NB: This is an internal memo of the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, posted on the Web for future reference.

02/11/09

Colleague,

This is an update of an semi-annual memo sent by the CUPPA Dean's office to Principal Investigators support staff on grants and contracts within CUPPA within the College.

Please read the following very carefully, especially the prohibition on verbal contracts under #3 below.  University employees who make verbal contracts with any person or legal entity, without the approval of the Board of Trustees as reflected in a fully executed written university contract, risk being held personally liable.

No person or organization outside the university can be told to "start work" related to a grant or any other source of funds if there is not a fully approved, written university contract in place.  Similarly, research assistants or any other person cannot be verbally hired and assigned work, without their appointment first being fully approved by the university as reflected by their electronic documentation being approved by the university.

1.  UIC Office of Business Affairs regularly conducts free training sessions on the processing of grants, contracts, and purchases at UIC.

A list of these training sessions is at:

http://training.obfs.uillinois.edu/index.cfm?campus=C

Please watch the web page above for additional training sessions as they are added.   They usually hold a session on grant close-outs as well.  If you have a P-Card, and have not attended a training session, you are highly encouraged to do so.

FY09 FACILITIES & ADMINISTRATIVE (F&A), FRINGE BENEFIT AND TUITION REMISSION RATES:

http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/grantsp/documents/UIC_FY09-FA-Rates_Rev091608.pdf

Salary minima for Graduate Assistants are at:

http://www.hr.uic.edu/ahr/minimagrad.html

Each Research Assistant should be sent the following letter prior to the beginning of their appointment.  They should not start work for your project until they have received and accepted this letter, and given a copy to the HR person in your unit.  Please note in the letter below that federal matching funds are sometimes available for qualified RAs.  This practice should benefit your project! --

http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/admin/howto/RAletter.doc

If you are advising Research Assistants, some answers to their typical questions are at--

http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/admin/students/CUPPAraFAQ.html

GAs/RAs/TAs are required to fill out bi-weekly time sheets and submit them to their supervisor. This is because "time and effort" documentation is subject to audit by funders and the state.  Forms are at--
http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/admin/howto/CUPPAGARATAtimesheet.pdf

 

The information below is out of date, and will be updated by 8/16/08--

2.  Another resource is the administrative page of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research--

http://www.uic.edu/depts/ovcr/ors/admin.html

--which has many of the forms needed for processing grant proposals.

A flow chart of the Proposal Approval Process is at--

http://www.uic.edu/depts/ovcr/ors/forms/process.pdf

Also, the IRB (Institutional Review Board) forms are at--

http://www.uic.edu/depts/ovcr/oprs/Home/

If you need to list the computer resources of UIC and CUPPA for an NSF or similar grant, text for these is available at--

http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/ucgis/facilities.html

NB:  Research with Human Subjects cannot commence on a project without IRB approval.
 

CUPPA Procedures for Obtaining Dean's Signature on Proposal Approval Form (PAF)--

A.  Bring the Original and TWO copies of your complete PAF PLUS the PROPOSAL/CONTRACT NARRATIVE AND BUDGET, to the Dean's Office, Rm. 115, and give it to the front desk staff for filing and scanning.

B.  Log your PAF at the Dean's office front desk in the Dean's PAF Log.  The staff will stamp the back of the front page of the PAF with a "received" stamp, and initial the PAF as received.

C.  Present PAF to Dean or Dean's assistant for Dean's signature.  Dean will sign PAF only after it is initialed as logged.

The PAF log allows CUPPA to keep track of Facilities and Administrative (ICR) funds owed the College by the Vice Chancellor for Research, along with assisting us in planning for advancement and space for the college.  The PAF database also helps us to keep the public better informed about our research and public service contributions.   CUPPA keeps a scanned copy of the PAF on file in case documents get lost.

3. Some pitfalls to avoid, which take a few weeks of processing time--

No outside contractor can start work until their written contract is entirely completed and approved on UIC forms.

There is a difference between university contracts that are actually subcontracts on a grant, and those which are not.

Instructions and forms for subcontracts under a grant are at--

http://www.uic.edu/depts/ovcr/ors/forms/subcontract_approval.doc

Contracts that are not subcontracts under sponsored research can be found at--

http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/purchasing/contracts/forms.html

and at--

http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/manual/#s17 .
 

Verbal contracts are forbidden, according to university policy.
Purchase contracts of $25,000 must be formally bid out, as must certain classifications of consulting contracts, even under
grants.  Please refer to--
http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/deans1/99dean1a.html and
http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/deans1/98dean10.html  and  http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/deans1/98dean7.html for
UIC policy memos on these matters, and also to http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/manual/index.html .

