Sponsored Research Glossary

A- 21 (OMB Circular) Cost Principles for Educational Institution: published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), A-21 establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other government agreements with educational institutions

A-110 (OMB Circular) Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations: describes the standards for maintaining consistency and uniformity among federal agencies in the administration of grants to institutions of higher education, hospitals and other non-profit organizations

A-133 (OMB Circular) Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations: establishes audit requirements for states, institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations

Allocable costs: allowable costs that directly benefit the grant or contract to which they are charged

Allocate: assign an item of cost or a group of items of cost to one or more cost objects

Allowable costs: categories of costs that are allowable as a charge on a grant or contract as determined by the terms and conditions of the award and/or appropriate cost principles. Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.

Amendment: a change in the terms and conditions of a grant or contract mutually agreed upon by the sponsor and the recipient organization; may also be referred to as a modification

Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP): the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Automated Clearing House Payment System which is used to draw funds for various federal programs.

Audit: a formal examination of an organization or individual’s accounts or financial situation. An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable award terms, laws, regulations and policies.

Authorized negotiator: the person designated to conduct negotiations on behalf of an organization

Award: the provision of funds by a sponsor, based on an approved proposal and budget, to an organizational entity or individual to carry out an activity or project

Budget: a list of anticipated project costs that represent the principal investigator’s best estimate of the funds needed to support the work described in a grant or contract proposal

Budget adjustment : act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another; some budget adjustments require sponsor approval.

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.

Closeout: the act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project. Most awards have strict deadlines for completion of closeout activities. Failure to complete within the deadline can result in non-payment of the final amount due or may affect the ability to obtain another award from the sponsor.

Conflict of Interest (COI): a conflict of interest is a situation in which an employee has the opportunity to influence a university decision that could lead to financial or other personal advantage, or that involves other conflicting official obligations. A conflict of interest can also occur when the conduct of research or other sponsored activities is or has the potential to be influenced by the outside financial interests of an investigator.

Consortium Agreement: a group of collaborative investigators/institutions; the arrangement can be formalized with specified terms and conditions

Consultant: an individual hired to give professional advice or services for a fee, but not as a university employee. Consultants do not perform a portion of the programmatic work of an award. University personnel may not serve as paid consultants on grants or contracts awarded to UNL.

Contract: a binding agreement for providing a product or service to the government in exchange for funding provided; the award instrument. The management of a federal contract is governed by Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

Contributions and Donations: the value of donated services and property; these are not chargeable, but can be used for cost sharing and matching requirements

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-Reimbursement Contract/Grant: a contract/grant for which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount

Cost Sharing or Matching: general terms that can describe virtually any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs and 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. If the recipient fails to meet the cost sharing amount, a proportionate amount of the sponsor share may be disallowed.

Cost Transfer: an after-the-fact reallocation of the cost associated with a transaction from one account to another

Direct costs: costs that can be specifically identified with a particular project, program or activity

Disallowable Costs: expenditures for a sponsored project for which the sponsor will not pay

Equipment: the federal and UNL definition of equipment is tangible, nonexpendable personal property (including exempt property) charged directly to the award having useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5000 or more per unit

Expanded Authorities: on most Federal grants the university is allowed to approve certain changes to the project without prior approval of the Federal agency. Examples include rebudgeting, no-cost extensions of up to 12 months, and automatic carryforward of funds.

Extension or No Cost Extension: an additional period of time authorized by the sponsor for the university to complete work on an approved grant or contract without the addition of funds. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent during the extension period. The university may authorize an extension without sponsor prior approval for a one-time period of up to 12 months if the award terms allow for Expanded Authorities. The sponsor must be notified if the university chooses to exercise this option.

Facilities and Administrative (F & A) Costs or Indirect Costs: costs incurred that aren’t readily identifiable or specific to any particular sponsored research project, but are necessary to the operation of the organization. Examples include: research administration, building administration, depreciation expenses, and student services.

Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP): a cooperative initiative among federal agencies and institutional recipients of federal funds. It was established to increase research productivity by streamlining the administrative process and minimizing the administrative burden on principal investigators while maintaining effective stewardship of federal funds.

Firm-Fixed Price Contract: a contract which specifies a set or “fixed” price to perform an agreed upon set of specified deliverables. In this type of agreement, sponsors agree to the scope of the work to be performed, with an agreed upon value, but provide no details about how the funds are to be spent. In such fixed price agreements, should any funds remain at the conclusion of the project, the residual funds may be used at the PI’s discretion, if permitted by the agreement and the university. Deliverables must be provided for the project even if there is a cost overrun on the project.

Flowdown requirements: terms, conditions, and regulations of the prime award that must be adhered to by the subrecipient. It is incumbent upon the prime recipient to inform the subrecipent of such terms and conditions in the subaward. These requirements are called “flowdown” requirements because they flow from the prime award down to the subrecipient.

Gifts: large dollar amounts or “gifts” are funds received which are normally processed through the Nebraska University Foundation due to various tax implications. Small gifts are processed on the Industry Income form.

Grant: financial assistance provided to complete a project which will benefit the public. There is usually limited involvement from the federal government in the project except to convey the funds. Policies governing the management of grants from a federal sponsor are covered in the OMB circulars and in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Honoraria: payment for which the primary intent is to confer distinction on, or to symbolize respect, esteem, or admiration for the recipient. (Payment for services rendered is an allowable cost, but should not be referred to as an “honorarium.”)

