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Wayne State University

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Mar 25 / RAS

Fast Times at NSF

The National Science Foundation recently announced their transition of the “Notifications and Requests” function from FastLane to Research.gov. Starting April 27, 2015, recipients can create and submit three new types of budget-related requests on Research.gov: salaries of administrative or clerical staff, travel costs for dependents, and additional categories of participant support costs other than those described in 2 CFR § 200.75 (such as, incentives, gifts, souvenirs, t-shirts and/or memorabilia). All other existing notifications and requests will continue to reside in FastLane and will be migrated in the future. For more information, see the notifications and requests informational page.

 

This is just one piece of the NSF effort to “modernize FastLane.” It is NSF’s goal to eventually replace FastLane with Research.gov completely, but that is still years away.  For more information on the functionality of Research.gov and what you can expect to migrate, take some time with Research.gov’s FAQ page.  If you’re not sure if whether you should be using Research.gov or FastLane (or whether it should be you or your GCO), reach out and we’ll give you a hand!

Mar 18 / RAS

You DO Need Permission to Make Your Own Decision

While it is your prerogative to choose your index when cost sharing is a necessity, you need verification from several sources that your chosen account will support your intention.  Whether your salary is over the cap or sharing is mandated by your announcement, your cost share form (available here, if you need it) needs to pass through a few hands during the preaward phase before it is valid. If you are in the School of Medicine, here are the approvals you need before it goes to SPA:

 

  1. Your department chair.  This is the signature that goes on the “Unit Head” line.  This ensures that your department is aware of the intent to cost share, should the funds get awarded, and is committed to your plan to do so.
  2. Fiscal Affairs. Though no line is present for the Fiscal Affairs signature, it has been made clear that they need to see and approve your cost share plan at both the pre- and post- stage.  This generally goes through the Grants & Contracts Officer in Fiscal Affairs (see their contacts page to make sure you are sending it to the right person).
  3. Vice Dean for Research.  One your cost share form has been returned to you from Fiscal Affairs, you’ll need to send it to the Vice Dean of Research through the Director of Research Administrative Services (that’s us!).  Once the intent to cost share has been recorded here, you’ll get it back with a signature (again, no line on the form for this but it IS necessary) and you can then upload into your eProp.

 

Please keep in mind that if/when your proposal is awarded, you will need approval from Fiscal Affairs a second time; they need to verify that the funds you intended to use for your cost share are still available.  We know this can be a confusing and lengthy process, so please feel free to contact us if you have any problems discerning where to go or projecting accurate figures for your form.  We’re always happy to help!

Mar 11 / RAS

SciENcv: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The new NIH biosketch format will be in effect come May 25, but many PIs and administrators* are choosing to make the switch now to avoid crunch-time headaches.  We’ve mentioned SciENcv before, and don’t panic if new systems set your heart a-flutter: it’s not required.  We do, however, think you should consider the many benefits of using the SciENcv tool:

 

  1. Eliminates the need to repeatedly enter biosketch information.  The first time you enter your information into the system will likely be the most time you will have to have to spend with SciENcv. That said, did you know that you can automatically import your information from your eRACommons profile (or ORCID, if you have one) directly into SciENcv?  It’s true!  And it is editable! This will likely save a lot of time, and may even be faster than cutting and pasting text from your old .doc versions of your biosketch into a new template (see below).
  2. Reduces the administrative burden associated with federal grant submission and reporting requirements. Your biosketch information will always be right where you left it: in the cloud, in your MyNCBI account.  Because SciENcv generates and maintains multiple biosketches from your information (including those for NSF and other federal science agencies), you’ll be able to simply tweak any sections you have saved to align more closely with new applications, click a button, and voila! Your biosketch is generated in proper format, tailored to your specifications.  You can even keep multiple profile versions to correspond with different projects or research interests, and generate different biosketches from each one at a later time.  Additionally, SciENcv allows you to pull your publications directly from your MyNCBI.  Your pubs list is generated for you, and you can decide which ones you want to appear in your list.
  3. Provides access to a researcher-claimed data repository with information on expertise, employment, education, and professional accomplishments. Collaborations, anyone?  You can choose whether or which profiles/biosketches are made public to the research community. You will also be provided a unique link to use to direct people to your profile, for your use.
  4. Allows researchers to describe their scientific contributions in their own language. The new biosketch format includes a description of up to five of your most significant contributions to science; in other words, this is where you get to show off a little.  You don’t have to leave your impact open to reviewer interpretation anymore; tell ‘em what you’ve done!  You also get to use publications in this section to support your affirmations of grandeur; just keep each description to half of a page.

 

Interested in the power of SciENcv but not sure where to start?  Read all about it, check out the YouTube tutorial provided by NIH, or sign yourself up for a free account (either through your eRACommons account or at the SciENcv portal page) and test it out.  For a little more one-on-one assistance, Dr. Katherine Akers in the Shiffman Medical Library is happy to come to your department for a presentation or individual assistance.  Already started and hit a snag?  RAS is always happy to help get you moving again!  If you would prefer not to use SciENcv, you can access an editable Word copy of the May25-required biosketch format, provided by the NIH HERE.

