A-21 "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions," a circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other government agreements with educational institutions (also known as Sponsored Projects).
Allowable Costs Those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, such as salaries and equipment. Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.
Audit A formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or financial situation. An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable terms, laws, and regulations.
Bequests A type or donation or gift.. Bequests and gifts are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support.
Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) An announcement of a federal agency's general research interests that invites proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made.
Budget Period The interval of time--usually twelve months--into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.
Budget Adjustment The act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another.
Challenge Grant A grant that provides monies in response to monies from other sources, usually according to a formula. A challenge grant may, for example, offer two dollars for every one that is obtained from a fund drive. The grant usually has a fixed upper limit, and may have a challenge minimum below which no grant will be made. This form of grant is fairly common in the arts, humanities, and some other fields, but is less common in the sciences. A challenge grant differs from a matching grant in at least one important respect: The amount of money that the recipient organization realizes from a challenge grant may vary widely, depending upon how successful that organization is in meeting the challenge. Matching grants usually award a clearly defined amount and require that a specified sum be obtained before any award is made.
Change Order A written order signed by the contracting officer, directing the contractor to make changes that the changes clause of the contract authorizes the contracting officer to order without the consent of the contractor.
Close Out The act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project.
Competing Proposals Proposals that are submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted; either must compete for research funds. Ongoing projects must compete again if the term of the original award has expired.
Consortium Agreement Group of collaborative investigators/institutions; arrangement can be formalized with specified terms and conditions.
Continuation Project (Non-Competing) Applicable to grants andcooperative agreements only. A project approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time. At the end of the initial budget period, progress on the project is assessed. If satisfactory, an award is made for the next budget period, subject to the availability of funds. Continuation projects do not compete with new project proposals and are not subjected to peer review beyond the initial project approval.
Contract A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals.
Contract/Grant Officer A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the business officer of the grantee/contractor organization, the grant/contract officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and interprets the associated administration policies, regulations, and provisions. (For definition of scientific officer, see Program Project Officer.)
Cooperative Agreement An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation, and anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.
Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and spending funds.
Cost-Sharing A general term, used as a noun or adjective, that can describe virtually any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs, institutions. Example: A university receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000. The sponsor agrees to pay 75% ($75,000) and the university agrees to pay 25% ($25,000). The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component.
Defense Acquisition Regulations (DAR) The source regulations for research projects sponsored by the Department of Defense.
Deficit Expenditures exceed funds available.
Direct Costs Clearly identifiable costs related to a specific project. General categories of direct costs include but are not limited to salaries and wages, fringe benefits, supplies, contractual services, travel and communication, equipment, and computer use.
Donation Transfer of equipment, money, goods, services, and property with or without specifications as to its use. Sometimes donation is used to designate contributions that are made with more specific intent than is usually the case with a gift, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. (Also see Gift.)
Electronic Research Administration (ERA) Conducting research administration by utilizing electronic resources such as the internet, the world wide web, form templates, databases, and other electronic tools.
Encumbrance Funds that have been set aside or "claimed" for projected expenses pending actual expenditure of the funds.
Endowment A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions (e.g., endowed chair).
Expiration Date The date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award.
Extension An additional period of time given by the sponsor to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or contract. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date.
Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other insitutional activity. F&A costs are synonymous with Indirect Costs.
Final Report The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.
Fiscal Year (FY) Any twelve-month period for which annual accounts are kept (at SWT, September 1 through August 31).
Fixed-Price (FP) Contract/Grant A contract/grant for which one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered. Quite often this is a fee-for-service agreement.
Fringe Benefits Employee benefits paid by the employer. (e.g., FICA, Worker's Compensation, Withholding Tax, Insurance, etc.)
Funding Cycle Range of time during which proposals are accepted, reviewed, and funds are awarded. If a sponsor has standing proposal review committees (or boards) that meet at specified times during the year, application deadlines are set to correspond with those meetings. For some sponsors, if proposals are received too late to be considered in the current funding cycle, they may be held over for the next review meeting (i.e., National Science Foundation's Target Dates)
Gift Gifts and bequests are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support. (Also see Donation.)
Grant A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities.
Grant/Contract Officer A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the business officer of the grantee/contractor organization, the grant/contract officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and interprets the associated administration policies regulations, and provisions (For definition of scientific officer, see Program/Project Officer.)
In-Kind Contributions or assistance in a form other than money. Equipment, materials, or services of recognized value that are offered in lieu of cash.
Incremental Funding A method of funding contracts that provides specific spending limits below the total estimated costs. These limits may be exceeded only at the contractor's own risk. Each increment is, in essence, a funding action.
Indirect Costs Costs related to expenses incurred in conducting or supporting research or other externally-funded activities but not directly attributable to a specific project. General categories of indirect costs include general administration (accounting, payroll, purchasing, etc.), sponsored project administration, plant operation and maintenance, library expenses, departmental administration expenses, depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment, and student administration and services. (See also Facilities and Administrative Costs..)
Indirect Cost Rate The rate, expressed as a percentage of a base amount established by negotiation with the cognizant federal agency on the basis of the institution's projected costs for the year and distributed as prescribed in OMB Circular A-21. At SWT, indirect costs are applied to a modified total direct cost (MTDC) base. The indirect cost rate is charged on a set of direct costs known as an indirect cost base.
Interim Funding Authorization to expend funds on a project to a specified limit before the award document has been received from the sponsor.
Invitation for Bid (IFB) A solicitation issued to prospective bidders. An IFB describes what is required and how the bidders will be evaluated. Award is based on the lowest bid. Negotiations are not conducted.
Key Personnel The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.
