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Frequently Asked Questions                                                                                         Home > Grants/Contracts > FAQ

Proposal Submission (Pre-award)
Project Administration (Post-award)
Research Compliance

Proposal Submission (Pre-award):

1. If I want to submit a proposal, what is the first step?

Contact the Research Foundation at preaward@odu.edu.  When contacting the Research Foundation, please provide the following information:

At the time the PI contacts the Research Foundation, a pre-award Grant and Contract Administrator (GCA) will be assigned to assist the PI with the proposal submission.

2. What is a “sponsor”? 

“Sponsor” is a term used interchangeably with “funding agency.”  A Sponsor (or funding agency) is a funding body that provides financial support in the form of grants and contracts. 

3. When submitting a proposal that includes a subcontractor, what documentation is needed from the subcontractor’s organization?

At minimum, the subcontractor needs to submit the following to the Research Foundation at time of proposal preparation:

4. How far in advance of the Sponsor's deadline should ODURF receive the completed proposal for submission to the funding agency?

Completed proposals must reach ODURF at least full five working days before the Sponsor's deadline.  This includes the finalized proposal, budget, and completed PTF. The five-day guarantee policy can be found at http://researchfoundation.odu.edu/news/09-25-08.htm.    

5.   What is the Facilities and Administration (F&A) cost rate (also known as indirect cost rate), and why is it important to budget at the full F&A cost in proposals?

The OMB Uniform Guidance definition of F&A costs are costs incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.  These costs are broad categories of costs.  “Facilities” include library expenses, equipment and capital improvements, and operation and maintenance expenses.  “Administration” is defined as general administration and general expenses and sponsored projects and departmental administration, and student administration and services.

It is important to budget at the full F&A rate in proposals because F&A costs are real operational costs from accounting records of the University.  Applying F&A costs to a proposal budget is a way to capture many types of routine, but at times unrecognized, costs to a project.  Electricity, for example, to support research in a lab, would be difficult to allocate as a direct cost to each project that may be undertaken in the lab.  If F&A costs are not compensated by the funding agencies, they will be absorbed by other means, such as higher tuition fees for students. 

The F&A rate is based on an agreement with the Research Foundation’s cognizant federal agency, Office of Naval Research.  To assess FAQs regarding F&A costs associated with ODU research and development, please see http://www.odu.edu/ao/research/proposaldev/funding/indirect.shtml

6.   When should you budget costs at the off-campus rather than on-campus F&A rate?

The off-campus F&A rate applies for activities performed in facilities not owned by the institution or when rent is directly allocated to the projects. The off-campus rate should be used when greater than 50% of the "physical" work is being done at an off-campus site.

7.   What is a Proposal Transmittal Form (PTF), and why is it required?

The Proposal Transmittal Form is the document which authorizes the Research Foundation to process funding applications on behalf of the University.  By signing the Proposal Transmittal Form, the Investigator certifies pertinent information and compliance requirements prior to proposal submission.  Investigators applying for funding are required to complete a Proposal Transmittal Form and forward to the pre-award GCA before a proposal can be submitted to a funding agency.  The Investigator is responsible for obtaining all signatures. The signatures required for the Proposal Transmittal Form include: the Principal Investigator(s), Co-Principal Investigator(s), faculty not serving as PI or Co-PI, the Department Chair(s), the College Dean(s) and the Vice President for Research, when applicable.

8.   Can someone else sign off on the Proposal Transmittal Form for the Principal Investigator?

Only with prior approval and under limited circumstances may another individual sign on behalf of the PI. The PI should consult his/her assigned pre-award GCA well in advance of the deadline date to make these arrangements.  

9.   Who is responsible for uploading the proposal files to NSF FastLane?

The Principal Investigator is responsible for loading all forms in Fastlane except the budget and budget justification, which is loaded by the pre-award GCA. The PI may work with his/her pre-award GCA to obtain assistance if needed.

10.    Will including voluntary committed cost share in a proposal increase the chances of funding?

There is no evidence that cost share will increase the chances of funding. In fact, OMB Uniform Guidance states that voluntary cost share cannot be utilized in the merit review of a submission. Some funding agencies may require cost sharing, and in these cases, the weight of the cost share will be considered as appropriate to the sponsor's requirements. Unless specified in the program solicitation, some funding agencies do not want voluntary committed cost share in proposal budgets.  In particular, per NSF policy, the inclusion of voluntary committed cost share is prohibited in a proposal.

