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SPA Newsletter - Spring 2023


Greetings from SPA/OSP/CGA!

With the academic year now behind us, I encourage you to take some time to reflect upon what has been accomplished. This has been a busy and challenging time for many in MSU's research administration community, and I want to thank you for your efforts, contributions, and commitment in support of MSU's research mission.

This Spring 2023 issue of the SPA Newsletter includes information and updates to help you stay up to date on some of the many changes that impact our work. Featured articles in this issue include information on the new facilities and administrative (F&A) rate, agency updates from the Department of Justice, information on the process for requesting hardship accounts, and some news about upcoming improvements to our subaward processes. I would also like to highlight the articles on award transfers and faculty separation, which include links to new webpages with additional information and resources related to each of these topics.

This issue also announces the recipient of the Spring 2023 Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award. We are thankful for the opportunity to sponsor this award, and to recognize some of the exceptional research administrators who provide support to the colleges and departments.

I hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter. For suggestions for future content or feedback on this issue, please contact Erin Schlicher, or me, I extend my thanks to the authors and contributors who made this newsletter possible.

Twila Fisher Reighley
Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation


New MSU F&A Rate Agreement

by Evonne Pedawi, CGA

The University has negotiated a new Facilities & Administrative (F&A) rate agreement which goes into effect July 1, 2023 until June 30, 2027. The MSU F&A rates for July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2027 are:

  • Research – 57%
  • Other Sponsored Activities – 37%
  • Off-Campus – 26%

The increase in the “Research” rate (+.5%) is primarily due to an increase in costs for major infrastructure projects. The “Other Sponsored Activities” rate increase of (+1%) is due to the increase in non-research sponsored activities and the “Off-Campus” rate remains unchanged. Consistent with past practice, the new F&A rates will apply to new proposals and will not retroactively apply to current awards. This new F&A rate agreement also applies to HFH+MSU HS proposals submitted through MSU.

The new F&A rates are available in the KR system. If you have a budget in progress and the project start date is after July 1st, we encourage you to update the F&A rate by clicking the “Sync All Rates” button in the Rates Option prior to sending the budget to the Office of Sponsored Programs for review. If you have any questions, please contact your Proposal Team or the KR helpdesk.

Additionally, a PDF copy of the new rate agreement will be available on the SPA website at the following link: Facilities & Administrative Cost Rates by July 1st. If you have any questions regarding the new F&A rates, please contact a member of the CGA or OSP management team or contact me directly at


Faculty Separation From MSU

by Stacy Salisbury, CGA

image of pink blossoms in front of building

When Faculty separate from MSU, there are many moving pieces to navigate. To assist, CGA has provided the Faculty Separation & Changes webpage. This webpage includes links to various resources, including a checklist and additional department considerations.

For faculty with sponsored programs, their unit will need to decide if the sponsored programs are staying at MSU, being relinquished to another institution, or terminating. All of these avenues will likely require communication with the sponsor prior to the faculty member's departure from MSU.

For sponsored programs, please let CGA know and let us know early! Other items to consider:

  • Will the departing faculty complete technical/programmatic reports and will the reports be submitted in a timely manner? (Delayed reports can have consequences for MSU.)
  • Who will certify future effort reports?
  • Is an Award Revision PD needed to update MSUss credit split?

For these questions and more, see the above link for additional information. For questions, please feel free to contact


image blue flowers with bench in background
Photo courtesy of University Communications

DOJ Update: From Award to Account

by Adam Stone & Julie Zolnai, OSP

seal of u.s. department of justice

In October 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) launched its new grants management system, Justice Grants System (JustGrants). The transition to JustGrants has presented numerous challenges for the DOJ and its funding recipients.

The DOJ awards grants and cooperative agreements through its subagencies:

  • Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS),
  • Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), and
  • Office of Justice Programs (OJP), which includes:
    • National Institute of Justice (NIJ),
    • Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA),
    • Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS),
    • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), &
    • Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).

When the DOJ issues an award, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) has 45 calendar days to sign the award. If the project requires ECTS review an ECORRW needs to be routed to and approved by ECTS before MSU can accept the award. So it is a great idea to route an ECORRW as soon as you find out that ECTS review is required for the project.

