RESEARCH ADMINISTRATION

Proposal Development Resources

https://vpr.tamu.edu/researchdevelopment 

The Office of the Vice President for Research has implemented reoccurring Professional Development Programs to enhance grant writing skills, with a particular focus on junior faculty researchers.  The Division of Research delivers strategic support to further the University's research mission through: facilitating collaborations to grow federal funding; strengthening the research infrastructure; promoting the value of research; encouraging commercialization partnerships; and ensuring research compliance. The division is committed to a truly comprehensive university, where students, researchers, and inventors bring scholarship and innovation to bear for the benefit of the community, the state, and the nation.

Research Development Services (RDS) assists the Texas A&M research community through professional development workshops and seminars, research proposal development, and other research development support services.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

The Proposal Administrator collaborates with researchers to:

  • Build line item budgets.
  • Complete sponsor budget forms.
  • Prepare administrative sections of the proposal.
  • Interface with sub awardees to collect and review required documents.
  • Confirm cost sharing (if applicable).
  • Prepare representations and certifications.
  • Obtain approval for waivers.
  • Ensure compliance, including quality assurance check.
  • Enter the proposal into the sponsors’ electronic systems (when applicable).
  • Review, sign off, submit & track submission on behalf of the system member.
  • Enter the proposal information into eRA system (MAESTRO) where it routes for review and approval to stakeholders.

Additional Sources

  • Proposal Preparation and Submission: Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography (Kyndra Reed – 979 458-5905; kreed@tamu.edu
  • Geography and Geology and Geophysics (Hunter Eads 979 845 – 8651: heads@tamu.edu)
  • Contract Negotiations:
    • Atmospheric Sciences & Geology and Geophysics (David Lytle – 979 845 8735 dlytle@tamu.edu)
    • Geography & Oceanography (Micah Leonard 979-847-7666 mich.leonard@tamu.edu)
  • Associate Dean for Research: Jack Baldauf; jbaldauf@tamu.edu

Maestro

https://srs.tamu.edu/contracts-and-grants/

Maestro is an online tool that supports researchers and research administration across the Texas A&M System where researchers can review their proposals, contract negotiation status, accounts once awarded. There are features like adding research keywords to your personal profile, search for people with a specific area of interest, search for funding opportunities, or begin a new proposal. Maestro provides researchers with timely and accurate information needed to manage their research activities and to establish collaborations. The system publishes up to date research key performance indicators for all TAMUS institutions and Board of Regents and it is a system of record for all TAMUS research administrators.

  • Maestro Training: Amanda Reitmayer or email maestro@tamu.edu to setup a time.
  • Maestro User Access Request : Amanda Reitmayer

Sponsored Research Services (SRS)

https://srs.tamu.edu/

Sponsored Research Services (SRS) was created to assist and facilitate the PI in submitting research proposals to federal, state, private and non-profit sponsors that comply with all applicable regulations.  SRS can minimize the administrative burden of the research process.  SRS exhibits leadership in research administration by collaborating to develop consistent and efficient procedures.  SRS also engages in training and professional development.

SRS services include:

  • Reading the solicitation
  • Developing the project budget for the proposal
    • Serves as a liaison throughout the research community by improving communication
    • Coordinates subcontract efforts
    • Maintains high ethical standards by ensuring compliance at all levels
    • Coordinates approvals for waived IDC and cost sharing
    • Maximizes the benefits of technology by loading all administrative and budget information into the proposals and initiating and routing the proposal in Maestro
    • Reviews final proposals prior to submission
    • Submits the proposal

Contract Negotiation Responsibilities: SRS Contract Negotiators facilitate negotiation while also working to protect the interest of the researcher and the system member. 

