Pre-Award

College resources for pre-award proposal preparation are provided below. Contact our office if you need further assistance.

Sincerely,
Laurinda Perez,
Assistant Director

Office: 919.515.7011
Email: llmarsh@ncsu.edu

December 31, 2017, Grants.gov will officially retire the legacy PDF application package as a method to apply for a federal grant.

University's PINS record recommendation

Carefully follow the procedures required by the funding agency and allow adequate time for College and University reviews.

So that we may better align with the University’s PINS record recommendation and satisfy our sponsor’s requirement for an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) signature, a PINS record is required for an AOR signature for all types of external submissions.

  • Proposal Budgets/Justifications: Do Not send proposal budgets and justifications via email for review. Our office will not review any budgets or justifications without the proper PINS record being completed and routed.
  • Proper PINS Records: The PINS records should contain at least the following: budget, justification, cost sharing commitments, waiver/reduction of F&A and if applicable, the request for proposal (RFP). This will allow the faculty member to continue working on the science/technical portion.
  • Four (4) Business Days for Processing All Proposals: However, we require seven (7) business days if they are being submitted via Grants.gov. If we are not granted the proper processing time, our office will not be responsible for any missed deadlines or incomplete proposal packages. We understand about occasional rushes and quick turnarounds, but this should be the exception and not the norm.
  • University Operating Schedule: Our office hours are basically 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. We will work with our faculty within reason. If the University is officially closed, so is our office.

It is advantageous to have a PINS record in place because it enables us to better monitor and track all activity. This also allows the Principal Investigator (PI) to have a record of those initiatives in which they have expressed an interest and to monitor and track cost share that may have been committed.

It will also be beneficial in the event the PI is invited to submit a full proposal, making the internal paperwork task straightforward since we can simply clone the pre-proposal/white paper PINS record and make updates as needed.

Additionally, the PINS record provides an alert to our office as to the forthcoming activity, which is always welcomed so that we may prioritize and staff accordingly.

Getting Ready

Our Office of Research Administration (ORA) requires four (4) business days to process proposals and highly recommends seven (7) business days for proposals being submitted through Grants.gov.
Rush proposals must be needed within the day and have a receipt date no later than one to three days of the rush date. A RUSH should not be marked with a TARGET date. Any RUSH with special circumstances must come with instructions to Sponsored Programs and Regulatory Compliance Services (SPARCS) explaining the reason for its rush status. Proposals that contain Agreements or RFPs with terms and conditions should NOT be marked as a RUSH.
We are being told again and again by our sponsors not to wait until the day the proposal is due to submit. Some sponsors are even telling us to submit a month early. As always, we will do our best to accommodate the needs and wants of our faculty and departments, but there comes a point where we cannot take accountability for missing deadlines and making mistakes.
As an added service to our customers, ORA can accept less than a full proposal to begin the processing. In other words, we will begin our review and recommendation upon receipt of a PINS record, budget, budget justification, cost share (documentation required for both College and/or University) and  RFP (i.e., Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), Financial Assistance Opportunity (FAO), Program Solicitation, Funding Opportunity Number (FON), etc.) when available. This allows our PI to continue working on the programmatic section of the proposal while we are processing the financial section.
It is important to note any “red flags” in the PINS record such as the following:

  • Embedded terms and conditions
  • Budgeting requirements of labor hours or labor rates
  • Tasks
  • Milestones
  • Cost share
  • Publication restrictions
  • Export controls
  • Indemnification
  • Intellectual Property (IP) issues or governing law

If the work proposed is research, instruction or other sponsored activities, it would go through PINS:

  • Research: Separately budgeted scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry; to study thoroughly.
  • Instruction: Training or teaching activities (other than research training), including the development and distribution of curriculum in a matriculated setting such as at the University or for K-12 education. It does not include the development of training materials for a project otherwise in the Public Service or Extension domain — that would fall under Other Sponsored Activities.
  • Other Sponsored Activities: Programs and projects that involve the performance of work other than instruction and research. Examples of such programs and projects are health service projects and community service programs.
  • Editable Budget: SPARCS requires an editable budget to be uploaded in all PINS records, except NSF FastLane submissions, at the time of College approval. This will enable the SPARCS negotiator to make minor adjustments to the budget when working with a sponsor, thus eliminating the need for the change to go back to the PI, Department, and College.
  • Statement of Work and Budget: All proposals must contain a separate Statement of Work and budget. Even if the sponsor does not require a budget, the PINS record must include an internal budget for account setup. A budget is an estimated financial representation of the proposal’s Statement of Work. Enough detail should be provided in the budget to demonstrate that the University’s costs are fair and reasonable, allocable and consistent. If the budget does not show enough detail, please provide a separate budget justification.
  • Three-Day Workshop: If you have a three-day workshop or an event for a short duration, it is recommended you make the actual Period of Performance 180 days to allow for both pre-award and closeout.

