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Aug 24 / RAS

What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Site Visit

The words “site visit” can strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned investigator.  If you’re getting ready to welcome your funder, fear not: a little preparation and team work will have all of your hard work shining like a diamond and leaving ‘em wanting more.

 

Start at home:

Once you have identified a site visit location, perform a thorough review of the project activities taking place there.   Don’t freak yourself out; address questionable items, but remember that site visits are expensive, so your funder would not be visiting your lab unless it considered your research promising.  Beyond visual presentation, be sure to look for any audit issues (are the people working on your project the ones you said were committing effort?  What about the equipment being used? etc.).  If you find something you’re unsure of, communicate potential issues with SPA and Internal Audits so you can work together for a resolution.

 

I’ve got just the place; now what?

Your department will facilitate logistics of on-campus visits.  You’ll set up the tours, and, depending on the visiting funder, lodging and travel arrangements.   Once your guests arrive, be prepared to discuss all programmatic aspects of the program.  Have a mock visit with your lab; expound on experience review, address questions, and discuss possible follow-up.  Collaborate on audit responses, and ask other faculty about their site visit experiences.

 

How can SPA help me?

SPA will act as a liaison between the site visitors (auditors), your department and Internal Audit. Please forward all site visit requests to SPA as soon as you receive them so they may start to prepare for the visit. They will correspond with Internal Audit.  SPA will acquire, review and provide all financial data associated with your project, and clarify questions about financial activity.  SPA will also help you to address any audit findings that require clarification and work with you and Internal Audit on responses.

 

Why do you keep saying “Internal Audit?”  That sounds scary! 

Internal Audit is not scary.  It is their job to oversee the overall audit, and follow up on information requests.  While you’re focusing on the science, they write and issue audit responses and follow up on the implementation of audit recommendations.

 

Bottom line:

You must have all of your financial and programmatic ducks in a row before your site visitors arrive, so you can be prepared to highlight work without being hit with questions for which you are unprepared. The best insurance for a successful site visit is for PIs to get themselves and their research team members prepared, mentally and physically. Think of the site visit positively, and to try to find out in detail what issues the visitors will want to address.  Your mission is to find out as much as possible about the items of concern to the site visit committee, and what the site visitors expect you to provide.  With some help from your department, SPA and Internal Audit, you will be solidly prepared to make your site visit a powerful tool in your quest for continued funding!

Jul 21 / RAS

The Birds and the Bees of Contract Establishment

When Wayne State and another organization love each other very much, they enter into a mutually binding agreement that is enforceable by law.  Once you’re ready, be sure to use Evisions; email can be dangerous and lead to unpleasant results.

 

SPA has a very specific procedure for the establishment of contracts, which ensures a beneficial, manageable relationship for all parties involved.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with the steps to ensure efficient, expedient establishment (read: you’ll get your money faster).

 

SPA’s Procedure for Processing (non-clinical/pharmaceutical) Contracts:

  1. Before the Contract Officer* can begin a review, the Administrator and/or PI must enter a complete proposal into Evisions and route for approval. A complete proposal consists of a PI certified eProp submission as well as the following attachments: (1) the contract/agreement, (2) an affirmation memo signed by the PI, (3) the negotiated and sponsor approved budget (if not attached to the contract), (4) the completed contract checklist, and (5) any misc. information needed to process the contract (e.g. sponsor contact information). The SPA Contracts Team reviews all proposals entered into Evisions to determine if there is a contract associated. If there is not a contract, “Timothy Foley” will be selected as the Contract Specialist in Evisions and the appropriate Grant and Contract Officer will proceed with their normal course of review. If there is an associated contract, the proposal will move to Step 2.
  2. Once received via Evisions (not via email!) the Contract Officer will be selected as the “Contract Specialist” in Evisions, review the complete proposal, and begin the negotiation process. The Contract Officer will then establish a negotiation in the COEUS Contracts module to enable the Administrator and/or PI to track the contract negotiation via Researcher’s Dashboard. The contract and affirmation memo will be sent to the Office of General Counsel (OGC) within 3 business days (if necessary).

