Compelling Grant Budget

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Information about Compelling Grant Budget

Published on March 27, 2008

Author: Carlotto


Writing a Competitive Grant::  Writing a Competitive Grant: Drafting the Budget What Is the Budget?:  What Is the Budget? “The budget is the financial expression of the project or program.” Circular A-110, “Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations.” U.S. Office of Management and Budget All those who review your grant proposal for a federal award will expect it to be no less…. 2Bs: Bang & Buck:  2Bs: Bang & Buck Bang for the Buck More Bang for the Buck Most Bang for the Buck Your Budget must be as competitive as your “Project Narrative,” if not more competitive. WHY? New Standards….:  WHY? New Standards…. In 1993, U.S. Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). Target date for implementation: 2000 In 1995, United Way of America (major nonprofit) adopted new evaluation practices to see that monies were being well spent to reach goals. As funding opportunities have increased, research relationship between federal agencies and colleges and universities has grown. Result=U.S. Office of Management & Budget is asking federal auditors for “increased sample sizes.” Changed Standards:  Changed Standards Standard is no longer “negative accountability” (making sure no one is committing fraud). Standard is “positive accountability” (making sure public dollars are being well spent). Standard shifted from mere honesty to rigorous effectiveness. Source: "Transformed from a Cemetery of Bric-a-brac" by Stephen E. Weil Result & Response:  Result & Response Both U.S. Congress and United Way were responding to and ushering in new era of accountability. Public and private sponsors now set goals and priority areas and expect dollars to be used to meet those in an effective manner. Consequences:  Consequences When new standard is applied, sharing monies = sharing authority (among institution, public, and agency). Our institutions themselves become more streamlined, focusing on goals and effectiveness. If we do above well, we garner more community and political support. Engaging New Standards:  Engaging New Standards Ask this question: Am I making good use of taxpayer’s monies? Then ask: Would I really want my taxes to fund this if another faculty member were proposing this project? Next ask: Would the guy or gal working at the corner store think I had used her or his taxes well? selflessly? prudently? Finally ask: Am I using the taxpayers’ monies to plug a hole in my institution’s resources—or am I using the taxpayers’ monies for the clearly stated priorities in the federal guidelines? 3Rs:  3Rs Read the sponsor’s criteria. What are the clearly stated goals? priority areas? Review the sponsor’s criteria again. Example: Are the priority areas absolute, competitive, or invitational? Realize that salaried faculty may initially need to re-orient to handling external funds, especially public funds. The 3C’s…:  The 3C’s… A budget typically has 3 categories: Direct Costs Administrative (category #1) Program (category #2) Indirect Costs Facilities & Administration (F&A) (category #3) Category #1:  Category #1 Administrative: People & Paper Paper = Administrative Supplies People = Human Resources People =:  People = YOU Multiple or co-PIs… Consultants Undergrad or Grad Research Assistants Technicians Foreign participants “People” Funds:  “People” Funds Academic Year salary is generally unallowable (research is function of normal faculty; therefore, it is part of organizational salary) “Course Release” funds for adjunct replacements are most times allowable. Summer Salary is usually 2/9s of regular academic-year salary Funds are available to support undergraduate or graduate research assistants to help carry out your research Category #2:  Category #2 Program Costs Equipment Supplies Educational Materials Travel Subcontracts Shipping “Other” All program costs are “project-specific.” Travel:  Travel Airfare Compliance with “Fly America” act Per Diem Lodgings Meals & Incidental Expenses (MIE) Log onto U.S. General Services Administration for allowable per diems Taxi, car rental, van shuttles, charter bus… Mileage Visa fees Overseas insurance “Other” Costs:  “Other” Costs Communication/Publication Services (transcription) Translation Long distance telephone Remitted tuition Stipends Payment to Human Subjects Animals Equipment Service Agreements Truly Unallowable Costs:  Truly Unallowable Costs Entertainment Banquets and Coffee Breaks Alcoholic Beverages Personal Use items General Use items All costs not “specific” or “responsive” to individual project All costs not making “good use” of taxpayers’ funds Hierarchy within Categories:  Hierarchy within Categories Rank by importance/expense Administrative Costs: This is personnel (salaries are expensive) Program Costs: This varies depending on nature of grant Example: International exchange grants have high