Sponsored projects frequently asked questions are answered below.
How do we process cash awards paid by a sponsored project to employees and non-employees?
The recognition and training Procedural Statement applies to this situation and for employees a formal recognition program must be approved by HR and the appropriate officer. While the Recognition Reporting (RR) form is technically not needed for employees (because those are processed through HRMS), we recommend completing the RR form and having it signed off by CCO since these awards are being paid by a sponsored project. This will serve as documentation to keep in the project files to show CCO's approval.
For non-employees, use a payment voucher in CU Marketplace. Non-employees also need to complete a W-9 form if they are not already in the system. The recognition program approved for employees will suffice for non-employees provided it also addresses non-employees.
What is cost share?
Cost share is additional dollars above the sponsor’s dollars which are needed to complete the SOW (scope of work).
Does the Uniform Guidance say no cost share?
No. What the Uniform Guidance says is that cost share beyond the mandatory cost Share will not be considered during the review of the proposal.
Why does CU discourage cost share?
Cost share dollars are included in the equation/evaluation of the university’s federal F&A rate application. The higher amount of cost share dollars, the lower the F&A rate.
What are the types of cost share?
Cash can come from within CU or from an outside entity. In-kind is provided by a 3rd party. Forfeited F&A is the difference between the approved federal F&A rate and the negotiated sponsor approved rate.
Who sets up the cost share SpeedTypes? Cost share ePERS?
The cost share accountant gets the cost share SpeedTypes and ePERs set up.
Why is effort/salary sometimes tracked by ePERs and sometimes by a SpeedType?
If the cost share is salary/benefits/F&A, ePERs is generally how the effort would be tracked. However, if the award requires reporting/billing to be more frequent than by semester, the effort will need to be captured in a SpeedType. For example, if there is a 20 percent mandatory cost share and the billing will be monthly, these award stipulations will require tracking the effort through a SpeedType.
Why does my cost share have several different SpeedTypes?
Cost share can be funded from several differences sources. If it is simply dollars within CU – it is generally coming from a Fund 10 and therefore will require a cost share Fund 10 SpeedType. However, if the funding comes from any other fund SpeedType, then the cost share fund SpeedType needs to match. For example, source funds from a Fund 34 = cost share Fund 34.
Who is responsible for obtaining the in-kind certification form?
The PI is responsible for obtaining the signed in-kind certification when the 3rd party entity has completed the work. This is based on the concept that the PI is aware if the work has actually been done and can therefore verify what the 3rd Party entity has certified.
How do we know the cost of items that are on an in-kind certification form?
Part of the agreement with 3rd Party entities, whether it be simply an in-kind partner or a sub-contractor, is that at any time they can be audited and asked to produce all supporting documentation for the dollar amount they sign off on.
What is the difference between mandatory and voluntary cost share?
Mandatory cost share is cost share required by the sponsor as part of the award. Voluntary cost share is cost share not required by the sponsor, but is needed to complete the SOW. Both are a commitment that is a liability to the university and must be fulfilled whether the sponsoring agency requires reporting of the cost share or not. The tracking of cost share documents the contribution toward the SOW.
What is uncommitted voluntary cost share?
Uncommitted voluntary cost share is cost share over and above the committed cost share. This does and can occur, but should always be kept to the absolute minimum as going in excess is not in the best interest of the university.
What if I don’t meet the cost share commitment?
Not meeting the cost share commitment puts the university at risk. A sponsor can refuse to pay all or part of what is owed to the university. This is why monitoring your cost share is very important. If you see that you will not be meeting your cost share, discuss with the cost share accountant long before the award is to end. It is possible OCG and the sponsor will need to be contacted with a justification on why you are not meeting your cost share. The explanation needs to include whether you are able to complete the SOW without the cost share dollars in order to get an exception.
Is there ever cost share with a sub-contract?