Note that unlike other sponsors, signing a DOJ award is only one step in the process of requesting account set-up. A common source of delay is that DOJ awards often include one or more condition(s) that restrict our ability to obligate, expend, or draw down funds (i.e., the process by which DOJ reimburses MSU for expenses) until DOJ confirms that we've completed the required task. This means that until the DOJ removes the restriction, we cannot start spending project funds. A common example of a task that the DOJ requires is getting Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) budget approval, which is an additional budget review after an award is accepted. Other examples are approval of human subject research by the Human Subjects Protection Officer and revising privacy certificate documents. These additional steps can take months to get approved after we've signed the award, so it is essential to remember that the DOJ will not reimburse us for expenses incurred during that time.

DOJ awards from BJA often include a condition that requires the submission of any written materials for review and approval before publication. We consider sponsor “approval” a publication restriction because it means they have the right to deny the request, which would prevent us from publishing about the work and its results. It would also affect using information from the funded work in future projects. BJA has regularly agreed to revise the term from requiring “approval” to requiring that they have an opportunity to “comment” because we are an educational institution. When MSU receives a subaward from a pass-through entity that has the DOJ (BJA) as its prime source of funding, we will work with the pass-through entity to try to change any problematic language. MSU remains committed to protecting its faculty's right to freely publish the results of their work.

As with all awards of sponsored program funding, it is important to work with the OSP contract team reviewer assigned to handle the award. Prompt communication from everyone involved helps us to move things forward so you can start your project as soon as possible.


image of beaumont garden
Photo courtesy of University Communications

What Is SBIR/STTR, and Why Might Someone Want to Apply for Funding Through the Program?

by Karen Rich, OSP


SBIR/STTR stands for Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer. The program provides funding to small businesses to focus on entrepreneurial research and development. For the different requirements of these programs, visit the About SBIR and STTR Programs webpage. Obviously, MSU isn't a small business, but that doesn't mean that some of our researchers aren't developing things with the potential for commercialization. In these instances, it can make sense for a PI to collaborate with a for-profit business on an SBIR/STTR proposal.

The application process begins with the PI's answers to the following questions:

  • Are you performing a substantive portion of the project or is your involvement limited to analytical support?
  • Do you anticipate intellectual property (IP) as a result of your involvement in this project?
  • Do you anticipate the use of any background IP to complete the work?
  • Do you know of any conflict-of-interest issues related to your involvement in this project?
  • Do you know of any MSU faculty or staff that own a portion of the Company?
  • Do you know of any Non-disclosure Agreements (NDA), Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) or Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDA) or Data Use Agreements (DUA) related to your involvement in the project?
  • Where will MSU's portion of the project take place? (MSU? Small Business?)
  • Who will be the PI at the Small Business?
  • Will any MSU employees be performing work at the Small Business?

You don't need to wait for OSP to send the questions. If you are able to obtain the PI's responses and include the information with the initial notification, that's great!

If a MSU employee or a member of their immediate family has an interest in the small business, the Conflict Disclosures and Management office will evaluate the conflict. . If needed, they will develop a Conflict Management Plan. When there is a conflict, the agreement between the for-profit business and MSU must be approved by the Board of Trustees due to State of Michigan law.

MSU Technologies will determine if there are any Intellectual Property issues and negotiate any appropriate licensing agreements. MSUT will also handle the necessary allocation of rights agreements for Technology Transfer proposals. Obviously, this means there is a bit more work required to prepare an SBIR/STTR proposal, but it might be worth the extra time and effort if your PI has developed something amazing. As always, starting early is always helpful, and feel free to reach out to your proposal team if you have any questions!


image of pink blossoms at beal garden
Photo courtesy of University Communications

Upcoming Subaward Improvements

by Jessica Lemke, CGA

Be on the lookout in FY24 for these exciting, upcoming changes regarding subawards in Contract & Grant Administration!

