Contracts and Grants Procedure 2 – Proposal Preparation

General Overview of Proposal Processing as it relates to The Office of Research Services

The Office of Sponsored Programs can provide guidance regarding preparation and submission of research proposals.

General Overview of Budget Preparation as it relates to The Office of Contracts and Grants

The Office of Contracts and Grants can assist you with any budgetary matters as they relate to the proposal process. Contingent on your specific needs, the review of the budget and budget narrative can be simple and quick or can require an extensive review. You may initially want to discuss methodology regarding how to prepare a budget, specific agency requirements and whether or not matching should be included as part of your overall budget, and schedule a second meeting for a review of your draft budget. For more routine proposals, you might just need the final budget and budget narrative reviewed. In this case, please submit your proposal at least three working days in advance of the sponsor mailing date. Otherwise, it is recommended that if you need assistance you seek guidance from The Office of Contracts and Grants in the “preliminary/draft budget” phase. Please call us at 334-5091 and schedule an appointment and for us to review your budget. As a means to better serve you, it is preferred that you e-mail in “advance” a copy of your abstract, budget narrative and an electronic budget spreadsheet.

Proposal Budget

As you prepare your budget estimates, please refer to Appendix No. 2 for statistical information to be used in budget proposal preparation. Estimates should be prepared for the total cost of the project with the breakdown of the cost per year. Please note that filing a MODULAR budget with a given agency does not eliminate UNCG’s requirement to prepare a detailed budget and budget narrative. Please take into consideration the following information as you prepare your budget:

  • Salary: This line item should list all positions taking part in the project, the salary figure and the percentage of time each is expected to devote to the project and their names if known.
  • Fringe Benefits: Normally the sponsor requires these costs to be budgeted separately. Please refer to Appendix No. 2 for specific guidance.
  • Permanent equipment: Is defined as non-expendable property that costs $5000 or more (including installation charges and freight), has a useful life of more than a year, is of non-expendable material and is not consumed. See Policy No. 11, the equipment required should be listed with descriptions and justifications.
  • Travel – Note foreign travel normally requires agency approval and thereby needs to be specifically declared.
  • Other direct costs:
    • Includes In-State and Out-of-State Tuition , if paid via Financial Aid.
    • Food expenses are generally not an allowable use of federal funds. There are some noted exceptions to this rule. NIH says, “Meals are allowable for subjects and patients understudy only, or where specifically approved as part of the project activity, provided that such charges are not duplication in participants’ per diem or subsistence allowances, if any.”
  • Trainee costs: These can include a subset of costs such as stipend fees, travel, per diem, etc.
  • Subcontractors: A letter of commitment and a detailed budget is needed for each subcontractor, as well as a copy of their negotiated indirect cost rate.
  • Facilities and Administrative (F & A) Costs use to be referred to as Indirect Costs: In cases where the sponsor or specific program does not allow F & A costs, an appropriate source document such as a copy of program guidelines or an e-mail or a letter from the sponsor stating that they are not allowable is needed as part of the proposal package. In those instances where full recovery for F & A is not being proposed, authorization for a waiver must be obtained in advance. A request for waiver of F & A costs must be submitted to the Director of Contracts and Grants for approval by the Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs based upon the recommendation of the Provost.

Budgetary Considerations

Most university sponsored research and training effort is accomplished on a cost-reimbursement basis. Whether a contract instrument or grant instrument is used, UNCG is entitled to reimbursement only for costs allowable under provisions of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions, provided such costs are reasonable, clearly allocable and relevant, and have been accorded consistent accounting treatment. Research and training awards made to the University are subject to audit to confirm that expenditures were consistent with the purpose and time period of the award as well as other specified limitations. Failure to demonstrate compliance and provide sufficient documentation can result in audit disallowances. Award funds must be utilized solely for the purpose of the award and residual funds handled in accordance with sponsor requirements.

Once a proposal is submitted by the University to a sponsor, the only likely adjustment in funding requirements in subsequent negotiations is downward. Sponsoring agencies of all types, confronted with budgetary problems, consistently try to pare down the resources requested for research, training, or public service projects. It is essential that initial proposals incorporate realistic budgetary data for both immediate and future years of a project. If inflation, salary and wage increases, fringe benefits, travel costs, etc. are not adequately considered at the outset, there is little likelihood of additional funds being made available by the sponsor. This requires a reduction of effort in other areas and can be detrimental to the project.

Pre-Award Audit on Federal Contracts

If a federal contract is the mode of procurement and the University is either selected for the award or selected as a participant in final competitive negotiations, the sponosr agency usually requests a federal audit of the proposal cost estimate and the associated backup data on file in the originating department. It is essential that prepared data be retained and held available to justify the cost estimates submitted. Major grant proposals may also be subject to such an audit.