Yes. Sub-contract cost share is reported usually in a clearly stated manner on the any invoices they present to the university. This cost share may be documented by a signed in-kind certification form. The university is responsible for and therefore liable for the sub.
As the PI, I want to volunteer my time for cost share – Can I?
In general, employees of CU cannot do volunteer/in-kind contributions to the project. The reasoning is that if you have a full-time position, you do not have additional time to volunteer (cannot be over 100 percent).
Can I use my cost share dollars for anything I want?
In general, any financial parameters that are on the sponsor project dollars also apply to the cost share. Always refer to the award document for variances within categories. The cost share accountant can advise on what is allowable and if OCG and the sponsor need to be contacted to ask for an exception.
How do I process a cost transfer that is more than 90 days old?
Transfers processed between 30 and 90 days after the end of the month in which the transaction appeared on the reporting system statement must include written justification and all relevant back-up documentation. Cost transfers completed more than 90 days beyond the end of the month in which the transaction appeared are considered exceptions and require substantial and reasonable justification.
Header description for JEs
Header descriptions should provide a clear, complete explanation concerning the transfer and must include:
- The cause of the error (why the receiving FOPPS was not charged originally).
- Justification that the charge is allowable, allocable and provides direct benefit to the project receiving the charge.
- Cost transfers after 90 days require not only an adequate explanation of charge but also an explanation of the delay in processing the correction. Late transfers may need additional review by the project’s financial analysts before the JE can be approved.
- Abbreviations, incomplete sentences and other word reduction techniques are expected in the journal header due to the 254 character limit.
- Please note that according to federal guidelines, “...an explanation which merely states that the transfer was made ‘to correct error’ or ‘to transfer to correct project’ is not sufficient.”
Is there any way to include a variable for reduction in budget due to exchange rate when looking at the available balance on a report?
If an award is granted in a currency other than USD, OCG will keep a note in its database (FileMaker) and communicate this information to PI and the fiscal manager as a reminder. For example, in this case there was a note in FM “Award is in EUROs so budget may have to be modified if exchange rate is not favorable. Expected: 48,589 Euros = to $78,678K USD”. How to timely and accurately adjust current budget to reflect actual payments received will depend on the payment mechanism in the award agreement, and it is also a joint effort among the department, OCG and CCO. If it is lump sum advance payments or CU receives the installed payments ahead of spending activities, then there will be a good chance to have the budget adjusted timely. But if it is cost reimbursements or if payments depend on deliverables (i.e. the sponsor only makes the final payments after it receives final report), we will not have a clear idea of how much the payments will be while the spending has already incurred. It is always a good practice to keep in mind that payments might be short and spending needs to be closely watched when an award is in foreign currency.
The fluctuation in currency conversion rate can also work to our advantage as it goes both ways – favorable or unfavorable. In Dr. Steinmo’s case, it is a big windfall.
How to hedge the inherent foreign currency exchange rate risk has been an on-going discussion between CCO and OCG. Currently, deficit due to unfavorable currency conversion rate is being solved case by case. In most cases, the deficit is solved by solution from the deptartment/PI.
For Dr. Steinmo’s EUI project #1550057, EUI made two advance installed payments in April 2013 and March 2014. In addition, one year extension is being requested. So, now is the opportunity for the department and OCG to work out an adjusted budget based on the remaining cash balance.
The Finance System might also be tuned to trigger an auto notice when foreign currency dominated payments are received and converted into USD.
I want to change the fiscal manager role for a sponsored project, but don't want to change fiscal manager for all the projects in our department.
There is a fundamental difference between sponsored projects and non-fund 30/31 programs in the way fiscal roles are treated.
