Award Lifecycle describes and organizes the many stages of a sponsored project from conception to termination. The depiction of the stages of the Award Lifecycle above function as navigation to information for each topic. Click on each tile to display the respective content or click on the Pre-Award or Post-Award arrows to enable all sections without those stages to open. Clicking on the Award Lifecycle bar will display all content. A description for each section is highlighted below:
This section provides resources for Principal Investigators and their research teams in the development of ideas, in finding funding and proposal preparation.
This section provides guidance and resources on key components of a proposal, including requesting funding.
This section outlines the review criteria followed by central offices and provides guidance on submission deadlines.
This section provides details on types of funding mechanisms received by the University and the review criteria of central offices prior to acceptance of funding.
Award Setup provides details on how new awards are established in the financial and administrative systems at the University.
Award Management outlines the responsibilities of departments and central offices with regards to funded agreements.
This section outlines the responsibilities of departments and central offices and provides standards for closing the award.
Concept & Funding
The initial stage when a Principal Investigator (PD/PI) develops a preliminary outline of their research aims and their approach on how to execute the work. Below are resources useful in assisting with proposal writing and finding funding.
- Faculty Mentorship Opportunities
- Funding Information Portal
- Carolina Internal Funding Database
- Graduate Student Funding Information Center
- Health Science Library: Research Hub
- Early Career Researcher’s Guide
- Office of Research Development
- Postdoctoral Funding Resources and Fellowships
- Research Development Services
- SPIN Funding Database
- Research Development Services
- SPIN Funding Database
- Research Development Initiative
- UNC Center for Faculty Excellence
- Undergraduate Student Funding Opportunities
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) Funding
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Finding Funding
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) Funding Profiles
- Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Opportunities
- Department of Education (DoED) Finding Programs
- Department of Energy (DOE) Funding Opportunity Announcements
- Health Resources and Services Administration
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Funding Opportunities
- NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Grant Opportunities
- NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) Applications
Proposal Types for New Projects
Solicited Full Proposal
This type of proposal is submitted at the request of the sponsor. It may be in the form of a Request for Proposals (RFP)A solicitation used by the Federal government for proposals that will be funded by a contract mechanism. posted by the sponsor. The sponsor sets the framework of the project for a specific purpose in contrast to a principal investigator’s (PD/PI) initiated project.
Unsolicited Full Proposal
This type of proposal is initiated by the PD/PI and submitted to the sponsor for an open program that would benefit from the subject of the project. The subject and framework of the project are more flexible than a solicited funding opportunity.
This is a submission of a previously unfunded proposal. Generally, some revisions are made in response to the sponsor’s reviews. Some Federal sponsors limit the number of resubmission opportunities.
Proposal Types of Existing Projects
A proposal to extend an existing project for an additional period that had not previously been requested. This type of proposal competes for funding with other applicants and is as in-depth as the original proposal.
Noncompeting Renewals or Continuation Applications
A secondary proposal submitted for funding during a period of timeThe intervals of time, which a project period is divided into, for the obligation of funds based on budgetary, funding, and allocation purposes. included in the original submission. These request incremental funding, provide an update on the project’s status, and do not compete with other applicants for funding.
A secondary request for additional funds on an existing project. This type of proposal is typically used to request funds for an expansion of project scopeThe aims, objectives, and purposes of a grant application; as well as the methodology, approach, analyses or other activities; and the tools, technologies, and timeframes needed to meet the grant’s objectives..
Other Proposal Types
Submissions to a program announcement that are limited to a select number of applicants from a single institution. The University reviews and selects the proposal(s) that will be put forward as the applications for Limited Submissions if more than one project is being proposed.
An introductory, condensed proposal submitted for the first round of funding. Typically, these provide a summary of the proposed project and may include budgetary estimates. Accepted Pre-Proposals will result in an invitation to submit a full proposal.
Sponsors regularly require some form of a Title or Cover Page for submitted applications. It serves to identify the proposal and provide information about the University and the project. It may exist as a separate, required form or a letter detailing the same information.
Most Cover Pages include the following details:
- Project Title
- Funding Announcement or Sponsor’s Program Title
- Sponsor Contact Information
- University Contact Information
- PD/PI Contact Information
- Period of Performance for the Proposed Project
- Requested Funding amount
- University Signature
- Contact Information for Signing Official
Project Summary or Abstract
This document provides a summary of the project being proposed. Most sponsors limit the amount of information permitted in this section. The Abstract can include the objectives and relevance of the project as well as the aims and methods to be used. Sponsors regularly use this as a public description of the project if the proposal is funded.
Research Plan or Project Narrative
The Research Plan is the programmatic content of the proposal. This section allows the PD/PI to describe the elements summarized in the Abstract in greater detail. Most sponsors require components that identify the project’s objectives, innovation and significance, technology and methodology to be used, any preliminary findings, and a timeline for progress. Sponsors use the Research Plan to judge the technical merit of the proposed project.
Citations are required for all references included in the Research Plan and the rest of the proposal. It supports the PD/PIs familiarity with the applicable literature. Particular attention should be paid to the sponsor’s formatting style and guidelines.
Personnel Biographical Sketches or Curriculum Vitae
Sponsors generally require some sort of description of the key individuals involved with the proposed project. These detail the individual’s education, previous research, positions held, publications, and other biographical information that is relevant to the proposed project. Formats and requirements vary widely, and some non-Federal sponsors adopt Federal templates.
Budget and Budget Justification
These two components provide the financial description to support the Research Plan. The Budget provides a detailed accounting of the cost of the project. The Budget Justification explains the need and cost for each expense. These are one of the primary items for OSR review because they obligate the University to the level of financial support that is presented. The method and format are dictated by the sponsor’s requirements and the individual program’s funding announcement.
Facilities & Resources
The Facilities and Resources statement documents the abilities of the University’s resources and capabilities to support the project, much as the Biographical Sketch identifies the capabilities of the project personnel. This component includes a description of the facilities to be used, equipment, and other beneficial amenities available for the proposed project.
The required compliance documentation may vary depending on the elements of your project. If you have Human Research Subjects, an approved IRB Protocol is needed. If you have Animal Subjects, an approved IACUC protocol is needed. These are the most obvious compliance documentation, but others include hazardous waste, biological, chemical, radiation and lab safety via the Environment, Health and Safety Office, intellectual property and invention disclosure via the Office of Technology Commercialization, Export Control review and management for any material being transferred out of the United States, and Conflict of Interest (COI).
There are two types of fiscal COI that must be considered for each project, organizational or individual. Some sponsors may require that the organization, UNC, does not have any fiscal conflicts of interest in performing the research. This needs to be noted at the proposal stage or as soon as possible, as this review is lengthy, and a project ID cannot be established until it is complete.
Another type of COI is individual, and it is required for EVERY sponsored research project. In RAMSeS there is a Compliance tab in both the Proposal and Award management modules that will assist in monitoring COI. All personnel must complete COI training and disclosures based on the Budget Start Date of the award, and must indicate if there is a possible conflict of interest for each project. If it is established that there is conflict of interest, then the person will need to work with the Conflict of Interests Program to establish a management plan. For more information on understanding the RAMSeS COI grid, please see this guidance.
Subrecipients are incorporated into the University’s proposal as a separate section. Most sponsors require information from the subrecipient similar to what is provided by the University in the main proposal. It includes budgetary information, work being conducted, personnel Biographical Sketches, and institutional information.
Budgets are the financial plan for the project or program that the awarding agency or pass-through entity approves during the award process or in subsequent amendments to the award. OSR has a specific template for budgets and budget revisions that are to be used if there is not a sponsor required template. There are University specific requirements that must be met by all budgets for sponsored projects; all outlined costs must be necessary and support the project objectives, all costs must conform to Federal, University and sponsor guidelines, and all budgets and revisions must be approved by OSR. All budgets must follow the below-costing guidelines as well.