Note: If a proposal was submitted without a contract, but a contract is received by the GCO at the time of award, the GCO should notify the Contracts Team as soon as possible, by way of Patty or the appropriate Contract Officer (if known), so that the Contract Officer can proceed with contract negotiations.

 

Hooray for you!  You’ve steadied your course!  Evisions has been navigated!  When the GCO approves your contract (or it was previously approved) , the Contract Officer will request and obtain the necessary signatures and return the contract to the sponsor.

 

But maybe your contract WON’T be approved OGC . [Insert sad trombone music here]  What now?

If the contract comes back NOT APPROVED by OGC:

  1. The Contract Officer will handle all contract negotiations. The Contract Officer will email the sponsor with the requested changes. The PI and/or Administrator will be copied on the correspondence with the sponsor as appropriate.
  2. Once the Contract Officer receives a response to the requested changes from the sponsor, the Contract Officer will review the contract, get input from the PI or Administrator if necessary, and return the updated contract to OGC for review. If the contract has further requested changes, the Contract Officer will continue the negotiation process until a mutually agreed upon contract is confirmed. The end result is a fully executed approved contract.

 

So you have a fully-executed contract.  Now what?

Once your contract is executed:

  1. Once the contract is fully-executed and IRB or IACUC approval has been received by the Contract Officer (if necessary), the contract and relevant documents will be turned over to the Grant and Contract Officer for index establishment.
  2. The index number and fully executed contract will be available on Researcher’s Dashboard.

 

Questions?  Concerns?  You know where to find us!

* Note: “Contract Officer” is the Grant/Contract Officer on the Contracts Team, it is referred to as “Contract Officer” here for clarity purposes.
Mar 28 / RAS

You Down With RTC?

You may occasionally ask yourself, “I wonder what’s up with the Federal Register these days?”   Well is this the post for you!  On March 14, that bastion of registries federal posted the Final Notice of Research Terms and Conditions (RTC) To Address and Implement the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards Issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and man, is it ever widely applicable.  Except to the Department of Defense.  They march to their own drummer.

 

The RTCs were written to bring agencies into compliance with Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200) (yes, THAT Uniform Guidance.  The one from 2014).  Different agencies will implement the RTCs in 2017:

 

Again, notice DoD is not on this list.  They fully intend to comply UG in their own way, and they can do that presumably because of the “you and what army” rule.

 

The RTCs will make all awards from the above agencies subject to the administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements set forth by the UG.  If you’ve been preparing for this moment since 2014, congratulations on your big day: it’s finally arrived.

 

Be on the lookout! In addition to the RTCs, three companion resources will be developed: Appendix A, Prior Approval Matrix; Appendix B, Subaward Requirements Matrix; and Appendix C, National Policy Requirements Matrix.  Questions about how this affects your award management going forward?  Your GCO will help you find answers!

Feb 13 / RAS

Funding Opportunities Ltd.

With so many research opportunities to sift through, it’s no wonder that some agencies try to be as focused as possible in the projects they consider.  One method used is the “limited funding opportunity,” in which the potential funder will only consider a finite number of applications from any given institution (often, that finite number is “one.”)

 

Here at Wayne State University, Sarah James is your go-to person for limited funding opportunity administration.  In order to ensure the highest likelihood of proposal acceptance, it is Sarah’s office in the Division of Research that ensures the best-fit candidate from Wayne State is matched with the limited opportunity, and prevents extra work from being done on an opportunity that has already been claimed.  Many limited submission opportunities are listed on a dedicated website,  but the list is by no means exhaustive:  if you run across an opportunity that limits the number of applications from a single university, you must contact Sarah James before you submit, whether the opportunity is listed on WSU’s site or not.

 

If multiple parties from WSU are interested in a limited opportunity, the Division of Research will hold an internal competition to consider whether a pre-proposal meets all eligibility requirements specified by the funding organization RFA, are scientifically and technically strong, and promote the greater WSU research mission.  Every situation is unique, so don’t waste your time: contact the Division of Research right away if you find a limited submission of interest!

