Frequently Asked Questions
Grants are awarded to support research or other activities described by the Principal Investigator (PI) in a proposal submitted often, but not always, in response to a solicitation (frequently called Funding Opportunity Announcements – FOAs, Request for Applications (RFAs) or Program Announcements – PAs).
Cooperative Agreements are similar to grants but typically involve a significant level of sponsor participation in the administration of the project. PIs can expect there will be ongoing and regular communication with the sponsor’s programmatic personnel, often including regular meetings and site visits.
Contracts are awards made to procure one or more specific deliverables. They are usually issued in response to a detailed request from sponsors (Request for Proposals – RPFs) that require the PI to undertake a specific course of action and provide data, analysis, devices or other specific deliverables within a set time frame. Payment is dependent on the satisfactory completion of these activities within the timeline detailed in the terms of the contract.
Only the Authorized Officials in the Sponsored Programs Office have the authority to submit proposals on behalf of the institution. There are exceptions to this policy and guidance can be found by contacting the office.
Only eligible Downstate faculty and staff (when applicable) may serve as a Principal Investigator/Program Director on externally funded projects, administered through the Research Foundation for SUNY. The PI must be an employee of SUNY, The Research Foundation for SUNY, the University Hospital of Brooklyn or the University Physicians of Brooklyn. In addition to having a specific title, each employee must have an Institutional Base Salary (IBS) in order to apply for grant funding.
An Institutional Base Salary (IBS) is the annual salary paid to an individual for performance of all professional obligations required by the individual's primary appointment, generally outlined in the individual’s appointment or reappointment letter.
These professional obligations may include specific work on sponsored projects and also non-sponsored activities such as teaching, clinical activities, service on University committees, or other administration. Non-sponsored activities may include departmental research, preparation of competitive proposals (exclusive of summarizing research results, which may be considered sponsored effort). Not included are consulting or participation in peer review study sections, professional association activities, journal peer review and similar activities, unless the University pays for travel and expenses associated with those activities.
- Any income that an individual is permitted to earn outside of duties performed as part of his/her primary appointment
- Non-Guaranteed Also Receives (any “also-received” paid for less than a 1-year commitment”)
- Extra Service
- Clinical Practice dollars received from (UPB)
The professional obligations are distributed by a person’s time working on specific projects. This time is called effort.
Cost Share is the term used when costs to run a specific project are shared between the sponsor and the institution. By requesting cost share, the PI is requesting the institution cover some of the costs associated with a specific project. These costs are usually a percentage of personnel time or other costs that are directly related to the project, although not directly charged to the award. Cost share can also be funds designated for non-personnel costs, such as supplies, travel, contractual services and equipment that are paid from a non-sponsored DMC account. These costs must be available and cannot be committed to another sponsored project.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will identify when cost share is a mandatory requirement. Other than these instances, voluntary cost share is discouraged. A Cost Share form is required when requesting cost share on a proposal. Approval is required from the Department Chair and Deans’ office as the institution is covering these costs.
Indirect costs (or F&A) may not be used to satisfy cost share requirements.
Under the common law rules cited in IRS rulings, an employee-employer relationship exists when the organization for which services are performed has the right to control and direct the individual who performs the services, not only as to the result accomplished by the work, but also as to the details and means by which the result is accomplished.
A Consultant (independent contractor) is a worker subject to the control and direction of the organization for which services are performed only as to the result of the work and not as to the means.
A gift is the voluntary, non-reciprocal transfer of money or property from a donor to an institution. The donor may be an individual, a corporation or a non-profit organization. The donor does not expect anything of value in return other than recognition and does not exert control over expenditure of the funds. A gift may meet the interests of the donor and can be restricted or unrestricted. A restricted gift is a contribution designated for a specific purpose, program, or project. If the donor does not specify any restrictions, the gift is unrestricted and the institution allocates the funds according to its own discretion.
A grant (i.e., “sponsored program” funding, or “award”) is the transfer of money or property from a sponsor to an institution that may require performance of specific duties such as research, budget reports, progress reports, and return of unused funds. Any funding provided by U.S. Government agencies, at the federal, state, or local level, in support of activities is treated as a grant. Government funds are not treated as gifts. Funding from voluntary health organizations or associations, such as the American Cancer Society or American Heart Association, is also treated as a grant and not a gift.
The Uniform Guidance compiles The Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. It is an authoritative set of rules and requirements for Federal awards that synthesizes and supersedes guidance from earlier OMB circulars.