Costing outlines how different items of costs are categorized, which items may be charged to sponsored projects, how directCosts that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. and indirect costsThose costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefitted without effort disproportionate to the results achieved. are categorized, what items always require prior approval, and outlines selected items of costs. The University has established the budget and associated expense categories that are used to charge expenses. All expense account codes roll into the associated budget account code. OSR can only allocate budget in the budget account codes and all budgets submitted to OSR should use these categories. Click here for a list of budget and expense categories.
These are the government-wide principles that regulate the allowability of costs for Federally sponsored agreements. All Federal grants are governed by 2 CFR §200 Subpart E – Cost Principles. All Federal contracts are governed by 48 CFR §2.1, and all hospitals are governed by 45 CFR 75, Appendix IX. Sponsors will also have guidelines on expenses they consider allowable. They also will have guidance on determining and charging indirect (F&A) costs. For determining what costs are needed when creating a budget, please take into account the following criteria:
If a cost is allowable under the terms and conditions of the agreement, necessary to the completion of the project and meets all Federal and University regulations, then it is an allowable cost.
A cost is allocable to a grant if it is incurred solely in order to advance work under the agreement; it benefits both the project and other work of the institution, including other sponsored-supported projects; or it is necessary to the overall operation of the organization and is deemed to be assignable, at least in part, to the agreement.
If a prudent person would have considered the cost applicable and necessary at the time the charge was made the cost can be considered reasonable. This is called the prudent person test and addresses considerations such as whether the cost is generally necessary for the University’s operations or the project’s performance. It also takes into account whether the cost complied with the University’s policies in incurring the expense.
Costs must be consistently assigned to the same categories for similar actions regardless of the source of funding. Costs must also be consistently assigned as either direct or indirect cost across all sponsored projects at all times.
If a cost meets all of the above criteria, then it may be charged to the project. Please read each agreement carefully and speak to your department’s Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS) if you have any questions.
Direct and Indirect Costs
Direct costs are those that can be easily identified with a particular sponsored project, or that can be directly assigned to a project relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. Indirect costs (F&A) are those costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one project and not easily assignable to a specific project. Per 45 CFR §75.403, costs must be consistently charged as either direct or F&A costs, but may not be double charged or inconsistently charged as both.
Facilities & Administrative Cost Rates and Calculations
Facilities and Administrative costs (Indirect or F&A) are the actual costs of university operations which are not readily assignable to a particular project. These costs are determined per Uniform Guidance §200.412-15. F&A cost rates are negotiated with the Department of Health and Human Services Cost Allocation Services (DHHS-CAS) through the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) Cost Analysis and Compliance unit. For more information on F&A costs and calculations see our F&A Guidance and UNC F&A Dollar Sheet.
Select Items of Cost
Per 2 CFR §200.420-475 there are costs that are standard across the majority of sponsored projects as allowable and those that are never allowable on sponsored projects, except is extremely special circumstances and with University and sponsor prior approval. The following are costs that may be applied to projects in special circumstances and/or with prior approval:
- Agreement termination costs
- Maintenance/repair costs
- Participant support
- Pre-award spending
- Publication and printing
- Patient recruitment
- Rental costs
- Specialized facilities
- Training costs
The following are unallowable costs:
- Advertising and public relations
- Advisory councils
- Alumni Activities
- Bad debt
- Collections of improper payments
- Contingency provisions
- Entertainment Costs
- Goods/services for personal use
- Deficits on other projects
- Memberships, subscriptions or professional activities
- Proposal costs
Also referred to as matching or in-kind contribution and is the financial portion of a sponsored project that is not covered by sponsor funds. There are three types of cost share:
A type of commitment where the recipient of a proposal adds cost share. If the proposal is funded, that cost share becomes mandatory. VOLUNTARY COST SHARE IS NOT ENCOURAGED.
This refers to the donation of effort towards a project that is above the amount committed and budgeted in a proposal. It was not committed to by the University at time of proposal but is still voluntarily given. This type of cost share must be tracked by the administering department.
When a sponsor requires the recipient to contribute a certain percentage or amount of funds to the project to receive funding.
The majority of sponsors do not allow voluntary cost share, and it is strongly discouraged by the University. Please refer to the proposal guidelines or speak with your department’s SPS for questions concerning cost share.
Salaries and Wages
The salary cap applies to the total institutional salary paid to the individual. Salary dollars above a salary cap level are unallowable costs on the project, but they must be paid, tracked and accounted for by the department. NIH will fund the salary cap at the level in effect at the time of the competitive award. If, during the period of that award, the salary cap is increased, you will normally be able to use rebudgeting authority to pay the salary to the higher level. NIH, however, will not award any additional funds for this purpose.
JT — Please confirm this is now linked properly Fringe benefits are calculated as follows:
Review OSR Operating Standard 300.07 and proposal guidelines to determine if social security costs apply to Post Doc’s and Grad students.
Determine fringe benefits paid to Foreign Nationals.
Health Insurance dollar rate prorated for the percentage of employee effort. The rate differs depending on the classification of the employee.
Physicians & Associates Supplemental Fringe Rates for clinical faculty members need to be considered as well.
Professional services that are specialized and only available outside the University. These services must be necessary to the project, and there should be no conflict of interest between the University and the consultant (2 CFR §200.459).
Materials and supplies, including computing devices that can be attributed directly to the project. These supplies must be necessary for the completion of the project and allowable under the agreement.
Any tuition that will be paid to graduate students from the research funds. This is typically excluded from F&A and must be approved by the sponsor.
Participant Support Costs
Items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid on behalf of participants or trainees for conferences, continuing education or training programs.
The cost of an agreement with an outside entity to complete certain elements of the scope of work. This amount should include their institution’s F&A amount. For any Federal subrecipient agreement, F&A will not be taken on it after the first $25,000 for each five-year segment.
Other Direct Costs
All other costs associated with this project. These should be detailed in the budget justification.
The University’s negotiated rate for indirect costs will be used unless the sponsor has a published rate or rate outlined in the agreement. This amount is calculated on Modified Direct Total unless otherwise stated in the agreement.
These are the expenses that are not covered by the research funds that the department will have to cover if required by the sponsor. Voluntary Cost Share is not encouraged.
Proposal Submission covers the period of University proposal review, submission to the sponsor, and any activities required before the notice of funding. Proposals are submitted for internal review through the Research Administration Management System & eSubmission (RAMSeS) used at the University. Departmental and Central Office reviews are conducted within RAMSeS. For industry sponsors, the proposal is also required to be submitted using ALICE or Clinical Research Management System (CRMS) for review from the OSR Industry Contracting (IC) team.
An IPF is an internal record for University proposals. Every proposed grant, contract, and the cooperative agreement is required to have an IPF record.
Please consult with your Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS) for further details on the IPF submission requirements for sponsored programs.
There are several systems used at UNC to submit and monitor research agreements, Research Administration Management System & eSubmission (RAMSeS), Clinical Research Management System (CRMS), and ALICE. Different types of research agreements require submittals via different systems to ensure that they are processed by the correct OSR Research Administration team. For processing of industry agreements by our Industry Contracting (IC) team, the following are applicable:
- CRMS Submittals: A confidentiality agreement for information shared in advance of a specific clinical trial, clinical trial agreement, or amendment to a clinical trial agreement. CRMS will collect the information, and at the submission of the agreement in CRMS, the submitter will be redirected to ALICE for completion of the submission process.
- RAMSeS Submittals: All other funded agreements require an IPF, once it is approved by your department’s Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS), it will be sent to OSR’s IC team to negotiate.
