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FAQ's for Business Managers

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1. How do I contact my GCA Grants Administrator?

2. Where can I find policies and procedures related to Sponsored Projects?

3. Where can I find MUSC’s Facilities & Administrative (Indirect) Cost and Fringe Benefits Rates?

4. What is the difference between direct and F&A costs?

5. Can I charge administrative costs (administrative/clerical salaries, office supplies, etc.) to a Sponsored Project?

6. I received my Notice of Grant Award.  When can I start spending?

7. My Sponsored Project has ended, what happens now?

8. What is cost sharing?

9. What travel costs can be charged to a Sponsored Project?

10How do PEAR Forms and salary charges relate to Activity Reports?

11. Now that I have my Sponsored Award budget has been approved and funded, can I spend my budget any way I need to, or do I have to request approval from the sponsor to change the scope or rebudget?

12. Who do I contact – ORSP or GCA?

13. Can I charge equipment and/or computers to my Sponsored Project?

14. What is the NIH Salary cap and how does it work?

15. How do I find management reports for my department’s Sponsored Projects?

 
 
 
1. How do I contact my GCA Grants Administrator?

The Distribution of Grants by Administrator with telephone numbers and e-mail addresses  found here.

 

2. Where can I find policies and procedures related to Sponsored Projects?

Policies and procedures for Sponsored Projects are found online in the Finance Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual.  Select Chapter 5-Grants and Contracts Accounting from the drop-down list, and then select the specific procedure.  The procedures are organized with these subchapters:

1 – Establishing Projects
2 – Budgeting
3 – Expenditures
4 – Closing Projects
5 – Compliance Requirements

Pre-award policies are found in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs’ Research Policies and Procedures Manual.

 

3. Where can I find MUSC’s Facilities & Administrative (Indirect) Cost and Fringe Benefits Rates?

A summary of the current rates is available here and a scanned copy of the fully executed rates agreement can be obtained here.

 
4. What is the difference between direct and F&A costs?

Direct costs are costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs are those that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be readily and specifically identified with a particular sponsored project, program, or activity of the University.  At educational institutions such costs normally are classified under the following F&A cost categories: depreciation/use allowance, general administration, sponsored projects administration, operation and maintenance, library, department administration and student administration & services (OMB Circular A-21, "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions").  F&A costs include such items as water, electricity, heat, local telephone services, office supplies, etc.  Sponsored programs are charged their appropriate share of these costs through application of one of the Universities negotiated F&A (indirect) cost rates.

View the University’s Direct vs. F&A Costs Reference Table for further assistance.  This table provides how cost items should normally be charged; however, there may be instances where charges normally treated as F&A may be charged as direct costs.  Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-3.02 for further assistance.

 
5. Can I charge administrative costs (administrative/clerical salaries, office supplies, etc.) to a Sponsored Project?

Administrative and clerical salaries, wages, and fringe benefits for positions such as business officer, accountant, department administrator, secretary, staff assistant, administrative staff officer, and similar positions should normally be charged as F&A (indirect) costs.  Likewise, office supplies and general purpose computer equipment should normally be charged as F&A (indirect) costs.  However, in rare instances, there are special or "unlike" circumstances for which administrative costs may be charged as direct costs if properly justified and approved by the sponsor.  Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-3.02 for further assistance.

 
6. I received my Notice of Grant Award.  When can I start spending?

When ORSP receives the Notice of Grant Award or other award documentation from the sponsor, ORSP will process the University’s Grant and Contract Acceptance Form authorizing the University’s acceptance of the award and expenditures, and forward it along with award documents to the Department and GCA.

Upon receipt of the award package, GCA will process a Chart of Accounts Maintenance Request (CAMR) Form to request that the Controller’s Office establish the UDAK in the University’s accounting system (SmartStream). If the award contains cost sharing or matching obligations, the Department must submit a CAMR Form to establish the Cost Share UDAK (see Policy/Procedure 4-1.03).

As soon as the UDAK is established by the Controller’s Office, GCA will notify the Department and Business Manager via e-mail.  Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-1.01 for further assistance.

 
7. My Sponsored Project has ended, what happens now?

Technical Reports:
ORSP is responsible for coordinating timely submission of technical reports, invention reports, and other required scientific reports and deliverables by the Principal Investigator. If the Principal Investigator has not completed the scientific work and technical reporting for the project within the project period, then he/she must contact ORSP in order to request a no-cost extension of the project period to complete these tasks. Sponsor approval for a no-cost extension may be required or may be approved by ORSP under Federal "Expanded Authorities".

