Skip to Content Options:

SPA Newsletter - Spring 2019

SPA NEWS

Greetings from SPA/OSP/CGA!

The arrival of spring brings many welcome changes to our campus, from longer daylight and warmer temperatures to budding of trees and blooming of flowers. After the long, cold winter, spring prompts us to take a step back and notice how positive change can be. Many of the articles in this issue of our newsletter highlight recent or forthcoming changes that have an impact on the work that we do.

Some of the changes featured in this newsletter, such as new regulations that require us to better identify Co-PDs/PIs and the upcoming implementation of MSU’s new travel system, require us to adapt existing processes. In other cases, SPA/OSP/CGA has initiated changes in the form of new resources to help us better support the campus community. Our recently issued Roles and Responsibilities guidance for the lifecycle of a sponsored project is one such resource, as is our new option that allows individuals to respond to the proposal, award, and post-award surveys anonymously. I hope the information contained within these articles helps you navigate these changes.

Other articles in this issue of the newsletter offer reminders on a range of important topics, including future faculty and proposal submittal, equipment quotes and budgets, audit notifications, effort reports, and educational programs and resources. These topics can sometimes be confusing, and we hope that the articles provide insight and clarity.

This issue also announces our Spring 2019 Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award recipients. We are proud to sponsor this award and we welcome the opportunity to recognize the exceptional service of the recipients. We congratulate the winners of the Spring 2019 Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award. At the same time, we acknowledge and deeply appreciate the many other MSU research administrators who provide outstanding support to MSU’s research mission. Thank you for your commitment and your efforts for MSU.

I hope you enjoy the Spring 2019 issue of our newsletter. For suggestions for future content or feedback on this issue, please contact Jennifer Lafferty, stumpje1@osp.msu.edu or me, reighley@osp.msu.edu. Authors’ names or contact information have been included in each article for topic-specific questions. My appreciation is extended to the authors.

Twila Fisher Reighley, Assistant Vice President for Research and Innovation

The Stevens Amendment

by Stephanie Bagaloff, OSP

The Stevens Amendment was first published in an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1989 under Public Law 100-463, Section 8136, and reads as follows:

“When issuing statements, press releases, requests for proposals, bid solicitations and other documents describing projects or programs funded in whole or in part with Federal money, all grantees receiving Federal funds included in this Act, including but not limited to State and local governments and recipients of Federal research grants, shall clearly state (1) the percentage of the total costs of the program or project which will be financed with Federal money; (2) the dollar amount of Federal funds for the project or program; and (3) percentage and dollar amount of the total costs of the project or program that will be financed by non-governmental sources.”

Since 2014, all Consolidated Appropriations Act statutes have included the Stevens Amendment disclosure requirements in the section that funds the US Department of Education, US Department of Labor, and US Department of Health and Human Services. These federal agencies have implemented the Stevens Amendment within their agency terms and conditions.

In 2017, a group of senators wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to request a review of compliance with the Stevens Amendment to determine: 1) whether grantees are following the requirements; 2) the percentage of grantees that are complying in full, and 3) methods used to track costs and percentages and whether indirect costs are factored in. The results of the GAO review were not available when writing this article. However, the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) announced in their September 2018 update, that the “…GAO will continue to document any cases of existing guidance, and instances of best practices with the amendment”. It is a possibility that this requirement will be expanded to other federal agencies in the future.

Just a reminder that some federal agencies require additional agency-specific disclosure requirements, and therefore, careful review of grant award terms is recommended. If you have any questions about the compliance requirements for your federally funded grant, do not hesitate to inquire with your OSP Contract Team at ContractTeam1@osp.msu.edu or ContractTeam2@osp.msu.edu.

Things to Address When Submitting Proposals for Future Faculty

by OSP Proposal Teams

Are future faculty eligible to apply for funding on behalf of MSU?

Yes, as long as they are appointed with an approved role under MSU’s eligibility policy once at MSU. The following items should be addressed prior to proposal submission:

  • A copy of the signed offer letter must be sent to the appropriate OSP proposal team.
  • The project start date must be after the individual’s official MSU start date.
  • If the future faculty member’s start date is more than 6 months out, we must ensure that MSU can address regulatory and ownership issues. To confirm that the faculty member does not have obligations to their current institution for what is included in the proposal, a superior at the future faculty member’s current institution needs to provide approval of the submission through MSU. Email approval is sufficient. Please forward the approval to the appropriate OSP proposal team.
  • Future faculty members must disclose their employment status at MSU within the proposal. We recommend including the information in the budget justification.

The above information is also available as a FAQ on the PI Eligibility webpage.

Please contact your Proposal Team with any questions.

Project Updates for Travel at State

MSU's Upcoming Travel System's Impact on Sponsored Programs

by Kristy Smith, CGA

Spoiler alert: MSU will soon be implementing a new travel booking and expense management system for all travelers. The new system through Concur is still in the process of being developed and is expected to go live by Fall 2019. It will allow travelers to receive authorizations, book travel, and submit expenses with the ultimate goal of more efficient travel processing.

The travel system will impact how travel expenses are applied to sponsored program (RC) accounts (RC). However, until the development is completed, we won’t know the full extent of the impact. At this point, CGA expects that approval workflow requirements will be similar to the requirements in KFS and that similar documentation will be expected. However, there may be some process changes implemented that will be need to be assessed by CGA for allowability on RC accounts. CGA will be reviewing Manual of Business Procedure changes when they are complete, and will update campus on potential differences between university and sponsored program rules and the impact. We will also update the Federal/State Cost Policy if necessary.

So for now, know that this change is coming and that CGA will be communicating with campus as relevant information is available. For updates on the travel system implementation, please visit http://www.ctlr.msu.edu/COTravel/TravelatState.aspx. Questions or comments about how Concur may affect sponsored programs can be sent to Kristy Smith at smith@cga.msu.edu.

Equipment Quotes: Why Do They Matter?

by Dana deMink & Craig O'Neill, OSP

OSP supports the budget process by reviewing equipment quotes, if available, to identify issues in the equipment category. As the following scenario illustrates, OSP can help avoid some of the common pitfalls.

For what feels like months now, Jake, a new administrator, has been working with Dr. Mary Smith on her DOE proposal titled, “Cutting-edge wind energy research.” He put the final changes on Dr. Smith’s budget and has submitted it to OSP for review. The budget includes a unique $5,750 turbine needed for studying air flows which is not available at MSU. OSP asks if Jake has an equipment quote. Jake does not have the quote saying, “Dr. Smith received it over the phone from the supplier.” The proposal is due tomorrow and Jake isn’t sure how to proceed.

At this stage, OSP will review the sponsor’s requirements to determine if a copy of the equipment quote should be included in the proposal. OSP may provide suggestions on how to justify the equipment in the budget narrative. OSP will also ask if there is additional information available, such as previous quotes or a recent purchase of similar equipment to help confirm that it meets the definition of equipment. If the item does not meet the definition of equipment, there might be indirect cost implications that would need to be addressed.

Jake asks Dr. Smith if a quote is available and she says that she received the quote last week. She forwards the quote to Jake. Jake is now wondering how MSU defines equipment for a sponsored project.

According to MSU’s Manual of Business Procedures, equipment is based on the following criteria:

  • non-expendable, tangible personal property with an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit;
  • has a useful life of more than one year; and
  • has the capacity to function as a stand-alone unit without the assistance of another unit.

Equipment can include both essential items and accessory/auxiliary apparatuses necessary to make the equipment usable for the purpose for which it was acquired.

Jake sends the quote to OSP for review. OSP agrees that the turbine should be considered an allowable equipment item and notices that it includes software that is required in order for the turbine to operate. When Dr. Smith drafted the budget, she was unsure of whether or not the software should be included in the equipment quote, so it was budgeted in the Other budget category with the label “software”. Jake revises the budget, moving the software cost to the equipment line.

In general, software that makes the equipment run/operate is considered a component of the equipment. In contrast, general non-operational software licenses should not be included in the equipment category. Maintenance plans and warranties, operating supplies, handling fees, and training costs should also be excluded from equipment costs. When unsure, MSU’s Capital Asset Management (CAM) office should be contacted to determine which costs meet the definition of equipment.

In summary, here are some tips regarding equipment:

  • Quotes should be retained in the department files even if the quote is not obtained in advance of the proposal submission.
  • While a sponsor may not require equipment quotes at the pre-award stage, the sponsor may expect that the quotes are available as a good business practice and to show proper costing.
  • Some sponsors request copies of equipment quotes prior to issuing an award, at the “Just-in-Time” (JIT) stage. By having the quotes on file, you avoid delays in receiving the award.

Please contact your Proposal Team with any questions.

Have You Received a Letter of a Legal Nature or Audit Notification? Contact Us!

by Evo Pedawi & Kristy Smith, CGA

Did you know that all considerations for establishing or recognizing MSU as an entity, within or outside of the United States, require approval from the Office of General Counsel? With the broad reach of MSU's involvement extending from local counties to foreign countries, it is very important that MSU have the appropriate approvals in place to meet the requirements of Sponsored Programs and the University mission. When in doubt, contact Katie Cook farrkat1@osp.msu.edu in the Office of Sponsored Programs, or Evo Pedawi pedawi@cga.msu.edu in Contract and Grant Administration.

As a reminder, any notification of audit or financial review of a sponsored program should be sent to Contract and Grant Administration, who will coordinate the audit on behalf of MSU. If you are unsure if what you have received is an audit or financial review, please contact Kristy Smith smith@cga.msu.edu or Evo Pedawi pedawi@cga.msu.edu for clarification.

Effort Reports
Certifying 100% of Effort on Sponsored Projects

by Stacy Salisbury, CGA

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic, effort reports! Not just effort reports, but more specifically why you may be contacted by CGA after you complete one (an even better topic...right?).

One of the few reasons you may hear from us after you, or a faculty member that you support, certify an effort report is to confirm the accuracy of a "100% of my time on sponsored projects" effort report. When an individual certifies 100% of their effort on restricted sponsored projects (typically federal and state funds), it means 100% of their MSU appointment during that period, and not just what was done from 8 to 5!

