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Florida Atlantic University
Division of Research
777 Glades Road
Admin Bldg, Rm 207
Boca Raton, FL 33431
561.297.0777
561.297.2141 fax
jwilkie4@fau.edu


Research Accounting Resources
Frequently Asked Questions

Audits
1. Who audits Sponsored projects?
2. What should I do with an “Audit Confirmation Letter” I received?
3. Is a Fixed Price Contract subject to an Audit?
4. Why are University re-charges scrutinized by auditors?

Budget
5. Who do I contact concerning on-line budget transfers for grants?
6. How do I determine which budget pool is appropriate?
7. What banner screen is available to review budget availability?

Closeout
8. My project is ending. What do I need to do?
9. How long must I keep documents relating to a closed-out project?

Cost Share
10. What is cost sharing (matching)?

Cost Sharing
Cost Sharing of Effort
11. What does the concept of 100% effort mean?
12. If an individual commits 50% effort to a project, what is that 50% of?
13. A postdoc is funded 100% from three different projects. If the number of hours increases on one project without a decrease of effort on two other projects, then “extra” hours are being worked. Should we treat the extra effort as cost sharing?
14. When I prepared the proposal, I committed to cost share a percentage of an individual's effort. Is my cost sharing commitment tied to the estimated dollar amount included in the budget or the percentage of effort?
15. When preparing my proposal budget, can I use the term "as needed" and not include any dollars as committed cost sharing when referring to a person who may be asked to consult or advise on the sponsored agreement?
16. When preparing my proposal budget can I use the term “part-time at no costs” and not include any dollars as committed cost sharing when referring to personnel who will be working on the sponsored agreement?
17. If someone does work in support of a sponsored project, but the position was not put in the proposal and is paid by other non-sponsored account, is this effort cost sharing?
18. If a sponsor removes the effort of a specific person in the awarded budget, is cost sharing required? For example, 50% effort of a Research Assistant in proposal is not being funded by the sponsor.

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Principal Investigator Effort
19. A Principal Investigator (PI) is submitting a proposal for a research project. He does not want to charge any of his salary to the project and lists no commitment of effort in the project budget. Is any effort that he puts in the project “voluntary uncommitted” and therefore not required to be cost sharing?
20. If the PI proposes to contribute 10% of his effort to the project with no salary directly charged to this project, would the 1% mandated minimum effort be adequate for cost sharing?
21. If a Principal Investigator requests summer funding only, how is Academic Year effort related to that project treated?
22. A Principal Investigator commits effort and requests salary on a sponsored project. Mid-year, the PI re-budgets and reduces his budgeted salary without reducing his effort. Is this considered cost sharing?

NIH Salary Caps
23. How do we account for effort on NIH grants for faculty over the NIH salary cap?

Student Costs
24. If a graduate student is participating on a sponsored agreement with no salary requested and is supported partially by a training grant & GTAIDS/departmental funds, is the portion supported by GTAIDS cost sharing?

Equipment
25. If a proposal states that existing University equipment or facilities will be used to complete the project, can we account for this as cost sharing?
26. If the project will require the purchase of a new piece of special-purpose equipment, can part or all of the equipment cost be offered as cost sharing?

Third-Party In-Kind
27. What are the guidelines for estimating the value of Third-Party In-Kind contributions? How should I document a Third-Party In-Kind contribution that is used to meet part of a cost sharing commitment?

Budget Reductions
28. If the total amount in the proposed budget is reduced by the sponsor when the award is received, then is the difference between proposed amount and funding amount cost sharing?
29. When a conference is funded by a grant and the amount of the grant plus the conference registration fees are not enough to cover the entire cost of the conference, is the amount borne by FAU considered cost sharing? How is it accounted for?

General Cost Sharing Information
30. Can funds from either a federal or non-federal source be used to cost share on another award?
31. Does cost sharing policy apply to non-federal sponsors?
32. What is Project Enhancement?

