Office for Research and Sponsored Programs
Financial support to Hofstra University can take several forms. The Office for Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) specializes in the acquisition and management of grants and contracts usually in support of peer-reviewed research or other sponsored projects. The ORSP is also responsible for grants and contracts received by government agencies: federal, state, and municipal. The University's Office for Development oversees fundraising efforts -- the acquisition and management of true gifts, contributions, and other provisions for institutional advancement from private sources.
From time to time, when working with a private foundation or commercial interest, questions may arise as to which of these two offices an individual should work with to raise needed funds. If you are uncertain, please contact Alan Kelly, Vice President for Development, or Sofia Kakoulidis, Associate Provost for Research and Sponsored Programs, for guidance. Together, our offices will determine a best approach to help meet your needs.
Following is some general guidance on the financial management of grant and contract awards administered through the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs.
Award Acceptance and the Establishment of a Grant Account
Upon receipt of an award letter, grant agreement, or contract, the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) will review all applicable award terms and conditions. In most cases (e.g., when funding is received by a familiar source such as the National Science Foundation), the ORSP can immediately authorize the establishment of a grant account by the Office of the Controller at Hofstra University. However, in a small number of cases, more commonly with contracts from industry, certain award conditions may need to be negotiated with sponsors. The ORSP will conduct such negotiations following consultation with the Principal Investigator/Project Director and other parties as appropriate. Upon resolution of pending issues and the execution of any award documentation provided by the sponsor, a project-specific account will be established.
For this process to begin, it is important that the ORSP is provided a sponsor's award notification and all associated documentation. In the event that a sponsor requires execution of an award document, agreement, or contract, the ORSP will assist in obtaining all appropriate institutional endorsements consistent with the University's policy and procedure statement on contract execution. Award notices and support material can be forwarded to:
Office for Research and Sponsored Programs
West Library Wing
144 Hofstra University
Hempstead, New York 11549-1440
All checks issued in support of grant and contract awards should be made payable to "Hofstra University" and mailed to:
Office of Controller
011J Phillips Hall
128 Hofstra University
Hempstead, New York 11549-1280
The Role of the Principal Investigator/Project Director
Grants and contracts are awarded to Hofstra University based on several factors; perhaps the most significant factor is the technical expertise of the University's Principal Investigator or Project Director (PI/PD) and their project associates. Another factor in the decision to issue grants or contract awards to Hofstra University is the assurance of financial integrity. Maintaining this assurance is a team job that involves several administrative offices -- most notably the ORSP and the Office of the Controller -- and, of course, the University's PI/PD.
All grant and contract expenditures originate with the project's PI/PD or select designees chosen by the PI/PD. For this reason, it is important that each PI/PD becomes familiar with general grant conditions and calls upon the expertise of staff in the ORSP (x 3-6810) or within the Office of Controller (x 3-6846) with any questions or grant-related concerns. It is the responsibility of the PI/PD to make certain that the project team spends no more than the amount authorized by the sponsor during the approved project period and that all expenses are "allowable" by University and sponsor guidelines. It is also important for the persons initiating grant expenditures to use correct "FOAPAL" strings when processing grant paperwork. The Office of Controller can be very helpful in providing such assistance. Together, our offices must make the right decisions regarding the appropriateness of a particular charge to a grant or contract, and maintain complete and accurate records of all financial activity on a grant or contract issued to Hofstra University.
Review of Account Expenditures
PI/PDs are urged to review monthly project expenditure statements in a timely manner for appropriateness and correctness. If any errors in charges or accounting are suspected, please call the Office of Controller immediately at x 3-6846.
Over the course of a project, it may become necessary to transfer funds within a grant budget -- perhaps more money is needed in travel and less is needed in equipment. While most sponsors will allow for some degree of rebudgeting, other sponsors can be very restrictive. Staff in the ORSP can help determine whether a particular budget revision requires prior approval of the sponsoring agency. If a written request to the sponsor is necessary, the letter should include a justification for the proposed budget change, including a statement on how the project will benefit by the proposed adjustment. The letter should be counter-signed by an authorized institutional official. This is done through the ORSP; however, in all such cases the Office of Controller (x 3-6846) should be consulted in the preparation of a budget-change letter to ensure that the dollar figures cited are accurate.