Since faculty have many responsibilities, 100% time on only sponsored project activities is not common. CGA reviews these effort reports and contacts the faculty member to confirm that none of their time was spent writing proposals, teaching, or doing administrative work, such as serving on committees.

If non-sponsored project activities represent less than 1% of an individual's time, a note to explain this can be added to the free text note field on the effort report. If you have any questions regarding this article, or effort certification in general, please contact effortreporting@cga.msu.edu.

An Example of Teamwork

by Nicol Springer, OSP

Teamwork in the workplace is something that we all encounter during our careers. It is important to know your unique strengths and understand how you can use those strengths to create a more unified team. Some benefits that a unified team can bring to the workplace are increased productivity, improved morale, shared skills and knowledge, strong relationships, increased innovation, and improved career progression.

It is important to understand that there are many different personality types in a team environment. Each team member must respect that other team members have different levels of expertise and skills. They must be willing to provide input while also being able to receive feedback. Every team relies on the individual’s characteristics contributing to the team’s success. Good teammates are honest and straightforward, carry their share of the team’s workload, are reliable, are fair in their actions, have the ability to complement other team members’ skillsets, and are uplifting to one another. Good teammates have positive attitudes and practice excellent communication skills.

As proposal team members, we strive to provide top quality service to both our internal and external clients. On a daily basis the relationships between proposal team members instills a level of confidence in one another. This confidence in a teammate’s dedication, skill, knowledge and integrity allows the members of the proposal teams to ask for assistance when needed and do so knowing that all teammates operate according to the same set of standards. The teams have established lines of communication between one another and have an understanding of how the other members of the team receive requests and respond accordingly. These same traits are demonstrated as the needs arise to problem solve and determine courses of action between the contract teams and post award teams. Applying this information while working with other teams allows us to provide exceptional client support and creates a positive work environment. The framework of a good team can provide the means to increase the output and accomplish the overall core mission.

Please contact your Proposal Team if you have any questions.

Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Awards

by Twila Reighley, AVPRI; Jenny Lafferty, SPA

MSU’s research administration offices of Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA), Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) encourage excellence and exemplary service modeled through The Spartan Experience by recognizing professional contributions and quality of service through the Research Administration (RA) Spotlight recognition.

We have completed the fourth award nomination and review process, and received several nominations for strong applicants who exhibit many of the qualities of a good research administrator. The Recommendation Panel, which includes faculty (from the Council of Research Deans and Sponsored Programs Advisory Committee), selected the two following individuals to receive this award. They are recognized with a plaque of accomplishment along with a small financial award as a token of our appreciation.

Dania Diaz

Dania Diaz
Research Administrator II, CRA
Office of Research Support
College of Natural Science

Dania has 11 years of service at MSU, and currently works in pre-award where she helps faculty prepare and submit proposals by assisting them in completing MSU’s internal process as well as ensuring proposals meet the sponsor’s administrative requirements. She has also had the opportunity to work in post-award during her 24 years in the field, both within and outside of MSU.

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“I enjoy helping the faculty secure the funding that enables them to continue performing important scientific research. I also appreciate the supportive work environment in my division and in the NatSci Dean’s office as a whole.”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

“I’d say, be willing and eager to learn, all the time. If you have not encountered something before, tackle it head on. This field is full of variations and nuances, and it’s important to have as broad a knowledge base as possible. Also, remember the end goal, which is the research. The goal of a Research Administrator should be to try to support the faculty in such a way that they can focus on their research. It could be the first step towards a scientific breakthrough that impacts all of us.”

Joyce Foley

Joyce Foley
Research Administrator I
Electrical and Computer Engineering
College of Engineering

Joyce has 44 years of service at MSU. She provides post-award support to faculty regarding their research project activities, and assists with financial management of research accounts ensuring compliance with project budget, federal/state grant guidelines, and MSU policy.

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

"I enjoy helping the faculty maneuver through the various administrative aspects of the research experience, particularly the new professors. It is my hope that my assistance frees up some of their time so they can focus more on research and teaching. Although some activities may become routine after awhile, there are always new challenges and new problems to solve . Even with sixteen years of experience, I still encounter situations that I haven't dealt with and are new to me. This keeps my job fresh and interesting."

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

"I encourage new research administrators to not be afraid to ask questions. Contact other research administrators in your college to see how they've dealt with a particular situation. Check with CGA if a professor asks you something you can't answer or you encounter an issue you're unsure of. Be proactive. It's easier to prevent a problem vs. solving one after-the fact. For example, If you see that a project is ending soon and has a large unspent balance, contact the professor asking what his/her plans are. Don't wait until later when it becomes problematic to request an extension."

Thank You

Thank you, Dania and Joyce, for playing an integral role in advancing MSU’s research mission and for leading by example! We truly appreciate your dedication and hard work.

Stay tuned for another chance to nominate your favorite research administrator for the RA Spotlight Award this fall! Please contact Erin Schlicher at schlic11@osp.msu.edu with any questions.

Category:     Subcategories: none

Site Management