As you develop your proposal or work on your awarded project, you may have questions about IU policy. IU has established policies to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations for sponsored projects.
Most research policies can be found on the university’s policies website.
IU’s research offices also maintain some important research-related policies beyond those found on the IU policies website.
Due to the unique administrative and programmatic requirements associated with sponsored projects involving construction, the routing of proposals and post-award administration should be in accordance with the following:
Proposals: Prior to preparing a proposal, the unit submitting the proposal should coordinate with the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Administration.
Submissions should be routed through the campus research office, either Research and Sponsored Programs for IUPUI or Sponsored Research Services for all other campuses.
Prior to submission to the agency, the campus research office will confirm approval of the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Administration.
Awards: Awards will be accepted by the appropriate campus research office and recorded in university records.
Awards will be forwarded to the Assistant Vice President for Administration so that a construction account can be established.
All reporting and compliance oversight related to these awards will be provided by the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Administration.
Regulations prohibit the use of federal funds for lobbying members of Congress, their staffs, or employees of federal agencies on a specific grant, contract, or cooperative agreement that exceeds $100,000. This includes new awards or modifications and amendments to existing awards. The university must certify for each project that no lobbying has taken or will take place.
Regulations use the term “influencing or attempting to influence” is used to refer to what constitutes lobbying: “Influencing or attempting to influence means making, with the intent to influence, any communication to or appearance before an officer or employee of any agency, a member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a member of Congress in connection with any covered Federal action.” (Covered federal action means the awarding of any contract, grant, loan, cooperative agreement, or amendment thereto.)
For Employees: Regulations prohibit the use of federal funds to pay salary, travel, and similar items to an employee or consultant who engages in a “covered federal action.” It would be especially easy to get into a lobbying situation in the case of someone going to an agency to report on current progress on a project but also discussing future funding of the program while there. The prohibition only applies when federal funds are used.
For Consultants: Consultants hired by the university to assist with obtaining an award may not be paid out of federal funds. Non-federal funds can be used but if the effort is to influence a specific grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, a disclosure statement on standard form LLL must be filed by the university. Employees who work less than 130 days in the year just prior to submission are considered in the same category as consultants.
Sanctions for violation of the regulations are subject to a civil penalty of not less than $10,000 and not more than $100,000 for each such incident.
Federal regulations state that memberships shall normally be treated as indirect costs; therefore, they are not allowed to be charged to federal and federal pass-through grants as a direct cost. These memberships are considered personal in nature and should not be charged to a project. Membership dues are also not allowable even if they include a subscription.
On non-federal grants, memberships are allowed unless prohibited by the agency guidelines or specific award language. Justification must be included on the disbursement voucher or purchase order, to indicate how it relates to the scope of the project.
In 2009, the National Science Foundation has addressed the need for greater flexibility in charging salary by changing its compensation policy to “no more than two months of [senior project personnel] regular salary in any one year.” The prior limitation to summer salary has been eliminated.
If additional time is needed, NSF requires that “any compensation...in excess of two months must be disclosed in the proposal budget, justified in the budget justification, and must be specifically approved by NSF in the award notice.”
This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants.
Previously, NSF-compensated salary was limited to two summer months. This meant that most researchers on 9-month academic year appointments charged their summer effort to the NSF accounts, and charged their academic year salary to non-NSF accounts (including department accounts), even though they often spent some non-trivial level of effort on the NSF grant year-round. Essentially, the departments cost-shared the academic-year effort of NSF researchers.
Researchers should be aware that most departments do not pay for cost-shared effort during the summer months, as summer salaries are not built into departmental budgets. Before submitting proposals that allocate salary across the full year, researchers should consider the impact on their summer salaries.
For example, previously a researcher earning $100,000 during the academic year could earn another $22,500 for the two summer months spent working on the NSF award (two months equaling roughly 9 weeks at 2.5% of normal pay per week).
Under the new policy, that same research can now allocate two months of NSF salary across the entire year (16.67% effort per month if evenly distributed across all 12 months). The net result is that the researcher would spend the three summer months (13 weeks) at 16.67% effort on the NSF account and would be paid roughly $5,418.
Unless previously agreed upon by the department, researchers should not expect to receive summer salary for contributed (cost-shared) effort on NSF grants during the summer months.
To fully comply with the federal government’s requirements on property management, all federally furnished equipment must be included in the records of the University Property Management System (Inventory). These are items of equipment that are not purchased through a sponsored project but are shipped in for use by a faculty or staff member. The federal government retains title to the equipment and, at the conclusion of the project on which the equipment was used, will issue disposition instructions. The disposition instructions can be to return the item to the federal government, assign it to another ongoing project, or convey title to the university.
Whenever any federally furnished equipment and/or disposition instructions are received, please advise Contract and Grant Administration in writing. The memo should include a description, model and/or serial number, along with copies of any paperwork that accompanies the equipment or is subsequently received. This will help insure that the University Property Management System's records are adjusted in a timely manner. Written notification and/or any questions concerning equipment furnished by the federal government should be directed to Contract and Grant Administration.