Cost Sharing and Matching Funds
When preparing a grant proposal, efforts must be made to identify all potential project costs and maximize the use of available grant funds to meet those needs. However, in some cases, as a condition of an award, the University may be required to share in the cost of a project. All such costs -- whether mandatory or voluntary -- must be identified well in advance of proposal submission. Approval of such commitments should be recorded either in memo form or through notation on the reverse side (or blank side) of the University's "Grant and Contract Proposal Internal Review Form" also known as "the blue form." The blue form is available by contacting the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs at extension 3-6810.
It is important to note that all cost-sharing or matching commitments must be subsequently documented during performance of the project for possible post-award audit.
We are often asked if University office space or laboratory space can be included in a project's cost-share budget. The University is prohibited from doing so because space is a component in the University's Facilities and Administrative Rate Agreement (more commonly known as Indirect Costs Agreement) negotiated with the federal government.
Perhaps the most common means of cost-sharing at this and other universities is the sharing of costs associated with effort on a project. This can include actual salary associated with time, corresponding fringe benefits costs, and otherwise recoverable indirect costs. For assistance in calculating cost-sharing by this method or through other means, contact a representative from the ORSP.
aka "Facilities and Administrative Costs" or "Overhead"
The true total cost of the project a University performs through a specific grant or contract is difficult to calculate. Salaries, travel expenses, equipment, and the like are easy enough to allocate to a single project or account, but this is not so with laboratory and office space, utilities, administrative and custodial services, library services, public safety, and so on. Likewise, the University incurs depreciation costs and the costs of capital improvements, none of which can be easily broken down and allocated to separate grant accounts and projects. For this reason, the federal government periodically negotiates "Facilities and Administrative Costs" Agreements (F&A Agreements) with colleges and universities. Until recent years, F&A Agreements with the federal government were known as Indirect Costs Agreements. Most private agencies still refer to this form of cost recovery as Indirect Costs.
At Hofstra University, our F&A Agreement is negotiated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Details concerning our current rate Agreement can be obtained by contacting staff of the ORSP.
Many private foundations and certain government programs will limit the recovery of Indirect Costs or apply a formula that differs from our federally approved rate agreement. As a general rule, it is Hofstra University's policy to accept Indirect Costs at lesser rates when the sponsor's Indirect Costs policy is a published and consistently applied policy. Further waivers of Indirect Costs (beyond that which a potential sponsor allows) are subject to review and approval by appropriate institutional officials. Such requests for waivers should be made through the ORSP.
The Office of Controller assumes primary responsibility for the submission of final financial reports, with critical assistance provided by the PI//PD. The amount of documentation needed at award closeout, and the timing of submission of final financial reports, will vary from sponsor to sponsor. PI/PDs are urged to review financial records thoroughly as a grant or contract's expiration date approaches (e.g., 90 days prior to expiration) and, again, immediately following account termination. If any problems are discovered, the PI/PD should immediately contact the Controller's Office at x 3-6846.
In determining whether a proposed charge to a grant is allowable, the PI/PD and University must pay heed to award conditions, if any, issued by a sponsor. Because the federal government is, by far, the largest provider of grant support to colleges and universities across the United States, it is imperative for sponsored programs administrators to become familiar with agency-specific award conditions and their underlying basis, an assortment of Circulars issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Following are links to three OMB Circulars governing awards issued to colleges and universities; a link to the Federal Acquisition Regulations governing federal contracts; and several agency-specific documents governing grant awards. These are lengthy, detailed documents that sponsored programs administrators will use as reference tools in the oversight of federal awards -- not documents that a PI/PD is expected to master.