The BIRS Office provides pre- and post- award administrative (non-financial) support for sponsored activities. External grants are provided by both federal and non-federal sponsors. Butler faculty members have been recipients of grants from major federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as many non-federal sponsors. Some non-federal sources have included the State of Indiana and various private foundations.
There are a few questions to consider when seeking external sponsorship. Find information about questions to consider when considering external sponsorship.
Once the grant opportunity has been identified, it is critical to carefully read the Request for Proposals (RFP), Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), and other announcements and guidelines to make sure that Butler, the principal investigator/project director (PI/PD), and the project are all eligible. The BIRS office can assist with questions related to eligibility, scope of work, and other issues. It is highly recommended that faculty seek administrative support for federal grants at least three to six months before the application due date. This time allows the faculty member to assess eligibility, write a strong project description, and obtain budget assistance. For non-federal grants, it is recommended that faculty seek support at least 30 days in advance.
The External Sponsorship Process
A gift is typically defined as a contribution that has no reciprocal benefit for the donor. The following characteristics are indicative of a gift:
- No contractual obligations are imposed, although the gift may be for a stated purpose with the funds restricted solely for that purpose
- The award usually is not revocable and does not have a specified period of performance or expiration
- There is no formal accountability outside of periodic progress reports and/or expenditure reports. A gift requires stewardship (i.e., relationship management) versus contractual obligations
Gifts are handled by the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations.
A grant (or sponsored project) is typically given in response to a formal proposal to accomplish a specific statement of work or plan, usually involving research or other study. The following characteristics usually apply to a grant:
- Detailed project methodology is outlined
- A project schedule and line-item budget are part of the proposal
- Detailed and complex financial accountability exists
- Specific time-period in which to utilize the grant funds and finish the project
- Regular project and financial reporting
The gift or grant classification determines if the pre-award process will be handled by (1) the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (non-research grants and gifts), (2) the Butler Institute for Research and Scholarship (some grants), or (3) both (some grants). The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) serves as the principal point of contact for the University with corporate, foundation and industry partners. This office also facilitates the pre- and post-award process for non-research grants for programs, projects, and gifts. This office works in conjunction with BIRS for public and private funded grant activities that focus on research. BIRS facilitates the pre- and post-award grant process for research grants with federal, state and private funders (including research, programmatic, consultants/contracts, equipment and travel), as well as coordinates the compliance approval process with the committees. BIRS also facilitates grants and contracts for research projects whereby Butler serves as the primary applicant, a sub-awardee to other institutions, or as subject matter consultants.
It is important to note that gift and grant monies are managed separately: Gifts are managed by the program or office that initiated the application and grants are managed by the Office of Budget and Grant Administration. As the Office of Budget and Grant Administration manages all grants post-award, it is necessary that the Budget staff review applications and budgets prior to their submittal.
Faculty members may be applying for external funds as a primary applicant, subrecipient/subawardee, or consultant. This distinction also affects whether an application is to be submitted to an agency or institution by the BIRS office or by the PI. For grants in which faculty members serve as subrecipients/subawardees or consultants, the submission is typically made by the applicant or consultant. When faculty members are primary applicants, it is strongly encouraged that the submission be made by the BIRS office.
A primary applicant applies for external funding and serves as the primary point of contact for the project, with BIRS, and the sponsor. The primary applicant may be the principal or co-principal investigator. In this instance, Butler is seeking funding from the sponsor directly, and Butler may administer other subrecipients if funding is received. If Butler is the primary applicant, it is the faculty member's responsibility to assemble the necessary documents from the subrecipients for submission. Such documents include budgets, scopes of work, and signed statements of intent to form a partnership. All submissions must be submitted to BIRS for approval at least two weeks prior to the proposal due date. At the start of the approval process, the applicant (or PI) should contact the research compliance officer within BIRS regarding compliance approvals if human subjects, animals, or lab safety is involved in the process.
