FAQ

General

What services are available to faculty and departmental staff?

Visit our services page for more on assistance with finding funding, developing a proposal and administering your account.

How do I locate my Sponsored Research Officer (SRO) or account administrator?

Visit our contacts page for details on who assists your department/unit with proposal development and account administration related-activities.

How do I determine if my project is a gift or a grant?

Typically the line between gift and a grant is made obvious by the application guidelines or the intent of the proposal to the funder. When it is not clearly defined during the application process, additional coordination between the Office of Research Administration and University Development may be required to ensure that the institution’s compliance and reporting obligations are addressed.

Visit our Gifts vs Grant Guidelines for additional clarity on roles and responsibilities and making a gift vs. grant determination.

Who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) at Sacramento State?

Generally, Principal Investigators (PIs) must be full-time, tenure-track faculty members or full-time university administrators. Emeritus and part-time/adjunct faculty are eligible to serve as PIs with approval of their department chair and college dean, typically with either the chair or dean serving as Co-PI on the project, and the concurrence of the Assistant Vice President of Research Affairs.

In rare circumstances, full-time University Enterprises, Inc. (UEI) employees may serve as PIs with the approval of UEI and the Assistant Vice President of Research Affairs.

Any exceptions to the above require the concurrence of the appropriate department chair, college dean, and the Assistant Vice President of Research Affairs.

What is the Role of the Principal Investigator?

The Principal Investigator (PI) is the individual responsible for the overall fiscal, administrative, and scientific/programmatic conduct of a project.

PIs are responsible for day-to-day project management and accept responsibility for carrying out commitments as outlined in the proposal within the time limits and budgetary resources provided, and for complying with University, UEI, and funder policies and procedures related to the administration of funds and submission of narrative and/or technical reports.

What is the difference between a Co-Principal Investigator, a Co-investigator, and a Project Director?

A Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) is typically recognized by a funding agency as an individual who shares the responsibility for the conduct of a project with the PI, including meeting the reporting requirements. A Co-PI may also be delegated spending authority and other fiscal and management related authority on an award by the Principal Investigator, in accordance with UEI policy.

A Co-Investigator is an individual recognized as making a significant contribution scientifically or programmatically to a project, but with limited or no fiscal or operational authority for the project.

Co-PIs or Co-Investigators affiliated with a subrecipient must meet their organizations’ PI eligibility criteria and conduct all designated project related activities through their home institution. Consultants do not typically meet the definition of an investigator.

A Project Director is a University or UEI staff member active in the administration and/or fiscal management of a sponsored project. Project Directors serve under the direction of a Principal Investigator, and with the concurrence of the appropriate college dean.

Individuals designated as consultants or those working in a consultant capacity may not serve as Project Directors or fulfill the role of a Project Director except in very rare circumstances.

Any exceptions to the above require the concurrence of the appropriate department chair, college dean, and the Assistant Vice President of Research Affairs.

Why is University Enterprises, Inc. listed as the applicant organization on my proposal?

UEI is the campus auxiliary organization authorized to accept and administer all externally funded grants and contracts on behalf of Sacramento State.

When would my funding be administered by the University Foundation at Sacramento State (UFSS)?

UFSS is the University’s primary philanthropic auxiliary organization which oversees gift funds to Sacramento State. If your department or project receives a gift or a donation, these funds would be administered by UFSS.

My proposal has been funded, now what?

Congratulations! Once award terms and conditions have been reviewed and accepted by Research Administration, an account administrator will be assigned to work with you throughout the duration of your project. Your administrator will ensure fiscal requirements are met, invoice sponsors, prepare financial reports and assist you with the processes to establish and maintain accounts, make purchases, hire faculty and other project personnel, contract with consultants, and process travel.

Account Administration and Award Management

Why are grant awards and contracts made to University Enterprises, Inc.(UEI)?

UEI is the campus auxiliary organization authorized to accept and administer all externally funded grants and contracts on behalf of Sacramento State.

What types of accounts are administered by University Enterprises, Inc. (UEI)?

UEI serves as the sponsored program administrator for the campus per CSU EO 890. UEI also administers a number of University Support Programs accounts.

Grant/Contract Accounts: Sponsored programs restricted funds administered in accordance with award document (grant) or agreement for services (contract).

University Support Program Accounts: Discretionary funds administered on behalf of the University for programs benefiting specific academic and administrative units and other campus organizations. Accounts are requested via the UEI Request to Establish Account form and established per Chancellor’s Office guidelines for non-general funds.

Can I deposit funds of any type into UEI accounts?

There are two types of accounts, and each has limitations on the types of funds that can be received.

Grant/contract accounts are only eligible to receive deposits from a sponsor for the purpose outlined in the award/agreement document.