- IPFs should include budget, the scope of work, draft agreement (if you have one), external contact for negotiations, and any other relevant information
- ALICE Submittals: Unfunded agreements, such as Data Use Agreements (DUAs), Confidential Disclosure Agreements/Non-Disclosure Agreements (CDAs/NDAs), master agreements, and amendments with no change in funding. Please see New Agreements via ALICE Instructions for more information.
- Recharge Service Center Agreements – email this form to email@example.com.
Non-Clinical Industry Agreements
Once the proposal is reviewed and approved by OSR via RAMSeS, IC will be notified and the agreement will be entered into ALICE, and assigned to one of the Contract Managers. Given the range of project and agreement types, your department’s Contract Manager will likely contact you to discuss your project or various provisions of the agreement to make sure your interests, in addition to UNC’s, are best served.
Industry Master Agreements can be negotiated prior to having a set project and budget. If you are requesting a new Master Agreement without a project or budget determined, you can request review in ALICE. If you have determined a project and budget with the sponsor, you will need to submit an eIPF in RAMSeS for OSR to review. You can upload the draft Master Agreement (which will include a Task Order/Work Order for this first project) to RAMSeS. You can submit a CRMS record that includes both the Master and the task order in the same record.
Clinical Industry Agreements
Industry clinical trials are research studies in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (placebo and/or control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health‐related biomedical and behavioral outcomes and are funded by private, for-profit entities.
All industry clinical trials should be submitted in ALICE and/or CRMS.
Login to ALICE and select Submit New Non-CTA for Review, go to the Industry/Contracting Party section, which is the company with whom we are working on this agreement. If the industry/contracting party name you are looking for is not listed, you can click on Sponsor Not Listed and manually add the new industry/contracting party.
Under the Personnel section enter the following in the order provided:
- Enter the name of the UNC PD/PI
- Enter the external contact for the industry/contracting party. This is the person OIC will contact with edits or corrections to the agreement. We must have an email address at minimum.
- Enter the name of the department administrator. This is the person other than the PI that OIC might contact with questions. This is not required, but it is helpful information for OIC to have.
In Submission Notes provide any additional details or information you think may assist us in while processing and negotiating your agreement.
To expedite the review process of proposals that include Intellectual PropertyIntellectual Property means a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, or trademark. issues, an advance copy of the agreement should be sent to OSR who will forward it to the appropriate office (i.e., University Counsel, JT — Please confirm this is now linked properly Office of Technology Commercialization) for review and identification of issues requiring negotiation with the sponsor. Upon completion of the negotiations and legal review, OSR will provide copies of the agreement to the Development Office when appropriate and fulfill its reporting requirements to UNC General Administration.
Proposals are to be submitted with all required documentation. Please refer to the appropriate office’s guidelines:
- If a proposal budget is revised after it has been submitted to the sponsor and the proposal is still pending final action by the sponsor, please alert the SPS to determine the course of action.
- If the department receives an agreement from the sponsor in response to a submitted proposal, the agreement should be forwarded to ResAdminOSR@unc.edu for further processing.
If changes have occurred since the proposal was submitted to the sponsor, please include updated documentation for OSR.
Should there be any question regarding the routing of a proposal or contract for signature, contact the SPS for your department.
Shared Responsibility for Proposal Review
Responsibility for Proposal Review is distributed across three Central Offices. The Sponsored Programs Office (SPO) provides School of Medicine proposal review for most NIH grants and select other agencies. The Office of Clinical Trials (OCT) serves as the central office for non-Federal clinical trials proposals. The Office of Sponsored Research administers the pre-award administration not provided by other offices and all post-award administration. See OSR Roles and Responsibility Matrix.
Internal University Deadlines
The applicable Central Office must receive finalized proposals for review five business days before the sponsor’s due date. All routing and lower level approvals must be completed before the 5-day deadline.
It is imperative that submissions are received in advance to ensure that the University has sufficient time to review all proposals.
Principal Investigators (PD/PI) and Departmental Administrators are responsible for incorporating the Internal University Deadline into their submission process. Submissions that are received after the 5-day deadline are documented in RAMSeS.
Each program announcement and sponsor utilize specific due dates for proposals. This deadline is in addition to any Internal University Deadlines.
Deadlines are included in the individual funding announcement. Please consult with your SPS if there are questions on the exact submission deadline.
Select Sponsor Application Schedules
- National Institutes of Health Due Dates
- National Science Foundation Due Dates
- Department of Education Grant Information
- Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Funding Opportunities
Sponsors employ unique methods of selecting projects for funding. The criteria that are used are generally provided either in the proposal announcement or other sponsor guidelines. It is very important to incorporate the merit review criteria into forming a proposal to ensure that all requirements are met.
Select Agency Review Criteria
- National Institute of Health
- National Science Foundation
- Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
General Sponsor Requests
Occasionally, sponsors will request revisions or addendums to be submitted with proposals when reviewing them for possible funding. This can come in the form of more budgetary detail or regulatory compliance information (i.e., Research Subjects ProtocolsThe detailed account of procedures and interaction being completed by a researcher in connection with animal or human subjects. The protocol must be assessed by the appropriate institutional committee.). All formal communications with sponsors must be submitted through the appropriate Central Office for the proposal.
Types of Post Submission Materials
- Current & Pending or Other SupportThe disclosure of all financial sources-whether Federal, non-Federal, commercial-available in direct support of an individual’s research endeavors, including but not limited to research grants, cooperative agreements, contracts, and institutional awards. Funding for training awards, prizes, and gifts are not required to be included.
- Research Subjects approvals
- JT — Please confirm this is now linked properly Certification of Human Subjects Education (CITI)
- Revised Budget and Budget Justification
- Biographical Sketch Information
- University Signing Official approval
Departmental Administrators can request an advanced ConnectCarolina Project ID if there is a delay in receiving funding. Pre-Award SpendingAny cost incurred prior to the beginning date of the project period or the initial budget period of a competitive segment (under a multi-year award), in anticipation of the award and at the applicant’s own risk, for otherwise allowable costs. is requested in the RAMSeS IPF through a Financial Guarantee. This allows the University to leverage funds in advance of the award. The administering department is responsible for all expenses if project funding is not secured.
Pre-Award Spending may require sponsor prior approval; please speak with your department’s SPS. The usual period for Pre-Award Spending is 90 days before the funding date. Additional time may be requested in select circumstances such as prolonged agreement negotiations.
Award Negotiation occurs during the period between the submission of a proposal and the start of a funded project. The sponsor acknowledges that they intend to fund the project, but an agreement with the University to meet their requirements must happen first. This agreement or award is a legally binding document that requires review by an authorized representative of the University. OSR serves in this capacity.
During this period, OSR reviews the sponsored agreement, terms and conditions, and other obligations to confirm that the University can accept and comply with all requirements.
Many agreements require minimal to no negotiation. However, those that do may require significant attention and review. Any changes must be made and agreed to by both the University and the sponsor. This process can be very time-intensive. It is important to remember that proper negotiations safeguard the rights of both the University and the researchers undertaking the project.
Sponsored projects are issued to the University through various types of funding mechanisms. Each type dictates the manner of funding and the control the sponsor has over the project. There are many interchangeable terms used about grants and contracts, but there are specific definitions that make them unique. It is important to recognize the type of funding mechanism when assessing the need for negotiation. Some may require negotiation while others are not open to negotiation.
A grant is a flexible method of financial assistance provided to support a project and its set goals in support of a public purpose with no substantial programmatic involvement from the sponsor.
A contract is a legal instrument for procuring goods or services where the purchaser has significant programmatic and administrative control over the completion of the project.
Subrecipient or Consortium Agreement
A formalized agreement where a project is carried out between a recipient of an agreement and subsequent organization(s) that is a separate legal entity. Subrecipient agreements are required when the subsequent organization is collaborating on the completion and direction of the project’s goals. The University regularly receives funding as a subrecipient to other institution’s funding, as well as providing funding to sub-recipients on projects held by UNC-CH.
A method of financial assistance between a sponsor and recipient(s) that involves a substantial amount of programmatic involvement by both the sponsor and the recipient(s) in completing the awarded activities.
Funds provided to the University for a non-generalized or specific purpose are considered a gift if they:
- Do not require deliverables or reports on the progress completed
- No specified period of performance
- No fiscal accountability to the donor
Funding mechanisms may incorporate various types of legal agreements that may serve as the funding document or be an additional arrangement that does not involve funding. Below are some of the agreement types that may be seen in conjunction with sponsored projects.
A sponsor’s notification that provides funding under a grant or cooperative agreement.
A legally binding agreement that requires signature by the University. It may be used for various types of funding mechanisms including grants and contracts.
An agreement modifying the terms and conditions of an original agreement, including modifications to the scope of work and budget. All types of agreements can be amended.
Clinical Trial Agreement
An agreement that covers the study of investigational drugs or devices in humans to establish their efficacy before bringing the product to market.
An agreement that defines the relationship between two or more collaborators on a project that is funded via a separate mechanism (e.g. grant, subcontract, internal funding, etc.). It typically covers the relative roles and responsibilities of each party, plans for publication and copyright, and intellectual property. It is typically unfunded.
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)
An agreement meant to stimulate research and the commercialization of technology when involving a private company. This mechanism allows all parties to keep the research temporarily confidential under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the private company to retain the intellectual property rights of any developed inventions.
Data Use Agreement (DUA) / Data Transfer Agreement (DTA)
An agreement used to transfer data from one party to another, to prevent protected data (such as Protected Health Information(PHI)) from dissemination and misuse. It is normally not a funding document.
Intergovernmental Personnel Agreement (IPA)
An agreement with a Federal agency and an institution that provides for the temporary reassignment of personnel between the two organizations. It is normally used for personnel costs and does not serve as a funding document for a project.
An agreement between parties that sets out standard terms and conditions that apply to all future projects between those parties, removing the need to renegotiate for each time. It is normally not used as a funding document, but agreements issued under a master agreement regularly are funding documents. All types of agreements listed here can be master agreements (example: master CDA, master DUA, etc.).
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
An agreement that details a common plan of action or intent between two parties. It is used when the parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforceable agreement. It is generally not used as a funding agreement.
Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)
An agreement which controls the transfer of tangible materials between parties for research purposes. It is not normally used as funding document.
Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA)
An agreement that allows parties to share confidential or proprietary knowledge and information for specific purposes, particularly to determine whether to pursue a project or business relationship between the parties. These agreements restrict access, use, or dissemination for any other purpose. It is not used as a funding document.
An agreement where a party is funding other sponsored activities that do not involve performing research but are strictly for providing services such as routine testing, processing, or other specialized services. It is regularly a funding document.
Task Order/Work Order
An agreement issued under a master agreement. All terms of the master agreement apply to the task order.
This type of agreement indicates a general agreement on the nature of the working relationship between both parties. These can also set forth basic terms related to the ownership of intellectual property and other programmatic issues such as data sharing.
Negotiation occurs when obligations mandated by the sponsor are incompatible with the University’s policies, management practices, or abilities, in addition to any applicable laws and regulations. Negotiation can occur at various stages of the award process. Some sponsors require acceptance of terms and conditions when submitting proposals. Most sponsors require acceptance of terms and conditions when proposals are accepted, or projects are funded. This is done via an award or agreement.
Any documentation that meets the following criteria is subject to negotiation:
- Requirements conflict with University policies and procedures
- Requirements conflict with relevant local, state, or Federal law or regulations
- Requirements impede the University’s mission as education and research institution
- Requirements must be altered to meet the Principal Investigator’s (PD/PI) programmatic needs or ability to complete the project
Terms and Conditions
Terms and conditions are detailed in the award or agreement that funds a project or is incorporated in the document by reference. Sponsors regularly have their terms and conditions available on the internet or included in the funding opportunity.
These requirements can affect both financial and programmatic aspects of the project. Terms and conditions can include the frequency of technical reporting, allowable costs, and prior approval requirements. Therefore, it is important that Departmental Administrators, as well as the PD/PIs, are familiar with all the obligations that are included with accepting sponsored funding.
Federal Research Terms and Conditions
The Federal Research Terms and Conditions (RTC) are used by select agencies for Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) and non-profit organizations. These clarify regulations specifically for Federal financial assistance programs (grants and cooperative agreements) provided for research and research-related projects. Awards issued under the RTC directly reference the terms and conditions and incorporate them by reference. These terms and conditions do not negate Federal-wide policies or Agency-specific requirements.
The RTC has recently been updated to incorporate additional information and supplements from Uniform Guidance (2 CFR §200) specifically for organizations like Universities. Current participating agencies include:
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- US Department of Commerce
- US Department of Energy
- US Department of Homeland Security
Contracts issued by Federal agencies use the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) as their method of providing recipient institutions with terms and conditions. Individual clauses from the FAR are applied to contracts based on the activities being acquired, the type of institution providing the acquisition, and the Federal laws and regulations that apply to the activities in the contract.
Important Terms and Conditions
Period of Performance
The period of performance is the time between the start and end date of the project. It is the period during which the University is allowed to incur costs to complete the work required by the scope of workThe aims, objectives, and purposes of a grant application; as well as the methodology, approach, analyses or other activities; and the tools, technologies, and timeframes needed to meet the grant’s objectives. for the project. It is important to be aware of these time limits to properly manage the scientific progress of the project and compliantly expense funds.
Programmatic Reporting Requirements
Programmatic reporting is the mandatory accounting for the technical and scientific progress of the project. It is important to be aware of the schedule of reporting requirements to confirm that they can be met. If these will constitute a hardship on the programmatic staff, it is important to attempt to mitigate the issues through negotiations.
Many sponsors have rules around budgeting and expenditures using their funds. Knowing how and when funds can be spent is vital to compliant project management. All individuals involved with a project should be aware of the sponsor’s budgetary restrictions.
Prior Approval Requirements
Sponsors prohibit certain activities unless the University requests permission in advance of the action. Project changes such as carryoverThe unobligated funds remaining at the end of a budget period. These funds may or may not be carried forward to another budget period dependent on Sponsor approval. Obligated, but unliquidated, funds are not considered carryover., certain types of rebudgeting no-cost extensionsAn extension of time to a project period and/or budget period provided by the Sponsor to complete the work without additional funding or competition., and types of personnel changes must be reported and approved by the sponsor before the University can proceed. All requests must be routed through your department’s Sponsored Project Specialist (SPS). It is important that those involved with a project are aware of the mandatory approvals before making any changes to the project.
Final Reporting Due Dates and Requirements
Sponsors regularly mandate how the University accounts for project expenditures. It can include a reporting schedule as well as the format of the reports. Attention to the schedule is important because the University must be able to meet the requirements. If the requirements are not within the University’s abilities, OSR will negotiate the reporting terms and conditions.
Sponsors may impose requirements surrounding research subjectsThe detailed account of procedures and interaction being completed by a researcher in connection with animal or human subjects. The protocol must be assessed by the appropriate institutional committee. in addition to those in place at the University. It is important for the PD/PI and project staff to be aware of these terms and conditions so that they can take the steps needed for approval and reporting when working with research subjects.
There are select terms and conditions that regularly cause lengthy negotiations between the University and the sponsor. They can have negative impacts on both the PD/PI’s research and the University.