  • An improved subaward closeout process, including a notification sent to subrecipients before and after the subaward end date. These may help improve timely submission of final invoices to MSU and allow the MSU sponsored program (RC) account to be closed out more efficiently, saving time at both the CGA and department levels.
  • Implementation of subaward financial audits, in which CGA will annually sample subrecipient invoices for audit to verify that allowable and adequately documented costs have been charged to the project.
  • Risk assessments will result in “low risk” or “elevated risk.” CGA will discontinue the use of the term “high risk.”
  • An updated supporting documentation review process at the CGA approver level in KFS for elevated risk subrecipient invoices. This process will provide a more efficient review of these invoices, which have been approved already by Fiscal Officers.
  • Numerous improvements to the subaward tab in CGA's Account Explorer system, including more detailed contact information and final invoice due dates.
  • Additional available resources on the CGA website for PI's, department administrators, and subrecipients including sample invoices, PI certification templates, and detailed policies and procedures.

More details to be made available after July 1, 2023. Questions can be directed to CGA's Subaward team at


Agency Contacts for Prior Approvals

by Tyler Neal, CGA

When requesting a prior approval from a grantor, it is imperative that the agency approval is received by the appropriate official or it may not be valid. Expenses incurred based on an invalid approval could result in unallowable expenses on the sponsored program account or audit disallowances.

While the Program Officer oversees the technical/programmatic side of the project, if a prior approval is required for contractual changes such as budget adjustments, extensions, scope of work changes, typically the approval would need to come from the Grants Management Officer or Contracting Officer. To avoid possible issues which may arise from an unauthorized agency approval, please work with Contract & Grant Administration when requesting prior approval from a grantor. If you are unsure whether agency approval is required, you can refer to the prior approval checkboxes for the account in CGA's Account Explorer (two-factor authentication required) or to the award terms and conditions for guidance. Please direct prior approval requests or questions regarding agency prior approvals to the CGA Awards Group at


image of dorm courtyard in the winter

Award Transfers for Federal Agencies

by Dana deMink & Kayley Cusack, OSP

When it comes to award transfers it is important to remember that whatever the situation (either the award transferring to MSU or going from MSU to another institution) awards are made to institutions and not to principal investigators. Therefore, when a faculty transfers to MSU from another institution, any on-going projects must be relinquished by their previous institution before they can be transferred to MSU. Likewise, when a faculty member leaves MSU, their MSU Chair must approve the relinquishment of any current award and related equipment to the PI's new institution.

Both institutions need to make important relinquishment decisions such as:

  • Will the grant be transferred, or will a new PI be named to take over the project?
  • Are any project staff or graduate students working on the project transferring to the new institution or will they continue at the current institution with a subaward issued back to the original institution?
  • Is there equipment that will need to be transferred?
  • Is there a lab that will need to be closed out?
  • Are there subawards on the current award that need to be closed-out or terminated?
  • What is the relinquishment date?
  • What is the unobligated balance?
  • Are there any cost share requirements that need to be met?
  • Has intellectual property been developed that needs to be protected?
  • Are there contractual considerations that the new home institution may find difficult to accept?
  • Are there compliance protocols to be put in place or closed out?

The transfer of an award from one institution to another can take from as quick as 90 days to over a year to accomplish. If you are looking for “how-to” information on MSU's transfer process, please visit our new OSP webpage that provides more detail about the procedure.

Once the decision to transfer has been made, the sponsor must approve the transfer. The process for transfer requests is defined by each sponsor. Many federal agencies have published information on their respective transfer processes. What follows is high-level information regarding the transfer process for a few of our federal sponsors.


NIH prior approval is required for the transfer of administrative responsibility for a grant-supported project from one entity to the other. It is important to let NIH know of transfer requests as soon as possible – in fact NIH recommends the PI and administrative staff begin the formal transfer of a grant at least 60 days in advance of a PI's move to a new organization.

NIH advises PIs to contact their Program Officer to discuss their transfer. Provided there are no concerns about this change to the award, NIH advises the PI to then contact the Grants Management Specialist (GMS) assigned to the award. The GMS will assist with questions as well as provide support with the required documentation to process this change request.

