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SPA Newsletter - Spring 2022

SPA NEWS

Greetings from SPA/OSP/CGA!

There is something inherently revitalizing about this time of the year, and the signs of spring are an especially welcome change after a long, cold Michigan winter. It seems that our spirits are raised along with the temperatures, and the emergence of new growth breathes new life into our routines. Spring is a time to embrace change and welcome new opportunities.

As those who work in research administration can attest, change is a constant in this field, and many of the articles in this edition of the SPA Newsletter are related to changes impacting our work. Some of these changes involve external sponsor requirements, such as the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy and an update on Non-Domestic Influence, while others relate to changes in University policies and processes, including the MSU Reimbursement Policy change and the micro-purchase threshold increase. We have also included information on some changes that we made within SPA/OSP/CGA to improve our services to MSU’s research community, such as the Kuali Research upgrade and the new Subaward Team in CGA. I hope the information in this newsletter helps you navigate these changes, as well as others that you may be facing.

This issue also announces the recipients of the Spring 2022 Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award. It is an honor to sponsor this award and I am thankful for the opportunity to recognize some of the many exceptional research administrators who provide support to the colleges and departments.

I hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter. For suggestions for future content or feedback on this issue, please contact Erin Schlicher, schlic11@osp.msu.edu or me, reighley@msu.edu. I extend my thanks to the authors and contributors who made this newsletter possible.

Twila Fisher Reighley
Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation

 

Beal Gardens

CGA Subaward Teamby Kristy Smith, CGA

CGA has created a Subaward Team within our Transactions Group to handle all subaward activities for the department. This team is responsible for the creation and execution of FDP Subawards and modifications, the set-up of all subawards and modifications in Account Explorer, the review and processing of subaward payments, subrecipient monitoring and the closeout of subawards. Information, as well as questions, for the Subaward Team can now be sent to subawards@cga.msu.edu.

 

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Budget Justification Dos and Don'ts

by Karen Rich and Micky Zolnai, OSP

It’s entirely possible that you look at the proposal preparation process as a series of hoops to jump through in order to get the funding you need. Scope of Work? Check. Budget? Check. Proposal meets all formatting criteria? Check. Budget Justification? Hold on…

Before you check the budget justification off the list, take another look at it. It’s not just another hoop between you and that sweet, sweet grant money. No, it’s your chance to really sell your project to the sponsor. Think about it… you are asking them for money. Whether your proposal is $5,000 or $5 million, most sponsors appreciate a clear, concise explanation of how you plan to spend the funds. You wouldn’t give away stacks of cash without asking a few questions, right? (Side note; If you WOULD give away stacks of cash without asking questions, please find me on Venmo.) A good budget justification that answers all the sponsor’s questions before they even have to ask them just might push your proposal to the head of the line for funding. Here are some tips for writing a clear and concise budget justification:

  • This is your best chance to clarify why each person and each role are vital to your proposal. Clearly describe how each one will support the scope of the project. It is also a good idea to keep each personnel’s description in either the 1st or 3rd person and to avoid switching back and forth between the two.
  • Avoid dollar amounts in your justification. (Unless they are required by the sponsor. Funding opportunity requirements trump everything in this list.) If there are numbers in the justification, it’s important that they match the budget exactly. Given how many budget revisions a proposal goes through between inception and submission, the chance for errors is significant. Instead, be specific without being specific. For example:

Funds are requested to cover travel for PI and one grad student to present findings at Research Findings Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Amount is based on current flight hotel and per diem information for conference location.

  • The budget justification is an opportunity to connect budget line items to your scope of work and explain why they are necessary. It is also an opportunity to connect the budget to requirements in the solicitation.

Per the RFP, funds are requested to cover travel to the annual conference…

Although it seems to be happening less often, the possibility exists that the sponsor won’t require a budget justification. Please prepare one anyway. It will be very helpful to your proposal team person in their budget review, as well as for post-award if the project is funded. I’m sure you love to hear from your friendly proposal team member and/or CGA staffer, but wouldn’t you prefer it if we didn’t hit you with a ton of questions?

Taking the time to prepare a thorough and effective budget justification at the proposal stage will not only save you time and hassle later, but you also might end up with a fully funded research project!


 

Subrecipient Commitment Form Updatesby Nicol Springer, OSP

As the world of research administration is ever changing, OSP continues to update and revamp forms to reflect these changes; our Subrecipient Commitment Form is no exception.  Below, you will see the few changes that have been made to the form.

  • Replaced the DUNS number field with a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) field.  The transition from DUNS to UEI became effective in April, 2022.
  • A question has been added to assist with proposal disclosures and contract negotiation: “Is there background intellectual property planned for use on this project” with a check box for yes or no.
  • Under Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Rates, options have been updated to remove “Other Rates” and replaced with options to choose a federally negotiated rate, the 10% MTDC de minimis rate, or a reduced F&A rate that they have agreed to accept (e.g. limited in the solicitation).
  • Department of Energy (DOE) has joined the Conflict-of-Interest (COI) requirement question, alongside the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Public Health Service (PHS) agencies, as DOE has implemented a COI policy with similar requirements. DOE is also added in the option to check “not applicable” if not being funded by a PHS agency, NSF, or DOE.
  • And last but certainly not least (a fan favorite in our office) the date field no longer moves when adding the name of the Authorized Official for signature. 

As a friendly reminder, please add the group/team email for the Subrecipient’s Sponsored Programs Contact Name added to this form; personal emails are not recommended in this area.  Please see the link to access this form below as well as the link for frequently used proposal data. 

Feel free to reach out to your friendly OSP team member with questions regarding this form.

Simplified Subrecipient Commitment Form

Frequently Required Budget and Proposal Data

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Micro-purchase Threshold Increaseby Kristy Smith, CGA

Effective February 1, 2022, MSU’s micro-purchase threshold increased to $25,000 for federally funded procurements. This change creates consistency with MSU’s Request for Quotation process, which begins at $25,000. This means that procurements under $25,000 on federally funded sponsored program accounts do not require documentation of quotations or bids. Please keep in mind that all procurements, regardless of cost, should still be reasonable and allowable.

If your sponsored program has a procurement for goods or services, such as a Non-Resident Professional Services Contract, that may initially be under $25,000, but could increase to more than $25,000 over the project period (per the budget or project plan), please route those procurements as Requisitions in KFS so they can be properly procured and tracked. Questions related to the micro-purchase threshold can be sent to CGA’s Transactions Group at transactions@msu.edu.

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MSU Reimbursement Policy Changeby Kristy Smith, CGA

Effective April 1, 2022, the MSU Controller’s Office implemented a change to policy regarding reimbursement of non-travel, out-of-pocket expenses to MSU faculty and staff. Expense reimbursements should now be submitted within 90 days of the transaction/purchase date. More information can be found in Section 75 of MSU’s Manual of Business Procedures (https://ctlr.msu.edu/combp/mbp75EBS.aspx).

There was no change to MSU’s travel expense reimbursement policy which requires travelers to submit their Travel Expense Report in Concur, which should include out-of-pocket travel expenses, within 90 days of the trip’s end date.   More information can be found in Section 70 of MSU’s Manual of Business Procedures (https://ctlr.msu.edu/combp/mbp70ebs.aspx).


Non-Domestic Influence

by Erin Schlicher, SPA

In recent years, non-domestic influence in U.S. federally-funded research has come under increased scrutiny by the federal government and its funding agencies.  Full and timely disclosure regarding research support and conflicts of interest is essential to ensure the transparency which the government requires and MSU expects.  Currently the University requires all faculty to:

  • Complete a Conflict of Interest disclosure at the time a new grant proposal is submitted, and at least annually
  • Complete the Outside Work for Pay disclosure and approval process, as required by policy
  • Fully and accurately complete all required forms and respond to all funding agency requests regarding any current and pending support

Investigators and named Key Personnel must disclose any activities supported by non-domestic entities in federal grant applications and during awards.  Specific requirements can vary by agency.  For more information, please refer to the Current and Pending/Other Support Requirements by Sponsor webpage, the Office of Research and Innovation’s webpage on Emerging Federal Guidance on Outside Influence, or the Non-Domestic Influence FAQs webpage.  A guide to common disclosures required for sponsored research is available on the Resources for Faculty Disclosures page. 

Upcoming Changes

National Security Presidential Memorandum 33 (NSPM-33), released in January 2021, directs federal funding agencies to “strengthen protections of U.S. Government-supported R&D against [non-domestic] government interference and exploitation” while “maintaining an open environment to foster research discoveries and innovation that benefit our nation and the world”.  Earlier this year, the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) released guidance for implementing NSPM-33, which includes detailed information in the following areas:

  • Disclosure Requirements and Standardization
  • Digital Persistent Identifiers
  • Consequences for Violation of Disclosure Requirements
  • Information Sharing
  • Research Security Programs

The agencies are expected to work together to develop model award applications and instructions to clarify the specific disclosure requirements.  Once the formal requirements have been issued, research institutions will have one year to comply with them.  Compliance will involve several areas, including IT/cybersecurity infrastructure, internal compliance procedures, and export regulations. MSU has formed workgroups to begin the process of aligning policies and processes with the new guidance.  In addition to what has already been shared through the links identified above, additional updates will be shared with campus as changes evolve.


Audit Corner

by Evonne Pedawi, CGA

The purpose of this section is to keep campus updated on sponsored program audits at MSU, as well as national trends in audit activity. Audits are an important part of sponsored programs as they provide an opportunity for sponsors to verify that MSU is complying with the award terms and conditions.

Audit activity has been very high at MSU since the summer of 2021 and many more audits are expected before MSU’s next academic year. The audits and reviews have primarily been conducted virtually, however CGA is expecting that on-site reviews and audits may return soon. We have found that the virtual format with auditors has worked very well, and we appreciate the responsiveness of faculty and staff during the virtual site visits.

Most recently the National Science Foundation (NSF) conducted an institutional audit of MSU’s policies and procedures. As a reminder, institutional audits provide sponsors with not only a detailed review of sponsored research administration but also a broader view of university processes and procedures. The results of the NSF institutional audit were very positive, and NSF was complementary of MSU’s systems, internal controls and documented processes. MSU’s Single Audit is still in process, as the additional review required for HEERF funding has delayed the typical timeline. We expect the Single Audit to be complete soon.

Any audit related questions can be sent to me at pedawi@cga.msu.edu or to Kristy Smith at smith@cga.msu.edu.

 

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Kuali Research (KR) Training Materials and System Updatesby Amy Bane, SPA

Do you have questions about the upgrade from Kuali Coeus (KC) to Kuali Research (KR)?  We hope that you were able to attend one of our live KC Upgrade sessions. If you still have questions, or were unable to attend, we have numerous new ways to receive help with the transition to KR. The best place to start is the new Kuali Research (KR) Training webpage.

This webpage has training information, process videos, and job aids for your reference.  If you still have questions, please join us for one of our live Q&A help sessions on Zoom, where we will be happy to assist you with any problems that you might be experiencing in a small group setting.

Remember to keep an eye out for System Implementation Updates, which will be sent out on our listserv and posted to our website.  These updates will provide tips and status updates on current issues in Kuali Research.

Please also feel free to reach out to the KR help desk at krhelpdesk@msu.edu or 517-355-2000.


 

Interested in MDHHS Funding? We’ve Got Answers!

by Sue Ferris and Mel Steward, OSP

MDHHS funding comes through in various ways and we know it can be confusing. Sometimes you apply via an RFP for an opportunity, while other times you may find that MDHHS is awarding projects under MSU’s master agreement (MA). We are here to help you gain insight into the MDHHS processes at MSU, to get you started!