33. What are Allowable Cost Sharing Expenses?
34. What are Unallowable Cost Sharing Expenses?

Expense
35. What are indirect costs (i.e. F&A / overhead)?
36. Why can’t I charge Administrative Salaries to my federally sponsored project?
37. Why can’t I charge other Administrative Costs (office supplies, dues, postage, etc.) to my federally sponsored project?
38. How do I determine if an expense can be charged to a grant?
39. Who is responsible for approving and monitoring expenditures?
40. How do I purchase something that was not in the sponsored approved budget (i.e. if you need to travel but travel was not in the proposed budget, or if you need to purchase equipment but equipment was not in the proposed budget)?
41. How do I initiate a purchase requisition for a sponsored project?
42. How do I determine which account code is appropriate for purchases and expenditures?
43. What reports are available to review expenses on my project?
44. Costs were charged to the wrong sponsored grant index. How do I correct this?
45. Why are excessive Cost Transfers considered a control weakness?
46. What should I do if a payroll certification is inaccurate?
47. What can I do to ensure financial compliance for federally funded projects?
48. What type of expenditure is not allowable at the end of a project?
49. Can meals or alcohol be charged to Grants & Contracts?
50. How can I reduce the frequency of Cost Transfers?
51. How do I expedite expense requests through Research Accounting?
52. If an award notification has not been received but the research project needs to start, is there any way we can start incurring costs for the project? What approvals are needed?

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Federal Regulations
53. What is A-21?
54. What is A-110?
55. What is A-133?

General
56. How will I be notified when an award has been setup and an index number has been assigned?
57. Who do I contact in Research Accounting about my sponsored project?

Reports
58. What reports are available to review expenses or encumbrances?
59. Who prepares invoices and financial reports for sponsored projects?

Time and Effort FAQs
General
60. What is Effort?
61. What is Effort Reporting/why is Certification necessary?
62. Who is subject to Effort Reporting/Certification?
63. When do I have to certify effort?
64. Can a departmental administrator certify my effort for me?
65. What should be used as “suitable means of verification”?
66. How is “total effort” defined?
67. How is effort calculated?
68. Why is effort calculated on a percentage basis?
69. How do I convert % effort to person-months?
70. What is the difference between Full Time Equivalent (FTE) and effort?
71. How does effort relate to hours worked and FTE?
72. How was my effort certified in the past?
73. Why is certification necessary of all grants and contracts when this is only a requirement for the receipt of federal funds?
74. Is it necessary to certify effort associated with overload compensation?
75. What is incidental work?
76. How precise must my effort be?
77. When is it necessary to make adjustments to effort or payroll distribution?
78. How do labor redistributions affect effort reports?
79. If I work for more than one Principal Investigator on more than one grant, who will certify for me?
80. A faculty member requested, and received, two months of salary from NSF which they plan to use in the summer. How is the effort for the time worked on the grant during the academic year recorded?
81. My salary is paid from contracts and grants and I do not have academic responsibilities. How do I account for effort towards preparing proposals and other administrative responsibilities?
82. If a 9-month employee is awarded salary for 100% of their effort during the summer term, can they still participate in non-grant related activities?
83. How is effort reported when I am sick or on vacation?
84. Can a faculty member be noted as contributing to a grant without committing effort?
85. If I am the PI on a grant that pays 100% of my summer effort, can I direct students working on my research during the academic year?
86. In my proposal I listed 10% effort with no salary charged to the award. As the project progresses some costs are less than originally anticipated and I now have funds available to re-budget to cover my 10% commitment of effort. Am I allowed to direct charge my effort to the project?
87. Am I required to certify effort if I have committed effort without requesting a salary?

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Policy/Compliance
88. What is Institutional Base Salary (IBS)?
89. Who defines what pay is included, or not included, in Institutional Base Salary?
90. Is Institutional Base Salary the same as my salary that is paid by FAU, and reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year?
91. My IBS is above the NIH salary cap. Consequently, only 20% of my salary can be directly charged to the grant even though I am working 25% of my time on this project. How does this affect my effort?
92. What types of payments are excluded from effort reporting?
93. What are the risks of not complying with Effort Reporting/Certification requirement?
94. What is the minimum effort required on a sponsored project?
95. What must be done before I can reduce my effort?
96. What are the typical effort requirements for Career Development (K) Awards?
97. To which component does reduction apply if there is a reduction in effort for an individual with both cost shared and directly charged salary?
98. What happens when a faculty member maintains the committed level of effort but shifts how this effort is funded?
99. How does a No Cost Time Extension affect my effort commitment?
100. The Principal Investigator of this project has left the University. Who should certify the effort for this project?
101. What happens if a PI refuses or otherwise fails to certify?
102. Am I required to certify my effort if I am on a Leave of Absence or Sabbatical?

System Functionality/Access
103. How do I access my effort report?
104. Who is able to access the Effort Reporting System?
105. How do I know when it's time to certify effort?
106. When can I certify my effort?
107. My effort report contains errors; how do I get it corrected before I certify it?
108. Can a certified Effort Report be changed after Post Review?

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 Last Modified 2/18/13