Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Clemson University's tax ID number?
- What is Clemson University’s DUNS number?
- What is F&A?
The F&A (facilities and administrative) rate is a method that the federal government has implemented to help reimburse many types of routine, but at times unrecognized, costs that support a project. These costs are difficult to assign with a degree of precision as are the more obvious "direct" costs, or without significant accounting processes (and additional costs) to administer.
- What is the current F&A Cost Rate?
The F&A (facilities and administrative) rate is based on an agreement with Clemson University's cognizant federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. The current F&A Rate Agreement, available via the link below, is valid through June 30, 2015. Projects that were awarded previous to the establishment of the current rate will continue at the old rate unless additional funds are requested for that grant or cooperative agreement. The current F&A rates can be found here.
- What is MTDC?
Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) is determined by subtracting the cost of equipment, tuition, fellowships, and subcontract amounts over $25,000 from the total direct costs to determine the F&A base, to which the applicable rate is applied.
- Is Participant Support Costs excluded from F&A cost calculations?
When preparing proposal budget/financial plans, several budget categories are excluded when arriving at the base amount to which the appropriate F&A rate is applied (see definition from NSF Grant Proposal Guide below).
(v) Participant Support (Line F on the Proposal Budget):
This budget category refers to costs of transportation, per diem, stipends and other related costs for participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with NSF-sponsored conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities and workshops." (See GPG chapter II.D.7). For some educational projects conducted at local school districts, however, the participants being trained are employees. In such cases,
the costs must be classified as participant support if payment is made through a stipend or training allowance method. The school district must have an accounting mechanism in place (i.e., sub-account code) to differentiate between regular salary and stipend payments. Generally, indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on participant support costs. The number of participants to be supported must be entered in the parentheses on the proposal budget. These costs also must be justified in the budget justification section of the proposal. Some programs, such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates, have special instructions for treatment of participant support.
In the absence of a sponsor specific restriction, the budget category of participant support should not be excluded from the F&A base. The exclusion of participant support is a National Scienc
- What is the fringe benefits rate?
Clemson University currently has a Pooled Fringe Benefit Rate Agreement. The current Pooled Fringe can be found at http://www.clemson.edu/cfo/comptroller/rates/index.html.
- How do I determine which classification to select in the section of the Proposal Processing Form?
The classification of a proposal is based on the primary purpose or major objective of the activity the funds will sponsor. An explanation of Clemson University’s classification system for proposals is listed below.
Research (Program Codes 201, 207, 208) - Research constitutes the systematic study and investigation undertaken to discover or establish facts or principles.
Research is broadly subdivided into three types:
- "Basic research" is activity directed toward increasing knowledge in science. The primary aim of basic research is to further knowledge or understanding of the subject under study, rather than to enable practical application of that knowledge.
- "Applied research" effort (a) normally follows basic research; (b) attempts to determine and exploit the potential of scientific discoveries or improvements in technology, materials, processes, methods, devices, or techniques; and (c) attempts to advance state-of-the art processes, methods or products.
- "Development" denotes the systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge in the design, development testing, or evaluation of a potential new product or service (or of an improvement in an existing product or service) to meet specific performance requirements or objectives.
Instruction (Program Codes 110, 111) - This category includes activities that are part of the University's instruction programs. Activities for credit and non-credit courses; for academic, vocational, and technical instruction; and for regular, special and extension sessions should be classified instruction.
Public Service (Program Codes 3XX) - This category denotes activities established to provide non-instructional/non-research services beneficial to individuals and groups external to the University. Included are community service programs; e.g., demonstration projects, conferences, general advisory services, as well as most Cooperative Extension Service activities.
- Can I pay another Clemson University faculty member as a consultant?
Consulting fees can only be paid to faculty of the same institution under unusual circumstances: a) the work performed by the faculty member is in addition to his or her regular department load and other arrangements are not possible, and, b) if the consultation is across departmental lines, or involves a separate or remote operation. Prior approval from the College Dean of each proposed faculty consultant is required.
- Is it permissible for the department chair's secretary or others to sign the Proposal Processing form for the principal investigator?
No, the principal investigator and other investigators must personally sign the Proposal Processing form.
- Can others sign for the authorized representative of the Department or College on the Proposal Processing form?
No, only those individuals authorized by the Associate Research Dean of each College may sign on behalf of the College. The signature certifies personal awareness of the proposal and issues pertaining to intellectual property and financial disclosure policies of the University. Please contact a member of the OSP support staff if you have questions.
- Is it permissible for the principal investigator, department chair or dean to sign the contract agreement?
No, the Board of Trustees has delegated that authority to the Vice President for Research; therefore, contracts must be signed by the Vice President for Research, or his designee.
- Who is authorized to sign grants and contracts on behalf of Clemson University?
The Vice President for Research, Dr. Tanju Karanfil, or his designee in the Office of Sponsored Programs. Reference: Memo to the Vice Presidents, Deans and Academic Directors, Signature Authority and Name of Legal Applicant for Sponsored Program Funding, dated Feb. 4, 2002. Reference: Signature Authority Policy.
- How much time is needed by the Office of Sponsored Programs to process a proposal?
