Operational Excellence

IN RESEARCH ADMINISTRATION

WHY WE’RE DOING THIS

The quality of administrative services provided by the Research Office is critical to creating an efficient and effective research environment at the University. Our goals during this initiative are to:

  • Improve service to faculty who participate in sponsored research
  • Increase process efficiency via enhanced policies, procedures, tools, and systems
  • Bolster institutional compliance with federal and sponsor requirements
  • Implement performance metrics to continuously review administrative effectiveness

 

PROGRESS UPDATES

We will be engaging the broader research community and sharing our progress throughout this transformation effort. Ongoing communications and status updates can be viewed in the announcement section below.

Announcements

1. OPERA April 2020 (Wednesday, April 1, 2020)

In recent months, the University has been focused on improving services for research administration under the Operational Excellence in Research Administration (OPERA) initiative. Throughout this initiative, the Research Office has worked closely with colleagues across campus to reevaluate and enhance various processes and resources. Our goal has been to increase support to faculty by increasing efficiency and reducing administrative burden in several areas.

As a result, we are announcing new process enhancements and resources available effective immediately:

New Process Enhancements and ResourcesKey Impacts
Subawards
Provider Category Determination WorksheetThe Provider Category Determination Worksheet was updated to a fillable PDF:

·       Questions on this form have been updated to increase accuracy of UD determination of external subrecipients versus contractors.

·       Subaward documents can be attached to this form to combine related UD Financials: PeopleSoft uploads during proposal submission.

Bolster Compliance &
Promote Efficiency
Subaward Management PolicyThe new Subaward Management Policy outlines PI, unit, and Research Office responsibilities for managing outgoing subawards execution, amendment, monitoring, and closeout.Clarify Roles & Responsibilities
Closeout
Technical ReportsAttaching “Proof of Submission” documentation is no longer required for technical reports on the ACR webform:

·       The ACR Webform question serves only as a reminder for unit administrators to notify the PI of relevant sponsor due dates, and to contact Contract and Grants Specialists for applicable federal submissions (ex: NIH).

·       It is the PI/unit’s responsibility to store copies of submitted technical reports and provide them to the Research Office if necessary (ex: to support billing or audit requests).

Reduce Administrative Burden
Research Office Record Retention ProcedureA new Research Office Record Retention Procedure has been implemented by the Research Office to provide guidance on document maintenance and destruction.

·       The standard record retention period is 4 years after the award end date for sponsored programs documents.

·       Certain sponsors may have longer record retention periods; additional exceptions are outlined in the procedure.

·       Units will no longer receive any physical files from the Research Office due to transition to electronic filing practices.

Promote Efficiency
Transactions
Direct Charging ProcedureThe new Direct Charging Procedure outlines cost principles and UD standards for allocating expenditures to sponsored research programs. This includes instructions and examples for split cost allocations.Mitigate Financial Risk

 

We will continue to provide updates as the OPERA initiative progresses. Please reach out to the Research Office with any questions or ongoing feedback.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jeff Friedland
All Announcements

2. NSF-Approved Biographical Sketch & Current & Pending Support Formats (Wednesday, April 1, 2020)

Dear Colleagues:

We are pleased to announce the availability of both NSF-approved formats for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support sections of National Science Foundation (NSF) proposals that fall under the revised Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1) (see the February 6, 2020 webinar for complete details on all revisions to the PAPPG).

 

Although use of an NSF-approved format for submission of these proposal sections is not required until implementation of the revised PAPPG (NSF 20-1) on June 1, 2020, NSF is encouraging proposers to begin using the NSF-approved formats now. NSF values the feedback from the research community, and we would like to hear about your experience with the new NSF-approved formats. Information about how to provide feedback is included below.

 

Use of an NSF-approved format aims to reduce administrative burden and improve efficiencies by providing proposers with a compliant and reusable way to maintain this information for subsequent proposal submissions to NSF, while also ensuring that the information is submitted in a standard and searchable composition.

 

NSF-approved Formats

  • SciENcv: NSF has partnered with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae as an NSF-approved format for use in preparation of both the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support sections of an NSF proposal. SciENcv will produce an NSF-compliant PDF version of the documents which proposers can save and submit as part of their proposals via FastLane, Research.gov or Grants.gov. Additional information about the NSF-approved SciENcv formats is available on the NSF biographical sketch and current and pending support websites.