travel costs (airfare, lodgings…). Example: Scientific grants have high equipment costs (telescopes, MRIs…). Line-Item “Justification”:  Line-Item “Justification” Allow sponsor to replicate your calculations Examples: “PI summer salary = 2/9s of Academic Year salary ($53,527 x 2/9s = $11,894)” “RT airfare from Washington, D.C. to Buenos Aires @ $789 x 3 participants = $2,367” “Computer Cluster: 20 Intel Pentium workstations @ $1,149 = $22,980” Budget “Narrative”:  Budget “Narrative” Major grants sometimes ask for a “Budget Narrative” that supplements your line-item budget. Budget Narratives are usually exempt from length limits; you are given free space to prove you are using public funds prudently. Budget Narrative (cont’d):  Budget Narrative (cont’d) → Why is each line item essential for this project? → Are costs reasonable and sufficient? → Do you have authority to argue this? Budget Narrative (cont’d):  Budget Narrative (cont’d) Sample Excerpts: Line Item 12: Personnel includes a lab coordinator to set up and ensure all video, audio, and computer equipment are operational. Based on my experience setting up a Psychology Development Suite in my post-doc work, this set-up and training should take 25 hours at a rate of $50/hour (total=$1,250). Line Item 36: Funds are used to cover the RT airfare, lodgings and MIE for the external evaluator. The amounts have been estimated from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) per diems and from current economy airfares; all funds will be cost reimbursable for the actual amounts expended up to allowable GSA rates. Timeline:  Timeline Draft budget one-three months in advance Grants associate can respond and clarify guidelines You can research all costs You can secure approval for cost sharing from all appropriate administrators Category #3: F&A Cost Sharing:  Category #3: F&A Cost Sharing Grants are given to the institutions The institutions assume responsibility for the timely and appropriate management of the grants—especially their funds. All grants are subject to internal and external audits (these are not pretty). Cost Sharing:  Cost Sharing Smaller Individual and State grants do not have pre-negotiated Facilities & Administrative costs (F&A). Major Federal grants do have pre-negotiated 48.9% F&A rate. Exception: Department of Education Cost Sharing (cont’d):  Cost Sharing (cont’d) 48.9% of operating costs (not total grant amount) 48.9% covers fraction of an institution’s operating costs (in the million$) Federal agencies are acknowledging the extent to which they use U.S. institutions and their vast resources to house the agencies’ grants and accomplish their work. Cost Sharing (cont’d):  Cost Sharing (cont’d) What might these “tapping into college resources” costs cover? ► Audit and legal fees ► College, dean, and departmental administrative expenses (e.g., salaries, fringe benefits, offices) ► Routine office supplies, postage, local telephone costs, and professional memberships ► Depreciation and use of all “general use” equipment/ supplies (e.g., computers) ► Depreciation and use of all buildings and capital improvements (e.g., sidewalks, parking lots) ► Library expenses ► Student services (e.g., scholarships, activities) ► All operating & maintenance costs (e.g., heating and electricity, cleaning services, care of grounds) Cost Sharing (cont’d):  Cost Sharing (cont’d) ☺F&A costs create similar shock-effect as county, state, and tax deductions do to high school student receiving first paycheck for job at local supermarket. ☺Costs are paying for the infrastructure, e.g. the road and streetlights outside the supermarket allowing high schooler to drive there each day and personnel like police to ticket speeders so that student won’t be in car crash on way to work. Cost Sharing: OMB :  Cost Sharing: OMB F&A rates are derived from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget: OMB Circular A-21 Costs are those “not identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project.” Main goal is to achieve consistency in cost accounting practices at institutional level (not departmental level). Distinction between “Direct” and “Indirect” costs prevents inadvertent overcharging or double-counting. OMB’s 4 Principles:  OMB’s 4 Principles Are costs reasonable? Are costs allocable to grant? Are costs consistent with regular practices of the institution? Do costs conform to limitations of OMB A-21 or individual grant? Cost Sharing (The Good Stuff):  Cost Sharing (The Good Stuff) F&A intake can build up an institution’s cost sharing funds Cost sharing funds can then be applied toward major grants that require matching costs from the institution Institutions with BIG cost sharing funds can qualify for the BIG grants Questions?:  Questions? Help is all around We will review, clarify, interpret, calculate, adjust, estimate, and help all we can to produce a competitive budget. The budget…with bang for the buck!

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