have been initiated for the internal funding competitions sponsored by OVPR (Office of the Vice President for Research).  If you haven’t already, take a look at the existing funding programs and see if they align with your needs!

 

When you’re applying, keep these two important points in mind:

 

  1. Look carefully at the instructions.  It doesn’t jump out at you, but they do require that all applications be submitted as a single PDF file (uploaded into eProp, of course!)
  2. Your eProp completion date is NOT your submission date.  When reviewing applications, OVPR considers the date of submission the day that the eProp has cleared the queue and made it to the OVPR approver.  This means that all of your departmental approvals have to be obtained before the posted due date to be considered on time and eligible for consideration.

 

Most of the confusion experienced so far has stemmed from these procedural issues.  Let us know if we can help with further clarification!

Dec 3 / RAS

Getting Closure

Now that we’re firmly planted in the month of December, it will help to keep in mind that many offices close for a period of time during the holidays; this can affect your application and submission schedule.

 

Our office (here in 1271 Scott Hall) will be closed on December 25, 2014 through January 2, 2015; we’ll be back on January 5, 2015.  Many agencies have similar closures, so check with your program officers if you have progress reports due or other submissions that may require input.  Remember that electronic submission procedures mean that materials are automatically time-stamped, whether there is personnel in the office or not!  Most agencies follow the NIH policy: when a postmark/submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day. If your award cycle has your progress report deadline set for January 1, for instance, you can wait to submit on January 2 as January 1 is recognized as a Federal holiday.  But if your date is December 30, that deadline is hard and fast; even if there are no staffers in an agency office, that report will need to be in on December 30.

 

As long as you keep holiday schedules in mind when planning your resources and time commitments, December shouldn’t cramp your submission style.  Be sure to check agency post-holiday deadlines so you can plan accordingly.  NIH lists their standard due dates here, and the collection curated by the SOM Development Office (linked on our Current Research Opportunities page) also provides a deadlines.  We’re here if you have any questions!

 

Nov 26 / RAS

Your Vacation Could Be a Real Turkey

The issue of unused leave at retirement or termination has been a real eyebrow-raiser at the institutional level when it comes to the new Uniform Guidance.  There was language added in the UG – which was NOT in the proposed guidance – regarding a cash basis of accounting, making unused leave payments allowable as an indirect cost. But salary and fringes have always been treated as direct costs; is this an inconsistency?  Does this mean that other funding mechanisms are not?  What are the implications if it is over the 26% cap?  How does this affect accrual-based institutions (like Wayne State)?

 

Some suggestions have been made that include negotiating with the cognizant agency (in our case, DHHS) to put this benefit into the fringe rate, to be charged to all sources of funding.  Is this legitimate?  What do you think?  Take a look at the video provided by NCURA, see if you recognize and of WSU’s policies in the discussion, and be on the lookout for changes as more clarity is provided on UG:

 

Nov 19 / RAS

IRB-al Remedies

IRB Operations Manager Corey Zolondek recently released three new versions of institutional review board (IRB) forms to better reflect federal guidelines.  For exempt review, both the Medical Exempt Protocol Summary form and the Behavioral/Social/Education Exempt Protocol Summary form are new versions, with questions rewritten to better indicate whether the proposed research meets the federal requirements for an exemption. For the appendices, Appendix C: Children as Research Participants has also been updated to include a request for a risk assessment for control/placebo groups with children;  the form also more clearly presents federal requirements for research on wards.  The use of these forms will be mandatory beginning January 15, 2015.

 

Though they still have October 2013 form dates, minor changes have been made to the following forms as well and it is strongly recommended that these versions are used; many questions have been rewritten to help investigators avoid common issues:

Medical/Behavioral Protocol Summary Form (Expedited and Full Board)  | Expedited Medical/Behavioral Amendment Submission Form  |  Full Board Medical/Behavioral Amendment Submission Form  |  Appendix B: Internet Use in Research  |  Unexpected Problem Report Form

 

Nov 12 / RAS

Credit Where Credit Is Due

This is just a quick reminder to ensure that you are identifying the “Division” on your SF424 proposal packages as “Schools of Medicine”.  This is the identifier category used when crediting the School of Medicine with award dollars, and any other unrecognized term will result in uncredited monies (thus dropping our rankings). “Schools of Medicine” is the recognized NIH “acceptable major component code.”

 

Stay tuned for more information in coming weeks about officially recognized department names!

 

 

division_schools_of_medicine

 

 

 

 

Nov 5 / RAS

Cloudy with a Chance of Overspending

November is quite a popular month for budget forecasting and cost projection among departments.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re doing your calculations:

 

  1. Remember, our fringe rates have changed!  Gone are the days of 26.6%; we now have four rates that are divided in very different ways than they have been in the past.  On sponsored projects, this is most often going to look like 21.4% for your faculty researchers and 33.0% for your non-faculty research personnel (research assistants, associates, etc.)  There are, however, many different ways the rates will be applied!  To make sure you are calculating your forecasts correctly, check the E-Class designation for each of your personnel and compare it to the current composite fringe benefit rates chart.  Remember, just because it was awarded when the previous rates were in effect does not mean that the calculations stay the same for the life of the project.
  2. You don’t have to factor in termination payouts.  If you have personnel on grants that you know will be retiring or leaving, there is a designated account for termination payouts so your project funds are not harshly impacted.  for more information on this payout structure, contact SPA.
  3. Consider asking your PIs to do an inventory of their cages if they are working with animals.  A per-cage charge may be inaccurately reflected in your projections if more or less cages are being used than originally anticipated at budget time.
  4. Tuition may not hit at the time of the grant.  Make sure you account for future costs – such as tuition that is budgeted but not yet spent – that may not be projectable based on current/past expenditures.

 

For tips on calculations quasi-forensic forecasting, contact RAS anytime… we’ve all been here too!

Oct 22 / RAS

Are Those Extensions?

As we draw nearer to the implementation of the Super Circular, our friends at NCURA continue to put out some very helpful vlogs (video logs) on some of the highlighted changes.  There is a new rule for indirect cost rate negotiations, in fact, that now allows a one-time, four-year extension on current negotiated rates.  This is governed by section 200.414 (linked, for your reading pleasure); you can check out the short NCURA video here:

 

 

The possibility of a rate extension theoretically saves universities (and other entities) time and negotiation resources by allowing for the postponement of the process.  Of course, the costs associated with the preparation of the proposal for the extension itself are other other consideration factors. What is your opinion on the effect of this change; will it save administrative burden as intended?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Oct 15 / RAS

You’re Certifiable

It’s that time of year again: effort reporting and certification is upon us.  Wayne State relies upon effort reporting for faculty and staff on grants to confirm that salaries and wages charged to sponsored projects are reasonable for the agreements in place and the actual work performed.  Without effort reporting and certification compliance, financial penalties and expenditure disallowances could result.

 

In order to help navigate the effort certification system, the folks at CLAS put together some very helpful materials:

 

And for further reading on the process itself, check out SPA’s effort reporting page.  If you have any difficulty with the system or figuring out who needs to certify whom, RAS has been there and can offer guidance!