Principal Investigators are responsible for complying with all Federal Regulations as well as College policies laid out in the Austin College Post-Award Handbook, the Austin College Operational Guide, as well as the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principals, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. The College’s policies and procedures for ensuring compliance with administrative requirements are outlined in this section.
Animal Care and Use
To ensure compliance with the highest humane, ethical, scientific and legal standards, all Austin College faculty members undertaking research on any vertebrate animal must follow the policies outlined by the College’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The work of the committee is outlined in GM 17 Academic Affairs Policy – Research in Austin College’s Operational Guide
For any federally sponsored research, the College is obligated by federal regulations to promptly report (within two months) to the appropriate federal agency any inventions conceived or reduced to practice during the course of a government-sponsored research program. The Bayh-Dole Act permits a university, small business, or non-profit institution to elect to pursue ownership of an invention in preference to the government.
Buy American Act
This federal regulation, passed in the 1930s to protect American workers and reinforced by the Federal Acquisition Regulations, applies to certain federal contracts and grants above the micro-purchase threshold of $3,000 and includes flow down to sub-recipients. Awardees must certify that all articles, materials, and supplies funded by these awards are American-made. Exceptions can be made in the case of:
- unreasonable cost
- unacceptable quantity or quality
- use outside the U.S. only
- conflict with the public interest
- certain trade agreements
- commercial items of information technology
- domestic manufactured products (e.g., engines), if at least 50% of components are U.S. made
Exceptions to the act must be identified in the project specifications and justified in the documents retained with procurement records relating to small purchases. False certification may be considered fraud and can result in debarment. The government also publicizes information about noncompliant awardees, who may not participate in federally funded projects for three years from the date that they are found noncompliant. This act is not the same thing as the Buy America Act of 1983, which applies only to procurement for mass-transit projects.
Conflict of Interest/Debarment and Suspension
Though it is unlikely that Austin College investigators have any financial conflict of interest, the federal government requires the College to annually document this information. Please see our Conflict of Interest Policy in the Austin College Operational Guide.
Debarment and Suspension certification is designed to prevent fraudulent or improper use of government funds, applies to all grants and cooperative agreements and to most contracts. Applicants must certify that they, their principals, and their researchers:
- aren’t debarred, suspended, ineligible for, or excluded from funding by any federal entity
- haven’t been convicted of fraud or a criminal offense in connection with federal agreements within the past three years
- haven’t been convicted of violating federal statutes within the past three years
- haven’t been convicted of committing any form of theft or fraud within the past three years
- haven’t been charged with any of these crimes by any government entity
- haven’t had any government agreements terminated for cause or default within the past three years
False certification could result in termination of the grant and debarment, suspension, or both.
Cost Principles (Allowable and Unallowable Costs)
Cost must meet the following general criteria in order to be allowable under Federal awards:
- Be necessary and reasonable for the performance of the Federal award.
- Conform to any limitations or exclusions set forth herein or by the Federal awarding agency.
- Be consistent with policies and procedures that apply uniformly to both federally-financed and other activities of the College.
- Not be included as a cost or used to meet cost sharing or matching requirements of any other federally- financed program in either the current or a prior period.
Categories of Direct Costs
The Federal government generally supplies the recipient of a Federal grant or contract with the funds necessary to cover the expenditures directly associated with a project; these categories of costs are described as allowable costs. There are other expenditures, however, that the Federal government deems inappropriate and will not reimburse; these categories of costs are described as unallowable costs (example: alcoholic beverages). Furthermore, there are certain categories of costs that are allowable only when pre-approved by the Federal awarding agency.
Attached is a listing of the direct costs categories and their respective classification as allowable, unallowable and allowable with pre-approval. [Sharon, will you link the previous sentence to the attached PDF Allowable+and+Unallowable+Costs?]
