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Welcome to the Virginia Union University

Office of Sponsored Programs

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) provides services and support to Virginia Union University (VUU) faculty and staff seeking outside funding for projects of benefit to the VUU community. The division disseminates information concerning appropriate funding opportunities and offers guidance to the campus community in the development and submission of proposals and in the negotiation and finalization of grants and contracts. Further, it assists with various administrative issues arising from extramurally funded projects and acts as the liaison with the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects for projects funded through grants and contracts.

The division is committed to augmenting institutional resources in order to enhance VUU’s research and educational programming. Through a coordinated effort to match VUU’s faculty and staff with extramural sponsors, the division functions as a catalyst in transforming the creativity of the VUU community into the actuality of funded research, training, and technical assistance projects.

This web site is designed to provide information to faculty members and other University community staff seeking grant funding opportunities, as well as faculty and administrators interested in preparing proposals for submission.

For Additional Information, You May Contact: 

Office of Sponsored Programs
Virginia Union University
1500 North Lombardy Street
Richmond, Virginia 23220
Office#: (804) 257-5811
Fax#: (804) 257-5779

Services

The division encourages faculty and staff interest in and efforts to obtain outside sponsorship through its provision of services and support to the VUU community. The federal and local governments, state, and certain profit and nonprofit entities provide funds that enable VUU to expand research opportunities, create new programs, and engage in developmental activities, which benefit both the public and the institution. The division is responsible for providing assistance in the procurement and management of agency grants. The division along with senior administrative offices strongly support the goal of increasing both faculty and staff involvement in research and will participate in the process to compete successfully.

The major functions of the division are to:

  • Provide current information about federal/state agency grants in certaininstances private sources i.e., foundations and corporations and provideindividual training in the use of funding databases;
  • Disseminate individualized information pertinent to the availability of and deadlines for external funding opportunity;
  • Guide faculty in the preparation of proposal applications, including budget preparation, to ensure conformity with university policy, sponsor criteria, and federal, state, and local regulations; 
  • Review proposals from an editorial perspective and provide feedback as needed to ensure a quality proposal is submitted;
  • Negotiate terms and conditions of grants and contracts, in coordination with the principal investigator, and prepares such grants and contracts for acceptance by the division administrator who is authorized to commit the university to the performance of the proposed projects;
  • Assist in matters relating to patents, copyrights, and publication agreements;
  • Direct faculty in compliance with sponsor requirements regarding the administrative close-out of awards;
  • Ensure University compliance with federal rules and regulations in the administration of such grants;Serve as the University’s principal component organization for developing, managing and reporting Federal and State sponsored programs activities;
  • Offer support and services to projects funded through sponsoring agencies.
  • Represent the University in transactions with sponsoring agencies, and
  • Coordinate all federally funded projects.

The policies, regulations, and procedures contained in the division’s guidelines are to be observed in all matters relating to research grants, contracts and other educational projects that commit institutional resources, faculty, and staff.

Further, the division will:

  • Assist faculty and other members of the University community in monitoring the compliance of each funded project with federal regulations and institutional policies and procedures.
  •  Assist individual faculty/staff, who are awarded research grants or contracts, in fulfilling their relevant responsibilities as project directors, principal investigators, and/or managers of external projects.
  • Provide oversight and coordination for all research activities at the University. In this capacity, the division offers guidelines to faculty and staff for pre-award/proposal development, submission to external funding agencies, grant award activities involving indirect cost negotiation and budget monitoring, post-award reporting processes and close-out procedures.
  • Provide new and experienced investigators and administrators with information regarding the established University procedures regarding the conduct of research and sponsored program activities supported through federal, state, and private sources.
  • Ensure accountability and proper management of sponsored program activities.

 
Service Points to Remember

Proposal Development: Proposal development is one of the primary objectives, as well as, one of the key activities of the division. Representatives in each of the four schools are available to assist and direct proposal development in the various discipline areas. The division staff provides proposal development and processing assistance for all sponsored research grants and contract activities funded from extramural sources.

Proposal Review: Each proposal, upon submission to an external agency, reflects upon the capabilities and standards of Virginia Union University. To assure uniform, high quality institutional representation, each proposal must pass a multi-step internal review. Signature authorizations at the Investigator’s, Departmental, the School, and the University Administrative levels must be secured to complete the review process. The division is prepared to assist and complete the proposal review process at the University’s Administrative level.

