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SPA Newsletter - Fall 2018


Greetings from SPA/OSP/CGA!

Beautiful colors and cooler temperatures are here again. I hope you are enjoying the transition as much as I am. With the changing of the season, a quote comes to mind from Helen Keller, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Collectively, we support MSU’s research mission.

In addition to the direct support to the many tasks related to implementing sponsored awards on campus, members from SPA, OSP, and CGA participate in boards, committees, and working groups, which have focused goals to best support sponsored programs. We attend meetings, share resources, and present at conferences to share MSU’s best practices and learn from others. We seek out ways to influence regulations at a national level to decrease the administrative burden for MSU faculty and staff while promoting accountability. A good example is the new Uniform Guidance procurement standards. An article is included in this Newsletter about the MSU procedures following these new standards. While the standards were being finalized, CGA worked closely with MSU Purchasing as well as with national organizations to provide input to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) related to defining reasonable implementation standards. These discussions provided the input needed to affect more manageable expectations for MSU and other organizations across the country. The procurement standards were finalized and effective for MSU July 1, 2018.

This issue also announces our Fall 2018 Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award recipients, an exciting recognition opportunity we are proud to sponsor. In addition to the two research administrators recognized, there are many MSU research administrators interested in supporting MSU’s research mission including learning and improving sponsored programs administration. For the administrators reading this newsletter, not only are you supporting faculty and projects, you may also be serving on sponsored programs committees, attending or teaching trainings, listening to webinars, or reading publications. Thank you for your commitment to learning and your efforts for MSU. “Together, we can do so much.”

I hope you enjoy the Fall 2018 issue of our newsletter. For suggestions for future content or feedback on this issue, please contact Jennifer Lafferty, or me, Authors or contact information have been included in each article for topic-specific questions. My appreciation is extended to the authors.

Twila Fisher Reighley, Assistant Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies

Proposal Collaborators: Identify Wisely by Craig O'Neill and Dana deMink, OSP

When the PI is selecting investigators for a proposal, care should be taken to identify their appropriate role. Choosing ineligible investigators or mis-categorizing collaborators as principal investigators, can increase the difficulty of proposal preparation and create potential award processing delays. It can also increase compliance issues (e.g. financial conflict of interest certification, training, etc.) and complicate project management and reporting requirements. MSU’s PI (also referred to as Project Director or PD) has the option of including a collaborator as either a Co-PI, subaward PI, Key Personnel (e.g. Co-Investigator) or an Other Significant Contributor (OSC – which may include a consultant) in an application to the sponsor.

The differences between each designation may sometimes appear minor but can have a substantial impact on the direction or control of your project. For example, a Co-PI usually has the ability to communicate directly with the sponsor with or without the PI’s input or approval. A subaward PI usually cannot have direct communications with the sponsor nor would they have the same level of responsibility for the overall project, which gives the lead PI more control over the overall project.

Each sponsor can have its own definitions of PI, Co-PI, Subaward PI, Key Personnel/Co-I and OSC. Please pay close attention to the eligibility requirements of the Sponsor’s RFP. For example, it is not unusual in a fellowship proposal for the sponsor to require that the fellow be identified as the PI during the dissertation stage of their training.

Tip: Depending upon a fellow’s level of education, he or she may not be able to approve and complete their certifications and disclosures in the KC system. Use the following link to learn how to establish a NetID and ZPID as well as to work with the KC Helpdesk to set up an affiliation for that individual:

Subject to varying sponsor requirements, here are some basic definitions and general guidelines to follow:

  • The PI/Co-PI:
    • Is an individual viewed by the applicant organization to have the appropriate level of authority and responsibility to direct a project or program.
    • Is generally defined as those who are responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of the funded research.
    • Has the responsibility for overseeing the project intellectually, logistically, and financially.
    • Is responsible and accountable to the applicant organization, sponsor, and any collaborating organizations for the proper conduct of the project including conducting the project ethically, following financial and compliance regulations, and submitting all required reports punctually.
  • The subaward PI/Co-PI is generally defined as those who are responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of the specific subaward statement of work and related subaward funding amount, and as stated earlier, does not have direct communication with MSU’s sponsor.

    When subawards are included in the project, the subawardee’s Co-PI(s) can be considered part of senior personnel, if appropriate to role and sponsor definitions.

  • Collaborators who are not financially responsible (i.e. do not have the responsibility and ability to control the expenses of a project) should not be included in the proposal as a Co-PI.
  • Key personnel investigators (Key Personnel/Co-I) are generally defined as other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation under the grant.
  • Other Significant Contributors (OSC) are individuals whom commit to contribute to the scientific development or execution of the project, but do not commit any specified measurable effort (i.e., person months) to the project. These individuals are typically presented at effort of “zero person months” or "as needed". Note: Consultants should be included as an OSC if they meet this definition. This is a NIH designation.
  • Adjunct faculty, research associates, and clinical faculty are not normally considered eligible for PI/Co-PI status. Depending on project and sponsor, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate to request PI exception approval from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (OVPRGS).  See the following link for more information about acquiring PI exception approval:

Please contact your Proposal Team if you have any questions.