 

The SciENcv tool integrates with ORCID, enabling proposers to populate their Biographical Sketches by importing data directly from their ORCID records rather than having to manually enter all the required information. Additionally, Biographical Sketch data maintained in SciENcv can be quickly and easily updated on an ongoing basis for subsequent proposal submissions.

 

  • NSF Fillable PDF: NSF is also providing a fillable PDF as an NSF-approved format for use to prepare both the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support sections of an NSF proposal. Proposers can download the respective fillable PDF form from the NSF biographical sketch and current and pending support websites and then submit the completed forms as part of their proposals via FastLane, Research.gov or Grants.gov. Note that the NSF fillable PDF for the Biographical Sketch does not integrate with ORCID.

 

It is important to note that beginning June 1, 2020, proposers will be required to use one of the NSF-approved formats for both the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support sections of NSF proposals. Proposals submitted via FastLane, Research.gov and Grants.gov will be compliance checked to ensure that the documents were prepared in accordance with this new policy.

We Want Your Feedback

Although not required for proposal submission until June 1, 2020, we hope that you will start using the NSF-approved formats for Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support as soon as possible. If you have any feedback that would help us make improvements to the two formats in the future, please let us know. Feedback may be submitted by email to policy@nsf.gov or via the Research.gov Feedback page (select “Biographical Sketch” or “Current & Pending Support” under the Site Area dropdown menu).

Upcoming Webinars

To assist the community about these new requirements and to start using SciENcv now, NSF and NIH are planning to conduct a joint webinar that will include a walk-through of how to prepare the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documents in SciENcv. Information will be provided as soon as it is available, and we encourage you to sign up for notifications

 

We also invite you to participate in the next NSF Electronic Research Administration (ERA) Forum on May 14, 2020 at 1:00PM – 2:30PM EDT where we will discuss the NSF-approved format requirements, as well as the new capability to prepare and submit separately submitted collaborative proposals in Research.gov. To sign up for ERA Forum notifications including registration availability for the May 14 event, please send a blank email to NSF-ERA-FORUM-subscribe-request@listserv.nsf.gov and you will be automatically enrolled.

 

Training Resources

The following training resources are now available, and NSF will continue to keep the community informed as additional resources are released.

Biographical Sketch Resources

 

Current and Pending Support Resources

 

Questions? Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov. If you have technical or IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 (7:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET; Monday – Friday except federal holidays) or via fastlane@nsf.gov.

Regards,

Jean

 

Jean Feldman

Head, Policy Office

Division of Institution and Award Support

Office of Budget, Finance & Award Management

National Science Foundation

email: policy@nsf.gov

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jean Feldman

3. OPERA Updates (Tuesday, October 8, 2019)

In recent months, the University has been focused on improving services for research administration under the Operational Excellence in Research Administration (OPERA) initiative. Throughout this initiative, the Research Office has worked closely with colleagues across campus to reevaluate and enhance various processes and resources. Our goal has been to increase support to faculty by increasing efficiency and reducing administrative burden in several areas.

As a result, we are announcing new process enhancements and resources available effective immediately:

New Process Enhancements and Resources

Key Impacts

Award Setup

Chart of Accounts Notice (COA)

The Chart of Accounts (COA) Notice has been updated to simplify email communications and links to resources for new awards and modifications.

Streamline Communications

Sponsor Terms & Conditions Webpage

A new Sponsor Terms and Conditions webpage has been created as a one-stop resource for common sponsor guidelines.

Clarify Responsibilities

Proposal Submission

UD Financials: PeopleSoft Proposal Entry User Guide

A new UD Financials: PeopleSoft User Guide for Proposal Submission has been created to consolidate and simplify step-by-step instructions for proposal entry in UD Financials: PeopleSoft.

Enhance Training Resources

PI Eligibility Form

The PI Eligibility Form has been translated to fillable PDF format to allow for electronic signatures and approval routing.