Drug-Free Schools & Communities / Drug-Free Workplace
In compliance with the Federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, it is the policy of Austin College to provide an environment that is free from the use, sale, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs or the improper or abusive use of legal drugs or alcohol on Austin College premises. Please see the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Policy in the Austin College Operational Guide.
Equal Employment Opportunity
It is the policy of Austin College not to discriminate improperly against any matriculated student, employee or prospective employee on account of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status disability, or any other protected classification. Such policy is in compliance with the requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education amendments of 1972, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and all other applicable federal, state, and local statues, ordinances, and regulations. Visit the Austin College Employment page for more information.
Export controls are the United States laws and regulations that regulate and restrict the release of critical technologies, technical data, software code, equipment, chemical and biological materials and other materials, and information and services to foreign nationals and foreign countries for reasons of foreign policy and national security. Export control regulations, as well as boycott programs, have the potential to impact many aspects of the freedoms typically associated with research in a university setting, including publication rights, international collaboration, sending or bringing equipment to foreign countries (including laptops and cell phones), and the sharing of research technology (verbally, in writing or visually) with persons who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Most of Austin College’s activities and travel to foreign countries are either not affected by export control laws, or they are subject to an exemption. Fundamental research—basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are published and shared broadly within the scientific community—generally is not subject to export controls and trade sanctions. Proprietary research and industrial development are more likely to be. Projects that involve engagement with sanctioned countries or entities also may be subject to restrictions. If you have questions or think that your research may apply, please contact the Director of Corporate, Foundation, and Government Relations.
Fly America Act
Generally, if a traveler is traveling on funds provided by the federal government, he/she must use a U.S. flag carrier (an airline owned by an American company), regardless of cost or convenience. If you are scheduling international travel that is federally funded, you must ensure that all flights, where possible, are scheduled on U.S. flag carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag carrier. Code sharing occurs when two or more airlines “code” the same flight as if it was their own. In other words, a U.S. airline may sell a seat on the plane of a foreign air carrier; this seat is considered the same as one on a plane operated by a U.S. flag carrier. Compliance with the Fly America Act is satisfied when the U.S. flag air carrier’s designator code is present in the area next to the flight numbers on the airline ticket, boarding pass, or on the documentation for an electronic ticket (passenger receipt). For example, Delta has a code share agreement with Air France to Paris, France. If the boarding pass (flight coupon) or e-ticket identifies a flight as DL, the requirements of the Federal Travel Regulations would be met, even if the flight was on an Air France airplane. If however, the boarding pass (flight coupon) or e-ticket identifies the flight as an AF, then the requirements of the Federal Travel Regulations would not be met.
Exceptions to the Fly American Act
The biggest exception to the Fly America Act is the Open Skies Agreement. The United States Government has entered into several air transport agreements that allow federal funded transportation services for travel and cargo movements to use foreign air carriers under certain circumstances. See more information about the Open Skies Agreements.
What do these Open Skies Agreements mean to you?
- European Union: When traveling to a destination serviced by a European Union airline, College travelers flying on a Federal grant can fly on either a US carrier or a EU (European Union) carrier as long as they touch down in an EU country.
- Australia: College travelers using federal dollars can use an Australian airline only if a point of origin/destination is either the US or Australia and there is no city-pair contract flight between the two points (origin and destination).
- Switzerland: College travelers using federal dollars can use a Swiss airline only if a point of origin/destination is either the US or Switzerland and there is no city-pair contract flight between the two points (origin and destination).
- Japan: College travelers using federal dollars can use a Japanese airline only if a point of origin/destination is either the US or Japan and there is no city-pair contract flight between the two points (origin and destination).
Austin College faculty and students are committed to advancing knowledge within their respective academic disciplines. In order to accomplish this goal most effectively, the college community believes that adherence to strict ethical norms is essential. Values such as honesty, respect for the rights and dignity of human beings, and the humane treatment of animals are not only important for living an ethical life but are among the values that underlie excellent research. However, ethical decisions may often be complex when weighing the common good with the integrity of the study and so the College has established the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that Austin faculty and students have considered all relevant ethical issues when designing and conducting their research.