Also, no former employee of UIC, including students, can be hired as an outside consultant, until their UIC appointments are completely terminated and approved as such in Banner.  All of the above actions in this paragraph thus might need a few weeks lead time to accomplish, so plan accordingly.

If you are placing students in an external setting under a grant or project, the Agreement for Student Placement in Practice Setting Form must be filled out--

http://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/purchasing/contracts/SAP.doc

 

4. Some Do's for PIs

Do:  Ask for help from your unit grants staff, director, or the Dean's office if you need it. 

If we don't know the answer, we'll try to find it.   Do not suffer in silence.  Let us know what the problem is.

Do:   Budget realistically for expenses, and keep annual cost increases in mind.

Ask for advice if you need to budget for travel or student appointments.   Allow for annual inflation.

Do:   Include expenses in your grant budget that will help your unit if you are allowed to by the funder.

Sometimes computing support or supplies are allowed, and these can help your unit.

Do:  Ask for and examine accounting/spending reports on your grant regularly.   

If no reports are forthcoming or if you have any reason to doubt their accuracy, take the matter up with the next level of unit or college authority until you are satisfied with the answer.  

Do:  Ask if your grant spending conforms with the original grant budget.

If you need to change your grant budget, your funder may require you to get prior approval in advance.  If the right people are not being paid on your grant, find out why, and have the problem corrected.

Do:  Ask staff if they can check whether funds have been collected from the funder.

See further below on: Unit Accounting Follow-Up on Collection of Funds by UIC Grants and Contracts.

Do:  Set a check-point prior to the ending of your grant to see if you can meet all the obligations of the grant for activity, spending, and matching. 

If you can't, see below about No-Cost Extensions.


Do:  Ask to see final budget close-out reports on grants.

If no reports are forthcoming or if you have any reason to doubt their accuracy, take the matter up with the next level of unit or college authority until you are satisfied with the answer.  


Do:  Follow up to see if research and financial records, and also property purchased by the grant like computers, are being kept for the years required by the funder, and inventoried if necessary.

It is safe to check with your staff whether they are archiving the research and financial records properly.   Units must also keep property over a certain dollar amount inventoried. 


Some other good practices--

Anticipation Accounts Highly Recommended for Grants and Contracts--

Once you have a firm commitment from the funder, verbal or written, CUPPA recommends highly that your unit submit the "Anticipation Account Approval Form" to UIC Grants and Contracts office early in the paperwork process, even at the point of submitting your PAF.   Your administrative unit will then receive via e-mail notification of the assignment of a C-FOAPAL or internal account for tracking financial activity on your grant.   Personnel appointments and other costs can then be assigned to the C-FOAPAL, provided that these charges are within the date and budget range as specified in your approved grant or contract. Personnel should be assigned to their grant appointments on the correct accounts as soon as possible, for some of the reasons noted below.

CUPPA highly discourages spending for your grant on a (state funded) or (ICR) account "while you are waiting for the grant account to go through," with the intention to pay the other account back through funds subsitution or transfers, which often either don't work, or aren't proper.  We presume also that no one is spending for one grant on another grant's funds.

An exception can occur when a research unit accounts for multiple small projects using a special account to bill back to individual project accounts for personnel costs, an arrangement that must be cleared previously with the Dean's office.  That is a different matter that one-time account substitution "while you are waiting for the grant to go through."

Project spending on a non-grant account can cause account deficits at fiscal year's end, can cause related deficits in the accounts which accumulate funds for benefits and separation contingencies, and can change the summary statistics which represent the proportions of personnel and building space devoted to "organized research," meaning externally funded research.  These statistics are not simply for bean counting, but can have financial and program consequences.   UIC is reimbursed for its facilities costs based upon the proportion of space in part devoted to organized research, so the campus is penalized ultimately financially if you spend on the wrong account for a project using (state-funded) or (ICR) dollars, which thereby categorize your personnel and projects as "departmental research" funded, meaning departmental self-funded.  Personnel working on research should be externally funded whenever possible, since productivity measures for the college and your administrative unit are generated by the campus based upon the proportion of personnel assigned to organized (externally funded) versus departmental (internally-funded) research.  These productivity measures sometimes affect internal and external campus funding decisions, and your unit may be hurt in funding allocations for ledger 1 dollars should you spend significantly on departmental (internally funded) research.

You also help your unit when you can immediately assign personnel costs to grant dollars at the beginning of a project.   This proper cost assignment helps free up state funds for other appropriate and more flexible uses to meet the various needs of your unit.

Thus, spending on your project should be on your project accounts only.   If there is a financial emergency due to processing problems with funding
related to a grant or contract, please contact the CUPPA Dean's office for assistance.

Processing "No Cost Extensions" to Grants and Contracts

It is critical that you as Principal Investigator be mindful of the terminal date of your grant or contract.  You cannot spend dollars beyond that date, and will lose those dollars if any remain unspent upon the terminal date.  If you anticipate needing more time to complete a project and spend down its dollars, you should request a "no cost extension" from your grantor, and process this extension form, signed by the grantor, along with a PAF form requesting the extension.  Your unit administrative staff should be able to assist you with the no-cost extension process.

Unit Accounting Follow-Up on Collection of Funds by UIC Grants and Contracts

On occasion, someone at the UIC Grants and Contracts office will make a mistake, and not properly bill the funder to transfer the funds for your project to the UIC campus.   This can result in the funder not wanting to fund further projects, if the problem is not caught in time.

Before the end of each project year, it makes eminent good sense to ask your unit account or grants manager to check and see if the funder has been billed by UIC and whether they have paid out their funds.   Be aware of the fiscal year-end date of your funder when making such an inquiry.  You'll want to time your inquiry so that if a mistake in billing has been made, your funder still has time in their appropriate fiscal year to transfer the funds for the project.   Please consult with the Fiscal Administrator of CUPPA should you wish technical advice on this matter.

Checking the Grants and Contracts Database and Maintaining Your Own Personal Records

Principal Investigators going up for promotion and tenure need to be absolutely sure of the accuracy of campus records of their grants and contracts, and would do well to check this database once a year for accuracy.   You can contact the UIC Office of Research Services, Cenetta Burwell-Walker, cbwalker@uic.edu, 6-4993, for assistance in retrieving a copy of the campus database referencing your research.   CUPPA suggests that you maintain a personal record of your grants and contracts, and retain copies of PAFs as proof of your intellectual credit accumulated.   PAF data is entered into the Office of Research Services database, so it is up to you to make sure that the PAF accurately reflects your understanding of the grant proposal credit and funding prior to your signature.

What about keeping track of my time spent on grant matches?

CUPPA PIs are are strongly advised not to overcommit their own time or anyone else's under their supervision to several grants matches simultaneously.   The match is a real commitment.   NSF asks you to disclose such commitments if you are applying for their grants, and it is good practice to keep track of your match time commitments, so that you can report that they have been completed.

CUPPA has modified a spreadsheet we've received from the Vice Chancellor for Research's office to keep track of match commitments.  We encourage you to use this spreadsheet to track your match commitments.   The official UIC reporting of the cost-share personnel assignment is done on the web-based form, ARS, that replaced the old Faculty Activity Analysis each semester.   Please share your cost-share time information with your unit account manager by the end of the first month of each term.

Technically, time spent on an in-kind match on an externally-funded project can be counted, in our current understanding, toward "organized (externally-funded) research" on the Faculty Activity Analysis (FAA) and the Space Utilization Analysis Surveys (SUAS).    These campus measures affect in some ways funding received by the unit, college, and campus.   Keeping accurate track of personnel time spent on in-kind match contributions can help your unit and the campus receive funding in the long run, and we appreciate your assistance in maintaining accurate match records.

How to enter your cost-sharing into the ARS system:

===========

Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 16:33:26 -0500
To: uicuppaf@uic.edu
From: "Albert Schorsch, III" <schorsch@uic.edu>
Subject: UPDATE: Instructions for entering cost-sharing on ARS for -- IMPORTANT:  Documenting Cost-Sharing/Matching time on the UIC ARS system

Colleague,

Here are the instructions for entering Cost Sharing on the ARS system--

Please let your unit staff know if you need help documenting your Cost Sharing in ARS.  They should be able to provide you with the needed account (Banner C-FOAPAL) codes.

Please let us know if you need additional help on this.  Thanks very much!

Thanks,

Albert Schorsch, 6-2177
Assoc. Dean, UIC CUPPA

==============

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON COST SHARING
 
 
What is Cost Sharing?
 
Cost Sharing is defined as the portion of costs that are associated with a grant or externally funded project that are not borne as part of the grant and not funded by the awarding agency.  Cost sharing occurs when a cost specifically benefits a sponsored project, but it is not charged to that project.  Cost sharing in the ARS system reflects the portion of a person’s salary (that is not funded by the grant) that is contributed to the support of the funded project.  For specific questions about cost sharing, please check with the Office of Grants and Contracts or the Office of Research Services.    
 
 
How do I report Cost Sharing for faculty or staff?  
 
When a staff person contributes effort to a grant or funded project, it is necessary to record that effort as organized research and to add that effort to the Cost Sharing form for your department.  You can access the cost sharing form on the ARS page for each individual.  There is a Cost Sharing Button on the left side of the screen just above the person’s appointment data.  Click this button and a smaller screen will pop up where you can add the information about Cost Sharing.   The Cost Sharing screen requires several pieces of information. At the top of the box, you will find a drop down box listing all of the positions held by the individual.  Click on the appointment and account from which the person will contribute effort to the grant.  In most cases, cost sharing contributions are made from state account appointments.  After choosing the position and account – then you must list the percent effort that is being contributed to each grant that the individual is supporting.  List the Banner organization code for the grant along with the fund code and the account.   You can list cost sharing for more than one grant if the person is contributing to multiple grants.  
If you report cost sharing for a faculty member on the Cost Sharing form, please be sure to allocate that time to organized research on the ARS activity form.     