NIH refers to a transfer of a grant award to a different organization as a "Change of Recipient Organization” request. The original grantee must prepare and submit a relinquishing statement and the receiving institution must submit an application via using the Change of Recipient Organization Opportunity. This can be found on the Parent Funding Opportunity Announcement page under Post-award Administrative Action Announcements.

As mentioned earlier, equipment purchases are always a consideration when grants are transferred. Equipment is typically considered as a part of the original grantee's relinquishment. If not a part of the relinquishment, NIH will reserve the right to transfer equipment to the new institution. For additional information see NIH's Property Management System Standards.

NIH staff will consider whether the facilities and resources of the new location will meet the needs of the research objectives and will review whether the move will impact project expenditures.

One other concern with NIH transfers is mid-year vs. anniversary date transfers and budgeting accordingly. Discuss this with your OSP representative.


When a PI plans to leave an organization during the course of an award, the PI or the SPO, shall notify the cognizant NSF Program Officer. If the project is to continue with the original organization, the cognizant NSF Program Officer should advise the recipient to nominate a substitute PI. If the project is to be continued at the PI's new organization, and if NSF and both organizations agree, formal notification of the impending transfer can be electronically initiated by either the PI or the PI's organization. The amount transferred has to be equal to or less than the unobligated balance.

The original organization concurs with the transfer of the award by electronically forwarding the request to the new organization in or Fastlane (Note: Fastlane is transitioning to and will soon be removed as an option).

The new organization completes the request by providing a detailed budget for the transfer amount agreed to by both organizations. The AOR of the new organization must sign and submit the request via use of NSF's electronic systems. Submission of the request constitutes agreement by the new organization to assume responsibility for completion of the project effort and to administer the award (as originally awarded) from the transfer date to completion in accordance with any special terms and conditions and the applicable general terms and conditions that normally govern NSF awards made to the new organization. Special terms and conditions, as appropriate, cited in the original award will apply to the new recipient organization.

NSF will assign a proposal number at the time of submission. This proposal number will become the new award number when the transfer is approved by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer. For additional information, see section B.2.f. of NSF's Award Administration guide.


DOE defines three acceptable scenarios to address a PI exiting a university and moving to another university. In the first option, the university requests approval for DOE to assign a new PI to the award at the same university. A formal, written request must be sent to the Contracting Specialist for the award. The request should include a rationale/justification for the change in Principle Investigator. In the second option, when investigators move to new institutions, DOE typically approves funding reassignment through a sub-award arrangement with the original institution. For this option, supporting documents, budget, budget justification, revised scope, and a justification for why the project can still be successful is required. For projects close to completion (this is the third option), DOE also encourages a PI to get approval from their original institution to maintain an adjunct position with the university. Since these appointments typically last under a year, this would be used in projects that are close to completion.


Any administrative change such as Principal Investigator changes, scope modifications, no-cost extensions, etc. should be submitted as a request in writing to the Grant Officer listed on the award's NF 1687.


Project Directors must contact the NIFA program staff associated with the existing award (Program Point of Contact is identified in Block 4 of Form NIFA-2009, Award Face Sheet) to facilitate the transfer of a grant from one institution to another institution. The transfer request must be submitted to the NIFA program staff by the existing awardee organization.

  • A letter from the authorized organizational representative (AOR) (the letter must be signed by the AOR) addressed to the NIFA program staff identifying that the awardee institution is relinquishing the remaining funds on the grant.
  • A final Form SF-425 (Federal Financial Report), the amount noted on Field 10.p (Field 10 if using the short form) of the final SF-425 reflects the total amount of funds remaining on the grant. This would be the amount available to transfer to a different institution.

The NIFA program staff will provide a request for application (RFA) to the institution identified as the potential recipient of the remaining funds. The RFA will include instructions such as how to access the application package (including necessary forms and the "NIFA Application Guide"), complete the appropriate forms, and where and how to submit the forms.


Any change in a key person identified in the award cover page will require prior approval. The Grantee institution must appoint a replacement PI with the approval of the Grants Officer or relinquish the grant in accordance with DoDGARs 32.61.


