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. Fixed Fringe Rate Agreement Announced (Thursday, July 2, 2020)

Dear Colleagues,  

The University of Delaware has submitted FY21 Fringe Benefit Proposal to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the period 7/1/2020 to 6/30/2021. You will find a letter from the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Deputy Treasurer on the Research Office (RO) website for your reference. You will also find the new rates on the RO website in the UD Proposal Development Guide.

Effective immediately, all new proposals will use the provisional fringe rates which have been programmed into PeopleSoft. These rates will also be applied to existing awards. Please note that these provisional rates have not yet been finalized with our new cognizant agency, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Several job aids have been revised for use by the research community regarding the fringe rates:

  1. Attached to this email please find an updated FY20-21 Salary Reference Sheet
  2. The Research Office has modified the budget template found on our website under Frequently Asked Questions, Getting Started, “How do I construct a budget?” to include the updated rates.
  3. The Research Office has also updated the budget justification template found on our website under Budgets & Rates, Budget Justification Template.

If you have any questions, please contact your Contract & Grant Specialist.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Friedland
Associate Vice President, Research Administration

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

2. Tagging COVID-19 Research Costs (Wednesday, June 17, 2020)

COVID-19 Research Costs

Tagging COVID-19 research costs will make it easier to identify, review, and clean-up costs as sponsor guidance continues to evolve.  Monitoring COVID-19 costs will also allow leadership to gauge the potential financial impact to the institution and its research portfolio. While there is no commitment to cover these costs with institutional funds, UD continues to advocate with sponsors for cost extensions during the pandemic.

The tagging includes costs that are allocated to extramural funding due to sponsor-issued administrative relief temporarily allowing costs that are not normally chargeable to awards, as well as other costs associated with loss of operations. The primary examples include:

  • Personnel costs for individuals that may be unable to work as a result of or related to the effects of COVID-19.
  • Non-refundable costs associated with the cancellation of events, travel, or other activities necessary and reasonable for the performance of the award.
  • Costs associated with ramping down research efforts (ex. abandoned experiments, etc.).
  • Costs associated with ramping up research efforts when the time comes (ex. replacement supplies for abandoned experiments, etc.).
  • Costs of PPE donated (including PPE prepared) by researchers to support local response efforts.  Due to the public health emergency, some agencies may provide flexibilities in spending and consider these “other costs” that may potentially be allowable. As a specific example, NIH COVID-19 FAQ Section 4, Part D, No. 6  indicates recipients may donate PPE and other lab supplies in support of COVID-19 efforts.

Tagging Guidance

While the specific period for tagging costs may vary by sponsor, the general timeframe should be considered as March 2020 onward, through the expiration of the sponsored-issued administrative relief and if applicable the ramping up of research efforts.

Personnel Costs

The Provost’s Office has issued guidance that personnel costs should be tagged with Userfield “CV19-COMP”.  Please note that the Userfield is titled “UD Chartfield” in the LAM.

 Non-Personnel Costs

The Research Office recommends that units tag non-personnel costs that are allocated to sponsored programs with Userfield “CV19-RSCH”.

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

3. Allocating Sponsored Expenditures to Temporary Purpose Codes (Wednesday, June 17, 2020)

Allocating Sponsored Expenditures to Temporary Purpose Codes

The Research Office would like to remind department administrators about adherence to Uniform Guidance regulations to avoid temporarily charging expenses to purpose codes, specifically 2 CFR section 200.405: Allocable Costs. All efforts should be made to initially allocate the expense to the correct purpose code as to avoid cost transfers at later dates. If the purpose code is unavailable at the time of the expenditure, the expense should be allocated to either a departmental pending/holding code or, if applicable, a request for a pre-award purpose code should be made to the Research Office. Under no circumstances should a sponsored purpose code be used to temporarily hold expenses that are to be transferred to another award at a later date.

An administrator should charge salary expenditures to an award only if they are confident the accompanying level of effort was performed on the award. If there is uncertainty regarding the effort distribution of an individual over the course of a pay period, a non-sponsored departmental code should be charged until the effort of the individual can be confirmed by the PI or the individual themselves.

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

4. Participant Support Costs (Wednesday, June 17, 2020)

Participant Support Costs: Post-Award Monitoring

Participant Support Costs (per Uniform Guidance 2 CFR § 200.75) are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees.  Please be aware that some federal sponsors may place additional restrictions on these types of costs.  For example, the NIH Grants Policy Statement notes that participant support is only allowable when it is identified in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to which the PI applies to.  If it was not specifically identified in the FOA, participant support costs are unallowable.

Undergraduate research programs that issue stipends for research or training experiences, such as the Summer Scholars Program, are participant support costs.  Since participants do not provide services it is not necessarily clear how they benefit the award.  If a PI would like to fund an undergraduate researcher providing services in direct benefit of an award, the appropriate option is to employ the individual, so the costs are expensed as a salary/wage.  The addition of a participant program, where not previously awarded, may be considered a change in scope requiring an agency’s prior approval.

Listed below are some helpful questions to consider when choosing to allocate participant support costs to a sponsored program:

  • Does the awarding agency have any policy restrictions on participant support costs?
  • How were the funds internally budgeted in PeopleSoft upon receipt of the award?
  • Is prior approval of the awarding agency required in order to allocate participant support costs?

Additional guidance on participant support costs can be found in the Grant Management Guide.  For any questions, please consult with your unit’s assigned Contract & Grants Specialist in the Research Office.

 

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

5. NSF Bio Sketch and Support Document Format Webinar (Thursday, April 16, 2020)

NSF BIO SKETCH & SUPPORT DOCUMENT FORMAT WEBINAR

April 16, 2020

Dear Colleagues,  

  NSF recently recorded a webinar about the requirement to use an NSF-approved format for both the biographical sketch and current & pending support documents as part of proposals submitted to NSF. The policy, outlined in the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1), goes into effect for proposals submitted or due, on or after June 1, 2020.  The two NSF-approved formats are SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae, and an NSF Fillable PDF.   Webinar topics include:

  • the policy guidance for preparation of the biographical sketch and current and pending support sections of the proposal;  
  • a walk-through of the user experience in accessing these formats in NSF systems;
  • detailed guidance from NIH on using SciENcv for preparing both documents; and
  • answers to a number of frequently asked questions.

  For additional information, see the NSF pages for the biographical sketch and current and pending support.  We would like your feedback on these formats prior to the June 1st requirement. Please provide your comments and questions to policy@nsf.gov

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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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

9. 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

10. 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

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