To: uicuppaf@uic.edu
From: "Albert Schorsch, III" <schorsch@uic.edu>
Subject: IMPORTANT:  Documenting Cost-Sharing/Matching time on the UIC ARS system

Colleague,

This note is directed to Principal Investigators of research projects and to those whose time is listed as a "cost-share" or "match" on grants, and to CUPPA staff responsible for collecting time and effort reporting.

We need to ask your help in carefully documenting your cost-sharing/matching activity.

In the past year, the university switched from the old Faculty Activity Analysis forms to the web-based Activity Reporting System (ARS).

http://www.dria.uic.edu/ars/default.asp

General instructions for ARS are at--

http://www.dria.uic.edu/ars/docs/ARS_Presentation(east).pdf

IMPORTANT:  

This ARS system is now the official place at UIC that you record your cost sharing/matching activity on grants.  If you do not record it on ARS, and if your grant is ever audited, you will have no contemporaneous information to back up your word that you met your cost sharing/match.  You may not be properly credited for your cost-sharing/match, and your unit may have to return money to the funder if audited.   A number of funders, especially federal funders, have taken the practice of recording match very seriously, and have collected tens of millions of dollars from universities that could not effectively document their cost-sharing/matching activity.  

Returning grant dollars to the funders not only reverses the direct funding associated with a grant, but also reverses all ICR earned for that portion of the grant returned, and appears as a charge against the ICR of your unit, college, and university.  The consequences of not recording cost-share/matches properly can thus be severe.  

Please take the time to carefully organize your cost-sharing/match commitments of your time, making sure that you never commit more than 100% of your paid time for any purpose unless authorized to do so in advance.  Then use the ARS system to record your cost-sharing/matching activity for the period requested in the ARS system.

If you need a copy of the instructions for documenting cost-sharing/matching time in the ARS system, we have requested copies from DRIA, and will have them available shortly.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the instructions for documenting the cost-share/matching activity are up on the ARS website.

Please let me know if you have questions or need assistance.   Your unit accounting staff should be able to assist you in organizing and reporting your cost-sharing/matching time on ARS and in walking through the process if you need codes to record your cost-share/matches.

The PI on each grant is responsible for seeing that all participants in a grant have properly documented their cost-sharing/matching activity.  As a practical matter, unit staff are available to help the PIs keep track of this critical data.  We're available here in the Dean's office, too, if you need assistance.  

Thank you very much for your careful attention to this matter.

Thanks,  

Albert Schorsch, III
Associate Dean
College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA)
University of Illinois at Chicago
412 S. Peoria, Rm. 125, M/C 350
Chicago, IL  60607-7064

========================

In CUPPA's understanding, if a faculty member is teaching full time, two graduate courses a semester, 60% of the time on a nine-month faculty appointment, or 15% of the annual appointment per graduate course, is already committed to teaching.   Unless a course were bought out at the 15% rate per course, the faculty member has less than 40% of his or her time during the Academic Year (8/21/xx through 5/20/xx) to offer as a match on a grant, assuming that faculty spend some time on departmental duties and committees. At most, two summer months can be offered as a match for nine-month faculty, but this assumes that the PI is not funded by another grant during this summer period offered as match.

Most CUPPA directors with reduced teaching duties and most professional research staff are on twelve-month appointments, as opposed to nine-month faculty appointments.  The portion of time available for contribution to grant matches is thus higher in these 12 month appointment cases.

See the CUPPA policy on faculty buyouts.

5.  Intellectual Property, Ethics, and Conflict of Interest Questions

University policy on intellectual property is at--

http://www.vpaa.uillinois.edu/policies/patents.htm

The UIC Office of Technology Management helps address intellectual property questions--

http://www.uic.edu/depts/ovcr/otm/faq.htm

The U of I Ethics web page is at--

http://ethics.uillinois.edu/

The UIC OVCR Conflicts of Interest web page is at--

http://www.uic.edu/depts/ovcr/policies/conflictofinterest.html

============================

I've posted a link to the above note on the--

http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/admin/howto

--web page, under:

"Principal Investigator resources"
 

Albert Schorsch, III, Associate Dean
College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs
University of Illinois at Chicago
412 S. Peoria,
Rm. 125, M/C 350 Chicago, IL 60607-7064
Voice (312)996-2177, Fax (312)413-8095
schorsch@uic.edu
http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/