  • Review the scope of work and budget as compared to the proposal.
  • Ensure compliance items are addressed per sponsor & system member requirements.
  • Negotiate non‐standard terms and conditions of federal, state, and non‐profit agreements.
  • Obtain approval from system members if negotiation of high risk terms is unsuccessful.
  • Consult, as needed, with the A&M System’s Office of General Counsel, Technology Commercialization, and the appropriate system member’s administration.
  • Document progression of the negotiation through the various stages.
  • Work with the sponsor, PI and system member to ensure the agreement is fully executed.
  • Upon execution the contract document is uploaded into MAESTRO.

Project Administration Responsibilities: SRS Project Administrators are the contact for post award activities.

  • Review notice of award from sponsor, establish award and generate Sponsored Research Summary (SPS).
  • Review and authorize expenditures on the project account.
  • Fund management ‐ interim funding, forecasting, burn‐rate, budget revision, carry forward, no cost extension, program income, cost share, & audit of F&A.
  • Sub award monitoring.
  • Financial reporting to sponsor
  • Initiate financial close out and final reporting
  • Communicate with sponsors and program officials for various actions that require sponsor approval/involvement
  • Research and provide solutions to complicated issues
  • Coordinate audit activities with external auditors

SRS Proposal Submissions

Proposal preparation time ensure sponsor requirements, System Member rules, SAPs or guidelines are followed and proposals are submitted by the sponsor’s deadline (5 steps).

  1. Initial contact with SRS.
  • Researchers contact SRS pre-award staff with their intent to submit a proposal a minimum of 3 weeks prior to the sponsor deadline date.
  • Complex proposals (subcontracts or cost share/match, etc., or solicitations containing terms and conditions) require longer than 3 weeks.
  • The initial info should include the sponsor proposal announcement OR sponsor name, program, deadline.
  1. Preparation of Administrative element requires the following documents (when applicable) 5 business days in advance of the sponsor deadline:
  • Budget with justification
  • Draft abstract or statement of work (to use in routing to obtain approval)
  • Relevant approved waivers and Subcontract documents
  • Biosketches
  • Current & pending
  • Data Management Plan
  • Facilities & Equipment
  1. Technical Portions of the Proposal - All technical portions of the proposal should be submitted to SRS, in final format, no later than 1 business day prior to the sponsor deadline.
  1. Final Proposal received at SRS by the timeline outlined will receive
  • A complete and thorough quality review.
  • Assistance to ensure that the proposal is administratively compliant.
  • Priority over proposals received with shorter lead time.

The investigator assumes the risk for proposals provided not in accordance of the timeline.

  1. Unless the deadline is defined as earlier than 5 p.m. by the sponsor, the submission deadline for SRS is 5 p.m. local time (even if the sponsor allows submissions beyond 5 p.m.).
  • The Principal Investigator is responsible for assuring that the proposal is submitted to the appropriate office for processing PRIOR to being submitted to the sponsor.
  • Eligibility to act as a University PI, Co-PI, or Co- Investigator on a sponsored project is limited to University employees (faculty or faculty-equivalent research position).
  • Prior approval is required any time there is an exception to the on-campus full F&A rate (48.5%)
    • Justification of necessity and benefit to TAMU and the State of Texas.

Prefunding Requests

https://vpr.tamu.edu/

Large, multidisciplinary grant proposals to federal agencies and requests for funding by PIs seeking to develop interdisciplinary research teams. Teams are expected to submit a targeted proposal, or series of proposals, leading to the larger effort. May include funding for team development, strategies, and efforts that will assist the team in gaining information to build a competitive proposal. 

Contact: Jack Baldauf - Geosciences – jbaldauf@tamu.edu

Principal Investigator

A Principal Investigator (PI) is the holder of an independent grant administered by a university and the lead researcher for the grant project, usually in the sciences.  The phrase is also often used as a synonym for "head of the laboratory" or "research group leader." While the expression is common in the sciences, it is used widely for the person or persons who make final decisions and supervise funding and expenditures on a given research project.

In the context of Federal funding from agencies such as the NIH or the NSF, the PI is the person who takes direct responsibility for completion of a funded project, directing the research and reporting directly to the funding agency. http://rules.tamu.edu/PDFs/15.01.01.M5.01.pdf 

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): Shares the responsibilities with the PI for overall administrative, fiscal, scientific and technical direction and conduct of a sponsored project.