PINS Proposal FAQ

If your proposal requires that you apply a rate other than our federally negotiated F&A rate and/or capped F&A rates as posted on the NC State SPARCS website, you will be required to provide supporting documentation from the sponsor and upload same into the PINS record. In the absence of such supporting documentation, and if you still wish to reduce the F&A, you will need to communicate directly with Executive Associate Dean Dr. John Gilligan. The practice of waiving and/or reducing F&A is strongly discouraged by both the University and the College.
This question should be checked “YES” when the sponsor has agreed to fund the proposal in advance and is ready for SPARCS to send an agreement. This typically means that the PI has already been in discussions with the sponsor and provided them with some form of a proposal, so a formal proposal to the Sponsor is not needed unless requested.

You will want to include instructions to SPARCS if needed. Provide instructions that include anything specifically needed or expected. For example: include instructions if SPARCS is to send a specific agreement (i.e. SPA, PSWO) or if they are to contact the sponsor first before sending an agreement or the sponsor has requested certain terms (i.e., payment terms, deliverable schedule, etc.). Also provide the detail contact information (full name, title, mailing address and phone number).

This should not be checked when the proposal comes with a fully executed award or an MOA. Instead these should come with instructions to SPARCS that a fully executed award is included and ready for award. The same with STTR/SBIR proposals or other types of proposals with an industry direct sponsor and federal prime sponsor unless our industry sponsor has already been selected for funding.

In cases where we are proposing to entities that may not have a standard type agreement, the University has prepared a Standard Project Agreement (SPA) (.DOC) that can be used for research, development and public service projects. We are at liberty to share this document with our sponsor so that they are aware of the terms and conditions by which the University operates concerning scholarly activities. Should you require a SPA to be included with your proposal, please be sure to complete the Industry Funded Projects information in PINS as this will signal the processor to request the Office of Sponsored Programs and Regulatory Compliance (SPARCS) to include this document.

The AOR may be required in Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) or in certain Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) proposals.  An AOR agreement establishes in more detail the issues surrounding background and foreground intellectual properties anticipated in a collaboration with a small business. This is prepared as a precursor to a proposal by a Small Business to an STTR program announcement. It ensures that background IP issues are set forth for the duration of the project.

One of the differences with the STTR type initiative is that it addresses specific technology research and more rules regarding IP issues. Hence, in the instance of an STTR application, you would ask yourself:

  • Is there going to be any background IP used in this project, either NC State background IP or the sponsor’s background IP?  If so, the background IP needs to be identified.
  • Will there be any new technology developed from this project?
  • Did we secure the sponsor’s contact information (P-O-C, address, phone number, email)? This will be necessary for SPARCS that draws up the AOR agreement.

Note: AOR agreements are no longer processed by the SPARCS office as a RUSH due to the risk associated with the University. Proper time is needed to research the existence of background IP and seek OTT’s guidance on the background IP.

Cost share should only be provided when mandated by a sponsor and should not exceed the minimum level required. Your first step is to seek internal sources within your department (i.e., faculty release time, etc.) and/or external, third-party sources. If your cost share requirements are over and above what your department and/or external sources can provide, you will need to communicate this request directly with Executive Associate Dean Dr. John Gilligan. In general, we are discouraged from cost sharing to a project when it is not mandated by a sponsor as these are real dollars and as such real funding that is being contributed. Cost share also impacts our F&A rate as it tends to drive the rate downward.

If your budget does not include academic salary, you need to include the minimum 1% in the PINS record. The PI cannot go greater than a 3-month period without properly reflecting their effort on a project, thus, the minimum 1%. Should your proposal be awarded, you can communicate with your department’s contract manager, letting that person know the actual percent of effort you will be expending on the project so it is correctly captured in the TEARS system/Annual Effort Report.

Please also refer to the NC State SPARCS website for further information and policy guidelines on this matter.