It is the policy of Austin College to provide a safe and healthful environment, free from recognized hazards that may cause serious injury to students, employees, and visitors. This is accomplished by maintaining a comprehensive safety, health, and environmental program that involves all college employees. Austin College will conduct all of its activities in compliance with applicable standards, codes, regulations, and laws. Every person at the institution understands that safety and health is not an additional job responsibility, but that it is an integral part of every task. See more about the Institutional Biosafety Committee.
Misconduct in Science
All faculty members in science areas funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) should be familiar with “Procedures for Dealing with and Reporting Possible Misconduct in Science” that the College adopted in April, 1990. These procedures cover cases of fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, and other serious deviation from accepted practices of proposing, carrying out, or reporting results for research. They also cover material failure to comply with federal requirements for protection of research, human subjects, or the public; for ensuring the welfare of laboratory animals; or failure to meet other material legal requirements governing research.
Period of Performance
Austin College may only charge to the Federal award allowable costs incurred during the period of performance.
Procurement – Coming Soon!
Recombinant DNA – Coming Soon!
Financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, and all other College records pertinent to a Federal award must be retained for a period of three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report or, for Federal awards that are renewed quarterly or annually, from the date of the submission of the quarterly or annual financial report, respectively, as reported to the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity in the case of a sub-recipient. The only exceptions are the following:
- If any litigation, claim, or audit is started before the expiration of the 3-year period, the records must be retained until all litigation, claims, or audit findings involving the records have been resolved and final action taken.
- When the College is notified in writing by the Federal awarding agency, cognizant agency for audit, oversight agency for audit, cognizant agency for indirect costs, or pass-through entity to extend the retention period.
- Records for real property and equipment acquired with Federal funds must be retained for 3 years after final disposition.
- When records are transferred to or maintained by the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity, the 3-year retention requirement is not applicable to the College.
Responsible Conduct of Research
Beginning in January 2010, many federal grant making agencies – including the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health – required grantees to certify that they provided appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. Please see Austin College’s RCR Website for more details.
Revisions of Budget and Program Plans
During the course of a sponsored project, unexpected circumstances may arise that may not have been previously anticipated. As a result, the PI/PD may need to request changes to his/her project. Recipients are required to report deviations from budget or project scope or objective, and request prior approvals from Federal awarding agencies when:
- Change in scope of the objective of the project or program
- Change in a key person
- Disengagement from the project for more than three months or a 25% reduction in time devoted
- The transfer of funds budgeted for participant support costs
- The subawarding or transferring out of any work no previously described
- Changes in the amount of cost-sharing or matching
This law (Public Law 100.463, Section 8136) is intended to give the federal government public credit for federally funded programs and projects. It requires federal grant recipients to include funding information on all publications related to projects that use federal funds, including statements, press releases, signs at construction sites, requests for proposals, bid solicitations, and other documents that describe projects or programs funded in whole or in part with federal money. The information must state clearly the total cost of the program and the dollar amount of federal funds used.
This law applies to grants and cooperative agreements but not to contracts. It does not apply to subcontracts, but it may apply to sub-awards. Academic publications (peer-reviewed journals, presentations to professional groups) resulting from the project research are not required to include this information.
Although no sanctions are specified for noncompliance, failure to comply could be considered a breach of responsibilities and may result in termination, suspension, or debarment.
Austin College is responsible for ensuring that all sub-award agreements it issues comply with federal regulations. Prior to a sub-award being issued the College must take certain steps to ensure the appropriate use of federal funds by the sub-recipient. Austin College will use our sub-award agreement for compliance. Sub-recipient Monitoring Policy: Upon the execution of a subaward, the Principal Investigator / Project Director (“PI/PD”), with support from the Grants Office and Business Office, is responsible for monitoring the activities of the sub-recipient as necessary to ensure that the subaward is used for authorized purposes, in compliance with Federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the subaward; and that subaward performance goals are achieved.