Much of the University’s mission relates to its activities as an educational institution and the accessibility of knowledge. Publication restrictions limit the rights of researchers from publishing the results of their work. It may negatively affect the University in two ways:
- Work conducted under publication restrictions may adversely affect student activities. Publication restrictions are not just limited to published articles but also to student dissertations
- Dissemination of findings into the public sphere provides the University protection under Export Control regulations. The University functions under the Fundamental Research ExclusionA waiver on export controls for any basic or applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community. This requires that the research must be free of any publication restrictions and without any access or dissemination restrictions.. It exempts the University from certain export requirements because the work done is ordinarily published and shared within the scientific community. By conducting research under a publication restriction, the agreement puts the University’s Export Control exemptions in jeopardy.
Intellectual Property, Inventions, and Licensing
The Intellectual Property means a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, or trademark. interests of the University are to be protected. Most sponsors will allow the University to retain the rights to copyrights and intellectual property related to and developed by sponsored projects. However, some sponsors may want to retain them instead. It may result in researchers not being able to develop their results further or incorporate their work in later research. OSR will attempt negotiations to achieve favorable intellectual property rights for both the University and researcher. Any instance where the sponsor will not provide full rights to the researcher in exchange for licensing of any inventions will be addressed with the PD/PI before accepting the agreement.
Governing Law is a clause in an agreement that specifies the agreement will be subject to the law of a particular jurisdiction. Sponsors regularly include Governing Law clauses that require the Agreement to be subject to the laws of a given state other than North Carolina. As a state entity, the North Carolina attorney general represents the University. OSR cannot accept contract language that may limit the statutory power of the attorney general. The University may only agree to govern law and jurisdiction in the State of North Carolina or must remain silent.
Indemnification provisions allow the parties to allocate the risk of carrying out the obligations outlined in the contract. Generally, the party better suited to minimize or understand the risk is the party that should be responsible for the financial implications associated with that risk. The University is held to the NC Tort Claims Act, which limits the amount of indemnification that can be provided to other parties. OSR is required to ensure we do not contractually agree to levels of indemnity above those provided under the NC Tort Claims Act.
Use of Name
It is important to protect the University’s right to its name, logo, and other trademarks relating to its identity. Occasionally, agreements will not specify that a party must obtain permission to use the University’s name. UNC-CH needs to have the right to review and approve any use of its name by another entity. This allows the University to maintain its copyrights and prevent unauthorized use of its branding.
Assignment determines whether activities or obligations conducted under an agreement can be transferred to another party. Some agreements include terms that allow a sponsor to reassign responsibilities partially or completely to another entity with minimal notice and at their discretion. Having the project be subject to reassignment is a disadvantage to both the University and the researchers. It is important to negotiate assignment terms that require mutual consent by both parties and notice.
Renewals and Progress Reports
Most funded projects will require the Principal Investigator (PD/PI) and the University to provide status reports regularly during the life of the project. Progress Reports that require full OSR review and approval follow the same process that occurred for the original submission via RAMSeS. The PD/PI and Departmental Administrators are responsible for initiating and completing the requirements. OSR provides University review and approval.
The content of Progress Reports is sponsor specific. Common elements include:
- Project accomplishments and milestones achieved
- Updated timeline for project completion
- Modifications required to meet challenges
- Updated budgetary information
For more information on National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) see our guidance.
Modifications and Award Amendments
Types of Project Modifications/Amendments
Date modifications are revisions in the end date of the award. They may either extend the end date or shorten the end date. Typically, these modifications are annual and extend the end date by a year. This type of modification may be combined with funding modifications.
Funding modifications are typically annual increases in the award amount. These modifications may be issued at any time during the life of the award, and they may be deobligations, which is a decrease in the award amount. This type of modification may be combined with a date modification.
No Cost Extensions
For awards that are not subject to Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP)FDP is the cooperative initiative among some Federal agencies, selected recipient organizations, and certain professional associations. Its efforts include demonstration projects intended to simplify and standardize Federal requirements in order to increase research productivity and reduce administrative costs. guidance, a PI/PD may request a No-Cost Extension (NCE), or revision in the end date of the project, in order to complete scientific or technical goals. Justification for the extension must be included in the request. If an award is subject to FDP prior approvals, then the PI/PD may send the request for the first NCE, with justification, to their department’s Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS) and OSR will review and approve the request as applicable.
NCEs do not include additional funding, and there are restrictions on when these may be requested and how many may be requested. Please refer to your department’s SPS for project specific assistance.
Institutional Initiated Modifications
Institutional modifications can include revisions in the scope of workThe aims, objectives, and purposes of a grant application; as well as the methodology, approach, analyses or other activities; and the tools, technologies, and timeframes needed to meet the grant’s objectives., a change in PI/PD, a change in the institution performing the research or additions of subrecipients, as well as other revisions as requested. These requests are initiated by the recipient institution and must be sent to the sponsor via OSR.
Sponsor Initiated Modifications
Sponsor modifications not only include the date and funding modifications but also changes in Key PersonnelThe PD/PI and other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation under the grant. at the sponsoring agency, changes in sponsor policy and guidelines or a change in sponsoring agency. These modifications are initiated by the sponsoring agency and must be reviewed and accepted by OSR.
Projects tend to grow and evolve during their lifecycle. It is expected that some changes may be significant enough to warrant approval before any action is taken. Select types of changes require Prior ApprovalThe written approval by a sponsor evidencing consent in advance of certain activities or specific costs on the part of the recipient. from OSR or the sponsor.
Prior Approval Action Types
A request submitted to the sponsor for additional funding under an existing project greater than the amount awarded or proposed.
Alterations and Renovations
Unplanned work that changes the interior arrangement or other physical characteristics of an existing facility or the installation of equipment so that it can be used to meet the project’s programmatic requirements.
An alteration to the proposed or awarded budgetThe financial plan for the project or program that the awarding agency or pass-through entity approves during the award process or in subsequent amendments to the award. that requires sponsor prior approval in advance of any change.
A request to use unspent funds remaining at the end of a previous budget periodThe intervals of time, which a project period is divided into, for the obligation of funds based on budgetary, funding and allocation purposes. when not automatically allowed by the sponsor.
Change in Scope
Activities that alter any of the following aspects of an awarded project:
- AimsA component of an application’s Research Plan which describes the goals of the proposed research and summarizes the expected outcomes, including the impact that the results of the proposed research will exert on the research fields involved.
- Objective or project purposes
- Tools or technologies used
- Timeframe needed to meet all objectives
- Research or training plan
Property with a useful life of more than one year with a cost greater than or equal to $5,000, either purchased within the last six months of a project or not expressly included in the proposal budget or the award.
Travel outside the United States and its holdings.
Transfer of legal and administrative responsibility for a sponsored project from one institution to another during the life of the project. It regularly occurs when a PD/PI transfers to a new institution.
Key Personnel Changes
Addition or removal of Key PersonnelThe PD/PI and other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation under the grant. participating in the project. See PD/PI Changes for specific information on requirements for that type of change.
Key Personnel Effort Reduction
A reduction in the amount of effortThe measurement of personnel time devoted towards a specific task. Time provided to sponsored projects is required to be monitored and documented to guarantee the amount of pledged time is equal to the time spent. The percentage of salary paid by a sponsored project must not exceed the amount of time spent on the project. being provided by Key Personnel.
New Foreign Component
The creation of a new plan to perform any significant programmatic portion of the project outside the United States, whether or not project funds are being used. It applies to the University’s employees performing activities abroad or personnel employed by a foreign organization.
Creation of a new subrecipient collaboration that was not identified in the proposed project or the award. Additional approvals may be required for new subrecipients in foreign countries.
No Cost Extensions
A request to extend the project’s performance period with no additional funds.
Patient Care Costs
The incurrence of costs related to routine and ancillary services provided by hospitals to participants when not previously approved by the sponsor.
The incurrence of costs such as stipends, subsistence allowances, and travel for participants or trainees when not previously approved by the sponsor.
