Glossary of Terms
Award: The provision of funds by the sponsoring agency (such as NIH, Department of Defense, American Cancer Society, internal centers or departments) based on an approved application and budget or progress report, to an organizational entity or an individual to carry out a project or activity. A funded proposal receives a Notice of Award that stipulates the terms and conditions of the award.
Consortium: A group of organizations or institutions that share responsibility for financial management, administration, and/or activities of a single grant project
Consultant: A person with expertise external to an organization that is brought in to lend insight to the solution of a problem.
Contract: An award instrument used to acquire from an institution, by purchase, lease, or barter, property or services for the direct benefit or use of the sponsoring agency. The same term may be used to describe a vendor relationship between a recipient and another party under a grant (to acquire routine goods and services). Deliverables (tangible or intangible) are required at the end of the contract.
Cooperative Agreement: A support mechanism used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities. Usually, a consortium has a coordinating center. Progress reports required, sometimes deliverables.
Cost-sharing: A portion of the total project costs that is not provided by the sponsor, as a general term. In most cases, this occurs when an investigator is committing a certain % effort to a project (ex: 20% effort), but is charging less than 20% of his salary on that account (ex: 15% salary charge). The remainder 5% must be covered from other funds (ex: start-up funds, R&D funds, etc). However, it also occurs when tangible or intangible items are provided by the research team at no cost for the sponsor (ex: core facilities work hours, a piece of equipment, special software, lab reagents, promotional activities, etc). Sometimes, cost-sharing (also referred to as cost matching, or in-kind contribution) is a requirement of that grant program. Other times, it is necessary when the cost of the proposed project is higher than budget provided by the sponsor. In either case, make sure you have enough internal funds to cover the difference, and complete an internal cost-shared memo before submitting a proposal. Funds for cost-sharing cannot come from another sponsored project (unless it is a supplement or a co-sponsoring award). If not necessary, voluntary committed cost-sharing is not advisable.
Effort commitment: The amount of time, usually expressed as a percentage of total effort (100%) that a faculty member or other employees spend on a project. Effort is certified and documented through the Effort Reporting System.
Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs or Indirect Costs (or overhead): Costs incurred that aren't readily identifiable or specific to any particular sponsored research project, but are necessary to the operation of the organization. Examples include: research administration, building administration, depreciation expenses, and student services. Our institution uses the F&A rates negotiated with Dept. of Health and Human Services. However, some agencies may put a limit on the indirect costs charged on a grant proposal, or even disallow it.
Funding mechanisms: Type of funded application or transaction. Ex: research grant (R grants), career awards (K-series), fellowships (F-grants), institutional training grants (T32).
Grant: Financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity (research, training, construction, travel). No deliverables are expected. Periodical progress reports are required.
Key Personnel: The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.
No-cost Extension: an additional period of time authorized by the sponsor for the investigator to complete work on an approved grant or contract without the addition of funds. A no-cost extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent during the extension period.
Proposal: An application submitted in response to a grant announcement.
RFA, RFP, PA, PAR: Request for Applications/Proposals, Program Announcement
Research Administration: A professional area that deals with various aspects of administration of research activities: financial, regulatory, and compliance. Subareas: sponsored programs (pre-award, post-award), technology transfer, clinical trials, compliance, legal.
Salary cap: The maximum annualized Institutional Base Salary allowable on a sponsored project. For DHHS (including NIH) proposals, the current limit is $179,700. Other federal or private agencies may have different salary cap levels, or not at all (such as Dept. of Defense). When an individual's salary exceeds the salary cap, the amount over the cap must not be charged to another federal award.
Sponsor (agency): The party who is providing the grant money (federal institution, private agency, state agencies). Sponsors include private businesses, corporations, foundations and other not-for-profit organizations, other universities, and Federal, state and local governments.
Subcontract: A document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.