Effective July 1, 2013 all applications seeking support from outside sponsors must be in “ready to submit” format and have received the preliminary approval of the applicable OSP support Center to electronically route for approval by chairs and associates deans for research a minimum of two-business days in advance of the immediate sponsor deadline, in order for OSP to guarantee on-time submission. Applications that involve more than one department, school, or college must receive the approvals of the chair and associate dean for research of that unit, so adequate time should be factored in if this is applicable.
- Can we negotiate and budget a "per inspection" fee with a sponsor to cover employee time, travel & other miscellaneous expenses? What is the best way to do this?
To negotiate and budget a “per inspection” fee would probably require the establishment of a billing rate. You would need to contact the office of the comptroller concerning this. Otherwise, all costs would need to be budgeted separately as salaries, fringe, travel, supplies, etc.
- Who is authorized to sign grants and contracts on behalf of Clemson University?
The Vice President for Research, Dr. Tanju Karanfil, or his designee in the Office of Sponsored Programs. Reference: Memo to the Vice Presidents, Deans and Academic Directors, Signature Authority and Name of Legal Applicant for Sponsored Program Funding, dated Feb. 4, 2002.
- Can general office supplies, i.e. telephone, paper, toner, clerical assistance, etc., be included as “supplies” on grants?
Office supplies (pens, paper, notebooks, clips, stamps, envelopes, ink cartridges/copying toner, local telephone service, etc.) are those costs that are incurred for a “common or joint objective” of the university and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project. While one can easily recognize that a notepad might be “needed” for a research project, we don’t want to have to set up an accounting system to track all of the department’s notepad inventory in order to direct cost them to all the various accounts/projects on which they are used. Although it is possible to practically direct charge any cost to a project, the accounting system that would be required and the staff effort to ensure each unit of these various costs are properly distributed makes it an unrealistic and inefficient way of handling such costs.
- What items should be included in the “equipment” section of the budget?
The University defines “equipment” as any tangible, nonexpendable property having: (1) a useful life of more than one year, and, (2) an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. Items not meeting these two conditions are not to be classified as, and placed in, the equipment category.
- Can subcontract documentation and/or documentation of consultants to be hired be turned in after the proposal is submitted to OSP?
A quoted price for services from a consultant, collaborating institution, or other organization must be “backed-up” in writing from that party. This documentation (e.g., a proposal which contains the proposed technical work, a budget estimate, and authorized institution/company signature) is required as a matter of sound business practice to indicate that Clemson University has reviewed and accepted that party’s intended participation, and therefore supports inclusion of that activity as part of CU’s proposed effort.
Additionally, by inclusion of this material in the University’s proposal, OSP is therefore authorizing the issuance of the appropriate agreement to the named party without the requirement of competitive bidding processes and the associated delay of getting that work started. When the party is named and their Scope of Work (SOW) is sufficiently described as a part of the University’s application, a Procurement Certification can then be used by OSP to proceed with issuance of the sub-agreement upon award.
We recognize that in some situations, PI’s may not have been able to determine the specific party needed. In this case, utilization of an open bid process is probably the only method available to meet federal and/or SC State procurement practices. The objective of such bid procedure is to provide reasonable opportunity
- If something is listed as not being “allowable” as grant costs, but it has been specifically listed in the work/budget plan that is submitted and approved by the sponsor, can it be purchased anyway?
Keep in mind that in many cases, as a result of the imposition of the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), federal sponsors no longer perform in-depth reviews of proposal budgets. Under CAS, the federal agencies expect the applicant to be familiar with the A-21 Cost Principles and to exclude non-allowed costs from those budgets. As a result, Universities cannot depend on the “rationalization” that since the sponsor did not remove it from the awarded budget that, in fact, the sponsor has “approved” that cost item. In order to position your argument along that line, at a minimum the proposal’s budget should include a separate page titled “Budget Justification” in which those non-routine or normally non-allowed expenses are identified and justified for the project – OSP initially must make the judgment call based upon the circumstances of the PI’s justification.
- Is an itemized budget required by OSP on NIH programs that only need a modular budget?
Although NIH has adopted the modular budget format for budgets of $250,000 per year and less, Clemson University, as do many universities, requires a detailed itemized budget for internal purposes. Under Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), the burden is on the University to apply costs consistently. Without a detailed budget, OSP does not have any way to assure costs are in general compliance with CAS.
- Is the requirement for cost sharing and the amount required always established by the sponsor?
There are two terms, “matching” and “cost sharing,” that are often used interchangeably. “Cost Sharing/matching” is used when the sponsor has specified a particular dollar to dollar (or ratio) requirement which is to be supplied from non-federal sources in order to receive the federal (or sponsor) funding, i.e., the sponsor has essentially established what the applicant will share. “Cost sharing/matching” therefore refers to any portion of the project’s costs not borne by the sponsor. For Clemson University’s purposes, all cost sharing is accomplished either as a cash outlay (an expenditure) or as waived F&A costs. Existing University resources (space, equipment, supplies on hand, etc.) are not allowable as cost sharing.
Tips to determine allowability for federal cost sharing or matching:
- The cost share must have been included in the sponsor’s approved budget;
- The cost item must first be of the type allowed by A-21 Cost Principles;
- The cost item must be necessary to, and reasonable for, project performance;
- The cost item must be verifiable (e.g., by official accounting records);
- The cost item must provide an obvious benefit to the project;
- The cost item cannot be used as cost sharing also on another federal project.
- How do I calculate the F&A on subcontracts?
F&A costs are calculated on the first $25,000 of each subcontract.