 Spring 2022 Research Admin Spotlight Award header image

by Twila Reighley, Assoc. VPR; Erin Schlicher, SPA

The offices of Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA), Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) are honored to recognize excellence and exemplary service through the Research Administrator (RA) Spotlight Award. We are happy to announce that Katie James was selected by the Recommendation Panel as the Spring 2023 awardee. She will be recognized with a plaque of accomplishment along with a small financial award as a token of our appreciation. Congratulations Katie, and thank you for playing an integral role in advancing MSU's research mission! We truly appreciate your dedication and hard work.

photo of Katie James

Katie James
Research Administrator II Department of Forestry College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Katie has been with MSU for 15 years, and currently serves as the Department of Forestry's Research Administrator, Graduate Program Coordinator, and Travel Coordinator. She works closely with faculty and academic specialists to support the Department's research enterprise by providing Pre-Award Administration, Post Award Administration Services, and Project Close out Procedures. She also provides grant and budget development assistance, including project review and development of budgets and budget justifications. In addition to her research administration duties, Katie helps students navigate their degree programs in Forestry, ensuring they meet all program requirements. She also coordinates travel requests, travel bookings, and expense reports for the Department. Katie notes that her range of responsibilities within the unit, “helps not only with budgeting, but also the execution and financial compliance.”

Katie is also involved in RA improvement efforts on campus, currently serving as the Forestry and CANR representative to the Sponsored Programs Advisory Committee (SPAC). “I appreciate the SPAC because it provides me an opportunity to learn from a diverse group while also providing my input and perspective as a research administrator.”

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“The things I enjoy the most about my job are the relationships and community we have built in Forestry. Having strong relationships with faculty, staff, and students makes celebrating their successes that much better. Seeing all their hard work come to fruition brings me pride knowing that I was able to support them so they could focus on the science and outreach. Also, I am in a position where I can say I wholeheartedly enjoy my career and feel valued and respected by the team I work with. It is also always interesting to learn about just how different proposals and awards can be. Forestry is so much more than meets the eye, and I enjoy spreading the interesting facts I learn through my job.”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

“Ask questions and utilize the resources available! Research Administration was not even on my radar when the opportunity arose. Taking the initiative to learn new things has allowed me to find a fulfilling career in Research Administration. The thing that helped me the most in the beginning was not being afraid to ask the experts questions. Use their knowledge as a resource to learn and grow. While doing so, you will make connections that can last a career. Through those connections you can troubleshoot and problem-solve when you are trying to navigate a complex proposal submission or post-award financial compliance issue.”


Hardship Accounts Update

by Diane Cox and Marilou Clary, OSP

Hardship accounts are designed to allow spending on a project prior to receiving an official award. They should be requested only if the sponsor has indicated they plan to fund the preaward costs allowed by the sponsor, and there is a need to start incurring expenses immediately. If, for any reason, the award does not come through or preaward expenditures are not allowed based on the terms of the award, the department is responsible for the charges and must remove them from the hardship account.

When requesting a hardship account, please submit a “Hardship Memo” to OSP Awards, signed by the chair and/or dean, depending on the requested amount. The following compliance items must be completed prior to OSP's approval of a hardship account (as applicable): IRB approval, IACUC approval, project-based COIs for all people listed on the PD, and an ECORRW routed to the OSP level. If a project requires export control review, prior to requesting approval of the hardship account from Export Control and Trade Sanctions (ECTS), you will be asked to provide additional information (below) to help ECTS determine if approval is warranted.

  1. Principal Investigator name and Department
  2. Names of any other personnel working on the project during the hardship
  3. Potential Project Sponsor
  4. Project dollar amount
  5. Hardship time period (generally the 1st year of project)
  6. Statement of Work (SOW) for initial hardship time period
  7. Reason for requesting ECTS approval to set up a hardship account (anticipated publication restriction, export-controlled data or equipment, international collaborations, etc.)
  8. Any other information that OSP or BC feels would be important for ECTS to know in order to make a decision on whether to approve the hardship (e.g., known participation or publications restrictions). As a result, an ECORRW may need to be routed to the OSP/BC level prior to requesting approval for a hardship account from ECTS.