The removal or replacement of a PD/PI or any change made to a project’s Co-PI management agreement.
PD/PI disengagement from the project for more than three months due to events such as sabbaticals, temporary relocation, extended travel, and all other types of leave.
Any cost incurred in anticipation of a funded project before the beginning of the performance period or a start of the next competitive segment.
Prior Approval Methods
Internal University Approval
Internal University Approval is where the prior approval authority has been delegated to the University to manage. The Prior Approval Request then only requires OSR approval.
External Sponsor Approval
External Sponsor Approval is any action that requires a formal request submitted to the sponsor. All such actions are required to be submitted through OSR for University approval before submission to the sponsor.
Expanded Authority for Federal Grants
A limited number of Prior Approval action types are provided special authorization by the sponsor. The University is provided the authority to approve these action types. Federal agencies may define and implement Expanded AuthorityThe operating authorities provided by certain Federal Agencies to recipients that waive the requirement for prior approval for specified actions. differently. Consult the award, agency guidelines, and program announcement to confirm what is covered.
This does not remove OSR’s responsibility to review and approve such changes. Expanded authority prior approval changes still must meet Cost PrinciplesThe basic underlying guidelines to the financial management of Federal grant expenditures. They set the attributes used to determine the allowability and use of federal funds by recipient organizations. 200 CFR §245-247 – Subpart E, all terms, and conditions, and not otherwise require sponsor approval.
Federal Demonstration Partnership
The Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) is an initiative between select Federal agencies and recipient institutions to reduce the administrative burdens associated with research administration. One of their efforts established a matrix for participating members identifying the prior approval requirements. It is included in the Federal Research Terms and Conditions (RTC).
The Prior Approval Matrix identifies the activity and the method of approval that is required. Actions, where prior written approval is waived, are allowed to be approved by OSR. All other activities require external sponsored approval.
An active and up-to-date research protocolThe detailed account of procedures and interaction being completed by a researcher in connection with animal or human subjects. The protocol must be assessed by the appropriate institutional committee., approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB)The administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the organization with which it is affiliated. The Institutional Review Board has the authority to approve, require modifications, or disapprove all research activities that fall within its jurisdiction., must be in place for the duration of interaction with Humans and the handling of their data. Expenditures on Human SubjectsHuman Subject is an individual about whom a researcher obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual or obtains identifiable private information. Regulations governing the use of human subjects in research extend to use of human organs, tissues, and body fluids, graphic, written, or recorded, identifiable to an individual. related activities are not allowed until an IRB approved protocol is in place. Training is required of those involved in Human Subjects research before starting an IRB application. Information on required ethics training is available on the Office of Human Research Ethics (OHRE) website.
IRB protocol applications are subject to review based on three levels. The level of review is based on the risk to the participating human subjects. Only the IRB is authorized to determine the applicable level of review.
Research that meets the definition of less than “minimal risk” can be considered as exempt by the IRB. Select types of research that fall into one of six categories are subject to a less rigorous approval process. This includes research involving data on public officials, select surveys, and focus groups.
Research that meets the definition of no more than “minimal risk” can be considered for expedited review by the IRB. Select types of research that fall one of nine categories may be reviewed under expedited review procedures.
Full Board Review
A Review conducted by a convened IRB committee is required for studies that involve greater than minimal risk or vulnerable subjects who require special protections. Full board reviews are conducted on a regular schedule only, so it is important to plan ahead.
Once a protocol is approved, they do require regular updates and an annual renewal process. Researchers are responsible for reporting unanticipated problems or adverse events that may occur during human subjects research to the IRB. Protocol approvals are required to be maintained throughout a project’s life and must complete the annual renewal process as needed. Further information on the review process and renewals is available on the OHRE website.
Good Clinical Practice (GCP)
Good Clinical Practice is an international ethical and scientific standard put in place to standardize the design, conduct, performance, monitoring, auditing, recording, analysis, and reporting of clinical trials. Compliance with GCP provides assurance that data are reported, results are credible and accurate, and that the rights, safety, confidentiality, and well-being of trial subjects are protected.
All University investigators and research staff involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of clinical trials involving human subjects, a drug, device, or biologic are required to complete GCP training. More information on training is available at the Office of Clinical Trials website.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a broad Federal law that is in part designed to provide national standards for the protection of certain information related to the provision of or payment for health care. As required by HIPAA, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established regulations that implement the Federal law.
In general, the Privacy Rule prohibits health care providers and health plans from using or disclosing an individual’s PHI without written authorization from the individual except for treatment, payment and health care operations. However, the Privacy Rule provides exceptions to this prohibition for a number of public policy reasons. Such exceptions include, but are not limited to, reporting certain injuries to law enforcement officials, reporting child abuse or vulnerable adult abuse, reporting the occurrence of certain diseases to public health officials, and complying with court orders and subpoenas.
Information on University enforcement of privacy issues are available Privacy@UNC website.
Research and educational programs involving live vertebrate animals must be conducted in accordance with the Public Health Service (PHS) policy on Human Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is in charge of ensuring the University’s compliance with applicable regulations. IACUC oversees the review and approval of Animal Subjects protocolsThe detailed account of procedures and interaction being completed by a researcher in connection with animal or human subjects. The protocol must be assessed by the appropriate institutional committee..
An active and up-to-date research protocol, approved by IACUC, must be in place for the duration of interaction with Animal SubjectsAnimals that are utilized in the process of research that are protected by Animal Welfare regulations and legislation. Protection of animal subjects in research is monitored by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.. Expenditures on Animal Subjects related activities are not allowed until an IACUC approved protocol is in place.
Training requirements, University policy, and other information on appropriately managing work with Animal Subjects are available on the IACUC website.
Training in ethical conduct in research is a requirement to accept Federal grants, specifically from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF). It is defined as the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. This includes not only compliance requirements such as managing conflicts of interestA situation where financial or personal considerations, circumstances, and relationships may compromise or appear to compromise the objectivity of an individual performing research duties or responsibilities. but also responsible authorship and working collaboratively.
The University is required to provide instruction for individuals preparing for careers as research scientists. Training is provided regardless of the discipline, career aspiration, or source of research support.
RCR Training Components:
- Research Misconduct
- Human Subjects Protection
- Animal Subjects Protection
- Conflicts of Interest
- Data Management
- Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities
- Collaborative Research
- Peer Review
- Authorship and Publication
More information on the University’s implementation of RCR training can be found at the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.
Conflict of Interest is defined as a situation where financial or personal considerations may compromise, involve the potential of compromising or may have the appearance of compromising objectivity. The University’s Conflict of Interest Program is responsible for management of such conflicts that may arise from research, technology transfer, or other facets of professional activities in research.
Specific Sponsors may have specialized requirements on Conflicts of Interest.
Federal laws and regulations control the transport and distribution of sensitive items and information with foreign entities whether in the United States (U.S.) or abroad. These requirements exist to safeguard national security interests and U.S. foreign policy. U.S. Export Control laws and regulations are managed by three different Federal agencies: US Department of Commerce, US Department of State, and the US Department of the Treasury. The Federal government enforces significant criminal and civil penalties for noncompliance. This can be applied both to the PI/PD and the University.
The majority of research conducted at the University is covered under the Fundamental Research Exclusion. This exempts the institution from complying with export control requirements for basic and applied research activities in science and engineering, where the results of the research are published and shared broadly within the scientific community. This contributes to why the University attempts to remove any restrictions on publication requested by sponsors at negotiation.
U.S. Department of Commerce – Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
EAR regulates items considered as “dual-use,” meaning something that may have civil and commercial applications, but also something that may have strategic military or terrorist applications. Regulated items are listed on the Commerce Control List.
U.S. Department of State – International Traffic in Arms (ITAR)
U.S. Department of the Treasury – Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
For more information on identifying and managing Export Control issues please, visit the UNC Environment, Health and Safety website.
