Notices and Announcements

Here you will find a repository of news and announcements related to research at the University of Delaware from 2011 to the present.

1. ALERT: FastLane and Research.gov Will be Unavailable Nov 8 – Nov 12 (Friday, November 8, 2019)

Dear Colleagues,

ALERT: FastLane and Research.gov will be unavailable from Friday, November 8 at 8:00 PM EST until Tuesday, November 12 at 6:00 AM EST.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is migrating its business applications to a modern and flexible platform from November 8 at 8:00 PM EST through November 12 at 6:00 AM EST. As part of this effort, NSF will also upgrade the alpha-numeric character set used by the FastLane and Research.gov systems to correct text errors, such as special characters displaying as question marks (“?”) in proposals and project reports. This migration has been scheduled over the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend to minimize the impact of the systems downtime on the research community and NSF staff.

During this outage, there will be no access to these websites, proposals cannot be submitted in FastLane or Research.gov, and project reports and cash requests cannot be submitted in Research.gov. However, previously saved information and uploaded documents in FastLane and Research.gov, including in-progress proposals and project reports, will be accessible after the migration is completed.

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. For system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or rgov@nsf.gov. Any policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

We appreciate your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Friedland
Associate Vice President,
Research Administration

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

2. 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

3. 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

4. NIH Policies on Other Support and on Policies Related to Financial Conflicts of Interest and Foreign Components (Thursday, July 11, 2019)

NIH notice is to remind the extramural community about the need to report foreign activities through documentation of other support, foreign components, and financial conflict of interest to prevent scientific, budgetary, or commitment overlap. NIH has long required full transparency for all research activities both domestic and foreign and does not consider these clarifications to be changes in policy. The requirements referenced in this Notice, along with the other obligations in the NIH Grants Policy Statement (NIHGPS) and other terms and conditions of award, are instrumental to achieving the mutual goal of NIH and the extramural community, to protect the integrity of biomedical research.

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

5. NOTICE: 148100 REU Account Code Discontinued Effective July 1, 2019 (Wednesday, June 26, 2019)

The account code 148100 for Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) was originally established in UD PeopleSoft Financials to capture charges for UD awards funded by the NSF REU Program. However, recent analyses conducted by the Research and Finance Offices indicate use of the 148100 account code beyond that of its original purpose, necessitating downstream cleanup to reflect accurate award financials and associated facilities and administrative costs.

As a result, use of the 148100 REU account code will be discontinued at the University of Delaware as of 7/1/2019. For sponsored projects, please consult with your unit’s assigned Contract & Grants Specialist in the Research Office to determine the correct account code(s) to budget and allocate impacted charges moving forward. For most cases, including those related to non-sponsored projects, use of account codes designated for Participant Support Costs is appropriate.

The Research Office is reviewing sponsored projects on an ongoing basis to identify potential actions. If you believe a project you manage may be impacted, please contact your unit’s assigned Sponsored Research Accountant within the Research Office for further assistance.

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

6. U.S. entities working with and conducting business with Chinese government-subsidized companies (Tuesday, May 21, 2019)

For some time now the Federal government has expressed varying degrees of concern regarding U.S. entities working with and conducting business with Chinese government-subsidized companies such as the telecommunication company Huawei Technologies. Recently, those reservations have been formalized and have been elevated to the inclusion of Huawei on Federal government lists for Excluded Parties and Ineligible (Proceedings Pending) Suppliers.

In light of the Federal government’s recent actions and heightened sensitivity and concern pertaining to Huawei and its subsidiaries, the University of Delaware (UD) has suspended its acceptance of donations from and entering into agreements with Huawei and its subsidiaries. This UD decision regarding Huawei is consistent with those made by other leading U.S. research universities such as MIT, Princeton and UC Berkeley. The University’s moratorium extends to knowingly purchasing electronics containing Huawei developed or manufactured technology and software regardless of funding source.

Specific inquiries regarding the UD moratorium on Huawei-related transactions, as they relate to the UD community, may be directed to procurement@udel.edu or UDresearch@udel.edu.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Research Office

7. UD Financials Upgrade – Friday 5/10/19 (Thursday, May 9, 2019)

In conjunction with IT and other Financials stakeholders, we plan to upgrade UD Financials (PeopleSoft) to the latest version of the software starting on Friday, 5/10. We will be using a sequential approach to upgrade Production (FIPRD – proposal entry) first and then Report (FIRPT – queries). What does this mean for your sponsored programs related work?