Signatories from all organizations named in the proposal must be designated as having the authority to bind the institution into legal agreements. If Butler is awarded as the primary applicant, Butler will enter into an agreement with other subrecipients or subawardees in accordance with outlined sponsor guidelines.
A subrecipient or subawardee receives funds from another organization that has applied as a primary applicant and will release the awarded funds to other organizations as a sponsor. In the event that Butler is a subrecipient or subawardee, the primary applicant may require information from Butler about the University’s participation in the project and will provide Butler with a contract or agreement based on the scope of work provided in the application phase. Butler’s portion of the project, including budget, scope of work, and all commitments, must go through the authorization for external funding process. At the start of this process, the applicant (or PI) should contact the research compliance officer regarding compliance approval from the University or the primary applicant (or sponsor). Butler will then provide the primary applicant with the required documents for submission. The primary applicant will issue the agreement according to that institution’s sponsor guidelines. If there are specific terms and conditions that are not part of standard grant boilerplates, the agreement is submitted to Butler's General Counsel for review.
Like a subrecipient or subawardee, a consultant receives funds from another organization that has applied as a primary applicant and will release the awarded funds to other organizations as a sponsor. If the faculty member plans to remit payment through the University, the project must go through the authorization for external funding process, which will detail the budget, scope of work, and all commitments of time and resources. Butler will be the award recipient, not the PI. Butler will request indirect costs to cover the management of the subcontract/award. The primary applicant may require information from Butler about the University’s participation in the project and will provide Butler with a contract or agreement based on the scope of work provided in the application phase. The contract is sent to the General Counsel for review and approval prior to executing the agreement.
Faculty may execute a private agreement with a sponsor to serve as a consultant. In this instance, there is no commitment of Butler resources and Butler will not receive payment. The faculty is the award recipient, and internal approval is not required. However, Butler resources may not be used. Butler will provide no liability insurance. And, the work cannot be completed during regular business/work hours when the faculty is in an official capacity with the university.
The cover sheet outlines basic information about the project. It includes the applicant’s name and contact information (email, phone, fax, website), project title, funds requested, project duration, and name of PI or key personnel. If the application is completed using an online form (Fastlane, ERA, etc.), the cover sheet may be embedded in the online workflow. Web-generated cover sheets will have an electronic signature from the University’s authorized official representative (AOR). The AOR for Butler University is the BIRS director.
Table of Contents
The table of contents should contain a summary of all major topics within the proposal and reference their page numbers. It may also reference minor or subtopics.
Project Abstract/Executive Summary
The abstract or summary is a one-page outline of the major components within the application. It describes the proposed activity, outlines major goals/objectives, summarizes the evaluation methodology, and lists key personnel. It should be written in third person and be suitable for publication. The abstract or summary should stand alone as a complete description of the project.
The project description provides a detailed overview of the proposal. Depending on the guidelines, the project description may have a set page limit. Failure to comply with the page limit may invalidate the application.
The project description should detail some of the following information:
- Summarize the activities, location, time period, and need
- Describe if the activity is a program, project, or research
- Detail measurable goals and outcomes
- Identify key/senior personnel as well as other support staff
- Demonstrate the significance of the project
- Outline a timeline for completing activities
- May include a logic model (for a program)
- May include the evaluation model (if not required in a separate section)
For NSF applications, the project description will include information about “Broader Impacts” (demonstrating how the project will benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes) and “Intellectual Merit” (demonstrating how the project will advance knowledge and understanding as well as teaching and research).
It is during the project description that the PI can assess if the project is research or non-research. Depending on the project, PIs might also be required to submit application(s) to the Research Compliance Office and complete training requirements.
Research proposals may require separate application and approval from one or more institutional committees:
- Institutional Review Board (IRB), for human subjects research.
- Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), if the project involves vertebrate, non-human animals.
- Institutional Health and Safety Committee (IHSC), if the project involves laboratory safety practices and training.
- Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), if the project involves the use of recombinant DNA or hazardous materials. Such materials include but are not limited to infectious agents, oncogenic agents, chemical carcinogens, or other agents that may place research personnel, the general public, or the environment at risk.
The BIRS team will ensure that compliance approval was completed before funds are distributed for the project. See the Research Compliance Office for more information about assessing if a project is research and how to submit a research protocol for approval.
Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator
A principal investigator (PI) is the lead researcher for a particular well-defined project, usually in the sciences, such as a laboratory study or a clinical trial. A co-PI is an additional lead researcher who shares spending authority over the grant. A student may not be a project's PI. Student researchers sign the IRB proposals, but a staff or faculty member employed by Butler holds responsibility for ensuring that the approved protocol is followed and compliant with all IRB policies. The PI also must report to the IRB any unexpected adverse effects as a result of the research. If applying to another institution for IRB approval, the PI must be a staff member of that institution. (At Butler, a typical situation is that the PI for the Butler application will differ from the PI for an IRB application at IU Hospitals.)
The biographical sketches outline the experience and expertise of key/senior personnel working on the project. The application may request a narrative outline or a curriculum vitae. The sketch should include, but not be limited to, the following information:
- Universities attended
- Degrees earned and dates received
- Professional and/or research experience
- Presentations and publications
- May include grants received (especially those that demonstrate experience with the project)
- Research and teaching experience (as it relates to the project)
The bibliography outlines the sources used to develop the project description. All references should come from peer-reviewed journals and include full citations.
Budget and Budget Narrative
The budget and budget narrative should outline the expenses associated with completing the proposed project. The budget will outline salaries, supplies, materials, and equipment. It may include indirect expenses. It is important to review the grant guidelines to ensure that the budget expenses comply with grant requirements. For example, the budget should not include indirect expenses if the grant guidelines indicate that they are disallowed. Budget development is handled by the Office of Budget and Grant Administration (OBGA), which will ensure that expenses comply with the grant guidelines and OMB circulars, where applicable.
Other Supplementary Information
Some applications may have a section for “other supplementary information.” Not every application will require this information, and some may specifically forbid the submission of additional material. It is important to read the grant guidelines to determine if these documents are required and how they should be submitted. This section may include, but not be limited to:
- Letters of support from collaborative/community partners
- Letters of support from the University
- Documentation of current/pending support
- Current listing of the Board of Trustees for the University
- Audited financial statements
- Approved indirect cost rate agreement
For NSF applications, the application may require: a data management plan, an outline of the facilities and equipment that will be used for the project, and a mentoring plan, where postdoctoral fellows will be involved.
All applicants seeking external funding must complete the Authorization for External Funding Form and attach a copy of the proposal, budget, and relevant appendices. The form includes the following information:
- Principal Investigator/Project Director (or Co-PI/PD)
- Proposal title, funding agency, program name, application type
- Budget summary
- Institutional commitments
- Research integrity and compliance
The applicant will acquire the following signatures from his/her respective department and college:
- PI/PD (and Co-PI/PD, if applicable)
- Department chair or program director
- Dean or supervisor
A signed form should be directed to the BIRS office at least two weeks prior to the grant deadline. If the applicant is a contract, then BIRS recommends submitting the approval at least three weeks before the start of the contract.
Once received, the BIRS office will acquire approval and signature from the university. The form will be signed and approved by the following:
- BIRS and/or CFR director
- Office of Budget and Grant Administration
- Provost/VP for Academic Affairs
- VP for Finance and Administration
A copy of the approved form and proposal will be remitted back to the PI. The PI and BIRS Office will determine authorship of the application (i.e. who will submit to the sponsor). The original authorization form and proposal will be stored in the BIRS office.
If the application is approved for funding, the sponsor will send an award letter or packet. A copy of the award letter will be filed with the original application and another copy sent to the Office of Budgets and Grants Administration.