University Support Program accounts can only receive deposits in accordance with the revenue source specified in the Request to Establish Account form.

State general funds cannot be held by UEI; therefore, State general funds are not allowed for deposit. Gifts and donations are typically deposited into University Foundation at Sacramento State (UFSS) accounts. UFSS contracts with UEI for management of gift accounts.

How soon can I begin working on a project and expending funds?

A grant or contract typically has an approved start date. Work can begin on a project once a completed Proposal Approval Form (PAF) is on file, a fully executed award or contract has been received by UEI from the sponsor, and any protocols for human subjects or animal care have been approved.

What types of expenditures are allowed?

Grant/contract accounts may only expend funds in accordance with the sponsor approved purpose and budget.

University Support Program accounts may only expend funds in accordance with the purpose specified in the Request to Establish Account form.

Funds must be used for their intended purposes and expensed from the appropriate account.

How do I expend funds or hire project staff?

Reimbursement or payment for expenditures are processed using a Check Request or Purchase Order Request form. Travel reimbursements are submitted on a Travel Claim form. Learn more about this process on our forms page. Contact your account administrator for instructions on hiring project staff through UEI.  Employment positions must be approved in the awarded budget.

Who has authority to expend from the account(s) I oversee?

You and any other campus/project personnel you grant authority to on the Signature Authorization form. Department Chairs and College Deans also have universal signing authority on all accounts under their purview.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Cost Rate

What are Sacramento State’s current federally negotiated F&A rates?

The F&A rates for the University and University Enterprises, Inc. (UEI) are as follows:

  • 7/1/2015 – 6/30/2017 On Campus Projects: 41% of Modified Total Direct Costs
  • 7/1/2017 – 6/30/2019 On Campus Projects: 42% of Modified Total Direct Costs
  • 7/1/2014 – 6/30/2019 Off Campus Projects: 22% of Modified Total Direct Costs

CSUS Rate Agreement

A project is considered off campus if the activity is conducted at locations other than in University or UEI-owned or operated facilities and indirect costs associated with physical plant and library are not considered applicable to the project.

Federally negotiated F&A costs, also known as indirect costs, are charged against modified total direct costs (MTDC). MTDC consist of all salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, services, travel, and subgrants and subcontracts up to the first $25,000 (regardless of the period covered by the subgrant or subcontract). Modified total direct costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, tuition remission, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships, and fellowships as well as the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000. At Sacramento State equipment is defined as an item having an acquisition cost of $3,000 or more and a useful life of over one year.

What is F&A?

F&A costs are costs incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore are not readily identifiable with a particular sponsored project, instructional program or other institutional activity. Due to the nature of the costs, F&A is generally stated in proposal budgets as a percentage of direct costs.

F&A costs are those expenses associated with maintaining the infrastructure of universities. F&A recoveries go toward the support of research, instructional, and public service projects that receive external funds, e.g., grants and contracts.

The facilities portion of F&A includes utilities, custodial services, plant operations such as heating and cooling services, and maintenance expenses.

The administrative portion of F&A includes payroll and accounting services, office supplies, departmental administration, procurement services, library services, and sponsored projects administration.

F&A costs are an integral part of the proposed budget and are not “taken off the top” of an award. As expenditures are made during the course of a project, the corresponding amount of F&A is charged. The institution only collects F&A allotted on the direct costs expended during the life of a project.

Why is F&A charged on grants and contracts?

F&A cost recovery recognizes that the work on the grant or contract is being conducted through the University—whether on or off campus—using University resources, including facilities, utilities, libraries, and administration. Using these resources is a real cost which, if not reimbursed, would adversely impact department budgets and university resources. Sponsoring agencies recognize this and are willing to cover the cost for use of these resources. Research Administration is responsible for ensuring that these indirect—but real—costs are included in proposed grant and contract budgets when permissible.

How is our F&A rate determined?

The federal government recognizes that it is not possible to accurately capture all organizational costs that are allocable to a particular project. Guidelines in OMB Circular A-21 (2 CFR, Part 220), Cost Principles for Educational Institutions, define a process for grouping costs into specified cost pools, which are then distributed to appropriate activities in a cost allocation process. Once the cost allocations are made, negotiations take place between Sacramento State and our cognizant agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to negotiate our federal indirect cost rates. Rates are generally renegotiated every three to four years.

How does Sacramento State’s F&A cost rates compare to rates at other major universities?

Sacramento State´s F&A rates are below average when compared to similar institutions across the nation. F&A rates vary from university to university ranging from 30% to 70%. There are numerous factors that account for differences in F&A rates, including costs of heating and cooling, age of buildings, amount of administrative activity devoted to research management, need for replacement of research equipment, and the balance between research and instruction on campus. In addition, some state institutions choose to bear a greater share of research costs than others.

