The Old Dominion University Research Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization chartered under the laws of Virginia. The Research Foundation was chartered in 1965 to “promote the educational objectives of the University by encouraging, fostering, and conducting investigation, research, and development in engineering, the physical and life sciences, the humanities, education, and all other branches of learning; and utilizing, publishing, and otherwise making known the results of such investigations, research, and development . . .”
The University-Research Foundation partnership developed from the University’s need to provide research administration services when no additional monies were available from the Commonwealth to fund such efforts. Using indirect cost recoveries received from sponsors to fund the Research Foundation was the solution. The Research Foundation serves as the University’s fiscal and administrative agent for sponsored program activities.Sponsored Programs Process
Old Dominion University Office of Research (ODUOR) staff members endeavor to match faculty interests with funding opportunities. Grant writers are assigned to each college for assistance with preparing proposal narratives and coordinating complex interdisciplinary efforts. ODUOR also coordinates a variety of workshops including training on the use of the online Community of Science database to identify funding opportunities and, with the assistance of Research Foundation staff, agency-specific proposal preparation guidance.
Once a faculty member has expressed an interest in applying to a particular program, Research Foundation staff in the pre-award group review the technical, fiscal, performance, and contractual requirements. Staff members assist the faculty member in preparing a budget in conformity with sponsor guidelines and University and Research Foundation policies. The Research Foundation staff also prepares forms, such as representations and certifications, required by the sponsor.
Prior to its submission to the sponsor, each proposal is authorized by the faculty member, department chair, and college dean. Research Foundation staff review the proposal for compliance with all proposal guidelines issued by the sponsor and, if submitted in a timely manner, arrange for photocopying and mailing. The Research Foundation maintains a relationship with a photocopy and graphics business that can quickly produce the numerous copies of proposals required by sponsors and meet tight deadlines. The company also copies and binds technical reports and other materials.Grant and Contract Management
If the sponsor funds the proposal, the Research Foundation performs the administrative and fiscal functions required. Before accepting the award, the Research Foundation reviews the terms and conditions for discrepancies with the proposal and for conflicts with University or Research Foundation policies. The Research Foundation’s role is to identify the issues and negotiate a resolution. Depending upon the issue, the vice president for research may also be involved. Once the award is accepted, the faculty member is notified. The Research Foundation establishes an account for the award and enters the budget on the Research Foundation computer system.
The majority of sponsored programs awards received by the Research Foundation are from the federal government. The grant and contract administrators review all expenditures for allowability under the federal regulations and appropriateness under the rules of the specific sponsored program. Research Foundation staff also monitor the budget of each sponsored program and fulfill fiscal reporting requirements.Sponsored Programs Accounting
The Research Foundation maintains a self-contained, fully computerized financial management and accounting system. This system provides detailed accounting, budgeting, and encumbrance information by award period for each sponsored project account.
The Research Foundation invoices sponsors for the work performed according to each sponsor’s specific billing periods and format requirements. In addition to preparing and submitting invoices to sponsors, the Research Foundation monitors cash availability and collects accounts receivable.
The Research Foundation maintains a specialized purchasing system dedicated to the needs of the research community, and assures that all transactions comply with sponsor regulations and project-specific requirements. Research Foundation accounting staff members maintain records of acquisition, location, and disposition for all capital equipment items, as required under federal regulations.
The Research Foundation maintains an effort reporting system in accordance with federal standards. This system documents and certifies all time and effort charged to sponsored programs by both Research Foundation and University employees. The Research Foundation also uses this documentation to reimburse the University for faculty time devoted to sponsored programs, i.e., purchased release time, during the academic year.
The University and Research Foundation jointly prepare, submit, and negotiate the indirect cost proposal with the cognizant agency, currently U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Indirect costs are real costs of performing all sponsored programs that cannot be directly identified to any particular sponsored program. They include libraries, building maintenance, utilities, sponsored program administration, and college administration among others.
Most grants and contracts are awarded on a cost reimbursement basis. As such, the investigator performs the project, spends funds, then the Research Foundation invoices the sponsor and is reimbursed. There may be up to 120 days between invoicing and receiving payment. The Research Foundation provides working capital to allow expenditures and reimbursement on a sustainable footing.Human Resources
The Research Foundation maintains its own recruitment, classification and compensation systems to fulfill the unique requirements of researchers. As a federal contractor, the Research Foundation assures that all personnel actions conform to federal and commonwealth policies. In addition to establishing policies for its employees, the Research Foundation provides competitive fringe benefits and files all required personnel reports with federal and commonwealth agencies.In Conclusion
The Research Foundation has played a significant role in the University’s ability to attract excellent researchers. This has translated into significant growth in research and sponsored program activities at the University. The partnership between the Research Foundation and the University has been an unqualified success. It has provided a means of centralizing sponsored programs administration and providing specialized support and systems necessary to promote and grow University research.