Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
University of Mississippi
Quotation Corner ~
Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
FOCUS: When Is A Sponsored Program a “Major Project,” and Why Does It Matter?
Answering this question requires a basic understanding of F&A Costs (also sometimes called Indirect Costs or Overhead). The federal government defines F&A (Facilities and Administrative) Costs as “those that have been incurred for common or joint objectives, and therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically to a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or other institutional activity” (US Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21). The “F” part of F&A includes things such as depreciation and use allowances, interest on debt associated with certain buildings, equipment and capital improvements, operation and maintenance expenses and library expenses. The “A” part includes general administration costs, such as deans’ offices, departmental administrators, clerical assistants, accounting, purchasing, sponsored programs administration, and student administration expenses.
The rate used by The University of Mississippi for F&A Costs is established by the US Department of Health and Human Services, based on a comprehensive disclosure process that is conducted on this campus roughly every three years. The disclosure statement specifically identifies those items that are considered to be F&A Costs. Thus those items get rolled into our F&A rate and we are expected to use the F&A money we receive with grant awards to pay for those things. We are not allowed to direct charge those items to grants. As you can see, that would mean the federal government would be paying for those things twice!
It is the normal practice at UM to return part of the F&A money received from grants to the Principal Investigator (PI) and to his or her department and/or dean. The money that gets returned to those entities is intended to be used to pay for all of the incidental administrative items needed to conduct research projects – things such as office supplies, clerical assistance, copy charges, postage, etc. These funds are put into what we often call “Fund 25” accounts, and can be used at the discretion of the person who is signatory for that account, toward things that are not allowed to be direct-charged to a grant. The Fund 25 is not meant to be considered a “slush fund” to spend at will.
Sometimes, however, research projects are so large and cumbersome that they impose undue hardships on departmental staff and resources. In these cases, we can request that the project be considered an “exception to the norm,” and that it be treated officially as a “major project,” or one that “requires an extensive amount of administrative or clerical support, which is significantly greater than the routine level of such services provided by academic departments.” OMB Circular A-21 gives examples of acceptable exceptions, which include:
- Large complex programs, such as general clinical research centers, primate centers, program projects, and other grants and contracts that entail assembling and managing investigators from a number of institutions;
- Projects that involve extensive data accumulation, analysis and entry, cataloging, searching literature, and reporting (such as epidemiological studies, clinical trials, and retrospective clinical records studies);
- Projects that require the making of travel and meeting arrangements for large numbers of participants, such as conferences and seminars;
- Projects the main purpose of which is the preparation and production of manuscripts, large reports, books, and monographs;
- Projects that are geographically inaccessible to normal departmental administrative services, such as research vessels, radio astronomy projects, and other research sites that are remote from campus; and
- Individual projects that require project-specific database management, individual graphics or manuscript preparation, human or animal protocols, and multi-related investigator coordination and communications.
This list is not considered to be exhaustive; rather it provides examples of instances where direct charging of clerical/administrative costs may be appropriate.
The failure to clearly identify such projects and related expenses, and to get prior agency approval, has been problematic in recent audits of major universities. For that reason, the UM ORSP is putting forth a concerted effort to work with our PIs and research staff to properly define and describe any project we believe should fall into the category of “major project.” Proposals for such projects shall contain language clearly requesting special exception to normally accepted (federally mandated) practices for charging direct costs to a project. This language shall be prominently presented within the budget narrative, such that an agency budget officer cannot miss it. It is a common misconception that anything and everything that is identified within a proposal is acceptable and approved once an award is made. This is not true at all. We are bound by the conditions of the OMB Circular A-21, unless we have specifically requested a special exception.
So, please be patient with us as we continue to work toward our goal of “no adverse audit findings” for The University of Mississippi research community. If you need assistance in preparing your budget narrative to ensure your project is properly represented, please email Mickey McLaurin or Lesha Agnew in the ORSP (or phone them at 7482).
Answering your questions
Each month we answer a question from the faculty. Please send your questions to email@example.com.
Joe Faculty asks: Why does the ORSP make such a big deal out of protecting our rights to publish? If I don’t want to publish, I don’t care if my industry sponsor wants me to sign a confidentiality clause and give up publishing rights to the work I do.
We realize that there are times when publishing is not a priority or when the work being done is classified or proprietary in nature. But it is standard procedure for the University of Mississippi (and most universities) always to protect publication rights if at all possible. There are many reasons for this. One of the issues at stake is our status as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization. The Internal Revenue Service Code says that if our activities are not substantially related to the tax-exempt mission of the university, we can be subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT). UM’s Mission Statement says we will educate, conduct research and disseminate our expertise and knowledge for the public good. If we can’t publish, we are not fulfilling our mission. So, one way we protect our status is to make sure that our contracts with industry do not contain unreasonable restrictions on publication. Other publishing issues may be related to Export Control. But that’s another topic for another day.