Research Incentives Program: The division has developed a comprehensive awards program to encourage faculty to participate in proposal writing. A percentage of the indirect charges earned from funded grants and contracts are distributed to the principal investigator, and/or department of origin, and the University. Research incentive awards are designed to promote reward and successful grantsmanship.

To learn more about writing a proposal for a Title III Grant, click here.

Managing the Grant 

Responsibilities

The Project Director is responsible for management of a grant or contract. A co-director may be designated and will be expected to complete the project in the event the Project Director becomes unavailable. The Director is expected to conduct the affairs of the
grant or contract in full compliance with provisions of the contractual agreement. Particular requirements governing a grant are usually provided with the grant award notification. Project Directors should become thoroughly familiar with any special terms
or conditions that should be adhered to in the conduct of the funded project. Sponsors will usually request a progress report on programs when they are finalized and/or at intervals during their operation. The Project Director is responsible for narrative involvement. All financial information should be provided by the University’s Business Office. Under no circumstances should a Project Director attempt to unilaterally provide the financial information to the sponsor. This action could cause serious auditing problems.

Fiscal Accounting Procedures

The Office of Sponsored Programs adheres to the Office of Financial Affairs’ policies and procedures in fiscal accounting for managing grants and contracts to include the establishment of an institutional indirect cost rate negotiated with the sponsoring agency.

Establishing an Account

An account is the financial record established by the Office of Financial Affairs to provide current information on the income and expenditures of projects. Each project is assigned its own account (identified by an account number). Expenditures can be made
for a project only after an account is established for the project. In order to establish an account the following must be done:

  • Official notification of the grant award must have been received prior to establishing the account;
  • The Project Director must meet with the Vice President for Financial Affairs and
  • complete a project budget;
  • Hard matching funds must be transferred from departmental or unit accounts to the project account or a firm commitment must be on hand from a non-federal source.

Programmatic Changes

Change to scope/objectives – the recipient shall obtain prior approval for any change to the scope or objectives of the approved project. (For construction projects, any material change in approved space utilization or functional layout shall be considered a change in scope).

Changes in Key Staff – The recipient of a grant or sub grant for research (or any kind of grant or sub grants if the terms of the award make this rule applicable) shall obtain prior approval: 1) to continue the project during any continuous period of more than 3 months without the active direction of an approved Project Director or PI; or 2) to replace the Project Direct or Principal Investigator (or any other persons named and expressly identified as key project people in the notice of grant or sub grant award) or to
permit any such people to devote substantially less effort to the project than was anticipated when the grant or sub grant was awarded.

Significant Changes may include: 1) a change in federal grant or contract effort is considered significant; 2) a change in function is significant; 3) a significant change must be instituted by the director of a federal grant program or the PI of a sponsored research program; 4) anything greater than a five percent (5%) change of a federal grant program or the PI of a sponsored research program; and 5) most changes required will be prospective changes that will process in the next monthly payroll cycle.

Other programmatic changes

The following shall require prior approval except to the extent explicitly included in the
project plan as approved by the awarding party at the time awarded: 1) providing financial assistance to a third party by sub granting or any other means; 2) transferring to a third party, by contracting or any other means, the actual performance of the substantive programmatic work. The term substantive programmatic work means activities which are central in carrying out the purpose of the project, and not merely incidental. Transfer of substantive programmatic work does not include purchase of supplies, materials, or equipment; acquisition of general or incidental support services; obtaining advice; or transfer of activities whose cost is treated as an indirect cost; and 3) providing medical care to individuals under research grants.

Supplanting

Supplant is defined as substituting grant funds to pay for personnel activities, services, or other costs that were supported from other sources prior to receipt of a grant or such costs that are contained in the current institutional budget. Examples include the following:

  • An employee (administrator or faculty) continues to perform the same function as he did prior to the receipt of Federal funds but is now paid partially or completely with Federal funds.
  • Funds regularly budgeted for travel, supplies, contracts, consultants or equipment is replaced with Federal funds.

Supplementing

Supplement is defined as using grant funds to correct a deficiency in an existing activity or service, or to improve, enrich, or enhance an existing service or activity through the addition of new services or activities.

Project Directors and PIs are encouraged to seek assistance from the OSP and grant officials when there are questions concerning the issue of supplanting institutional funds. It is very important that grantees maintain appropriate records and accounting procedures to ensure that compliance is achieved with regard to this limitation.