Institutional Prior Approval/IPAS: required permission for specific amendments to an award. In addition to pre-award costs which are incurred prior to the effective date for an award, permission is required for a time extension, subcontract re-negotiation, or certain budget adjustments for travel or equipment. The “IPAS” form, available on the OSP website, is used to request institutional prior approval.

Indirect Costs or Facilities and Administrative (F & A) Costs: costs incurred that aren’t readily identifiable or specific to any particular sponsored research project, but are necessary to the operation of the organization. Examples include: research administration, building administration, depreciation expenses, and student services.

Journal entry: an electronic transaction to reallocate budget information or correct other posted accounting transactions

Letter of Credit (LOC): authority to draw funds up to a specified amount for a specific purpose. The state single LOC encompasses several of the awards received by UNL. For these awards, identified by a ’24’ in the first two positions of the WBS number, the State of Nebraska requests reimbursement daily for expenditures posting in the state’s accounting system. Other awards covered by a LOC are managed by Post-Award, which is responsible for requesting funds on a periodic basis as expenditures are recorded in UNL’s accounting system.

Losses (overruns) on Sponsored Agreements: expenditures that exceed the project budget

Material Transfer Agreement (MTA): a legal agreement outlining conditions under which material is provided from the owner to another entity for a specific use. Material may be chemical compounds or any form of biological materials, such as cultures, cell lines, plasmids, nucleotides, proteins, transgenic animals or plants, or pharmaceuticals.

Material Transfer Agreements address such issues as:

  1. ownership of the transferred material and any of the modifications and derivatives
  2. limits on use of the material
  3. confidentiality of information relating to the material and publication restrictions
  4. rights to inventions and use of research results
  5. legal liability as a result of the use of the material or any results obtained

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE): a business concern (1) that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more minority individuals or, in the case of a publicly owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more minority individuals and (2) whose daily business operations are managed and directed by one or more of the minority owners.

Recipients of federal grants, cooperative agreements, or other federal financial assistance which involve procurement of supplies, equipment, construction, or services to accomplish federal assistance programs are required to report minority (as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)) utilization within one month after the end of each federal fiscal year, quarter or annually, as directed in the agreement.

No Cost Extension or Extension: an additional period of time authorized by the sponsor for the university to complete work on an approved grant or contract without the addition of funds. A no cost extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent during the extension period. The university may authorize a no cost extension without sponsor prior approval for a one-time period of up to 12 months if the award terms allow for Expanded Authorities. The sponsor must be notified if the university chooses to exercise this option.

NUgrant: a secure web-based research administration system under development by OSP. NUgrant will be used to track sponsored program submissions and awards and interface with major government online systems beginning with Grants.gov. In addition, NUgrant will store proposal and award histories and provide reporting tools. NUgrant Website.

Personnel Activity Reports (PARs): UNL’s required effort reporting system. A PAR is required if personnel costs are charged to a federal or federal pass-through award or contract, or if they are included as matching on any grant or contract.

Pass-through entity: the legal entity receiving a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement directly from the awarding agency and passing funding on to a subrecipient.

Pre-Award Costs/Spending: costs incurred prior to the effective date of the award. Permission is required when incurrence is necessary to comply with the proposed delivery schedule or period of performance. In many cases, permission may be granted by the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Prime Award: A grant, contract or cooperative agreement received directly from the awarding agency.

Purchase Order ( PO): document used to request a vendor to supply goods or services in return for payment. Purchase orders are typically handled by an organization’s purchasing department.

Rebudget: the act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another. Some funding agencies require prior approval before rebudgeting (also called budget adjustment) can occur.

“Routing” Form: “Request for Proposal Approval and Submission” form used for securing institutional approvals prior to submission of a proposal for funding consideration from a specific sponsor. NUgrant

Statement of Work: the section of a subaward that contains a concise narrative summary of the work to be undertaken by the subrecipient

Subcontract, subaward, subgrant or subagreement: a document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.

Substantive work: the nature of the activities engaged in by a subrecipient which distinguishes a subrecipient from a vendor or other provider of services for which a subaward is not required. OMB Circular A-133 offers guidance in distinguishing a subrecipient from a vendor based on whether or not substantive work is being performed. Substantive work is effort in which a collaborator engages directly in carrying out the specific aims of a project. The prime recipient and subrecipient should mutually agree on how the subrecipient’s substantive work will be carried out and how it will be measured in relation to the overall project’s objectives. Often the subrecipient has a principal investigator and will have potentially patentable or copyrightable technology and publications resulting from its work. These characteristics are not found in the activities of a vendor

Unallowable Costs: any cost which, under the provisions of any pertinent law, regulation, or sponsored agreement, cannot be included in prices, cost reimbursements, or settlements under a sponsored agreement to which it is allocable.

Vendor: an organization that provides goods and services. Vendors typically provide similar goods and services to many different purchases and the goods or services provided are used by the prime recipient in the prime recipient’s accomplishment of project goals rather than supporting project goals directly. Vendors are not subject to the administrative flow-down requirements of the awarding agency.

Woman Business Enterprise (WBE): a business concern (1) that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more women or, in the case of a publicly owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more women and (2) whose daily business operations are managed and directed by one or more of the women operators.

Recipients of federal grants, cooperative agreements, or other federal financial assistance which involve procurement of supplies, equipment, construction, or services to accomplish federal assistance programs are required to report utilization of women’s business enterprises within one month after the end of each federal fiscal year, quarter or annually, as directed in the agreement.