The MDHHS MA with MSU is quite large with anywhere between 40-60 projects. Sue Ferris and Mel Steward on Proposal Team 1 are the first point of contact with OSP on MDHHS projects; both can be reached by emailing proposalteam1@osp.msu.edu. When we receive initial word from MDHHS on awarded project titles and amounts under the MA, we send an email to either the Research Administrator (RA), if known, or directly to the PI to ask with which RA they will be working. We request that we have one main contact on each project to coordinate with us, which is typically an RA. This helps to streamline the process and make communication efficient.

An exception to the above process is if you are applying to a Request For Proposal (RFP) rather than the MA. When applying to an RFP, we must request project access in the system MDHHS uses, called EGrAMS, in order to start an application. Once access is granted, we can link the RA and PI to the project, so they can work on the application. From there, the process is the same as under the MA.   

The EGrAMS system may look a bit overwhelming at first, but we have found that clicking through the system has been helpful. There are some videos that we can share to help navigate EGrAMS. The EGrAMS application will essentially be built off the proposal and information that you create in Kuali Research (KR). The RA will start a Proposal Development (PD) document in Kuali Research (KR) and follow our OSP processes throughout. Once the PD has been created and the RA has notified us, it’s time to work on the budget. Our agreed upon indirect cost rate is 20% with MDHHS when you are building the budget, unless the RFP says otherwise, or you plan to ask for a waiver at MSU. When the budget is ready for review, the RA will let the assigned OSP member know. After budget approval, the RA will route the PD and notify us when routing is completed. The RA/PI will be working on entering the application in EGrAMS while the PD is routing. When it’s time for OSP to review, we will review the PD document and the proposal in EGrAMS simultaneously. Once the review is complete and any corrections have been made, OSP will approve in KR and submit in EGrAMS. We send the RA a copy of the application from EGrAMS and the institutional proposal number in KR.

For projects under the master agreement, MDHHS sends amendments throughout the year for increases or decreases in funding, as well as new allocations. Once we receive official notice of these, we reach out to the RAs/PIs with instructions. We also ask RAs to hold off on moving forward with PDs for amendments until we receive confirmation from MDHHS, as there can sometimes be a disconnect between what MDHHS program managers hope to release in an amendment and what comes through in EGrAMS.

We have a few tips that can make the process run smoothly:

  • When emailing, please include the PD number and title of the project in the subject line, keeping the emails informative and concise.
  • We ask that each email pertains to a particular project rather than one email with information about numerous projects which can lead to misunderstandings.

 

We know that working on the MA is challenging! MDHHS is unlike other sponsors, and we want to make the process as efficient as possible.

If you have questions about MDHHS opportunities or projects, please email Sue and Mel at proposalteam1@osp.msu.edu and we can point you in the right direction!

If you have questions about MSU’s signature on an amendment or when an account will be set up, please reach out to OSP.Awards@osp.msu.edu.

If you have questions about your project after account setup, please reach out to Awards@cga.msu.edu.

NIH Data Management & Sharing Policyby Erin Schlicher, SPA

On October 29, 2020, the NIH released its Final Policy for Data Management and Sharing, which goes into effect on January 25, 2023 and applies to all NIH funded research resulting in the generation of scientific data.  This policy establishes the requirement of submission of Data Management and Sharing Plans, emphasizes the importance of good data management practices, and establishes the expectation for maximizing the appropriate sharing of scientific data generated from NIH-funded research.  Although this policy is specific to NIH, it may have wider implications, as other agencies could decide to adopt similar policies or expand upon their existing data sharing requirements once NIH has worked through the implementation issues. 

Under the Data Management and Sharing Policy, NIH requires researchers to prospectively plan for how scientific data will be preserved and shared through submission of a Data Management and Sharing Plan. The policy applies to all NIH-funded research that results in the generation of scientific data, regardless of funding level or mechanism.  This policy expands upon NIH’s 2003 Data Sharing Policy, which requires data sharing to be addressed in applications for large research awards ($500,000 or more in direct costs in any single year).  It does not apply to research and other activities that do not generate scientific data, including training, infrastructure development, and non-research activities.