11.    Does the Research Foundation help me determine budget for non-personnel items?

The Research Foundation is not able to and does not have the expertise to determine the costs of non-personnel items. The Principal Investigator should consider the scope of work and sponsor requirements when determining how much to allocate for non-personnel items.

12.    Can I charge proposal costs, such as my time spent to prepare a proposal, to a sponsored program?

Per OMB Uniform Guidance, proposal preparation costs are treated as a F&A cost, meaning the expense cannot be charged directly to a sponsored project.

13.    What is the difference between basic research, applied research, and development?

Basic Research
Research undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge without any particular application or use in mind.

Applied Research
Research conducted to gain the knowledge or understanding to meet a specific, recognized need.

The systematic use of the knowledge or understanding gained from research directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including the design and development of prototypes and processes.

Project Administration (Post-award):

1. Why does the Research Foundation track and document cost share?

Cost share or match, refers to any portion of the project’s costs not paid for by the sponsor.  When cost share is proposed in an application, federal regulations require full accountability for costs committed in the fulfillment of sponsored programs.  Per the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), both mandatory and voluntary committed cost share must be tracked and documented.  Additionally, if cost share is mandatory, reporting is required by the funding agency.  Additional information on cost sharing can be found at http://www.researchfoundation.odu.edu/pdf/CostSharingonFederalSponsoredAgreements.pdf

2. What is the difference between mandatory and voluntary committed cost share?

Mandatory cost sharing is required by the sponsor as a condition of the award. Ordinarily this requirement will be indicated in the program announcement. Voluntary cost sharing is not required by the sponsor but nevertheless can be offered in the proposal by the investigator; usually in the form of contributed effort. Cost sharing that is proposed voluntarily by the investigator becomes “voluntary committed” cost sharing once the award is made.  All committed cost sharing, whether mandatory or voluntarily committed, becomes binding and subject to audit, therefore it must be accounted for and documented.

3. Does the Research Foundation follow State travel policy?

No.  The Research Foundation is not a state entity, but if the terms of an agreement require adherence to state travel regulations, we are obligated to comply.  The Research Foundation’s travel policy can be found at http://www.researchfoundation.odu.edu/accounting/travelpol.htm

4. What information do I need to provide to my post-award GCA to receive an Advance Travel Authorization (ATA) number?

5. What is the difference between faculty release time and faculty direct pay?

Faculty release time is time that ODU faculty are paid from the Department and/or College to work on a sponsored program. This time is reimbursed from the project.

Faculty direct pay is compensation that is issued directly to faculty members who are working on a sponsored project. Nine-month faculty members are eligible to earn up to 3 months of direct pay during the summer semester. Twelve-month faculty members may be eligible to earn direct pay subject to the terms of their ODU employment contract.

6. What is the difference between a subcontract and consultant?

Subcontracts are agreements with other entities ("Subrecipients") for a substantial programmatic contribution to the project. Subcontracts require specific approval by the sponsor thus proposals submitted to a sponsor must include, at minimum, a work statement, budget and budget justification, and the subrecipient institutional official's endorsement for the services to be performed (usually in the form of a letter of intent).  Subcontracting arrangements are shown in the proposal to provide a clear delineation of the work to be performed by each organization and its cost. There also must be a complete budget itemizing the direct and indirect costs for each subrecipient. Upon award to the Foundation of the grant or contract, a subcontract will be awarded to the subrecipient institution. 

Consultants are experts outside the University and the Research Foundation who bring a particular expertise to a project that is otherwise not available within the institution. University faculty members are normally not eligible to receive compensation from the Research Foundation for consulting services on sponsored projects. Federal cost principles do allow consultation in unusual cases, and in those instances the faculty should be listed as project personnel. Federal agencies specifically prohibit the payment of consultant fees from federal monies to persons employed by the federal government. The Internal Revenue Service provides guidelines for determining if an individual should be categorized as a consultant or employee.

7. What is a vendor? 

Vendors include companies from which goods and services are purchased. The goods or services are provided to many different purchasers, and often occur in the course of the vendor's normal business operations. Vendors are not involved in the programmatic work of the project, and do not prepare project deliverables or technical reports.

8. How do I determine the dollar amount of a course for salary purposes?

The Research Foundation is not able to assist in calculating course release time. The faculty member should consult his/her chair and/or dean.

9. What form do I use to receive reimbursement for my purchases?

The ODU Research Foundation “Consultant/Honorarium & Reimbursement Form” is the appropriate form to use for reimbursement to individuals for purchases.  To complete the form, the payee completes the Payee Information section of the form and Reimbursement section.  The form should be signed by both the payee and the PI, and forwarded, along with original receipts, to the Research Foundation for reimbursement.  

10. What is a procurement card, and how do I get one?

A procurement card is a Bank of America credit card that allows goods and services to be purchased without utilizing the traditional purchasing process, allowing greater flexibility in making small dollar purchases.  All purchases bought with the procurement card are subject to the same guidelines of reasonableness, allowability, and allocability required for expenditures on a sponsored program.  To qualify for a procurement card, an overhead, departmental, or discretionary account must be designated to cover any unallowable or undocumented purchases made with an individual procurement card.  For information on terms and conditions and how to obtain a procurement card, please go to http://www.researchfoundation.odu.edu/accounting/procpolicy.htm.  

11. How much should I pay my Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)?

The pay rates for GRAs are determined by each department. Please check with your department chair for the most current rates.

12. Is my GRA eligible for health benefits?

Yes. The University and the Research Foundation have teamed together to ensure GRA’s have access to health benefits. Please visit the following website more information:


13. When working on multiple projects, is it acceptable to charge my time to the project that has the most funding available or to use up funds on a project that is close to ending?

No.  Per the OMB Uniform Guidance, institutions are responsible for ensuring that costs charged to a sponsored program are allowable, allocable, reasonable, and consistent.  A cost is allocable if it is incurred solely to advance the work under the sponsored agreement.  If a cost benefits two or more projects, the cost should be allocated to the projects based on the proportional benefit.  Costs may not be shifted to other sponsored agreements in order to meet deficiencies caused by overruns or other fund considerations, to avoid restrictions imposed by law or by the terms of the sponsored agreement, or for other reasons of convenience.

14. When should I contact the Licensing Manager for Intellectual Property or Technology Transfer concerns?

Please contact Khaled Abul-Hassan, Director of Innovations Commercialization, 757-683-5052, kabulhas@odu.edu.

Research Compliance:

1. What is effort reporting, and why is it required?

Effort reporting is a federal requirement for institutions who receive federal funding.  Per the OMB Uniform Guidance, a statement will be signed by the employee, principal investigator, or responsible official(s) using suitable means of verification that the work was performed, stating that salaries and wages charged to a sponsored project as direct charges are reasonable in relation to the work performed.  To comply with this guideline, Uniform Guidance allows for after the fact activity reporting of the percentage distribution of activity of employees.  The Research Foundation distributes Personnel Activity Reports (PARs) to all employees paid from sponsored projects to verify their level of effort on a semester basis.

2. What is the CAS, and how does it apply to sponsored programs?

CAS (Cost Accounting Standards) was created as an act of Congress to tighten the rules on allowability, allocation, and reporting of costs on federal grants and contracts. CAS became applicable to institutions of higher education in 1996.  Many believe that CAS was created as a result of major audit findings at several universities.

CAS was made law by inclusion in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance. OMB Uniform Guidance applies to educational institutions and is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a021_2004.  Since the Research Foundation must comply with Uniform Guidance, all expenditures to a project are reviewed to ensure allowability per the guidelines.  For information on the identification of unallowable costs, please see http://www.researchfoundation.odu.edu/pdf/IdentificationandTreatmentofUnallowableCosts.pdf

3. Do I need an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval letter if I determine my human subject involvement is “Exempt”?

Yes.  The Institutional Review Board (for federal awards) or a college committee (for non-federal awards) determines if research is exempt from IRB review, not the PI.  The appropriate committee will provide a letter or other documentation that officially approves the exemption.

4. Do I need to apply to the IRB and/or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) before proposal submission?

While an application to the IRB or IACUC is recommended, it is not a requirement of the Research Foundation.  If an award is made involving human subjects or animals, an account will not be set up until the Research Foundation has received the IRB and/or IACUC approval.  For information on IRB, IACUC, and other research compliance policies, please see http://www.odu.edu/ao/research/forms/index.shtml.  



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