Purchasing and Accounting

Once an award is made, there are some logistics that must either be in place or put in place to increase the chances that the proposal objectives are met and that the policies and procedures of the granting agency, as well as, those of the university are followed.

  • Requisitions: Requisitions are made routinely with the appropriate account name and number (accounts are set up for funded projects in the Comptroller’s Office via a written request addressed to the Special Assistant to the President/Title III Administrator and Director of Sponsored Programs.
  • Purchase Orders: The purchase order (PO) is the official document authorizing the purchase of requested items. POs are issued from the Purchasing Officer in the Purchasing Department.
  • The Bid Process: Virginia Union University.

Required Reports

Time & Effort Reports

Effective October 1, 1986, the University implemented a revised time-and-effort reporting system to comply with the standards for documentation of labor costs charged to federally funded programs or sponsored research programs.

The standards for documentation for personnel costs charged to the grant are set forth in the Education Division General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) Par 74 Administration of Grants Subpart Q Cost Principles Section 74.174 Part II B, which
provides that:

“The costs of such remuneration are allowable to the extent that the total compensation to individual employees is reasonable for the services rendered and conform to the established policy of the institution consistently applies and provided that
the charges for work performed directly on Government Research Agreements are determined and supported as herein provided.” 45CFR 100, Appendix C. Section J.7d. Section J.7d provides that for proper documentation of professional salaries, the
contractor’s payroll system must be supported by one of two methods:

1. “An adequate appointment and workload distributions system accompanied by monthly reviews performed by responsible officials and a reporting of any significant changes in workload distribution.”

2. “A monthly after-the-fact certification system which will require the individual investigators, deans, departmental chairs or supervisors having first-hand knowledge of the services performed to report the distribution of effort.”

The system for time and effort reporting consists of the following:

1. Employees (professionals, faculty, administrators and support staff) remunerated, in whole or in part with federal grant funds.

2. Monthly employees who charge time directly to sponsored research agreements or who fulfill cost sharing requirements.

3. Monthly employees who distribute their monthly salary to more than one effort activity (either direct or indirect).

Contractual Workload

1. Faculty appointments are for 9 to 10 months in duration.

2. Nine to ten-month contractual faculty members may perform instruction in the summer session in addition to their normal contractual workload.

3. Professional, administrative, and support staff appointments are for 10, 11, or 12 months in duration.

Effort Certification

Monthly, all staff covered (see System Coverage) will receive a complete Faculty and Staff Time & Effort Report.

The report will be signed by the employee and employee’s immediate supervisor. If the employee’s immediate supervisor is absent, the senior Administrative Officer of that division/department has the authority to certify the employee’s time.

All monthly reports must be returned on the 10th of the following month to the OSP to be forwarded to the Business Office. Payroll checks for those persons who do not submit completed time and effort reports will be withheld the following month.

Monthly, all staff covered will complete a Faculty and Staff Monthly Activity Report reflecting either “no change” or, where applicable, the “significant change” in time and effort.

All monthly reports should be returned normally within five working days after the end of the month to avoid retroactive payroll changes resulting from the significant changes in time and effort.

Subcontracting

When it is anticipated that a portion of work to be performed under a grant or contract is to be subcontracted to an outside organization, the PI should first contact the Office of Sponsored Programs to make known the requirements of the subcontract. The PI must make no advance commitments, implied or otherwise, to potential subcontractors regarding the award of subcontract work. Some of the requirements that must be coordinated between the PI and the OSP are listed below:

  • Prepare the “Statement of Work” and “Schedule of Payments” to be included in the subcontract;
  • Develop a list of potential bidders (if necessary to consider only a single source, an explanation of the reason should be provided);
  • Prepare and submit a “Request for Proposal”;
  • Obtain sponsor approval prior to awarding of subcontract work.
  • Determine that adequate funds are available to cover the subcontract work.

Keys: Collect university keys from all project staff and return them. Note: Appropriate deans and department chairpersons are to maintain key control for all labs and offices.

Project Files: A review of all project files. Budgetary and personnel information should be forwarded to the dean’s/director’s office for storage. All project files should be retained for three years because of the possibility of an audit.

Budget Close-Out: The most recent budget printout available from the Comptroller’s Office should be reviewed by the Project Director to ensure that all charges reflected in the printout and that funds are not over expended. During the last two weeks of the
budget period, the Project Director should meet with the Comptroller to review the budget.