Responsibilities of the Principal Investigator/Project Director
The PI/PD is responsible for tracking and monitoring progress of the sub-recipient to ensure the efforts outlined in the scope of work are being met and reimbursements are being made in relation to programmatic progress. To this end, the PI/PD monitoring activities shall include:
- Providing sub-recipients with guidance, technical assistance and training (if necessary) on program-related matters.
- Reviewing financial and programmatic reports as required in the sub-agreement, supplemented by informal communications with the sub-recipient, to ensure progress on performance goals.
- If deemed necessary, perform on-site reviews of the sub-recipient’s program operations.
- Approving all the sub-recipient’s invoices for payment by the Business Office. In approving the invoice, the PI/PD is certifying the expenditure was incurred during the period of performance of the subaward, is for authorized activities of the subaward, and that progress towards performance goals are being achieved.
- Special attention should be given to budgeted purchases by the sub-recipient in excess of $3,000. The sub-recipient should be providing documentation substantiating it complied with the College’s price or rate quotation requirements.
- Notify the Grants Office of any instances of non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the subaward or failure to make progress with programmatic goals by the sub-recipient.
Responsibilities of the Grants Office
In February of each fiscal year, the Grants Office will send an annual certification letter to all sub-recipients currently receiving federal funding to ensure the sub-recipient established and maintains effective internal controls over compliance with requirements of laws, regulations, contracts and grants applicable to Federal programs. In the event that any deficiencies in internal control over compliance are identified, the Grants Office and Business Office will take steps necessary to follow up and ensure that the sub-recipient is taking timely and appropriate action on all deficiencies pertaining to the Federal award provided to the sub-recipient.
Sub-recipients must include in their budget an approved, federally recognized indirect cost rate negotiated between the sub-recipient and the federal government. If no such rate exists, with a negotiated rate or a 10 percent de minimus rate should be used.
Termination of Awards to Subrecipients
The College may terminate a Federal award to a sub-recipient in whole or part because the sub-recipient fails to comply with the terms and conditions of a Federal award. Upon sending the sub-recipient a written notification setting forth the reasons for such termination, the effective date, and in the case of partial termination, the portion to be terminated. The notification will also state that the termination decision may be considered in evaluating future applications received from the sub-recipient. In accordance with requirements of the Federal awarding agency, the College must provide the sub-recipient an opportunity to object and provide information and documentation challenging the termination.
Time and Effort Certification
Austin College Effort Certification Policy and Procedures
In accordance with Federal requirements (§200.430) prescribed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), charges to Federal awards for salaries and wages must be based on records that provide reasonable assurance that the charges are accurate, allowable, and properly allocated. In order to receive and maintain eligibility for funding, sponsoring agencies require organizations to gather documentation to substantiate that the level of salary or wages charged to Federal awards is commensurate with the effort expended. This certification is completed for the following two purposes:
- To verify that the percentage of effort placed on a Federal award is not less than the percentage of salary charged to the Federal award.
- To capture any voluntary cost sharing by indicating any excess percentage of effort as compared to the percentage of salary.
After-the-Fact Certification Reporting
The College utilizes an “After-the-Fact” reporting system to comply with the federal effort certification requirement. Under an after-the-fact system, distribution of salaries and wages for employees working on externally-funded projects will be supported by effort certification reports. Charges are made initially on the basis of estimates made before the services are performed. Effort certification reports will reflect an after-the-fact reporting of the actual percentage distribution of activity of employees. If significant (>10%) differences between the charges and actual distribution, the charges will be promptly adjusted to reflect actual activity.
Employee Effort Certification Reporting Policy and Procedures
Employees working on Federal awards are required to adhere to following procedures on Effort Certification:
- Faculty and exempt employees will be asked to report the percent effort for all federally sponsored activity and curricular activities (i.e., instruction, administration, advising, etc.) using the Austin College – Effort Certification Report. Note: Hourly employees and student workers are not required to complete a report as their time is certified via electronic time sheets.