Metrics for the Numbers Minded!
by Maria Skinner, Sam Jonker-Burke, and Kristy Smith

There are several different types of metrics available on the SPA/OSP/CGA website.  From the home page, you can see a breakdown of the number of proposals submitted, awards received, and funds awarded for the previous fiscal year. 

Metrics links indicated on home page

You can also hover over the Resources/Training menu on the home page to access “SPA Metrics”.  Once you select SPA Metrics and are logged in to the SPA/OSP/CGA site, you will see a panel listing the different metrics from SPA/OSP/CGA that are available to view.  The metrics consist of data pertaining to all of the groups within OSP and CGA. Some examples are proposal submission, award set up, account set up, amendments processed, financial transactions, final reports, and cash draws.  The pre-award metrics are used by OSP to identify how frequently proposals are submitted late or at risk, and how long it takes to process a federal contract (on average). The post-award metrics help CGA identify trends, manage workload, and meet campus expectations. 

Log in and check it out! Details are available on the SPA Metrics section of our website (two-factor authentication required).

Uniform Guidance Procurement Update by Evonne Pedawi and Kristy Smith, CGA

MSU implemented the new procurement standards included in the Uniform Guidance (UG) issued by the Office of Management and Budget on July 1, 2018. Although there was not significant changes to current university procurement procedures, below highlights the main changes affecting federally funded sponsored program accounts.

  • The dollar threshold for purchases requiring demonstration of competition with retention of documentation (called the micro-purchase threshold) is $10,000 with the exception of construction, which is $2,000 when subject to the Davis-Bacon Act.
    1. Although we will continue to require demonstration of competition or acceptable sole source documentation is required for federally funded Professional Services Contracts (PSCs) and Non-Resident Alien Professional Services Contracts (NRAPSCs) starting at $10,000, MSU will maintain the higher threshold of $15,000 on PSCs for all other sources of funding.
  • Purchases exceeding the federal government’s simplified acquisition threshold ($250,000) must be procured by sealed bids or requests for proposal and must be formally advertised as public solicitations. These bid opportunities will be listed on the Purchasing website.
    1. Requests for Proposal issued for federally funded procurements must identify the evaluation factors, including relative order of importance that will be considered when selecting a supplier.
    2. When single or sole sourced, Purchasing will perform a price analysis demonstrating that the pricing for the purchase is fair and reasonable.

Subawards are not considered procurements and therefore are not subject to the UG procurement regulations. For a comparison chart of the UG procurement regulations and current MSU policies and procedures, click here. In addition, the  Manual of Business Procedures Section 270 has been updated to reflect the implementation.

Specific questions regarding how these procurement regulations may impact your federally funded sponsored program can be sent to Kristy Smith at or Evonne Pedawi at

Client Feedback Surveysby Erin Schlicher, 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.  In addition to the ratings responses, the surveys include an area for respondents to write comments. Management reviews all of the comments received and follows up as appropriate.  They report that the feedback has been quite useful in helping to assess the level of client support and providing ideas and encouragement to improve services to the campus community.  Details are available on the SPA Metrics section of our website (two-factor authentication required).

Paying Research Participants
by Kristy Smith, CGA

MSU provides units the flexibility to decide how to make payments to research participants, but which method is the best? Which one carries the least amount of risk to your sponsored program? The quickest one to process? The fastest for participants to receive?

As usual with sponsored programs, it depends! However, the following is some guidance on what Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) believes are the best options when it comes to participant payments on sponsored programs.

  • Disbursements Vouchers: Paying participants through a Disbursement Voucher (DV) in KFS is the least risky mechanism for your sponsored program account. The DV is processed after they participate, so there is already a documented benefit to the project that can be accurately billed to the agency. In addition, the DV will contain all of the participant information you may need in the event of an audit, such as name and contact information. Finally, it’s easier for MSU to determine from DV payments when an individual should receive tax information. This method may not work for every project, as it is not confidential and there will be a lag in time between when they participated in the research and when they receive the payment.
  • Store/Vendor Gift Cards: Gift cards are a great way to immediately pay a participant for their time. They are typically quick to purchase and participants can sign a confidential log upon receipt to be maintained in the department. One potential issue occurs when you need to buy the gift cards in advance of the participation date, as most sponsored programs are cost reimbursable. Costs incurred in advance of when they are used have not yet benefitted the project, potentially creating a situation where MSU is billing for, and receiving payment from, a sponsor for an unallowable cost. Another potential issue with the advance purchase of gift cards is that any unused gift cards are not allowable costs to the sponsored program account. For both of these reasons, it can be risky to purchase gift cards that will not be used immediately (or in the near future) directly from a sponsored program account. Keep in mind that activation costs related to prepaid gift cards should be reasonable. Please contact CGA's Audit and Compliance Group ( with any questions.