Final Report: The final report required by the funding agency should be completed and submitted and copies forwarded to the dean’s/director’s office and the OSP.

Project Close-out Checklist

  • Office of Human Resources notified of University supporting personnel position Terminations
  • Complete Personnel Action Forms to terminate these employees
  • Use remaining vacation leave
  • Telecommunications notified to stop telephone service
  • Dean’s/director’s office notified of furniture and equipment to be transferred
  • Keys returned
  • Files reviewed and stored
  • Budget closed-out
  • Final report submitted to funding agency with copies to dean/director and OSP

Subcontracting Practices and Procedures

I. With Private Funds

What is a Subcontract?

A subcontract may be defined as “an agreement written under the authority of and consistent with the terms of the Prime Award (grant or contract) that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort to another organization.” This definition contains
four critical phrases, (as italicized):

Agreement: A subcontract is a formal, legal contractual instrument. The term subcontract is more correct than the often used terms sub grant and sub agreement. While it may seem logical to refer to a lower tier relationship from grant funds as a sub grant,
the bilateral agreement, which is actually a contract.

Authority of: Prior to transferring any substantive effort to another institution, approval of sponsor is usually required. Award from private sources may not be clear about the assignment of work to another party; sound practice, however, dictates that the sponsor be consulted beforehand. Otherwise, costs associated with a subcontract, which did not have prior approval may not be considered as allowable costs under the prime award.

Consistent with: An effective subcontract will establish the critical parameters of the relationship and will set out the rights and responsibilities of each party, but in particular will require that the subcontractor will conduct the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the prime award by transferring or flowing down to the subcontractor the relevant terms of the prime award. Only in this way can the prime awardees exercise the prudent stewardship necessary to ensure fulfillment of its responsibilities under the prime award.

Transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort: In instances when another organization will be responsible for performing a portion of the substantive work for which the prime award was made, a subcontract does not refer to the purchase of goods, equipment or services, which can be handled properly by consulting agreements or purchase orders. The recipient of a subcontract is referred to as a subcontract. Terms, such as, “sub grantee” and “subrecipient institution” is also used.

Prime Award

The prime award is a grant. Contract or cooperative agreement which establishes the relationship between the funding source or sponsor and the prime awardee. The recipient of the prime award, or prime awardee, may alternatively be referred to as the “grantee” or the “contractor”.

Sponsor

The term sponsor is synonymous with the funding organization or other agency, which is the ultimate source of funds.

What do Subcontracts Accomplish?

A subcontract serves to identify clearly the obligations and responsibilities of the collaborating organizations and to ensure that the sponsors expectations and requirements can be met. Moreover, a formal subcontract agreement demonstrates to the sponsor the appropriate level of stewardship and accountability.

When Should Subcontracts be Issued?

In deciding whether to issue a subcontract or to use a different vehicle, the awardee should consider the following question: what type of activity will be performed and is it an integral part of work for which the award was made; does the action constitute a
purchase of services or the establishment of a collaborative effort between colleagues; what is the appropriate tone of the relationship which will exist; how much creativity and flexibility will the subcontractor have in developing and accomplishing the anticipated work? These types of factors are more cogent indicators of the vehicle to be used than factors, such as, length of agreement or size of award.

A formal and unique subcontract should be drafted, negotiated, and implemented whenever a portion of the substantive work for which the award was made will be transferred to another organization. In such cases, a subcontract is preferable to the use of general purchase orders, consultant agreements can effectively transfer funds from one organization to another, and the type of agreement used substantially sets the tone of the relationship. Purchase orders, for example, are appropriate for vendor relationships and the purchase of supplies and services, such as, fabrication, some statistical analysis, etc.; subcontracts are the correct vehicle for the transferring programmatic work, whether research, training, curricular reform, or conferences, etc. 

Handling Rejected Proposals

There are many reasons for proposals being rejected. Proposal developers are encouraged not to take a rejection of a proposal personally; a number of meritorious proposals get turned down for lack of funds. On a rejected proposal, one should get the critique from the agency, address reviewers’ comments, and resubmit. You may not agree with the comments and you do not have to accept, but they should be addressed. Success rates of first submissions run anywhere from 25% to 35%, depending upon the agencies. When a proposal is re-evaluated; modified as necessary and resubmitted, chances of funding increase dramatically in a number of cases. The suggestion on rejected proposals is to try, try, try and try again.

For more information on writing a proposal for a Title III Grant, please click here

Forms and Other Important Information