The University Office for Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) manages the requirements governing workplace safety, hazardous materials, and houses the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). Proper management of laboratories, chemical safety, and environmental affairs are regulatory requirements that the University must meet. For more information on health and safety issues relevant to research, please visit the EHS website or any of the following locations:
Working with Subrecipients
When the University serves as the Pass-Through Entity (PTE)Pass-through entity means an entity that provides a subaward to a subrecipient to carry out part of an agreement. with a subrecipient collaborator, the University acts as the sponsor. The PTE is obligated to monitor and confirm the subrecipient’s compliance with the project’s terms and conditions and any other applicable regulations. See Subrecipient MonitoringThe requirement and culpability to ensure the compliance of another entity to the rules and regulations of a sponsored project in place of the Sponsor. The Pass-Through Entity then assumes the monitoring responsibility of the sponsor as there is no direct relationship between the Subrecipient and the PTE’s sponsor..
Uniform Guidance details the requirements the University must complete for each subrecipient that receives Federal funding under a University project:
- Evaluation of the subrecipient’s risk of noncompliance
- Obtain and review the subrecipient’s annual audit
- Establish the appropriate level of monitoring for the subrecipient
- Monitor the subrecipient’s activities and compliance throughout the life of the collaboration
PD/PIs and Departmental Administrators assist in the monitoring by reviewing the subrecipient’s progress and invoices submitted for payment.
- Review subrecipient’s Progress Reports assessing that the subrecipient is meeting their technical obligations
- Review subrecipient invoices to confirm that spending matches the level of activity being completed by the subrecipient
- Indicate approval of subrecipient invoices for payment by PI signature
Departmental Administrators Responsibilities
- Assist in obtaining Progress Reports from the subrecipient for project renewals
- Assist with confirming that subrecipient spending matches the level of activity being completed
- Obtain PD/PI approval for all invoices before processing for payment
- Process subrecipient invoices for payment in ConnectCarolina
Financial administration references all financial actions that relate to a specific agreement. Financial transactions are not final until they are appropriately routed, approved and posted in the University’s financial system, ConnectCarolina’s General Ledger. All transactions are governed by Federal, University and sponsor specific guidelines.
At a broad Federal level, Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200 Subpart E – Cost Principles, and 2 CFR 200 Subpart D – Post Federal Award Requirements, as well as the Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR), governs all aspects of financial administration for Federally sponsored projects. These regulations govern what type of expenses are allowable, how the University may categorize expenses, how indirect costs are accounted for and how we draw down, report or invoice for expenses.
At the University level, the Finance Department and OSR have specific policies and operating standards that govern financial actions related to sponsored projects. Accounting practices used by the University are also dictated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), which provides the standards used for accounting across the country.
Individual sponsors also have financial restrictions, which are outlined in the agreement, master agreement or published on their website. Each project is governed by the individual agreement, including what expenses are allowable and how the sponsor wants them categorized. See Agreement Types.
All financial transactions at the University are initiated via ConnectCarolina. There are numerous types of transactions that can be entered to effect alterations in a project’s finances. Below are the main transactions used for sponsored projects. * All projects should be reconciled monthly per best practices.
These are the all system-generated actions that affect a project’s financial state. It includes budget, budget revisions, expenses, incoming and outgoing payments and financial reporting or invoicing. Within ConnectCarolina, there are numerous transaction types used to affect a project’s finances. Below are the ConnectCarolina transactions relevant to sponsored projects.
These transactions are used to correct previously entered transactions, settle cash advances, bill internally within the University, and add department deposits to ConnectCarolina.
|Billing||This action creates invoices for other University departments within your School/College and outside of your School/College.|
|Cash Advance Settlement||This journal reconciles open cash advances.|
|Correcting JE||This journal corrects transactions that did not place the expense on the correct chartfield string. This does not correct incorrect account codes; please email OSRHelp@unc.edu.|
|Deposits and Accounts Receivable||Allows the department to create deposits in ConnectCarolina, specifically if they have funds from a cash advance remaining.|
|Office of Sponsored Research||This is a journal to request a residual fund transfer. The amount and allowability should be confirmed before creating this journal.|
|Other Campus JE||This journal corrects transactions that occurred before the two most recent fiscal years.|
All Key Personnel must report their effortThe measurement of personnel time devoted towards a specific task. Time provided to sponsored projects is required to be monitored and documented to guarantee the amount of pledged time is equal to the time spent. The percentage of salary paid by a sponsored project must not exceed the amount of time spent on the project. for Federally sponsored projects. This is calculated using the employees Institutional Base Salary (IBS)The annual compensation paid by an institution for an employee’s appointment, independent of the types of activities performed. This generally includes the research, instruction, administration, service, and clinical duties performed by any one employee. and the calculated Person MonthsThe unit use to express effort (amount of time) personnel devote to a specific project. The effort is based on the type of appointment of the individual such as a 12 month or 9 month.
If personnel need to be removed or added to a sponsored project, the department will work with the effort reporting team to make this correction, before the end of the project. There are two types of transactions, processed via the ecrt system, that are used to make personnel corrections:
- Electronic Personnel Action Request (ePAR)ePARs are eforms in ConnectCarolina that must be completed to certify all effort for specific periods for all personnel working on sponsored projects. – for an effort that needs to be corrected during the project period an ePAR is used to correct the amount of effort for a person, to move them onto or off a project or change their salary source.
- Payroll Accounting Adjustment Tool (PAAT) – for an effort that needs to be retroactively corrected, a PAAT will need to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
References the transactions in ConnectCarolina’s ePro system, which include purchase orders (PO), requisitions and vendor submittals and payments. Purchase orders are created by Finance’s Procurement Services after they have reviewed and approved requisitions from the department. Once the PO is created, it is either canceled, partially reconciledThe process of proving or documenting that expenditures are accurate through the comparison of financial entries with supporting documentation., or completely reconciled by the department using a voucher. Please note that POs create encumbrances on sponsored projects and these encumbrances must be liquidated or reconciled before the end of the project. The departments, to ensure completion of the order, should monitor all POs and requisitions, and update that information in ConnectCarolina.
Departments are responsible for reviewing all of their subrecipient invoices, paying them on time and correctly charging them to the appropriate project chartfield string. For all charges that are NOT subject to F&A chargesThose costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefitted without effort disproportionate to the results achieved., please use account 569461 and for all others that are subject to F&A use account code 569486. All Federal sponsors only allow the first $25,000 of each subrecipient agreement to charge F&A per each five-year segment.
Transactions within ConnectCarolina that are used to place expenses on a project, pay vendors for services and goods, and generate and pay invoices for vendors. There are many types of vouchers that can be created in ConnectCarolina. A Regular Voucher is the most common for placing expenses on sponsored projects.
GradStar is the system used by departments to enter student awards for tuition remission. Non-service awards, fee awards and tuition awards are managed through GradStar. The system automatically places the charges for tuition on the account code 568810. Instructions on how to complete entry of awards in the system may be found here. All tuition charges are governed by 2 CFR Subpart E – Cost Principles.
A cost transfer is used to move expenses onto or off a project and includes vouchers and journals. There are certain criteria that must be met for any cost transfer to be allowable:
- Must conform to Federal, University and sponsor guidelines
- Must be initiated before the KK end date
- Must be fully documented and justified
- Must have appropriate approvals
Cash that is advanced for sponsored project activities that utilize unrestricted, University funds for business activities. Cash advances are requested using a voucher, reviewed and approved by your department’s SPS and approved in ConnectCarolina by your department’s Pre-Audit technician. All outstanding cash advances must be reconciledThe process of proving or documenting that expenditures are accurate through the comparison of financial entries with supporting documentation. via a journal 60 – 90 days after they have been received. If they are not reconciled, the department will have to cover this cost. Please use account code 559510 to request and reconcile advances.