Feb 2 / RAS

The Brass Tacks of Contracts

(This post is the first of a featured series entitled “Kontracts Korner,” accessible as a heading in the Categories menu to the right.)

 

So you met someone.  You just know in your heart that this person completes you.  Maybe they have a piece of equipment that would send your research to soaring heights, perhaps it is a like-minded researcher that could accelerate a project idea.  Or maybe someone just wants to validate your existence with money for your time.  You, friend, have reached the point of calling the Contract Services division of SPA.  The contracts administration division evolved from the need for a specialized group to devote resources and time to contract processing. Contract processing can be a very lengthy and cumbersome process, and Contracts Services is here to shorten it.  No one wants to wait when they’ve found their business soulmate.

 

Certainly you have questions! But how do you know what you don’t know? What to ask?  How to go forward? Let’s take a look at few definitions to get your thoughts headed in the right direction:

 

(The following apply at WSU, and are adapted from “Management Reporting Standards for Educational Institutions: Fund-Raising and Related Activities” issued by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.)

 

  • Grant: A contribution received by the University for either restricted or unrestricted use in furtherance of the institution’s mission that typically comes from a corporation, foundation or other organization, not an individual. Grants normally fall into two categories, both of which are considered philanthropic in nature and thus countable in annual giving or comprehensive campaign reports:

 

    • Non-specific grants – A grant received by the university that did not result from a specific grant proposal. The university does not commit specific resources or services and is not required to report to the donor on the use of the funds. It is this type of grant that many institutions may opt to designate as a gift for internal accounting purposes. Grants of this nature will be administered by Wayne State University’s Development and Alumni Affairs’ office.

 

    • Specific grants – A grant received by the institution resulting from a grant proposal submitted by the university. The university commits resources or services as a condition of the grant, and the grantor often requests an accounting of the use of funds and of results of the programs or projects undertaken. The grantor’s requirement of regular status reports or other reports does not negate the philanthropic (and countable) nature of a specific grant. Grants of this nature will be administered by Wayne State University’s Sponsored Program Administration office.

 

  • Contract: An agreement between the institution and another entity to provide an economic benefit for compensation. The agreement is binding and creates a quid pro quo relationship between the institution and the entity. The University’s responsibility under a contract normally involves the generation of some product or service, such as a report of research by the Office of the Vice President for Research, and generally subject to certain standards of performance and the expectation of tangible benefit on the part of the contractor. The difference between a grant and contract may be judged on the basis of the intention of the awarding party and the legal obligation incurred by an institution in accepting the award.

 

Source: University Policy 04-05-Approval, Stewardship, and Reporting of Gifts, Grants and Contracts (formerly known as Executive Order 87-2, §2.1).

 

We know that the realm of contracts encompasses a whole host of situations, and yours may be unique.  We have assigned target areas that can help you get to the heart of your issue more quickly.  The following are the members of the contracts team can help you in their areas of expertise:

 

  • Patty Yuhas Kieleszewski, Manager
    Ph: (313) 577-9227 Email: pyuhas@wayne.edu
    Master agreements
    – PRB (Perinatology Research Branch) NIH contract

 

  • Liane Lehto, Grant & Contract Officer III
    Ph: (313) 577-7945 Email: ag4888@wayne.edu
    Clinical trial agreements
    – Confidentiality disclosure agreements for clinical trials
    – Investigator-initiated agreements

 

  • Kate Althouse, Grant & Contract Officer III
    Ph: (313) 577-0192 Email: ep9934@wayne.edu
    Non-clinical trial agreements
    – Federal pass-through contracts
    – Confidentiality disclosure agreements for all others

 

  • Mike Maher, Grant & Contract Officer III
    Ph: (313) 577-9490 Email: ak1402@wayne.edu
    Subcontract Agreements
    – Risk Assessment Questionnaires

 

  • Lawanna Dean at (313) 577-2294 or ac6353@wayne.edu for questions concerning:
    Processing of all subcontract invoices
    – Processing of requisitions and change purchase order requests for all subcontracts

 

Give us a call.  We’re here for you during this very exciting time in your life!