 

*Note: PIs can designate administrators, research assistants, etc. to have access to their biosketches (and publications) through SciENcv, if said PI does not normally assume responsibility for currency his/herself.

Mar 6 / RAS

Guidance on Guidance for the Guidance

Greetings, research community!  As a follow-up to our Wednesday post, we’d like to draw your attention to a new resource on our homepage: Uniform Guidance Changes for 2015.  In this document, we’ve highlighted the major changes and how they might affect your proposals going forward.  Let us know if you have questions!

Mar 4 / RAS

The Very Model of a Modern Major General Conditions Guideline

The NIH announced on February 5, 2015 their guide to NIH-specific implementation of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)’s Uniform Guidelines (UG), in place since December 26, 2014.  The NIH Interim Grant General Conditions apply to all new and supplemental funding provided by Notices of Award issued on or after December 26, 2014; they contain no surprises if you’ve been keeping up with the road to implementation!  If you need a refresher on how we got here, take a look at some of our older posts, like Super Circular, Super Fun, which highlights some of the new provisions in the UG; and Ch-Ch-Changes, which also has a link to the NIH Administration Timeline.

 

To comb over the NIH Interim Guidelines yourself, the full document can be accessed here.  These will be in effect until an updated NIH Grants Policy Statement is published (which won’t be until after the HHS comment period closes).  NIH has provided a frequently asked questions page regarding the interim guidelines, on which you may be able to find an answer to any general questions you may have.  If your question is more specific than an FAQ page can handle, give us a try!  We’re always happy to help with interpretation and applicability!

 

Update: 03/05/15

Looking for some information on what, exactly, has changed? Check out our handy Uniform Guidance Changes: 2015 page!

Feb 25 / RAS

Taxation with Proper Representation

Documentation of tax withholding is so in right now.  If you’re an employee of the university (or UPG), you’ve probably received your W2 by now (and if not, you can look it up in Academica under Employee Resources > Employee Self Service > Tax Forms).  If you are a research fellow (or if you have fellows in your lab), tax season is a little less clear.  Remember, fellows are not considered employees and are paid by stipend, which is not actual payroll.  In most cases, WSU does not withhold taxes for its U.S. citizen stipend recipients as there is no requirement to do so (the university DOES have withholding and reporting requirements for non-resident alien stipend recipients, however; country-specific tax treaties may apply, so know your country’s rules and take a look at the IRS requirements for international taxpayers if this applies to you).

 

Stipend monies may not be subject to withholding by the university, but that doesn’t mean they are not subject to taxation; they are: all income that doesn’t go directly to tuition, fees and benefits is taxable income.  As non-employees, stipend recipients will receive a Form 1099 instead of a W2.  If you or stipend recipients in your lab have not yet received a 1099, be sure to contact the office of Total Compensation and Wellness here at WSU.  If you have not already, check your quarterly tax reporting requirements.  Some stipend recipients may be subject to the payment of estimated taxes for the calendar year are due in four installments; April 15th, June 16th, September 15th and January 15 to avoid underpayment penalties.  If you’re unsure, check with an accountant to avoid future sanction.

Feb 18 / RAS

Point of Less Return

Last Wednesday afternoon, Wayne State University announced a new indirect cost allocation structure, effective on awards received on or after October 5, 2015.  The new breakdown for distribution is as follows:

 

  • Central Pool – 49%  Central Pool allocations are used to support general fund expenses that support research activities – such as utilities, depreciation and administrative operations.
  • Department – 8%  ICR allocations to the schools, colleges, and divisions are budgeted in the units, to accurately reflect the budgetary control of those resources.  Before 2009, departmental ICR allocations were budgeted from the Division of Research.
  • Research Stimulation – 24%  The Research Stimulation Fund allocation is recorded in a separate, specifically designated budget in the Division of Research.  The Provost has authority delegated by the President to commit these funds.
  • School/College – 5%
  • Investigators – 5%
  • Research Facilities – 9%  The Research Facilities Fund is recorded in Central Accounts; federal regulations require Wayne State University to spend an amount equivalent to the portion of ICR revenues based on faculty and equipment depreciation on the purchase, repair, acquisition, renovation or improvement of research facilities and equipment.

 

To see how this compares to the current indirect cost allocation, take a look at the Wayne State University FY 2015 Budget Book, “General Policies and Practices” on page G-3 (or 125 in the PDF page search function).   You’ll notice that the biggest increase to re-absorption of funds is in “Research Stimulation;” this adjustment was explained as being due to the determination that “Wayne State University was somewhat unusual in the formula that it uses for decentralized distribution of indirect cost funds associated with extramural research funding, which diluted its capacity to strategically reinvest in its research portfolio.” Further, as a whole, the new allocation formula is seen by its creators as reflective of “the commitment of the university to further support our research mission, invest in infrastructure and enable larger programmatic initiatives to tackle major issues facing our community and society at large…”

 

To better understand how and why indirect costs are distributed as they are, the Wayne State Policy manual addresses this in 03-5: Facilities and Administrative Costs Distribution Policy.