Co-Investigator (Co-I): Responsible for the conducting of research. Does not have fiscal authority by virtue of their title but can be given authority if delegated in writing by the PI.

Department Heads/Deans –They are responsible for department/college procedures that clearly acknowledge the roles and responsibilities that are essential to a successful game plan

Data Management Plan

The following government agencies have articulated data management or data sharing policies:

  • National Science Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • NASA (Earth Science)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities

NSF Data Sharing Policy   http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp and https://vpr.tamu.edu/

PIs are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. “See Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter VI.D.4”

NSF Data Management Plan Requirements

Proposals must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled “Data Management Plan”. This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results. “See Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Chapter II.C.2.j”.

Data Management Planning: Agency requirements, Checklist http://www.nsf.gov/eng/general/dmp.jsp

Data Management Tool: Agencies support, Tool, Training

https://dmptool.org/

Data Repositories: Resources for data storage, TAMU libraries https://library.tamu.edu/research/data_management.html

TAMU Libraries: The University's Digital Libraries can assist PIs with data storage. http://digital.library.tamu.edu/

Evaluation and Assessment

http://www.nsf.gov/ehr/Evaluation_Resources.jsp and https://vpr.tamu.edu/

Evaluation is “systematic investigation of the worth or merit of an object.” Evaluation is not separate from, or added to, a project, but rather is part of it from the beginning. Planning, evaluation, and implementation are all parts of a whole.

Evaluation provides information to help improve the project. Information on whether goals are being met and on how different aspects of a project are working are essential to a continuous improvement process.  In addition, and equally important, evaluation frequently provides new insights or new information that was not anticipated.  It allows projects to better tell their story and prove their worth. It also gives managers the data they need to report “up the line,” to inform senior decision makers about the outcomes of their investments.

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2002/nsf02057/start.htm

Online resources to assist investigators in evaluation of their research projects:

  • National Institutes of Health, Off. of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Insider Tips to Boost your Chance of Funding Success https://obssr.od.nih.gov/

Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) otherwise known as Indirect Costs (IDC)

http://www.tamus.edu/business/budgets-and-accounting/accounting/facilities-administrative-costs/facilities-administrative-cost-brochure/

Two IDC Rate Types (but not limited to):

  • On-Campus Rates – Approved on campuses rates are as follows: 50% (through 31 August 2019); 50.0% (1 September 2019 through 31 August 2020); and 51.50% (1 September 2020 through 31 August 2022)
  • Off Campus Rates – 26% (>60 percent of the effort will be completed off campus)
  • Indirect Costs (AKA F&A or Facilities & Administrative Costs): F&A Costs are those costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity:
  • Operation and Maintenance (13.2%)
  • Building Depreciation (3.2%)
  • Equipment Depreciation (2.5%)
  • Library (1%)
  • Interest (0.6%)
  • Administration (26%) – included with the on-campus rate of 46.5%, excluded from off-campus rate
  • Direct Costs (may include, but not limited to):
  • Travel
  • Materials and Supply
  • Publications
  • Analytical Services
  • Equipment
  • Waiving IDC (or reduced IDC):

Waved or reduced IDC may be considered in response to an agency requirement which has a policy that indicates IDC will not be funded, or that IDC funding is  at a specific (reduced) rate. Waved or reduced IDC also may be considered at an off campus vs on campus rate depending on where the significant portion of the work will be completed. Note that requests to waive IDC or to reduce the IDC rate require approval prior to submission of any proposal. A strong justification is required and should address not only the reason for the waived or reduce rate, but the benefits of the proposed effort to the university and the State of Texas. Decision are:

  • Case by Case assessment
  • Funding entity limits IDC rate
  • Off campus work
  • Requires College Research Dean and VPR approval
  • Impact, benefit to PI, Department, College, University
  • Waiving IDC does not improve proposal’s chance of award
  • VPR/SRS discourages waiving IDC
  • Federal grants prohibit cost share
  • Approval required prior to proposal submission; Department Head; Dean’s Office (Associate Dean for Research)
  • IDC Distribution