Financial Reports/Invoices:
GCA is responsible for coordinating financial closeout of Sponsored Projects with the department and for issuing final financial reports, invoices, and other required financial reports to the sponsor for all projects except corporate clinical trials and most corporate basic research projects. The Business Manager is responsible for coordinating final reporting on those due to requirement for patient case reporting.

Sponsored Projects must normally be financially closed and reports issued within sixty (60) or ninety (90) days after project period or budget period termination. The specific award terms and conditions and specific sponsor guidelines will state the final due dates.  The timeline for closeout is as follows:

  • ORSP notifies the Principal Investigator and Departmental Business Manager of project termination sixty (60) days prior to the termination date and again at thirty (30) days.
  • GCA provides a Project Termination Notice to the Business Manager (with a copy to the P.I.) thirty (30) days prior to the end of the project/budget period to notify them of closeout procedures and the final report/invoice due date.
  • Approximately thirty (30) days prior to the final report/invoice due date, GCA will provide the Business Manager with a detailed expenditure and encumbrance analysis reflecting information recorded in the official University financial records, plus pending adjustments.
  • The Business Manager must review the expenditure and encumbrance information provided by GCA and provide requested information by ten (10) working days prior to the due date of the final report/invoice so that the project is ready for closeout. Specific departmental responsibilities include, but are not limited to initiating salary distribution changes (fund changes) for personnel, closing open commitments/encumbrances, allocating Purchasing Card transactions, processing cost transfers, etc.

Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-4.01 for further assistance.

 
8. What is cost sharing?

Cost sharing or matching represents the use of institutional funds to supplement project costs not borne by the sponsoring agency. Some Sponsored Agreements require that MUSC participate to some extent in the total cost of the project. For other agreements, the University may voluntarily agree to cost share.  The policy of the University is to make a cost sharing commitment only when required by the sponsor or by the competitive nature of the award and then to cost share only to the extent necessary to meet the specific requirements of the sponsored project. The cost sharing commitment must be included on the "Proposal Data Sheet" and in the proposed budget and be approved by the responsible University officials.

The type of cost sharing determines if/how it should be accounted for and/or reported to the sponsor:

- Mandatory Cost Sharing - Required by the sponsor or individual program and must be accounted for and reported to the sponsor using a separate non-sponsored Cost Share UDAK corresponding directly to a Sponsored Project.

- Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing - Not required by the sponsor, but is "volunteered" by the University in the proposal. Because the University has voluntarily included cost sharing that is quantified in the research proposal and/or proposal budget, a separate non-sponsored Cost Share UDAK corresponding directly to the Sponsored Project must be established.

- Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing - Arises when the level of effort for key personnel only exceeds the level of effort originally committed to the sponsor in the award budget. The department is not required to establish a separate Cost Share UDAK for this type of cost sharing.

Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-3.05 for further assistance.

 
9. What travel costs can be charged to a Sponsored Project?

All travel by MUSC employees is subject to the regulations outlined in Finance Policy/Procedure 7 entitled "Travel."

Refer to Policy/Procedure 4-3.11 for specific guidelines for travel on Sponsored Projects.  Expenditures for travel may be charged to Sponsored Projects in accordance with OMB Circular A-21-Section J.53, specific sponsor guidelines, and specific award terms and conditions.  Reimbursement for travel costs is generally limited to individuals being paid from or supported by the sponsored award.  However, for some projects, non-employee travel may be allowable for patients under clinical research projects or for consultant and for-profit entities (see Policy/Procedure 4-3.11.1).

Contact GCA for further assistance prior to incurring travel expenditures.

 
10. How do PEAR Forms and salary charges relate to Activity Reports?

Salaries are charged and distributed to various projects at MUSC based on initial estimates for each employee.  These distribution estimates, covering the employee’s sponsored (grant/contract) activities as well as teaching, clinical, administrative, and other activities, are submitted by the Business Manager via the Position/Employee Action Request (PEAR) Form.

At the end of each quarter, an online Quarterly Activity Report is generated for each employee subject to activity reporting requirements.  The report indicates the percentage distribution of actual salary expenditures for the quarter by project.  The employee must review the report, make any necessary corrections to reflect his/her actual effort for the previous quarter, and certify his/her effort online.