All sponsor-mandated cost share, in-kind contributions, and matching must be reported to the sponsor and should be expensed to the project’s chartfield string using source code 49999 and charged within the period of performance.
When a project generates gross income directly from a sponsored activity or income is earned as a result of the award during the performance period. Program incomeGross income earned by the non-Federal entity that is directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the Federal award during the period of performance. Except as otherwise provided in Federal statutes, regulations, or the terms and conditions of the Federal award, program income does not include rebates, credits, discounts, and interest earned on any of them. includes income from fees for services performed, the sale of commodities or items fabricated under an award, and license fees and royalties on patents and copyrights. Interest earned on advances of Federal funds is not program income. All program income must be used in support of the initial sponsored project unless otherwise stipulated by the agreement.
Recharge Service Centers (RSC)
RSCs support sponsored projects by providing researchers and scientists with access to infrastructure, scientific technologies, and services that are normally beyond the technical or financial capability of individual PD/PIs. Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB) regulations referenced in 2 CFR 200-Subpart E apply to RSCs that charge sponsored projects.
Consultant and Independent Contractor Payments
Consultants and independent contractors are considered a service and are paid via a campus voucher, if less than $5,000, or a requisition, if greater than $5000. No consulting or contractor fees may be charged to a sponsored project unless it is pre-approved or receives sponsor approval. For further information on how to process payments, please see the University’s Finance procurement page.
These are all reports, either technical, scientific or financial, that are due throughout the life of the sponsored project. Sponsors typically provide their templates and guidelines for reporting, and these are used in place of the University template for reporting. Reporting periods may be monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual. Each sponsored project is either cost-reimbursable, meaning we report exactly what was spent during that reporting period, or fixed-priceA type of agreement where the awarding agency or pass-through entity provides a specific level of support without regard to actual costs incurred under the award. This reduces some of the administrative burden and record-keeping requirements for both entities., which means we receive fixed installment amounts. For fixed-price agreements, a financial report may be required to receive payment based on performance milestones or progress reports.
Technical and Scientific Reporting
The PD/PI, who is responsible for the technical and scientific reports, must prepare all reports using the sponsor mandated templates and follow all requirements for the report outlined in the agreement or on the sponsor’s website. See Programmatic Reporting Requirements. The reports must be submitted at the intervals indicated in the agreement and payment may be contingent upon submission and acceptance of the technical/scientific report. If a scientific report is required for OSR to submit a financial report or invoice, notify OSRBilling@unc.edu as soon as the report has been submitted and accepted by the sponsor. Some standard elements for inclusion are:
- outlined objectives versus accomplishments
- why the objectives were not met, if applicable
- other pertinent information deemed necessary by the sponsor
All financial reports/invoices will be prepared and submitted by OSR using GASB and GAAP standards as well as agency-specific guidelines and templates, except for industry clinical trialsClinical Trial means a research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (placebo and/or control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical and behavioral outcomes.. Any transactions that are not posted in ConnectCarolina’s General Ledger will not be reported or billed to the sponsor. Transactions that are unallowable will be removed from the project.
Managing Carryover Funds
Carryover or carryforward references the remaining funds at the end of a budget period. Some awards allow the funds to be used in the subsequent budget periods. There can be no deficiencies in subrecipient projects, subprojects or the Prime project, and the agreement must state that carryover is allowable. If the agreement does not reference carryover, then please contact your department’s Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS) to request carryover. If carryover is approved, the SPS will do a budget revision to release funds for department use. Carryover for a budget period may not be requested until the final report/invoice has been submitted and accepted by the sponsor for that budget periodThe intervals of time, which a project period is divided into, for the obligation of funds based on budgetary, funding, and allocation purposes..
All sponsored projects are subject to Federal, University and sponsor guidelines concerning the closing of active projects. The University follows 2 CFR §200.343-345 as the standard for closing awards. It includes, but is not limited to:
- The review, revision and final submission of all reports and documentation
- Liquidation of all allowable obligations incurred during the project period
- Receipt of correct payments from the funding agency
- Refund of any unobligated cash as necessitated by the sponsor
- Adjustments in payment amounts must be confirmed and received by the recipient
- All subrecipient payments must be completed
- Accurate account of any real and personal property acquired using agency funds
All projects must have liquidated encumbrances, accurate expenses and accurate payroll in ConnectCarolina’s General Ledger, all reports and documentation must be completed and accepted by the sponsor and, all patents, invention statements, etc. must be filed for the project to be marked as closed in the system.
All technical/scientific reports must be completed by the PD/PI using the sponsor’s required template and contain all required information. They must also be submitted using the correct sponsor portal and within the allocated timeframe. Any delay in the final technical/scientific report can cause a delay in receipt of final payment. If a scientific report is required for OSR to submit a financial report or invoice, notify OSRBilling@unc.edu as soon as the report has been submitted and accepted by the sponsor. If the final technical/scientific report must be submitted with the final financial report, please send it to OSRBilling@unc.edu as urgent.
All final financial reports/invoices must be prepared and submitted by the OSR. The PD/PI and department administrator should work with their assigned Sponsored Projects Accountant (SPA) to make any needed corrections to a project’s finances within ConnectCarolina. If an expense or change is not reflected in the General Ledger, it will not be reported to the sponsor. Any request that a department receives from OSR must be made promptly to ensure that financial compliance with sponsor, University, and Federal guidelines are met.
All other documentation required by the sponsor must be submitted by the required deadline using the required template. It may include but is not limited to, invention statements, patent application, release statements, data storage information, patient information, etc. Each sponsor will have different requirements outlined in the agreement or on their website. Please review carefully to ensure compliance with the agreement. If documentation is required for OSR to submit a financial report or invoice, notify OSRBilling@unc.edu as soon as the documentation has been submitted and accepted by the sponsor. If the final documentation must be submitted with the final financial report, please send it to OSRBilling@unc.edu as urgent.
Residual funds are the funds remaining on a sponsored project after the objectives have been met and all final payments have been received and only applies to fixed-price agreementsA type of agreement where the awarding agency or pass-through entity provides a specific level of support without regard to actual costs incurred under the award. This reduces some of the administrative burden and record-keeping requirements for both entities.. A residual transfer can be requested via a journal after the final report/invoice is submitted to the sponsor and all payments have been received. Please confirm the amount remaining with your SPA. If the transfer is for more than 25% of the total funding amount, please attach justification for the amount to the journal that is signed by the PD/PI, department administrator or department head. Please note that not all sponsors allow the University to retain the funds not expended on a project, please confirm this with your SPS.
All University records are subject to General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. Research and Grant information is found on pages 69-78 and include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Animal records
- AHEC records
- Deviations, compliant and violation records
- Effort certifications records
- Conflict of interest records
- Proposal and award records
- Financial records
- Technical/Scientific records
- Human subject/IRB records
Please note that each type of record may have a different retention period. All sponsored projects are also subject to State retention guidelines, of five years and individual sponsor guidelines. Please note that all records must be retained for the longest applicable time. Please contact University Archives and Records Management Services for more information on University retention policies.
Per NC G.S. 159-34 – Single Audit and 2 CFR Subpart 5 – Audit Requirements the University is subject to a single annual audit of all financial records, including all sponsored projects. ConnectCarolina’s General Ledger is the official University book of record that is audited, and this includes all supporting documentation. Any documentation about any aspect of finances may be pulled for review during the applicable retention period. All backup document for all expenses placed on sponsored projects should be retained by the department during the applicable retention periodThe period of time a document is required to be formally retained by an institution, including departments. The OSR’s Cost Analysis and Compliance unit is responsible for all sponsored research audit and should be contacted for any audit-related questions, concerns or request.