The reforms that comprise the Uniform Guidance aim to reduce the administrative burden on award recipients and, at the same time, guard against the risk of waste and misuse of Federal funds. Among other things, the OMB's Uniform Guidance does the following:
- Removes previous guidance that is conflicting and establishes standard language;
- Directs the focus of audits on areas that have been identified as at risk for waste, fraud and abuse;
- Lays the groundwork for Federal agencies to standardize the processing of data; and
- Clarifies and updates cost reporting guidelines for award recipients.
An allowable cost is a cost that meets all of the following conditions:
- It serves a University business purpose, including instruction, research, training and public service;
- It is permissible according to Downstate’s policies and federal regulations; and
- It is permissible according to the terms and conditions of the sponsored project.
The new Other Support page, suggested usage May 2021 but with an effective date of 1/25/2022 requires key personnel to sign the form. Certain changes have gone into affect and are addressed within NIH's FAQ page.
The following is a non-exclusive list of items that should be listed on the Other Support (OS) page:
Facilities, equipment and other resources or contributions that are provided from an external source and are uniquely available to the researcher and not to the entire Downstate community must be reported. If the resources are benefit the project proposed vs. the researcher, these must be disclosed on the 'Facilities and Resources" page or the "Equipment" page. It does need to be reported in the OS page for other proposals and projects so it's best to disclose in both locations so that it isn't inadvertently left off for the other projects identified in the OS page.
List all research collaborations whereby time, effort or services are provided in-kind by an external collaborator (funded by external collaborator's funds) as in-kind contributions. OS includes research collaborations that are provided in-kind that directly benefit the investigator's research endeavors. If the collaboration also includes in-kind materials, in addition to time, effort or services, then it should be incorporated in the in-kind contribution entry for the collaboration.
If the student and postdoc fellow directly receive outside funding not managed by Downstate and they are performing research activities in support of the investigator's research endeavors, their support must be reported as an in-kind resource. If the relationship is solely a mentor/mentee arrangement, without research activities, then it does not need to be reported.
If the student and postdoc fellow is directly awarded or supported by their own fellowship or career development awards (or is a training grant trainee) and they are performing research activities in support of the investigator's research endeavors, their support must be reported as an in-kind resource. If the relationship is solely
An externally funded Visiting Student Researcher or Visiting Scholar must be listed as an in-kind resource if they are performing research activities in support of the investigator's research endeavors.
An investigator must list externally provided, at no cost, high value materials that are not freely available (e.g. biologics, chemical, model systems, technology, data sets, etc.) to which they have access for their research as in-kind support. If it meets the following guidelines, they must be included: 1) provided by an external entity; 2) not freely available; 3) uniquely available to the researcher and 4) currently used in their research endeavors. The investigator must 1) include the source; 2) summary of in-kind contribution; and 3) the estimated value. If the dollar value is not readily ascertainable, reasonable estimates should be provided.
Examples of high-valued materials include, but are not limited to: molecules, biologics, chemicals, vectors, data, libraries, model systems such as transgenic mice, cell lines, or other resources, etc. provided by companies, outside entitites, and external collaborators/colleagues for use in your research, provided under agreements. ALSO, consider additional in-kind support provided by companies, outside entities, and external collaborators/colleagues such as data sets, cloud storage space, equipment loans, and transfer of goods and services that occur under unfunded collaboration or other agreements.
Do not report items that you purchased from companies as they are not 'in-kind" support.
Outside collaboration and resources:
If the investigator has access to an outside company, lab, or institution of higher education and the facilities, equipment and resources will be used to benefit and or support their research endeavors, this must be reported as an in-kind resource. This remains true even when the investigator is on sabbatical and/or performs research outside of Downstate and this supports an investigator's research endeavors.
Outside consulting and/or professional service engagements that do not involve research do not need to be reported. However, if the investigator will be conducting research as part of consulting and/or professional service agreement, it needs to be reported as Other Support.
If the investigator’s access to the Company’s facilities, equipment, and resources will be benefiting their research endeavors this must be reported as an in-kind resource.
Instructions on how to complete the revised Biosketch can be found on NIH's FAQs
There are several things that are required prior to flying internationally:
1) Must follow the guidelines of the Fly America Act
2) Must address Export Control issues prior to flying with Sponsored Programs Administration
3) Must ensure conferences are open to all researchers via the definition of Fundamental Research
4) Must borrow laptop from IT and not use Downstate assigned laptop for traveling