Speaking of COS
COS Profile Management Tips
If you have trouble finding time to build and update your COS profile, try these suggestions:
- Work on your profile one section at a time, whenever you can spare a few minutes.
- Have a research assistant or graduate student take care of basic text entry for you, then edit or update as needed.
- Once your profile is up to date, just a few minutes every few months is all you’ll need to maintain it.
- Save time managing your CV and related information by keeping it all updated in one location: your COS profile.
Why should you do this?
The COS Expertise database is searched by corporations, research institutions, societies, and others who are looking for peer reviewers, consultants, and speakers. Two of the biggest Expertise searchers are the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). And of course, other scholars and researchers search COS Expertise for collaborators. If you think you know everyone in your field and they know you, try a COS Expertise search and find out! COS Expertise is an international database, and you’ll find researchers and scholars all over the world working in the same or related fields.
Don't know about COS?
Check out our COS page, the January 2005 newsletter article, and/or the COS home page.
Some Upcoming Events
Reinventing Mississippi: The Role of Nonprofits and Volunteers ~ April 19-21, 2006
Original manuscripts that address issues pertaining to the importance of volunteerism with an emphasis on social, cultural, political, historical and economic dimensions of volunteering will be considered for publication in an anthology and/or presentation at this conference, to be held in Jackson. Empirical and conceptual/theoretical papers written with practitioners, community groups or individuals from an array of disciplines are strongly encouraged. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Service Commission in conjunction with the Jackson State University Department of History and Philosophy. Abstracts of no more than two pages, double spaced, or queries, may be submitted by January 15, 2006, to Dr. Elizabeth Overman.
Social Capital Foundation Seminar on Social Fragility ~ June 26-28, 2006
The Social Capital Foundation invites all interested persons or organizations to present a paper at its upcoming international, interdisciplinary seminar on social fragility that will be held on June 16-18, 2006, at the American University in Bulgaria, in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. Additionally, the THRACE project (Targeting Human Research for Anchoring Cooperative Evolutions in Europe) supported by The Social Capital Foundation will be presented at the seminar. It is an investigation on how to use social capital to favor transborder cooperation in the border regions of Europe, and to elaborate appropriate tools for doing so. For more information please go to www.socialcapital-foundation.org/conferences/synopsis.htm.
A Few Program Announcements and Deadlines
AEJMC Mass Communication and Society Research Award ~ Deadline May 1
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Mass Communication and Society Division in 2006 will choose the first recipients of the MC&S Research Award to encourage high-quality research on media and society. Any topic is acceptable that advances mass communication research, especially at the societal or macrosocial level. Proposals must emphasize the interaction with society and fit with the division's mission. All methods are welcome, whether qualitative or quantitative. The applicant must be a member of the MC&S Division who is currently teaching, researching, or studying mass communication full time. www.aejmc-mcs.org/newsletters/0503/research_award.html
Mississippi Humanities Council Minigrants ~ Deadline May 1
May 1 is the next Mississippi Humanities Council minigrant application deadline for proposals up to $2,000. Application guidelines and forms are available at www.mshumanities.org.
NSF Technological Challenges in Hybrid Communication Systems ~ Deadline June 6
The National Science Foundation announces a solicitation on technological challenges in hybrid communications systems. This topic, with broad disciplinary research and educational activities, integrates wireless optical, and RF/microwave communications systems, for domain specific applications. The solicitation seeks proposals on novel concepts in hybrid communications systems including advanced photonic and wireless integrated circuits; new approaches and methodologies to develop architectures for hybrid networks; and new mathematical models to simulate the performance of components, interfaces, sub-systems, systems and interfaces to advance seamless integration of wireless optical and RF/microwave communications. www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf06547
NSF Partnerships for Innovation ~ Deadline August 30
The goals of the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for Innovation program are to stimulate the transformation of knowledge created by the national research and education enterprise into innovations that create new wealth, build strong local, regional, and national economies, and improve the national well-being; broaden the participation of all types of academic institutions and all citizens in NSF activities to more fully meet the broad workforce needs of the national innovation enterprise; and catalyze or enhance enabling infrastructure necessary to foster and sustain innovation in the long term. To develop a set of ideas for pursuing these goals, this competition will support 10 to 15 promising partnerships among academe, state, local, and federal government, and the private sector that will explore new approaches to support and sustain innovation.
ACLS Fellowships ~ Deadline September 28
The American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Program invites research applications in all disciplines of the humanities and humanities-related social sciences. The ACLS Fellowships are intended as salary replacement to help scholars devote six to twelve continuous months to full-time research and writing. Appropriate fields of specialization include but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, art and architectural history, economic history, film, geography, history, languages and literatures, legal studies, linguistics, musicology, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, rhetoric and communication, sociology, and theater studies. Proposals in the social science fields listed above are eligible only if they employ predominantly humanistic approaches (e.g., economic history, law and literature, political philosophy). Proposals in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies are welcome, as are proposals focused on any geographic region or on any cultural or linguistic group.