THURSDAY, 5/9:  Normal access to FIPRD & FIRPT and webforms through the close of business

FRIDAY, 5/10, 7am through Tuesday, 5/14, close of business:  · FIPRD unavailable. No proposals can be entered or edited · No Proposal Approval webforms can be accessed or routed · Conflict of Interest webform cannot be accessed · Budget Revision – Contracts and Grants cannot be accessed · Automated Closeout Reports cannot be accessed · New effort reports cannot be pushed; existing effort reports can be viewed and certified · Some other webforms are unavailable, as described in the 5/2 email from the Controller’s Office

WEDNESDAY, 5/15 through THURSDAY, 5/16: · FIPRD available for normal proposal processing · All RO-related webforms listed above available for normal processing · FIRPT unavailable – no access to PeopleSoft Query

FRIDAY, 5/17:  · Normal access to all systems returned

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Chris White

8. 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

9. 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

 

10. Potential Partial Federal Government Shutdown (Monday, February 11, 2019)

The federal government faces the potential of a repeat partial shutdown when its current budget expires this Friday, February 15, 2019. The agencies that would be impacted are the Departments of: Homeland Security, State, Treasury, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce. Accounts within these agencies include FDA, NIFA, ERS, USDA, NSF, NIST, NOAA, NASA, and many others. As Congress continues to seek resolution with the White House to avert a partial shutdown, I write providing guidance regarding the impact a shutdown would have on UD’s sponsored programs. In brief, it is expected that work on active awards will continue during a shutdown. New awards funded out of the affected agencies will not be initiated nor will pending proposals be reviewed nor processed. Most personnel–program managers, grant administrators, etc.– are prohibited from working, or even accessing their computers during the shutdown. Thus, if you have urgent business to conduct with them, contact federal personnel before the close of business Friday, February 15th. The last federal government shutdown lasted thirty-five days. All other agency budgets were approved and signed into law earlier last fall, and thus, would not be impacted by a shutdown.

As a result of the last shutdown, some but not all, of the proposal deadlines were postponed although NSF FastLane remained open for proposal submission during the shutdown. There is no clarity how the decisions were made for individual programs. Hence, all PIs preparing proposals are encouraged to stay on the current timelines for submission and continue to submit as planned during a shutdown.

Additional information and guidance: 

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website lists contingency plans for all the federal agencies. The link to the website is https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/information-for-agencies/agency-contingency-plans/. While the site has not yet been updated for this pending shutdown, here is information from this past January.

  1. Federal agency employees who are paid with annual appropriations and who perform an activity associated with contract or grant administration, including oversight, inspection, payment, or accounting will generally not continue work during a shutdown. This means that normal, routine, ongoing operational and administrative activities performed by federal employees relating to contract or grant administration (including payment processing) cannot continue when there is a gap in funding.
  2. Agencies have the ability to halt activity on grants, though this is not expected to happen for research. In general, active grant and contract activity funded with FY2018 or prior year appropriations can continue. However, agency personnel most likely will not be available for approvals, supervisory support, and other administrative functions.
    1. In addition, it is not certain what will be the functionality of automated payment systems. Consequently, institutions should recognize that there is some risk that requests for reimbursement will not be processed.
    2. Other electronic administrative systems may or may not be available, depending on each agency’s approach.
    3. In the event of a shutdown, no new awards will be issued and most likely no new obligations will be made. If your award is incrementally funded and new funds are to be obligated in fiscal year 2018, this will not happen during the shutdown.
    4. Agencies have the ability to delay proposal deadlines to compensate for any lapse in government activity. Most likely, new grant applications will not be accepted, though this also may depend on each agency’s internal approach.
  3. Agency specific guidance should be made available on a case-by-case basis. Agencies are required by OMB to implement agency plans for operation during a shutdown. Most likely, each agency plan will not be identical. In addition, certain programs may have special operating instructions.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Research Office

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