TAMU POLICY:  

https://cpi.tamu.edu/meetings/LaineIDCFAFINAL17.pdf

The approved TAMU IDC policy provides the following return distribution:

System component / Unit 60 percent
Research Development Fund 15 percent
Unit (Department/Other) 15 percent
PI 10 percent


COLLEGE OF GEOSCIENCES POLICY
:

https://geobusiness.tamu.edu/policies/research/index.php

PIs: IDC return for proposals with multiple PIs will be proportional to their contribution with the proposal.

Departments: The allocation will be based on proposals that are submitted through and approved by the department head. The department will receive IDC for PIs adloc within the specific department. IDC return for proposals from multiple units will be proportional to PI’s contribution. - IDC allocation must be agreed prior to routing of the proposal for signatures.

College: The College receives an annual variable percentage directly from the university. In 2018 this reflects 18.5%.

Board of Regent Centers that are formal partnerships between two or more colleges or are tied to a specific Geosciences Department:

**Note that IDC allocation and Matches must be agreed to by multiple PIs and Units prior to routing of the proposal for signatures. Failure to do so forfeits IDC return from the college.

  • Cost Sharing - Cost sharing is that portion of a project or program cost that is not reimbursed by the sponsor.
  • Cost-sharing represents a commitment by the University.
  • May be required by the sponsor as a condition of the award (mandatory) or may be offered by the University in excess of mandatory cost sharing requirements (voluntary). 
  • It is important to realize that whether cost sharing is required by the sponsor or is offered by the University or PI voluntarily, it must be tracked and reported by the University.
  • Once the award is made, all cost sharing commitments are considered to be mandatory and as such represent binding obligations of the University.
  • The University must provide a means of accumulating and documenting cost sharing incurred by the University, accounted for and reported in a manner consistent with requirements set forth by Texas A&M University, federal regulations and sponsoring agencies.
  • All voluntary cost share must be approved by the Senior Associate Vice President for Research Administration, in advance, prior to proposal submission.
  • Cost Share Policy:  http://rules-saps.tamu.edu/PDFs/15.01.01.M1.03.pdf

Types of Cost Sharing

  • Mandatory
    • Required by the sponsor for the award
    • Voluntary Committed
    • Not required by the sponsor but voluntarily offered in the proposal to the sponsor. Voluntary committed cost sharing cannot be used as a factor during the merit review of applications or proposals
  • Voluntary Uncommitted (VUCS)
    • Not required by the sponsor as a condition of the award
    • Internally committed cost share that did not have a quantifiable commitment in the proposal narrative, budget, or budget justification
    • Not reported to the sponsor
  • Direct expenses incurred by University:
    • Personnel costs (salaries, wages, and fringe benefits).
    • Tuition, fees, payroll related to work performed by graduate students on sponsored agreements.
    • Equipment purchased for the project.
    • Supplies, materials, travel.
    • Other cost necessary to complete the project.
  • Indirect Costs or F&A Costs: waived or unrecovered F&A.
  • Third-Party Contribution: organization other than the prime recipient (TAMU) that is participating in the costs of the project :
    • Cost sharing provided by another external entity such as a private company, non-profit organization, other university.
      • Cash contributions – Can use gift funds for cost sharing.
      • In kind contribution – Third party may provide TAMU office space, use of equipment.
      • Donated equipment.