  • In the budget justification, clarify that NC State does not currently possess the equipment* being requested at any site/location on campus.
  • In the instance of fabricated equipment, identify if the equipment is currently being manufactured by a company.
  • If yes to (b), then compare the amount you are requesting from the sponsor for NC State to fabricate the equipment vs. the manufacturer’s purchase price or lease of the same equipment.
  • For fabricated equipment, indicate the component listing and whether these price estimates are based upon catalog prices, vendor quotes or past experience purchasing similar items.
  • Indicate if the equipment will be fully dedicated to the research project or if it will be prorated.
  • State in your budget justification that NC State requests approval to retain title to the fabricated/purchased equipment (in this instance, we do not charge F&A on the fabricated/purchased equipment).
  • If a grant includes equipment and/or if we are charging equipment to a grant, you will want to be sure at the time of award to secure a CAMS number for that equipment.
  • If we initially proposed an equipment grant and later purchased items that would be considered supplies, you will need to adjust the F&A fee accordingly.

This information is not meant to stand alone as it is important to be familiar with and incorporate University, State, Federal and Sponsor guidelines when it concerns equipment purchases or fabrication.

Although this fee may be acceptable by a sponsor, it is viewed as an unlike circumstance by the University. Since this fee is not considered allowable as a direct charge, it can be identified in a proposal; however, these costs must be treated as an unlike circumstance and meet the criteria of the College/University by being fully defensible in the event of an audit. The justification will need to be elaborate and quantifiable explaining why these costs are not part of the normal infrastructure costs (similar to how we handle administrative/secretarial costs).

Additionally, the current use rate that is provided by Eric Sills, OTT, i.e., $700/$750 for 1 TB of storage centrally maintained by NC State University, has expired. Contracts and Grants is in contact with Sills to develop a current rate that will be acceptable by the University and meet federal guidelines.

Therefore, if you elect to include these fees in your proposal, not only will you need to defend the costs to the extent that it is considered an unlike circumstance, but also need to state in the justification that these fees are contingent upon the University developing an acceptable user rate that meets federal guidelines.

NCSU Libraries: Data Management Planning for Researchers at NC State

  • Subcontract: Completes tasks which enhance the scientific research goals and outcomes of the project. Provides analysis and offers suggestions regarding the research itself. The organization will contribute work and/or deliverables with little direct guidance from NC State University. The subcontractor is subject to compliance requirements of the program.
  • Consultant: The task is to be accomplished through the efforts of one person (who is an established consultant) or by an established consulting firm. The task is singular in nature and is to be accomplished over a relatively short period of time. Generally, who is an individual who is not using any institutional or organizational facilities and is acting as a direct agent.
  • Vendor: Performs services only (does not provide analysis or discretionary judgment) such as lab testing, report printing, website design, etc., that are part of regular business operations and are available to many different purchasers or customers.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

eRA Commons ID/Password

Faculty who wish to apply for NIH funding must have a current/valid User ID. Please contact Laurinda Perez at laurinda_perez@ncsu.edu with a cc to Pat Hayes at phayes@ncsu.edu with any eRA Commons requests. Please be sure and let us know of any prior NIH support. We would need the IC and the serial number of said support.

Avoiding Common Errors

Going through the final checks will help you avoid errors and successfully submit your application! For additional help avoiding common errors check out our Annotated Forms with field-by-field tips on completing electronic grant application forms.

Internal Forms, Templates and Agreements

In the event that the University is unable to fully negotiate and execute this proposal and make an official award through SPARCS, the Department will retain sole responsibility for all costs incurred under this Pre-Award project set-up. Additionally, should the official project begin date create unallowable costs, the previously designated unit will also be responsible for payment of these costs from other appropriate funding sources.

As a reminder, when one requests a Pre-Award Contract and Grant account, in addition to the financial risks, there may be risks associated with export controls identified within the sponsor’s terms and conditions and made available to us at the time of award notification. For example, if the sponsor prohibits us from employing the services of a foreign national on a research project, we may not be aware of such restrictions until after the award is received and the terms and conditions are reviewed/approved by the University. Therefore, it is recommended that we consider these potential risks, in addition to the financial risk, and proceed with caution at the time the Pre-Award Contract and Grant account is established.

Pre-Award Form (PDF)

The MOA should be used with Industry Partners as an enticement to do business with the University and to establish an ongoing relationship in which any follow-on-agreements would carry our full federally negotiated Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate.

MOA (PDF)

Research Development Office
NSF
Grants.gov
Pivot
infoEd Global