Promote Efficiency

3-Business-Day Internal Proposal Deadline Policy

The Research Office has adopted an updated 3-Business-Day Internal Proposal Deadline Policy to clarify proposal review aspects and timing:

  • Proposals are due to the Research Office by 8:00am at least 3-Business-Days prior to the sponsor agency deadline. Final technical/scientific content may be omitted until 8:00am on the sponsor agency deadline.
  • The Research Office will follow a “staggered” review process wherein the date a proposal is received dictates the level of review provided by the assigned Contract and Grants Specialist:
    • 3+ Business Days à Full Review (All proposal aspects)
    • 2 Business Days à Limited Review (UD and sponsor requirements)
    • 1 Business Day à Minimal Review (UD institutional risk areas only)
  • An accompanying Sample Proposal Timeline has been created which outlines key components and target dates for standard proposals.

Increase Accountability
&
Ensure Proposal Acceptance

Transactions

Graduate Tuition Policy

The Graduate Tuition Policy has been updated to clarify guidelines for tuition budgeting, policy exceptions, and post-award management:

  • Graduate tuition will be budgeted as a direct charge to all grants and contracts at a minimum rate of 20% of the full-time tuition at the program rate for the fall/spring semesters.

Reduce Administrative Burden
&
Clarify Guidelines

Budget Categories List

The list of active Budget Categories is updated to reflect up-to-date account codes for sponsored programs use.

Mitigate Financial Risk

Cash Management

Accounts Receivables Monitoring, Collections, and Write-Offs Procedure

A new AR Monitoring, Collections, and Write-Offs Procedure has been adopted to standardize and increase follow-up for sponsored research payments.

  • The Department/College Administrator and Principal Investigator will be notified of payments outstanding for 121-180 Days.

Mitigate Financial Risk

Effort Reporting

New Effort Certification View

A New Effort Certification View has been implemented for employees certifying their own reports. Key aspects of the new layout include:

  • An updated summary page containing a simplified effort distribution.
  • The option to add attachments to reports to support certifications.

Enhance Technology
&
Increase Compliance

Automated Dunning Notices for Overdue Effort Reports

Automated dunning notifications will be sent via the Effort Certification System to cut down on overdue effort reports. Notices will be sent to effort administrators and current report holders, gradually escalating to department chairs, assistant deans, and college deans in accordance with UD’s Effort Policy.

Bolster Compliance

We will continue to provide updates as the OPERA initiative progresses. Please reach out to your unit’s Contract and Grants Speciaist in the Research Office with any questions or to provide ongoing feedback.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jeff Friedland

4. New Effort Certification View (Monday, September 30, 2019)

Beginning October 1st, those who log in to the Effort Certification System to certify their own effort reports will see a new view that displays effort distributions in a clearer and simpler layout. Please see below for an example of this new view and details regarding updated features of the report. Please contact effortcert@udel.edu with any questions regarding these changes or effort certification in general.

  1. Admin/Payroll View Button: Effort administrators and employees viewing reports that are not their own will still initially see the “Admin/Payroll” view with commitments and dollar amounts when accessing a report. All users can toggle between views by clicking the “Admin/Payroll view” / “View employee summary” box under the name of the effort administrator at the top of the report.
  2. Sponsored v. Non-Sponsored Activity Detail: Salary distributions are split into two sections: Sponsored activity and non-sponsored activity. The sponsored activity section contains the percentages for direct sponsored salary and corresponding cost share contributions. The non-sponsored activity section contains percentages for payments for internal responsibilities such as instruction, public service, and departmental research.
  3. Action: Towards the bottom of the report, employees have two options: Certify effort for the period or send the report back to the report’s effort administrator for corrections. If the employee selects “Certify effort,” a checkbox will appear along with e-signature boxes to ensure the employee intends to certify the report as accurate.
  4. Notes: Employees can add an optional note in the “Notes” box.
  5. Attachments: Employees also now have the option to add attachments that will be visible to others viewing the report prior to final certification. All common file types are supported (Excel, Word, PDF, JPG, etc.). To add an attachment, click “Choose File,” select the file to be uploaded, click “Open,” and click the green “Add line” button to save the attachment to the report.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Ryan Barthold

5. Updated Effort Certification Reporting Policy (Friday, April 19, 2019)

The Research Office and the Office of General Counsel recently updated the University’s Effort Certification policy to better adhere to Uniform Guidance and reduce administrative burden during the certification process. The primary changes are as follows:

  • There is no longer a five percent limit on the deviation between allocated or “committed” effort and reported or “actual” effort. PIs and other personnel receiving sponsored salary should still adhere to their commitments to the best of their ability and have commitment percentages updated in UD Financials whenever they change from the budgeted amount. It is the responsibility of the department to maintain communication with the sponsor and ensure that the actual effort exhibited is acceptable to the sponsor.
  • The deadline for certification of reports is now 60 days following the close of the reporting period. This deadline puts the University in line with the certification procedures of other large research institutions and ensures that review of reports occurs in a timely manner closer to the applicable reporting period.
  • PIs are reminded that effort certification is a requirement of accepting federal rewards. Knowingly certifying a false report is a violation of University policy and may result in potential disciplinary action and civil or criminal penalties.

The full policy can viewed on the General Counsel’s website.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jeff Friedland

6. Operational Excellence in Research Administration (“OPERA”) initiative (Thursday, March 28, 2019)

March 28, 2019

Dear Colleagues,  

We recently completed an extensive evaluation of the research administration infrastructure at the University of Delaware. The goal of this evaluation was to identify opportunities to enhance processes and technology in support of our research mission and strategic plan for growth.

As a result of this evaluation, the University is now launching the Operational Excellence in Research Administration (“OPERA”) initiative to implement recommended improvements. Our goal is to create an efficient and effective administrative environment in order to increase support to faculty who participate in externally sponsored research.

We have created a webpage to keep you informed about this initiative and invite you to explore its contents. Project updates, outcomes, and links to new policies and procedures will be posted to the website on an ongoing basis to share news of our progress.

Many individuals across the University participated in the initial phase of this initiative, and we hope you continue to provide us with your feedback. We thank you in advance for your contributions to this important endeavor. Please contact us with any questions as we move forward with this new phase.

THE OPERA INITIATIVE

Sincerely,

Charles G. Riordan Vice President for Research, Scholarship & Innovation

Jeffrey Friedland Associate Vice President, Research Administration

 

7. Important revisions have been made to the Resumption of Operations at NSF page on the NSF website (Thursday, January 31, 2019)

Important revisions have been made to the Resumption of Operations at NSF page on the NSF website, including identification of new deadline dates for specific solicitations and Dear Colleague Letters. This updated information will be of interest to your membership and we would appreciate your sharing with your colleagues as soon as possible. This page will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

Policy-related questions regarding the resumption of operations at NSF may be addressed to policy@nsf.gov.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jean Feldman

8. New Resumption of Operations at NSF (Monday, January 28, 2019)

A Resumption of Operations at NSF page has been developed that includes Important Notice No. 145, Resumption of Operations at the National Science Foundation, dated January 28, 2019, as well as supplemental guidance that addresses grant and cooperative agreement-related policy and systems issues. This page will be of interest to your membership and we would appreciate your sharing this link as soon as possible. This page will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

Policy-related questions regarding resumption of operations at NSF may be addressed to policy@nsf.gov.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jean Feldman

9. Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects Update (Common Rule) (Monday, January 21, 2019)

Significant revisions to the “Common Rule” – a regulation that governs research involving human subjects conducted or sponsored by the Federal departments and agencies that have adopted those rules – are expected to take full effect on January 21, 2019.

This is the first revision to the Common Rule since its publication in 1991 and aims to strengthen the protection of research participants, while also reducing administrative burden for investigators.

The UD Institutional Review Board (IRB) will continue providing oversight of any studies reviewed and approved prior to January 21, 2019 under the version of the Common Rule under which the study was originally approved (pre-revisions). All new project submissions to the UD IRB beginning January 21, 2019 will be required to comply with the Revised Common Rule and will need to use the new templates as posted in IRBNet.

A new course on the “Revised Common Rule” is available under the University of Delaware training curriculum at www.citiprogram.org. Below is a summary of several key provisions and changes that will require compliance beginning January 21, 2019.

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact UD IRB

10. Partial Government Shutdown (Wednesday, January 2, 2019)

A partial government shutdown has continued into the new year. While NIH and the Department of Education are funded, others such as NSF, NASA, NOAA, USDA, NIST, and NEH are not. Agency Contingency Plans and FAQs can be found on the OMB website.

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