Upon NIH approval of a plan, NIH expects researchers and institutions to implement the data management and sharing practices described within the approved plan.  Plans should explain how scientific data will be managed and describe which scientific data and accompanying metadata will be shared.  NIH also recommends that plans consider addressing privacy and informed consent issues as they relate to scientific data derived from human subjects.

Tools and Resources

A number of tools and resources are available to help researchers prepare for the policy’s implementation:

An MSU workgroup comprised of individuals from various units is working to prepare for compliance with the policy’s requirements prior to its 1/25/23 effective date.  Additional information will be shared with campus prior to the policy’s implementation.


 

Spring 2022 Research Admin Spotlight Award

by Twila Reighley, AVPRI; Erin Schlicher, SPA

The offices of Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA), Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) are honored to recognize excellence and exemplary service through the Research Administrator (RA) Spotlight Award. We received many strong nominations for excellent Research Administrators, and we are happy to announce that Marianne Triponi and Molly Call were selected by the Recommendation Panel as the Spring 2022 awardees. They will each be recognized with a plaque of accomplishment along with a small financial award as a token of our appreciation. Congratulations Marianne and Molly, and thank you for playing an integral role in advancing MSU’s research mission! We truly appreciate your dedication and hard work.

Marianne Triponi

Marianne Triponi
Research Administrator IICollege of Arts and Letters Dean's Office

 

Marianne has twenty years of service at MSU. In her current role, she primarily provides post-award administration for grants in the College of Arts and Letters (CAL). In recent years, CAL has seen an uptick in external funding, and Marianne’s position was created to address the added administrative challenges that came along with that growth and to ensure a smoother post-award experience for new grants. Marianne provides support to the PI and coordinates with the various CAL teams and OSP/CGA for a centralized approach to post-award management. To better serve researchers in CAL, she has instituted kick-off meetings for new awards. These meetings bring together the PIs and other teams members involved in the process to ensure that everyone involved understands the process from the start and knows who they can contact for questions.

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“I enjoy the problem-solving aspect and oddly, juggling the different levels of regulations. CAL has grants that are innovative and challenging to administer. Some involve funding to small, community organizations that have not been MSU’s traditional grant partners. It is exciting to work with these organizations, the PIs, and team members in CAL and in CGA to help the PIs succeed in their groundbreaking work.”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

“Find a mentor. When I started at MSU, I had a great mentor. She was never too busy to explain the nuances of research administration. Sharing knowledge, working as a team, and promoting each other in job growth is an invaluable key to success. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for more information. Research administration is a constant learning process for everyone involved. Communication with everyone involved is paramount to success.”

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Molly Call

Molly Call
Administrative Assistant II
Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology
College of Osteopathic Medicine

 

Molly has been with MSU for twenty years and has over 14 years of experience in the Department of Neurology & Ophthalmology. In her current position, she provides pre- and post-award support to faculty within the department. Molly serves as a member of the Department Research Committee and is involved with all of the department’s clinical trials and research applications. She works closely with the research coordinators and investigators to effectively negotiate budgets and track post-award clinical financial information. She also provides administrative support for reconciling ledgers and serves as the back-up to the department’s Fiscal Officer. Additionally, Molly serves as a point of contact for contracted physician outreach services, assisting with new contracted services, renewals, contract negotiations and revenue collections.

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“I enjoy the challenge that comes with providing Research Administration support and am always learning something new.  I work with an appreciative, understanding group of faculty investigators, coordinators, and a supervisor, who bring me a lot of enjoyment to work with. I am truly grateful to be a part of the success and growth of Neurology’s Research Team.”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

“Ask questions.  CGA, OSP, Business Connect, CTSI staff are genuinely kind and always willing to provide assistance.  Stay organized and keep in contact with the investigator and coordinator regarding the progress of the project.”


 

 

SPA 360

Client Feedback Surveysby Mike Wolf, 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. Ratings response details are available on the SPA Metrics section of our website (two-factor authentication required).

 

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