International Research Grant Programs

  • Texas A&M-CAPES (with Brazilian universities)
  • Texas A&M-CONACYT (with CONACYT-member Mexican universities and research centers)

Limited Submission Proposal Selection – Limit Funding agencies often limit the number of applications they will accept from an institution whereby:

  • limiting the number of proposals which may be submitted
  • limiting the type of institutions that can apply
  • limiting PIs by stage of career

The VPR office identifies limited submission proposal opportunities:

  • Internal Proposal Submission, Review, and Selection
  • A date is established for an email of intent to be sent to the OVPR
  • An internal proposal must be submitted electronically using e-proposal https://eproposal.tamu.edu
  • Note: Be prepared to upload a one to three page research plan summary, a two-page bio sketch, and a budget.
  • Contact Shelly Martin at martin@tamu.edu

Research Development Fund

Enable one-time investment in shared research infrastructure to enhance competitiveness for multi-project extramural funding and to facilitate new TAMU capacity   http://rdf.tamu.edu/

  • Criteria
  • Benefit to TAMU research enterprise
  • Addition of new technology or resources
  • Transformational “cutting edge”
  • Increase competitiveness for federal or other funding
  • Need for localized technology
  • Multi-unit
  • Requires
  • Management Plan
  • Sustainability Plan

T3 Grants & X Grants

President’s Excellence Fund: $100 Million Investment / $10 M each year for 10 years. Texas A&M Triads for Transformation—recently closed the first round and 100 innovative interdisciplinary projects were randomly selected for funding. The fund will invest approximately $3 million annually in T3 projects.

  • T3 Grants https://t3.tamu.edu/
    • $3M - 100 interdisciplinary projects “ triads for transformation” were selected out of 251 submitted
    • Tuition supplements for graduate students (81); undergraduate salary supplements (75)

X-Grants is an interdisciplinary program designed to bring faculty together across disciplines. The program’s goal is to unlock creative and imaginative ideas that will address important problems in areas that will significantly impact the most important challenges facing global society. Its over-arching themes will reflect Texas A&M’s research strengths and, in many cases, will emphasize sustainable research excellence beyond initial funding. Seven million dollars will be broken out into a mix of planning projects, pilot projects or large multi-year awards.

  • $7M interdisciplinary Project ($100K to $1.5M) – must be PI eligible faculty or faculty-equivalent research position) at Texas A&M, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M at Qatar, TEES, TEEX, AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, or TTI.

Limited Submissions

Texas A&M University: Many funding agencies issue requests for proposals that limit the number of applications they will accept from an institution. The manner in which sponsors limit applications varies, but usually consists of one or more of the following: limiting the number of proposals which may be submitted; limiting the type of institutions that can apply; and/or limiting PIs by stage of career. TAMU, working in partnership with The Texas A&M University System research agencies, has established a process to identify limited submission opportunities and internally select applicants to submit full proposals in response to a particular program.

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) identifies limited submission proposal funding opportunities through internet searches, web services and historical opportunities. The OVPR puts out a call for proposal and competes a review process to determine which proposals are advanced from the university to the funding agency. See https://vpr.tamu.edu/researchdevelopment/funding/lsp to review current opportunities.

In addition, The OVPR has competitive limited submission Programs; CONACYT and collaborative research collaborations with CONACYT and FAPESP.

Intellectual Property (IP)

http://otc.tamu.edu/ForInventors/IntellectualPropertyRights

Texas A&M System Technology Commercialization:

  • Assist those associated with the System in the protection, licensing and commercialization of their discoveries.
  • Ensure the equitable distribution of royalties and other monetary benefits resulting from the commercial application of IP.
  • See that commercialization activities benefit the research, education and outreach missions of the System into the future.
    • Submit a disclosure form to the OTC for all inventions and copyrightable works that you feel may solve a significant problem and/or have significant commercial value.
  • The disclosure form documents the circumstances under which your invention occurred or the details of the completion of your copyrightable work and provides the information necessary to evaluate patentability, inventor/authorship issues, commercial potential, and any obligations to research sponsors.

Faculty Consulting and External Professional Employment

The system encourages its faculty members to make their expertise available to business, industry, government, professional societies, and other appropriate entities. Such professional engagements serve to strengthen the individual employee, serve the public and contribute to the improvement of education, leadership development, research and service.

  • Member approval of each faculty consulting and/or external professional employment engagement will be for no more than one year in duration; approvals expire at the end of August each fiscal year