Feb 11 / RAS

Tips & Tools: Form and Function

As a reminder, this is the first month in which our new Tips & Tools meeting format will be enacted!  As the overwhelming majority of our attendees voted to put the meeting on a quarterly schedule, we will not have a physical meeting next week.  Our next meeting in Scott Hall will be held on April 15.

 

Can’t wait that long to get the lowdown on what’s new?  Never fear!  As promised, we will still send out a Research Administrator’s Digest on the third Wednesday of each month without a meeting.  Look for us in your inbox next week, and let us know if you have any questions or topics for highlighted discussion!

Feb 4 / RAS

Study Sections: Know Your Place

The NIH loves to have its funded experts confer their vast knowledge on various new perspectives.  After all, what is the point of all that investment without the benefit of leverage?  In order to remove any barriers to expertise, there are deadline privileges that are associated with giving your time to the NIH; but there are separate classifications of study section servitude, and the benefits of each are directly proportional to the amount of time and effort given.  This is extremely important because there is a common misconception that service on study section automatically lends the right to a late proposal review, but this is not so.  Take a look at the difference and know where you qualify before you plan on adjusting your proposal timelines:

 

SINGLE STUDY SECTION SERVICE

The privilege that comes with serving on a single study section is that the NIH considers this service a reason why a late application might be accepted, provided that the service was conferred in the two months preceding or the two months following the deadline; that is, the NIH will take into account service on the section in deciding whether or not to accept the application for review.  Specifically: recent temporary or ad hoc service by a PD/PI that required a commitment of time that could have been used to prepare an application may be an acceptable reason (examples include: serving on an NIH extramural review group, NIH Board of Scientific Counselors or an Advisory Board/Council). For the most recent clarifications on late submission policy and other reasons late submissions might be accepted, take a look at NOT-OD-15-039.

The important thing to note here is that a PI does not have an automatic right to acceptance for review after the deadline by virtue of participating on a study section.  Any reasons for late submission must be in relation to the individual(s) with the PD/PI role on the application; if the NIH does not see a causal link, the application will likely be denied review.

 

CONTINUOUS SUBMISSION

Continuous submission allows members of standing committees (as opposed to temporary or ad hoc) and members with “substantial service” to submit proposals for standing deadlines when they are fully developed.  Eligible for events for credit toward the continuous submission standard are membership in chartered standing study sections, NIH Boards of Scientific Counselors, NIH Advisory Boards or Councils, NIH Program Advisory Committees, and/or peer reviewers who have served as regular or temporary members six times in 18 months.  You can check your eligibility by looking for your name on the list that is updated and posted on the standing Continuous Submission information page.  You may also check your eligibility and meetings counted toward the 6/18 standard by logging into your eRACommons account, selecting the “Admin” tab, followed by the “Accounts” tab, and then searching your name.  A table will appear that will indicate in a column called “CS Eligibility Details” whether you qualify for continuous submission:

cs_elig_screenshot

 

Clicking on the “Yes” or “No” in the “CS Eligibility Details” column will give you details as to what was counted toward your eligibility, and what to do if any meetings are missing:

 

cs_detail_screenshot

 

If you’re not sure whether you qualify for continuous submission, we can help you figure it out!  Just remember: the NIH is under no obligation to review your submission if you submit late by reason of participation on a single study section, so don’t extend your timeline and create unnecessary stress!

 

 

Jan 30 / RAS

COFAR, So Good

Now that Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200) has been in place for a good, solid month and proposal deadlines are looming large, here are few highlights to changes from the way things were previously done:

 

  • Administrative salaries [§200.413 (c)]They’re now allowable, even for non-“major projects,” as long as the cost is “integral” (read: the services are essential, vital, or fundamental to the project or activity)
  • Computing Devices [§200.343]These are now considered a “supply” when less than $5,000. They must be “essential and allocable,” but not necessarily solely dedicated, to the performance of a federal award
    • If the device is NOT solely dedicated, you must justify its use in the project and allocate costs appropriately
  • Cost sharing [§200.306 (a)]: Cost sharing (matching, not inclusive of over-the-cap salary payment) cannot be used during the merit review of proposals, unless specified in a notice of funding opportunity
  • PD/PI Disengagement [§200.308]: Prior approval is required for the disengagement of a PD/PI for more than three months, or a 25 percent reduction in time devoted to the project; project directors can be away from campus and remain engaged in the project at the proposed and awarded levels
    • The difference here is the term “disengagement” rather than “absence;” this recognizes that a PI/PD can be off campus and still engaged in the research, which would not require prior written approval
  • Publication Costs [§200.461 (3)]: Anticipated publication charges that will occur outside of the period of performance CAN be charged
  • Subawards [§200.332]: Fixed price subawards require prior approval and limit each subaward to $150,000

 

If you have any questions about how these changes may affect your award or your proposal, let us know.  We’re here to answer any questions you may have in developing your budget or award strategy!