Sponsored projects must abide by the conditions set forth by the sponsor as well as those applicable at the federal, state and university levels. Whereas program fiscal role assignments are generally an internal university (department) decision, the sponsored project principal investigator (PI) is designated as the project fiscal principal in the Finance System and cannot be changed without sponsor approval. CCO enters the PI information into the Finance System when the project is set up. The term “key contact” used to be a valid field in the Finance System but that field and position was eliminated. However, key contact continues its status with CCO and serves as a way for us to disseminate project-related information to departments. There is only one key contact per department (except for a few large orgs with many projects).
You can add employees to the fiscal staff role by completing the Fiscal Staff Request Form, and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other fiscal role questions or concerns, contact your area accountant..
What is participant support?
Participant support are those costs paid to (or on behalf of) participants or trainees (not employees) for participation in meetings, conferences, symposia and workshops or other training activities. They can include fellowships, scholarships and other forms of student financial aid. These activities are not intended to benefit the university but to be a benefit to the participant.
What are the allowable costs for participant support?
Registration fees, travel allowances, manuals and supplies, tuition and stipends may be regarded as participant support costs in this case. The exact categories for each participant support project are found within the award documentation.
What are the different types of participant support?
Participant support can be categorized by three types. Each award clearly defines the type of support and the specific requirement for each award.
- Participant Support
- REU (Research Experiences for Undergrads)
- GRS (Graduate Research Support)
Are IDC (F&A) costs included on participant support projects?
No. Remember, participant support is for the benefit of the participant not the university. Any administrations costs needed for the participant support must be clearly stated in the proposal and within the award document.
Why is the participant support portion of an award have its own project and SpeedType?
Federal regulations state participant support must be kept in a separate account and tracked for better internal controls.
Who is eligible to be a participant?
Participants are not required to provide ANY deliverable to the university (including the research project) or a 3rd party. In general, university employees cannot be a participant.
Can salary be charged to participant support?
In general, only stipends can be charged to a participant support project. Stipends denote participant is not an employee of the university.
What job codes are eligible to be a participant?
To avoid excluding those university students that are working to support their schooling the opportunity to be a participant, there are very few exceptions allowed.
Post-Doctoral (Post-Doc) Trainee (3201) – Appointee must possess a PhD or equivalent. The appointment is viewed as transitional or training and involves research or training exclusively. No service to the university is expected.
Pre-Doctoral (Pre-Doc) Trainee (3204) – This refers to graduate students enrolled in a pre-doctoral program and participating on a training grant. No service to the university is expected.
Student Stipend (3205) – Trainees who are not graduate students but are enrolled in high school or undergraduate programs and participating on a training grant. No service to the university is expected.
Participant Stipends (3207) – Participants, who are not employees, related to sponsored projects that are entitled to receive stipends for their participation in the sponsored project protocol. Generally, these stipends are in accordance with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Grants Policy Manual definition of participant stipends. No service to the university is expected.
What are the ramifications when a CU employee position is charged and has to be changed to stipend?
With regular salary, taxes are being paid. With stipends, no taxes are paid. This creates a great deal of work to correct this and a hardship on the participant.
What are the account codes that can be used for participant support charges?
495306 – PARTICIPANT COSTS
495307 – PARTICIPANT FEES
495308 – PARTICIPANT SUBST/STIPEND ALLOWANCE
495309 – PARTICIPANT ROOM AND BOARD
702000 – NON-EMPLOYEE TRAVEL - IN STATE
702100 – NON-EMPLOYEE TRAVEL -OUT OF STATE
702200 – NON-EMPLOYEE TRAVEL –INTERNATIONAL
Conferences are allowable participant support charges, why can’t I charge it to my participant support project?
In general conferences can be allowable for participant support. However, every award is very specific on what categories the participant support dollars can be spent. The awards clearly state that there is no variation in categories without prior approval of the sponsor. So, if a conference will fulfill the spirit of the participant support in the award, then long before any conference, the sponsor must give approval.
Why am I being asked for the list of participants?
With every participant support, the list of participants must be provided with in the documentation of the fiscal files in CCO. This allows retention of documentation for the sponsoring agency and for audit purposes.