Will adding F&A to my budget hurt the chances of my project being funded?

F&A costs are only one part of a proposal budget. By itself, the inclusion of F&A will not affect a proposal’s competitiveness. The substance of a proposal is far more important factor in determining whether a project is funded than the inclusion of F&A. This is true for two reasons. First, funding agencies recognize that F&A is a real cost and do not discriminate against institutions that include F&A. Second, other applicants will be including F&A costs in their budgets as well.

Funders not willing to pay full F&A will typically indicate this at the proposal stage or work with prospective grantees to revise the budget prior to making an award. If a sponsor has a published policy limiting use of our full F&A rate, a copy of the published policy will serve as sufficient justification for budgeting at a lower rate.

How are recovered F&A costs distributed across campus?

Recovered F&A costs are used for many purposes throughout the University. Much of the funds are returned to the college deans and principal investigators. Uses of F&A include:

  • University programs including the UEI Faculty Grants Program
  • Research Incentive Funds allocated to college deans and principal investigators
  • General research administration support including grant accounting, proposal submission, payroll and personnel, purchasing, clerical support, and other expenses associated with running research and educational projects.

What are "forgone" or unrecovered F&A costs?

When a grant or contract is accepted that does not reimburse F&A costs at the full negotiated rate, the difference is called “forgone” or unrecovered F&A. Because the University and UEI must still support the infrastructure that enables faculty to attract funding and conduct projects, the university and/or UEI funds bear the cost of unrecovered F&A.

Why don’t some sponsors pay F&A costs?

Private foundations, nonprofits, and charitable organizations are often looking to help support programs, but not cover the entire costs of a project. This allows them to leverage their funding with other sources of support. Such funders typically limit the amount they will allow for F&A and will typically indicate this at the proposal stage or work with prospective grantees to revise the budget prior to making an award. Some federal programs, e.g., educational training grants, establish F&A restrictions for many of the same reasons as charitable organizations. If a sponsor has a published policy limiting use of our full F&A rate, a copy of the published policy will serve as sufficient justification for budgeting at a lower rate.

Does the F&A rate on my proposal affect the services or assistance that I receive?

All projects receive the same services regardless of the F&A recovered from the sponsor.

Request For Proposal (RFP) Process

When is an RFP required?

Agreements for professional services of $50,000 or more require an RFP or a sole source justification that clearly identifies a subcontractor/consultant with truly unique qualifications.  The funding agency’s grant or contract thresholds will supersede UEI guidelines if they are more restrictive.  (Note:  Sole source agreements under federal grants or state/local government contracts may be required to follow funding agency guidelines.  The naming of a specific organization in the proposal does not guarantee use of that organization).

Who do I contact to begin the RFP process?

Your Sponsored Programs Administration (SP) account administrator will assist you with the process.  Contact your account administrator at the beginning of your project to ensure sufficient lead time to prepare the RFP documents for review and advertisement.

Who prepares the RFP documents?

SP will prepare the RFP documents in consultation with the Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI) and other project staff as necessary.  SP will assign an RFP number and ensure that all current sponsor, UEI and other government requirements are followed.  All RFPs must be overseen by SP.

What documents make up the RFP?

Contact your account administrator for a sample RFP.

Where is the RFP advertised?

SP will place the announcement in the required and relevant locations.  Locations include the The Sacramento Bee, State Contracts Register (if state funded), and the SP website.  Announcements in the The Sacramento Bee will be posted for three consecutive days.  Advertising costs are charged to the project.

Where can the complete RFP be found?

The complete RFP is will be posted on the SP website.  SP can email or fax an RFP upon request.

How long will the RFP be open?

An RFP must be open for a minimum of two weeks.

Who responds to questions?

SP will gather all questions related to the RFP.  SP will also generate responses to general RFP process questions.  SP will forward technical questions to the PI or appropriate project representative.  All answers will be compiled by SP and posted to the website.  Questions are directed to the email address, phone or fax number listed on the RFP

What methods are used to evaluate an RFP?

There are two methods available.  The primary method establishes specified requirements by which all bids are evaluated.  Narrative proposals are held in a separate envelope from the cost proposals.  RFPs that meet the specified requirements then have their cost proposals publicly opened and read with the award being made to the lowest- cost bidder.

The secondary method requires both expertise and cost to be evaluated at the same time.  Cost is given substantial weight in the scoring process.  Cost proposals are not announced or read publicly.  The secondary method requires more time for evaluation than the primary method.

Where are the results posted?

Results are posted to the SP website and in a public location inside the SP office for five days.  Consideration can be given to notifying all bidders via email, fax, telegram, overnight courier or personal delivery.

Can bidders protest the award?

Yes.  Bidders have five working days from the notice of proposed award to submit to SP a detailed written statement that forms the basis of protest.