    When possible, CGA suggests that gift cards be purchased in advance through a cash advance. That way the initial cost is put onto a central holding account (similar to a travel advance) and the expenses only post to the sponsored program account once they have been used for the project and have the supporting participant documentation.

  • Cash Payments: Using cash to pay participants is convenient and should also be processed as a cash advance, for reasons explained above. There may be a safety risk to the individual paying participants, depending on the amount of cash that will be kept on hand.

Please remember to keep a record of the information related to participant payments, including but not limited to, who receives the payments and the dates received. In addition, remember to seek IRB approval when necessary for research involving human subjects. Please note that as part of a recent Kuali Coeus enhancement, some basic compliance information such as the human subjects protocol number, approval date and expiration date can be found in the KC Award, under the Special Review tab. More information about participant payments can be found in MSU’s Manual of Business Procedures ( or by contacting CGA at

NEW FORM: Modification Requests to Subawards
by Jessica Lemke, CGA

CGA’s Awards Group is introducing a new subaward modification request form to assist with the process of modifying subawards associated with your sponsored research project. When you would like to either extend your subaward agreement or provide additional funding to your subrecipient, the new form will provide PIs and Department Administrators the ability to send the Awards Group all of the information needed to begin the modification process in a simple, efficient manner. The form will be referenced in the
notification emails that you receive when your project has recently been modified, and it will also be available on CGA’s website at:

We encourage you to try the new form when your subawards need to be modified and send any feedback to Awards Group at

Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Awards
by Twila Reighley, AVPRGS; Katie Winkler, SPA; Jenny Lafferty, SPA

MSU’s research administration offices of Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA), Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) encourage excellence and exemplary service modeled through The Spartan Experience by recognizing
professional contributions and quality of service through the Research Administration (RA) Spotlight recognition.

We have completed the fourth award nomination and review process, and received several nominations for strong applicants who exhibit many of the qualities of a good research administrator.  The Recommendation  Panel, which includes faculty (from the Council of Research Deans and Sponsored Programs Advisory Committee), selected the two following individuals to receive this award.  They are recognized with a plaque of accomplishment along with a small financial award as a token of our appreciation. 

Cindy Majeske

Cindy Majeske
Research Manager
Dean's Office
Broad College of Business

Cindy has 26 years of service at MSU, and currently performs research administration duties, along with meeting regularly with Business faculty to develop research ideas, match faculty with potential collaborators, and often contributes to the proposal writing process.

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“Having spent many years as a Project Director/Co-Investigator for NIH studies, the aspect I most enjoy is time spent working with faculty to develop their research plan.  This sounds cliché, but I am inspired by the creativity and innovation of our faculty and I’m confident that through research, we can contribute to making the world a better place one project at a time.”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

“It's easy to get bogged down in the bureaucracy associated with research administration. My advice is to take time to learn how the proposals you work on will advance knowledge and ultimately positively impact society. Know that you play an important role in securing funding. Without funding, the work might not be completed.”

Rita Peffers

Rita Peffers
Administrative Business Professional
Department of Psychiatry
College of Human Medicine/College of Osteopathic Medicine

Rita has 29 years of service at MSU. She has been with the Department of Psychiatry for the past 17 years, and part of the department’s business office for the last seven years. Rita supports the overall business-related functions of her department, which has included an expanding role in post-award research administration as the needs of the productive research division have increased.

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“The work of our research faculty is international in scope. Being able to interact with our international partners, particularly on award management, is one thing I enjoy about my work in research administration, as is working with our great group of researchers. They have some exciting things going on in the area of global mental health and the impacts specific diseases have on neurodevelopment, on the caregivers, and on functional survival.”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

"I am only able to manage the responsibilities of research administration because of all the terrific resources I can tap into here at MSU. The people in OSP and CGA are extremely helpful, as are OSP/CGA’s training opportunities and comprehensive website. Also, we get tremendous support from our college’s research office. For any new research administrator, accessing the resources available to them is key to learning and being successful at the job."

Thank You

Thank you, Cindy and Rita, for playing an integral role in advancing MSU’s research mission and for leading by example! We greatly appreciate your dedication and hard work.

Stay tuned for another chance to nominate your favorite research administrator for the RA Spotlight Award next spring! Please contact Katie Winkler at with any questions.

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