What is SPAC?
Chaired by the Assistant Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Twila Reighley, the Sponsored Programs Advisory Committee (SPAC) was created in 2014 from guidance from the MSU Strategic Plan to listen to those SPA/OSP/CGA support. During its first year, the SPAC established its goals and process, communicated on key issues, highlighted the need for data and metrics, reviewed perceived/actual bottlenecks and improvements, and provided ideas and prioritization.
- Enhance understanding and promote intended outcomes - improved practices, compliance, communication and support.
- Provide thoughtful consideration on issues and/or practices that have conflicting requirements and expectations, particularly those that impact faculty.
- Gauge impacts of implementation of new requirements through diverse perspectives and experiences.
- Inform the Assistant Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (AVPRGS) on faculty concerns related to SPA, Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) existing practices.
Who is on SPAC?
SPAC is comprised of seven faculty (2-3 of which are college research deans) and five college or department administrators. Each member is nominated by their college, and it is anticipated that they serve a three-year term, meeting 4-5 times per academic year, representing more than eight colleges.
- Obtained member input for planning to understand what key success measures would be for the year, what members want to be updated on, and items of interest.
- Kept committee current on the Research Administration Project (RA) updates including several guest speakers to provide background information, progress of implementation and a demonstration of the system. Feedback from the committee was taken back to the Project. For instance:
- Feedback impacted KC Helpdesk extended service hours.
- Shared idea that Kuali Coeus (KC) communicate through posters/visuals.
- The design of a “Welcome” page on the SPA/OSP/CGA website was because of comments from the committee so that visitors may better understand the structure of the website and contact information.
- Switched to using a Google search engine on the SPA/OSP/CGA website because of feedback from SPAC that the current custom search results could be improved. The new Google search will provide more accurate search results.
- SPA/OSP/CGA is documenting minor and major changes to its website based on feedback from the committee that they were unaware of some changes or improvements. The changes will be communicated on the website, through email listservs and at other committees on campus as needed.
- The meetings served as a good space to share experiences. For example, a committee member shared a successful story of working well with a counterpart on continuation of funding and its challenges. By sharing the example, it made others aware of what they could do in the future and how SPA/OSP/CGA could also help.
- Asked for input on the first Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award and process. Three committee members served on the Recommendation Panel to recommend the awardees.
- Feedback from members led to showing specific metrics in different ways and at each meeting. This allowed for transparency of data and dialogue of logic behind the results.
- SPA/OSP/CGA have taken steps to make SPAC more visible in the SPA Newsletter, CORD, and on its website based on observations from some of the SPAC members.
- Kept lines of communication open with SPAC regarding updates within SPA/OSP/CGA and asked for input on various topics such as OSP Proposal Committees (budget review and progression map) and Point of Service Survey feedback on proposals and awards.
- The committee provided comments to pass on to the Export Controls and Trade Sanctions office about ways to improve the current Export Control and Open Research Review Worksheet (ECORRW) and the process to determine if a project is exempt from needing an ECORRW.
- Provided suggestions on a training video created in SPA/OSP for international subawardees. For instance, SPAC provided feedback on validating usefulness of the information and improving the visual to explain what documents are included in a subaward.
- Invited guests from Business-CONNECT and CGA to speak on fee-for-service accounts and activities and a guest from the Human Research and Protection Program (HRPP) office to discuss general structure of HRPP, IRB Office, Compliance Office, IRB Committees and IRB Reliance Agreements with other institutions.
- Kept committee current on the Research Administration Project (RA) updates including requesting and getting input on proposal questions for more accurate data collection.
- Invited Business-CONNECT to discuss their process and how it differs from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)/Contract and Grant Administration (CGA). Decision soon after for Business-CONNECT to use the Activity Log.
- Made committee aware of the establishment of the International Sponsored Awards Workgroup, its progress, and asked for input on process.
- Gave demonstration of OSP/CGA website redesign and requested feedback. Confirmed the layout was intuitive.
- Prioritized tasks from the Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA)/OSP/CGA Strategic and Action Plan 2015-2018. Influenced the SPA/OSP/CGA discussions.
- Requested and received clarity in hardship versus advance accounts and how to request for incrementally funded grants.
- Clarified guidance with voluntary committed cost share and how it’s documented in OSP/CGA and OSP/CGA took more ownership to support documentation.
- Prompted research on the background of why an approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is required for research with human subjects and from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for research with vertebrate animals prior to an account being setup in CGA. Confirmed the requirements related to doing so.
- Discussed the process for eTransmittal revisions and how it will translate with the implementation of RA, and confirmed that more defined processes need to be identified.
- Demonstrated how to retrieve proposal and award information from the SPA website and CGA’s Account Explorer tool. Feedback was positive and more communication to campus was encouraged.
- Covered the team approach structure in OSP and CGA and confirmed it made sense.
- Invited Export Control and Trade Sanctions (ECTS) office representative to speak on the ECTS process and metrics.
- Discussions influenced improvements with ECTS process which included adding a specific option in the Export Control and Open Research Review Worksheet (ECORRW) to execute more effectively and allowing the worksheet to be started earlier in proposal development.
- Perceived/actual bottlenecks were discussed at the initial meeting and addressed throughout the year. By identifying the areas of concern, the SPAC isolated opportunities for improvement.
- The Proposal deadline policy was implemented shortly after the first meeting. Best practices on ways to adhere to the policy in each college were exchanged.
- As a result from a suggestion from the SPAC, a Proposal Checklist was created. Simply enter in the sponsor's deadline and "today's" date, and it will fill in the due dates that follow the proposal deadline policy. It includes the steps from the Proposal Preparation Guide, asking the user to confirm that all areas are complete prior to each deadline.
- The release of the Activity Log in the Office of Sponsored Programs occurred during the SPAC's first year. A demonstration of the Activity Log was given to the committee. Its purpose is to increase transparency with the proposal and award tracking system for campus use. It also allows central administration to keep accurate metrics for reporting and be able to provide more ad hoc reports (e.g. proposals that were not submitted due to proposal deadline policy).
- A central location for SPA/OSP/CGA metrics was added to the SPA/OSP/CGA website. Metric information is updated frequently.
- Developed a plan to approach Life Cycle Stages communication to display OSP/CGA goals and commitments to turnaround time frames throughout the life cycle of the award. It includes typical/median processing time for steps from Proposal to Award Closeout.
- FAQs as well as contact information for all groups in OSP and CGA added to the website.
- Explanations provided for lag between creation of the account number and it being functional, timely close-out of accounts, and general guidelines for invoicing.
- Point of Service survey results from Proposal and Award Negotiation/Account Setup discussions.
- Examined OSP/CGA service delivery methodologies. Received feedback on pros and cons of splitting each group by college, sponsor, transaction type, and by manager discretion.
- Implemented cross-training a few individuals between OSP and CGA which allows them to have a broader knowledge of the life cycle of the award.
- Provided more clarity on the Export Control Process and opportunities for training on export control issues.