- Effort Certification Reports will reasonably reflect the percentage distribution of effort by faculty and exempt employees charged to federally funded projects. Effort is not determined based on a 40-hour week but rather as a percentage of total employment activities. 100% effort is an employee’s total hours actually spent on work within the scope of his/her employment activities. The activities for which you are being compensated, include sponsored and non-sponsored activities, for a given time period. The purpose of the report is to certify the level of effort expended on these activities.
- Employees should provide an account of all effort expended on a sponsored activity, even if the sponsor did not compensate the employee for that activity, which constitutes “cost sharing.” This can occur on a mandatory or voluntary basis. Mandatory cost sharing occurs when it is required by the sponsor at the time of application. Voluntary cost sharing represents additional effort expended on a project that is not required by the sponsor. Although it is the College’s practice to minimize voluntary cost sharing, the Principal Investigator must record all effort expended on their projects regardless the source of compensation.
- Faculty and exempt employees will complete and sign the Effort Certification Report. Principal Investigators / Project Directors (PI/PD) are required to verify the accuracy of information provided by employees working on the grant. Certification reports of the PI/PD are to be verified by the department chair or dean.
- Effort Certification Reports are required annually and at the completion of a grant. Financial Services will distribute the reports to PI/PD’s in September of each year and when closing out a grant. Completed forms must be returned to Financial Services by October 15 or 30 days after a request. The PI/PD is responsible for sending the form to any other faculty or administrative employees working on the grant and ensuring the forms are completed.
- Completed Employee Effort Certification Reports will be filed in the Grants Office.
Use and Disposition of Equipment and Supplies
Subject to the following obligations and conditions, equipment acquired under a Federal award will vest in the College upon acquisition:
- The equipment is used for authorized purposes of the project, and the College will also make the equipment available for the use on other projects supported by the Federal government, provided such use will not interfere with the work on the project it was originally acquired
- The College will not encumber the property without approval of the Federal awarding agency
- When no longer needed for the original program or project, the equipment may be used in other activities supported by the Federal awarding agency, in the following order of priority:
- For activities under an award from the Federal agency which funded the original program or project
- For activities under an award from other Federal agencies
- When acquiring replacement equipment, the College may use the equipment to be replaced as a trade-in or sell the property and use the proceeds to offset the cost of the replacement property.
Management Requirements: Procedures for managing equipment, until disposition take place, will meet the following requirements:
- The College will maintain adequate property records, which include a description of the property, serial or identification number, the source of funding for the property, who holds title, the acquisition date, original cost, the location, and any disposition data.
- The College will take a physical inventory of the property and the results reconciled with the property records at least once every two years.
- The College will maintain a system of control to ensure adequate safeguards to prevent loss, damage or theft, and to keep the property in good condition.
- If there is a residual inventory of unused equipment:
- Valued at $5,000 or less: The College may retain, sell or dispose of the equipment with no further obligation to the Federal awarding agency.
- Valued at $5,001 or more: Upon termination or completion of the project or program and the equipment is not needed for any other Federal award, the College must retain the equipment for use on other activities or sell them, but must, in either case, compensate the Federal government for its share. The College will contact the Federal awarding agency for instructions on the disposition instructions and determining the amount of compensation.
Supplies acquired under a Federal award will vest in the College upon acquisition.
If there is a residual inventory of unused supplies:
- Valued at $5,000 or less: The College may retain, sell or dispose of the supplies with no further obligation to the Federal awarding agency.
- Valued at $5,001 or more: Upon termination or completion of the project or program and the supplies are not needed for any other Federal award, the College must retain the supplies for use on other activities or sell them, but must, in either case, compensate the Federal government for its share. The College will contact the Federal awarding agency for instructions on the disposition instructions and determining the amount of compensation.