Find MORE on the ORSP Funding Opportunities Recent Announcements page
SEARCH using COS Funding Opportunities
Bits & Pieces
NIH Establishes Listserv for Information on Electronic Grant Submission
The NIH Office of Extramural Research has established a listserv to provide periodic updates on its electronic grant application program to scientists and administrators in the biomedical research community. Persons interested in receiving these updates are encouraged to subscribe to the appropriate listserv, as follows:
• Scientists, Researchers and Principal Investigators: leaving the subject line blank, send a plain text email message to Listserv@list.nih.gov including only the words Subscribe NIH_eSUB_PI-L in the body of the message.
• Institutional Officials, Administrative and Business Personnel: leaving the subject line blank, send a plain text email message to Listserv@list.nih.gov including only the words Subscribe NIH_eSUB_AOR_SO-L in the body of the message.
Inquiries regarding this notice may be directed to:
National Institutes of Health
Office of Extramural Research
Contractor, LTS Corporation
6705 Rockledge Drive , MSC 7995
Bethesda , MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 594-8207
New Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Lab Animal Welfare
The new interagency agreement between NIH, USDA, and FDA sets forth a framework for reciprocal cooperation intended to enhance agency effectiveness while avoiding duplication of efforts in achieving required standards for the care and use of laboratory animals. If you are interested in reading the new MOU, it is available at grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/finalmou.htm .
NSF Documents Available Online
The National Science Foundation has announced two important new policies and procedures documents are available in PDF format for online access.
Division of Research
:: Faculty Research Program ~ As a part of the 2006 Faculty Research Program (FRP), the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is pleased to announce that Dr. John Gutierrez will be working in the Arts and Humanities areas to assist ORSP Division of Research staff. Dr. Gutierrez, Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and the Croft Institute, has experience with and insights into external funding agencies for the humanities, such as the NEH and the Department of Education, and is familiar with UM internal funding programs and processes. Dr. Gutierrez will be following up on the 2006 FRP competition through personal consultations with applicants to discuss their FRP proposals as well as their other research activities and scholarly endeavors.
:: February Activity ~ Proposal Development Specialists Lesha Agnew and Mickey McLaurin processed 32 external funding proposals during February 2006.
Division of Research Integrity and Compliance
:: Spring IACUC Orientation: The IACUC will hold its Spring Orientation session Friday, April 7, 2006, at 2:00 P.M. in Room 1018 at the Thad Cochran Research Center. Interested persons are asked to RSVP to Sandra Allen, ext.7482, by April 3rd.
:: IACUC Meeting Notice: The full IACUC will hold its next meeting March 31, 2006 . Future meetings are posted on the IACUC Meeting Schedule page on the ORSP website. Please check for dates.
Division of Sponsored Programs Administration
:: February Activity ~ SPA Division staff (Scottie Casey, Euphiazene Gray, Anita Randle, Linda Stone) processed 18 external funding awards during February 2006.
Division of Technology Management
Allyson Best has been appointed Assistant Director of Technology Management, reporting to Walt Chambliss. Allyson will be responsible for managing the intellectual property protection process from the invention disclosure phase through patent prosecution, marketing technologies to potential licensees, and executing intellectual property related agreements with external partners. Allyson brings to the position several years of experience as a market analyst in the pharmaceutical field and a strong background in patent prosecution and intellectual property related agreements.
For complete information about the ORSP — mission, structure, services, responsibilities, and more — visit the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs page
Congratulations from the VCRSP
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs oversees funding for research, service,
education projects. These activities complement the fundamental aspects of The University of Mississippi’s mission and are among its most tangible contributions to the future. Funding for these activities is one of the best measures of a university’s success in engaging with national and international communities.
All of us who have sought funding to test our ideas know that it is difficult and that the communities to which we belong are highly competitive. That spirit of competition is critical and it contributes more than a little to the relief and excitement a researcher feels on receiving a funding award.
Listed below are our colleagues who have been notified of external funding awards in the last calendar month. Please join me in congratulating them. The news of their discoveries and the importance of their contributions are part of all of our futures and the future of Ole Miss.
Alice M. Clark, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs
||National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering
||Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
||McLean Institute for Community Development
||Chemistry and Biochemistry
||National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering
||MS Judicial College
||National Center for Natural Products Research
||Physics and Astronomy
||National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering
||Center for the Study of Southern Culture
February Proposals Submitted: 32
February Awards Received: 18 totalling $1,726,221
FY06 Year-to-Date Number of Active Sponsored Projects: 436
FY06 Year-to-Date Number of Active Investigators: 222