If a significant change on the Quarterly Activity Report is necessary to reflect actual effort of an employee, then the Business Manager must submit retroactive adjustments to salaries and fringe benefits charges via an updated PEAR Form in accordance with Policy/Procedure 4-3.12.  Although there is no precise definition for the term "significant", it has been construed as a general rule that a change applicable to a given project or activity of 5% or more of an employee’s total effort warrants an adjustment.  Recognizing that workload requirements for projects and activities may vary from quarter to quarter, a significant change of greater than +/- 5% that is expected to average out to the budgeted level of effort over the course of the current fiscal year will not require retroactive salary adjustments.

Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-5.02 for further assistance.  Additional FAQ's on Activity Reporting are available here.

 
11. Now that I have my Sponsored Award budget has been approved and funded, can I spend my budget any way I need to, or do I have to request approval from the sponsor to change the scope or rebudget?

Prior approval requirements are found in the award terms and conditions and/or sponsor guidelines.  For example, the NIH Grants Policy Statement provides a table with specific requirements here.

Rebudgeting within a Sponsored Project is allowed if there is a legitimate need to redirect budgeted costs.  The University's Budget Revision Form is available (here).  The two types of budget revisions at MUSC are:

Type I:  Budget revisions requiring the prior approval of the sponsor, such as "significant rebudgeting" (an increase or decrease of 25% from the original awarded budget for a direct cost category), rebudgeting of patient care or equipment costs, and/or rebudgeting of F&A costs to direct costs, etc.

Type II:   Budget revisions other than Type I may be approved by GCA under expanded authorities.

Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-2.02 for further assistance.

 
12. Who do I contact – ORSP or GCA?

When in doubt, contact the proper office for advice.  Following are general types of questions and which department to contact:

Activity (effort) reporting – GCA
Budget revisions – ORSP
Carryover requests – ORSP
Dual employment on sponsored projects – GCA
Expenditure allowability – GCA
Extensions – ORSP
Gift vs. grant questions – ORSP
Invoicing, financial reporting, and financial information – GCA
Principal Investigator change or transfer to another institution – ORSP
Prior approvals – ORSP
Relinquishing statements – ORSP
Service and recharge centers – GCA
Subcontract vs. vendor questions – ORSP

Contact Information:
ORSP   792-3838    Staff Listing
GCA     792-2850    Staff Listing   Distribution of Grants

 
13. Can I charge equipment and/or computers to my Sponsored Project?

Expenditures for "special purpose equipment" (used only for research, medical, scientific, or other technical activities) are generally allowable as direct charges to Sponsored Projects if the item(s) were listed in the approved budget, or have been approved by the sponsor or by ORSP under Federal "Expanded Authorities".

Expenditures for "general purpose equipment", including general use computers, should not normally be charged as a direct cost to Sponsored Projects. Instead, the purchase must be charged to a Non-Sponsored Project.  (An allocable portion of the depreciation on that equipment will be charged indirectly to Sponsored Projects through the University’s Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Cost Rates.)

However, in rare instances, with the prior approval of the sponsor and adequate justification, general purpose equipment and computers may be allowable as direct cost to certain projects in limited special or "unlike" circumstances.  Contact GCA or refer to Policy/Procedure 4-3.09 for further assistance.

 
14. What is the NIH Salary cap and how does it work?

Sponsors  will reimburse the University for the allocated portion of an employee’s "Institutional Base Salary”, which is defined as the annual compensation that the institution pays for an employee’s appointment, whether that employee’s time is spent on research, teaching, patient care, or other activities.  If an employee is paid by MUSC and an Affiliate such as UMA, then Institutional Base Salary consists of his/her combined MUSC and Affiliate salary. Because the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital is not an affiliate of MUSC, VA salary must not be included. However, incentive pay must not be included in Federal and State award proposals and may not be charged to Federal and State sponsoring agencies.

However, NIH will not reimburse grantees for the direct salaries of individuals at a rate in excess of the level specified in its annual appropriations act. The excess salary must not be charged to Sponsored Projects UDAKs and must be accounted for in a separate non-sponsored UDAK.

NIH salary cap amounts for full-time (100% FTE) employees are updated annually in the NIH Guide.  MUSC’s Policy/Procedure 4-3.07 provides a worksheet template and detailed instructions to calculate the salary cap excess. The Affiliate Salary worksheet is used to calculate the NIH salary over the cap even if the individual has no affiliate salary.

Contact GCA or read Policy/Procedure 4-3.07 for further assistance.

 
15. How do I find management reports for my department’s Sponsored Projects?

A detailed list of Sponsored Projects management reports and instructions on how to access them is found here.

 
 
 

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