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!
(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: email@example.com
– Master agreements
– PRB (Perinatology Research Branch) NIH contract
- Liane Lehto, Grant & Contract Officer III
Ph: (313) 577-7945 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Clinical trial agreements
– Confidentiality disclosure agreements for clinical trials
– Investigator-initiated agreements
- Kate Althouse, Grant & Contract Officer III
Ph: (313) 577-0192 Email: email@example.com
– 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Subcontract Agreements
– Risk Assessment Questionnaires
- Lawanna Dean at (313) 577-2294 or email@example.com 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!
Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for the FPR. That’s right: the Final Progress Report (FPR) is going the way of various previous forms iterations to be replaced by the F-RPPR. No big surprise, right? This is part of a government-wide transition to a standard reporting format for all research federally-funded; we were warned with the implementation of the RPPR back in October 2014 that the FPR would eventually be swallowed up, too. The end is nigh: the F-RPPR is officially mandated for required use as of January 1, 2017.
Forms changes are usually met with a collective eye-roll (and usually for good reason), but this is actually good news. Since we’ve been using the interim RPPR for quite some time now, we’re all familiar with the format. It’s much more structured than the FPR, as it is a fillable webform module in eRACommons with pointed questions (rather than the “best of luck on your upload” PDF format that is in current play). Further, not all of the sections from the FPR will be included on the F-RPPR: for example, Section D – Participants; Section F – Changes; and Section H – Budget will not be part of the Final RPPR. Hooray for brevity!
Remember, any final progress report submitted after January 1, 2017 will need to be submitted as a Final RPPR. Any other submission format will be rejected will require resubmission in the Final RPPR format. Check out NOT-OD-17-022 for the official announcement.
And while we have your attention, don’t forget that the new Evisions system will be replacing EPROP(COEUS) effective January 3, 2016. Training is still available if you haven’t gotten there quite yet!
Hey Wayne State. We need to talk.
Have you ever had that restless yearning to seek the unknown? To see if there is something else out there for you? Of course you have, Wayne State – you’ve been around the block more than a few times. Heck, you probably wrote the book – I mean, you essentially exist for people to forge futures for themselves, am I right? You know, the whole wanderlust thing. The “I’m going to school to better myself” thing. The “shaping the minds of tomorrow’s leaders” thing.
Hmm? What’s that, Wayne State? Why am I rambling? Well… this is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you but, I think we need to break up. No, we definitely need to break up. I want to see other universities. It’s not you, it’s me and I hope we can part as friends. Really? You’re OK with that? That’s it? Wow Wayne State. I mean, I kind of expected a different reaction is all. No, no – I’m good.
I was wondering, though, if you don’t mind giving me some advice as I really don’t know what lies next for me. Yeah, I know I have “that restless yearning”. I just thought you wouldn’t mind helping me out a little before I go – we have been through a lot together after all. You will? Thanks Wayne State – you truly are one of a kind. Whoa — you already had something prepared? You have been around, haven’t you Wayne State?
Change of PI or Institution
Once a Principal Investigator (PI) has decided to leave the institution, a decision must be made as to whether or not Wayne State wishes to retain the project. If the project is to remain here, then someone else must be identified as the PI on the project. Different agencies have different requirements as to the notification and approval process to accomplish this. The appropriate Grant & Contract Officer should be notified to coordinate the change.
The transfer of awards for new and existing faculty can be a daunting task. Be sure to devote as much time as possible! Transfers should be initiated as soon as a new faculty member accepts a job offer, and as soon as a current faculty member submits a resignation. Please note that transfers are not guaranteed – the sponsor must be willing to agree to transfer the funds and Wayne State University has the right to retain the award and assign a new Principal Investigator. If the award document does not mention the transfer process, contact SPA for assistance.
Once a WSU Principal Investigator (PI) accepts a position at another institution, notification should be given to his or her Department Chair and Administrator. The PI should work with the department and SPA to determine if active awards may be transferred. The Sponsor Program Official for each award should also be notified about the impending transfer. SPA will review the appropriate award documents to see if a transfer is allowable and assist in contacting the awarding agency for permission to transfer the award.
If there are any active NIH awards, the department will need to complete an Official Statement Relinquishing Interests and Rights in a Public Health Service Research Grant (form PHS 3734). This form will require submission of a Financial Status Report (FSR) and the approval of SPA.
Once a new faculty member accepts a position at WSU, the department should contact SPA with a list of awards that are to be transferred. The PI should notify contact the Program Official about the impending transfer. The Program Official will be able to provide instructions for facilitation.
If there are any active NIH awards, the award will need to be relinquished by the PI’s current institution. The PI should contact the cognizant NIH Program Official about the transfer. SPA will contact the Grants Management Official at the NIH if additional information is required. Typically, the department is expected to provide a transfer packet, as outlined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 220.127.116.11 Change of Grantee Organization. For additional reference, please see Change of PI or Institution on SPA’s webpage.
NIH eSubmission Items of Interest – April 15, 2015
eRA Commons Profile Animal Welfare Assurance Numbers to be Automatically Populated from OLAW Database
In order for an institution to conduct animal activities supported by NIH grant funding, it must have an Assurance on file with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). For many years, OLAW has maintained a system to keep the negotiated assurances. That system, however, has never been linked with the eRA Commons institutional profile. Instead, Signing Officials (SOs) have had to manually enter assurance numbers in their institution profiles. Without any checks and balances to ensure the data is entered in the correct format and that it matches the information captured by OLAW, using the data in eRA Commons institution profiles has been problematic. How do we improve the accuracy of the profile information and the efficiency of our award processing? You guessed it – link the information between the two systems.
The eRA team will release several changes with the April 16 software release related to assurance numbers. The eRA Commons institution profile will be updated to support multiple assurance numbers and will pull assurance number information directly from the OLAW database. If there is a discrepancy between the information on file with OLAW and the data entered in the institution profile, then both numbers will show in eRA Commons. SOs will no longer be responsible for entering the Animal Welfare Assurance Numbers in the institution profile; in fact, the field will no longer be editable in eRA Commons. Changes will need to go through OLAW.
In addition to the institution profile changes, a new business rule to warn applicants if the Animal Welfare Assurance Number on an application is not among those listed in their organization’s eRA Commons profile will be added to the validations done against incoming grant applications. This warning will help improve the accuracy of information associated with specific applications. To avoid the warning, applicants are encouraged to check their institution profiles and type the assurance number in their application exactly as it appears in the profile.
Later this year, OLAW will be changing their format for assurance numbers (they are running out of numbers). The University of Maryland – College Park with a current assurance number of A3270-01, for example, will be issued a new number with the format ‘D15-xxxxx’ where ‘xxxxx’ is a unique, sequential number. With the eRA changes already in place, the transition to a new number format should be pretty straightforward. The new number will be automatically added to the institution profile and applicants will be asked to begin using their new assurance numbers on applications. A notice in the NIH Guide will be issued once the new assurance number format is implemented.
New PHS Additional Indirect Costs Form in Multi-project Applications
Shortly after rolling out our solution for electronic multi-project applications, we identified an issue with our composite budget calculations. The premise of collecting budget data in the various components where the work is carried out and systematically rolling that data up to create the overall application budget is sound. However, without a budget form in the Overall component, we did not have a place for the applicant organization to apply the first $25,000 of a subawards total costs to their indirect cost base when that subaward was an entire component led by a collaborating organization.
You will now find an optional PHS Additional Indirect Costs form in the Overall component of all multi-project opportunities to address the data collection gap (NOT-OD-15-081).
The Multi-project Annotated Form Set has been updated to include the new form and the Electronic Multi-project Application Image Assembly document has been updated to include the adjustment to the composite application budget calculation.
Straight Talk About Application Requirements
I manage a small support team called Grants Info responsible for responding to grant-related email and phone inquiries. Team members spend the better part of their day helping folks navigate through our many grant resources and matching ‘people who have questions’ with ‘people who have answers’. One of the most popular inquiries we receive is “What exactly do you mean by ‘required’?” This question can, of course, apply to any policy or guidance we put out. Most recently, it has been asked in the context of the new biosketch.
NIH expects applicants and grantees to follow all documented policies and instructions. When completing your grant application you must follow announcement clarification and policy notices posted in the NIH Guide, follow instructions in the Funding Opportunity Announcement and follow the guidance in the application guide and supplemental instructions. I know (better than most) that is easier said than done. The NIH puts out A LOT of grant information keeping my team very busy.
So, when we say NIH “requires use of the new [biosketch] format for applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015” (NOT-OD-15-032), we mean…
All biosketches included in applications submitted for due dates on/after May 25, 2015 must be formatted per the instructions in the application guide (and repeated in online resources), including:
• Completing each section (A – Personal Statement; B – Positions and Honors; C – Contributions to Science; D – Research Support or Scholastic Performance)
• Including no more than 5 contributions to science with no more than 4 citations per contribution
• Ensuring that if you include the optional link to a full list of your published work in a site like My Bibliography that the URL is public, accessible without providing any login or personal information, and doesn’t link to websites that may violate page limit rules
• Refraining from including information, such as preliminary data, that belongs elsewhere in the application
• Following NIH guidance on font type, font size, paper size, and margins (See section 2.6 of application guide)
• Using PDF format for your biosketch attachments
• Limiting the length to 5 pages or less
The new biosketch policy is “required’ –officially compulsory, or otherwise considered essential; indispensable. Failure to follow the policy means NIH may withdraw your application from consideration (NOT-OD-15-095). The majority of the requirements listed above (all except the 5-page limit) would not be flagged until your application has already moved forward to NIH. If you don’t follow the instructions and our staff manually identifies a biosketch in your application as being non-compliant, then you won’t have the opportunity to correct it before the due date. In that context, is it really worth not following the instructions?