Please notify OSP Awards when all compliance items have been completed.

If a federal contract or subcontract (federal flowthru funds) is issued, a hardship account will normally not be approved. Spending under federal contracts/subcontracts is not authorized until the contract/subcontract is signed by both parties. NOTE: The exception is if the sponsor provides an Authorization to Proceed letter guaranteeing funds. When this occurs, we follow the hardship account request process.

For additional information on Hardship Accounts, including detail on what to include in the “Hardship Memo”, please see the Request Hardship/Advance Account webpage. If you have any questions concerning hardship account set-up, please contact OSP Awards.


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What's New in ERA Training?by Amy Bane, SPA

Due to the addition of four new short courses, ERA certification will now be based on credits instead of courses. People can plan on receiving one credit for each hour in a course or training. For initial certification, people will need to complete the four Core courses and 12 elective credits. These 12 elective credits can be completed by taking 3 full-length elective, 2 full-length and 2 short-course electives, or 1 full-length and 4 short-course electives. Eight credits are needed annually to renew ERA certification. These eight hours can be earned by completing 2 full-length electives, 1 full-length and 2 short-course electives, or 4 short-course electives. Plus, remember the external trainings that are related to research administration can also be counted for ERA certification and re-certification. Please contact Amy Bane at if you have any questions related to ERA certification.


Training, Education, & Resources

by Amy Bane, SPA

Essentials of Research Administration (ERA) Series

SPA/OSP/CGA, in collaboration with SPROUT and an extensive network of MSU staff involved in pre-award, post-award and compliance aspects of research administration, provide a certified training series for research administrators and other support staff with responsibilities for research proposals, grants, contracts, and pre- and post-award administration at MSU.

New for 2023 - Online submission of external trainings and conferences!

Did you know that you can receive ERA credit if you attended an external training or conference related to your Research Administration? Submit your proof of attendance (certificate, agenda, etc.) to Amy Bane using our new submission form. Email Amy Bane ( if you have any questions.

Initial Certification Requirements

Completion of the four Core courses and 12 elective credits are required for initial ERA certification. Participants have two years from the date they complete their first course to complete these requirements.

Recertification Requirements

Your ERA certification can be renewed annually by completing 8 hours of ERA coursework or equivalent research-related training.

For example pathways to certification and recertification, please refer to the ERA webpage.

D2L Online Learning:As a reminder, we have four eLearning courses in D2L: International Research I, International Research II, Contracts and Other Agreements, and Animal Care and Use Requirements. To register for eLearning, please email Amy Bane ( to be added to the course in D2L.

2023 Schedule: We have 11 ERA elective courses remaining in 2023. These courses are available to anyone with a valid MSU NetID. Each session name below is hyperlinked directly to the corresponding registration page in Ability. Please note that all of these courses are scheduled to take place remotely via zoom, but locations may be subject to change.

May 23 Intellectual Property 8:30am - 12pm
June 6 Beginner's Hands-on Budgeting in KR 8:30am - 12pm
July 18 Audits (short-course) 8:30am - 10:30am
Aug 15 Post-Award Receivable Process & Financial Transactions 8:30am - 12pm
Aug 22 Proposal Development in KR 8:30am - 12pm
Sept 12 Reporting & Data Collection 8:30am - 12pm
Sept 26 Export Control (short-course) 8:30am - 10:30am
Oct 10 Departmental Post-Award Account Management 8:30am - 12pm
Oct 24 Fee-for-Service & Service Centers 8:30am - 12pm
Nov 21 NIH & NSF Agency Specifics 8:30am - 12pm
Dec 5 Hot Topics 8:30am - 12pm


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Client Feedback Surveysby Mike Wolf, SPA

At SPA/OSP/CGA, we strive to provide excellent customer service in all stages of research administration, from proposal development to the final closeout of an award. We continue to use client feedback surveys to solicit feedback on our proposal, award, and post-award processes. Ratings response details are available on the SPA Metrics section of our website (two-factor authentication required).

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