Limitation of Cost (LOC) A mandatory clause for cost-reimbursement type contracts. Under the clause, the sponsor is not obligated to reimburse the contractor for costs in excess of the stated amount. The contractor, however, is not obligated to continue performance once expenses reach the stated amount.
Matching Grant A grant that requires a specified portion of the cost of a supported item of equipment or project be obtained from other sources. The required match may be more or less than the amount of the grant. Some matching grants require that the additional funds be obtained from sources outside the recipient organization. Many matching grants are paid in installments, the payments coinciding with the attainment of pre-specified levels of additional funding. (Also see Challenge Grant.) Matching grants are very common in the sciences, especially for equipment. They are standard practice in some government agencies.
Misconduct in Science Fabrication, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.
Mission A sponsor's stated purpose, which is designed to address a specified set of problems. Almost all federal research agencies are designated as mission agencies.
Modification An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award.. Example: Carryover approvals, adding or deleting special terms and conditions, changes in funding levels (including NSF's Research Experience for Undergraduates; NIH's Minority Supplement, DOD's ASSERT Programs), administrative changes initiated by the agency, extensions that include changes in terms, change of principal investigator, etc.
Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) At SWT, the basic indirect costs are calculated on a subset of direct costs, normally excluding, among other costs, equipment, patient care, space rental, alterations and renovations, and subcontract costs in excess of the first $25,000.
New Award An award not previously awarded or a renewal or continuation award treated as a new award by the sponsor and given a new agency number.
New and Competing Proposals Proposals that are submitted for the first time or ongoing projects that must re-compete for funding prior to expiration of the original award.)
No Cost Time Extension An extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration data to allow the principal investigator to finish a project. Usually, no additional costs are provided.
Notice of Grant Award The legally binding document that serves as a notification to the recipient and others that a grant or cooperative agreement has been made; contains or references all terms of the award; and documents the obligation of funds.
OMB Circulars Regulatory circulars issued by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). (Link to the OMB circular as well as link to the specific circular via TRAM.)
Peer Review A system using reviewers who are the professional equals of the principal investigator or program director who is to be responsible for directing or conducting the proposed project. It is a form of objective review. Peer review is legislatively mandated in some programs and in other programs is administratively required.
Pre-Proposal A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal. Also termed Preliminary Proposal.
Prior Approval The requirement for written documentation of permission to use project funds for purposes not in the approved budget, or to change aspects of the program from those originally planned and approved. Prior approval must be obtained before the performance of the act that requires such approval under the terms of the agreement.
Priority Score A score derived from the rating given a proposal by each member on a review committee. It is used to help determine which approved proposals will be granted awards, based on funds available.
Program Announcement Describes existence of a research opportunity. It may describe new or expanded interest in a particular extramural program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in an extramural program.
Program/Project Officer A sponsor's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the principal investigator/project director of the grantee/contractor organization, the program/project officer deals with the grantee/contractor organization staff to assure programmatic progress.
Progress Report Periodic, scheduled reports required by the sponsor summarizing research progress to date. Technical, fiscal, and invention reports may be required.
Project Period (PP) The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved. A project period may consist of one or more budget periods. (Also see Budget Period.)
Proposal An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested. Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a principal investigator.
Rebudget The act of amending the budget buy moving funds from one category or line item to another. (See also Budget Adjustment.))
Regs Short for "regulations."
Regulations The contractual rules and procedures governing sponsored research projects.
Request for Applications (RFA) Announcements that indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a sponsor. Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in the award of a grant. Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific sponsor publications. (Also see Broad Agency Announcements.)
Request for Proposal (RFP) Announcements that specify a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered, and appropriate applicants sought. Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of a contract. Notices of federal RFPs are published in the Commerce Business Daily.
Request for Quotations (RFQ) A formal request from TAMRF (Texas A&M Research Foundation) to vendors for a price quotation on equipment or supplies to be purchased.
Salaries and Wages (S&W) Payments made to employees of the institution for work performed.
Scope of Work The description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project.
Senior Personnel Professional personnel who are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of a project.
Small Grant A special type of grant, often limited to a beginning researcher. Typically, such an award may be obtained for one year only.
Stipend A payment made to an individual under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual's living expenses during the period of training.
Subcontract, Subgrant, or Subagreement A document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract) that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.
Supplemental (Rebudgeting or Modification) Proposal A request to the sponsor for additional funds for an ongoing project during the previously approved performance period. A supplemental proposal may result from increased costs, modifications in design, or a desire to add a closely related component to the ongoing project.
Task Order Agreeement (TOA) A legally binding document authorizing work and appropriating funds as a supplement to a basic contract.
Teaming Agreement An agreement between two or more parties to participate in a research project or teaching activity.
Technical Data Recorded information, regardless of form or characteristic, of a scientific or technical nature. Often referred to as the "science" of a proposal.
Templates Facsimiles of agency forms created with common software (MS Word, Excel, WordPerfect, etc.) that enable the user to fill out agency forms with their computer. (TRAM)
Terms of Award All legal requirements imposed on an agreement by the sponsor, whether by statute, regulation(s), or terms in the award document. The terms of an agreement may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to protect the sponsor's interests.
Third Party in-kind Contributions Property or services which benefit a federally assisted project or program and which are contributed by non-federal third parties without charge to the grantee, or subgrantee, under the grant agreement.
Total Direct Costs (TDC) The total of all direct costs of a project.
Uncommitted Voluntary Cost Share University expenses, such as faculty salaries, that is over and above that which is committed and budgeted for in a sponsored agreement.
Uniform Grant Management Guide (UGMA) Provides awarding agencies and grantees a standardized set of financial management procedures and definitions. State agencies are required to adhere to these standards when administering grants and other financial assistance agreements with cities, counties and other political subdivisions of the state.
Unrestricted Funds Monies with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds.