Vice President for Research & Creative Scholarship
Vice President for Research & Creative Scholarship
Who (besides you) would want to see this become a reality? Those individuals or agencies may lead to funding possibilities
Include a rounded total direct cost estimate.
At least two weeks prior to the time the proposal must be sent, contact your departmentally-assigned pre-award specialist.
The routing and approval process is done via E-Prop and is electronically routed to your department chair, dean, unit administrator, and ORSP. Your proposal must be administratively reviewed and approved by ORSP before it may be submitted to a potential sponsor.
If there is more than one department involved, all appropriate chairs and deans must sign the Checklist. Work closely with your departmentally-assigned pre-award specialist when preparing an E-Prop Checklist.
In many cases, after your proposal is recommended for funding, you will receive word from an agency grants officer that they would like to negotiate with you concerning the grant award. This generally indicates that the funding agency either wants to alter the award amount from your initial request, or that they desire changes to the proposed work, or both. In most cases where budget changes are involved, the grants officer will be proposing budget reductions, although occasionally budget increases are proposed.
An award is not official until the University receives an actual award notice from the funding agency. If you receive an award notice, check with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to be sure ORSP has also received a copy. If not, provide the office with a copy of the notice. Once ORSP has received the award notice, an account will be established and loaded by expense category according to your proposal budget. You will be notified when an account number for your project is ready.
In most cases, the University is paid on a cost-reimbursement basis. Thus, the institution "advances" the funds and is not reimbursed until the sponsoring agency is billed for costs already incurred. During the course of your project, ORSP will prepare any sponsor-required financial reports. You, however, will need to prepare and submit the technical reports. It is important to note that payment can be delayed if reports are delinquent.
It is the University’s responsibility to ensure proper award management so that grant funds are expended in accordance with the budget approved by the sponsor. Generally we have some leeway to rebudget, but some changes require sponsor approval. This doesn’t mean we can’t make the change, it just requires us to request approval from the sponsor and provide adequate justification.
Because grants and contracts are generally awarded on a cost-reimbursement basis, the University is required by federal regulations to have procedures in place to ensure that grant funds are spent appropriately and that costs are treated consistently. Auditors look at these procedures to make sure they are adequate. They also look to make sure they are consistently applied. Failure to maintain adequate fiscal controls can result in the University being denied future awards.
If costs incurred are either not allowable and/or inappropriate under the terms of the award, the University cannot obtain reimbursement. Also, if federal regulations are not followed and inappropriate charges are billed to the government, University staff involved can face criminal penalties under the False Claims Act. Ignorance of the regulations is no excuse – if the government determines you should have known (based on your position) that the claim was false, you can be prosecuted and face a possible prison sentence. Therefore, it is essential that University procedures be followed to make sure costs are allowable and appropriate.
Having written documentation is essential so that you can show that costs incurred meet the requirements of reasonableness, allowability, and appropriateness. If you submit a travel reimbursement form with a $500 hotel bill for a one night stay, it will be questioned because that does not seem reasonable. If you paid for rooms for 10 people, that sounds more reasonable, but ORSP won’t know that unless it's documented. So ORSP will ask you to provide written documentation for the file that explains why this is a reasonable cost. The travel form asks the purpose of the trip – this helps assist in determining that the expense is appropriate to the grant. Looking at the grant budget tells us if the charge is allowable under the terms of the award.
Detailed receipts from restaurants are needed so ORSP can determine if alcohol was included in the bill. Since alcohol is not an allowable cost, ORSP needs to know for each meal receipt whether or not it is included. You should try if at all possible to get an itemized receipt that indicates the nature of the items paid for, but if this impossible, you should indicate how much, if any, of the cost was for alcohol. That part of the bill cannot be paid from the grant, but may be paid from foundation funds.
Generally when ORSP requests more documentation or explanation of charges, it is being done to determine that the charges are reasonable, appropriate and allowable. Written documentation is also needed for audit purposes – an auditor can come in and question expenses charged to the grant at any time during the grant period and for three or more years afterward.
Alcohol: Federal funds cannot be used for the purchase of alcohol. Generally university funds also cannot be used for this, but exceptions can be made under unusual circumstances. Alcohol is generally purchased with foundation funds.
Advertising: The use of federal funds for advertising is restricted to certain circumstances, so this expense must be well-justified.
Entertainment: Federal funds cannot be used for entertainment. However, some expenses related to business meetings may be allowable if approved by the sponsor. Food and room rental costs may be allowable; flowers and artistic entertainment are not, and must be paid for from other funds.
Fixed costs such as basic telephone, copier maintenance, network port charges: These are generally treated as indirect costs, and can only be charged to federal grants if justified and approved by the sponsor. Such costs must be consistently treated costs as direct or indirect.
Equipment: Federal sponsors may not allow the purchase of equipment at all, depending on the program. If equipment is allowed, it must be dedicated to the project and be justifiable as being beyond what the University would be expected to provide to its employees. Example: a general-purpose office computer generally would not be allowed, since it is not solely dedicated to the project and the sponsor assumes the University provides staff with computers. However, if the project requires a high-end computer that will be tied up all day doing simulations, it may be justifiable.
The methods used to accomplish the goals of the grant must fall within federal and University guidelines concerning allowability. Some things cannot be done with the grant funds but can be done with course fees, membership fees, or foundation funds. It’s important to determine the appropriate pot of money to cover various costs. Some of the accounts are more restrictive than others and some require more documentation than others. Also, be sure to ask first before the cost is incurred. It may not be possible to do what you want in the way you want, but there may be another way of doing it that falls within the federal regulations. For example, paying for an outfitting expedition for a speaker is not allowable on a grant, since it is entertainment. However, paying the speaker an honorarium may be allowable. The fact that the outfitter cost may be less than the honorarium doesn’t matter: one is allowable, the other is not. If you ask first, ORSP can make sure that it is allowable before you have incurred the cost, or can suggest another way of accomplishing your goal that is allowable. This is much easier than figuring out what to do about an expense you have already incurred that is not allowable.
ORSP will help you manage these funds and can be of more help if involved before the cost is incurred by helping you determine the best way to accomplish your goal.
The principal investigator is responsible for writing and submitting the technical reports in a timely manner. If reporting is delinquent, ramifications can be severe. Most sponsoring agencies will not pay the institution until all delinquent reports have been received. Some sponsors will not fund any future projects submitted by that particular investigator until reporting is up-to-date, while some will not fund any additional research at the institution.
Additional procedures and reporting requirements apply to projects that involve compliance isssues such as the use of animals, human subjects, hazardous materials, organisms, and/or substances regulated by the state or federal government:
The University of Montana's Office of Technology Transfer provides assistance and advice to UM faculty, staff, and students on matters relating to:
Office of the Vice President
Research & Creative Scholarship
University Hall 116
Fax: (406) 243-6330