It is important that the PI/PD read the award letter carefully to fully understand the terms and conditions of the grant. The award letter will include reporting deadlines, grant restrictions, project period for the funds, and other information necessary for grant management. PIs/PDs should also meet with BIRS staff to carefully review the award terms and to address questions related to budget modification, hiring project personnel, and managing expenditures.
Grant Agreements and Their Execution
An accompanying grant agreement or contract will outline the legal terms and conditions, including identification of the parties involved, standard contract language, and other details. Grant agreements must be reviewed by OBGA, BIRS, and the PI/PD prior to execution. On the basis of a review by BIRS, an agreement may also be sent to the General Counsel for additional review. If the sponsor issues a contract for a professional service or contract, this must be reviewed by the General Counsel prior to signature by the VP for Finance and Administration. For contracts of $50,000 and less, the college dean has the option to sign the agreement.
Depending on the sponsor, some agreements may require additional forms:
- Direct-deposit information
- W-9 forms
- E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding
- E-1 Business Verification Report
- Acknowledgment letters from the PI
The BIRS office maintains copies of these forms to support the execution of grant agreements.
Find out more information about Matching Funds or Cost Sharing, visit the Matching Fund page.
Grant Agreement—Legal agreement that distributes money, property, services, or anything of value to an organization to accomplish a public purpose (i.e., project or program); this agreement covers reporting requirements, expenditure reporting, and a final report. Grant agreements must go through the external funding approval process if an exchange of funds is involved and must be approved by the General Counsel before execution if there are questionable terms and conditions.
Contract—Legal agreement that exchanges funds for the completion of a professional service or acquisition of property (i.e., consultant services). Deliverables or key outcomes will be outlined in a scope of work, with payment points associated with performance benchmarks; failure to meet performance benchmarks may result in non-payment by the sponsor. Contracts must go through the external funding approval process if an exchange of funds is involved and must be approved by the General Counsel before execution.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Letter of Agreement (LOA)—Legal agreement that outlines the roles and responsibilities between multiple parties with the cooperative goal of accomplishing a public purpose; in this agreement, there may be an exchange of funds, or each party may outline its financial responsibilities. The MOU/MOA must go through the external funding approval process if a distribution or acquisition of funds is involved.
Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)—Contract that governs the transfer of tangible research materials between two organizations, when the recipient intends to use it for his or her own research purposes. The MTA defines the rights of the provider and the recipient with respect to the materials and any derivatives. MTAs should be signed by the Provost/VP for Academic Affairs or VP for Finance and Administration. Some organizations have their own MTAs. If so, faculty members can use the prescribed form. However, the form must be reviewed against the sample agreement approved by the General Counsel for discrepancies. Discrepancies must go to the General Counsel.
The Principal Investigator may request a no cost extension or change of principal investigator with the sponsor.
A no cost extension is a request to extend the project period, or length of time the funds are available to complete the project, for the unspent funds. The extension will not request additional funds, but request additional time to use the funds and complete the project.
A change of principal investigator may occur when the PI is no longer available to complete the project and another person has been designated to fill in for the remaining project period of the grant.
In many instances, these changes must be requested by the Authorized Organizational Representative (or AOR). The AORs for the University are the Provost and VP of Finance. However, the BIRS is designated as the AOR for the submission of grant applications and submitting change requests (like NCEs and change of PIs).
To submit one of these changes, contact the BIRS office at email@example.com with the information to be requested. The change should be requested at least 30-45 days in advance of the start of the change. BIRS will send the official documentation to the sponsor.
Many external grant applications require information about Butler University, including institutional contacts, congressional district codes, and federal and compliance identifiers. Information for Butler University can be found in the below Table of Institutional Information. If you have any questions or require information not available on this table, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Information Requested||Information Provided|
|Submitting Institution's Name||
|Institution's Address||4600 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208-3443
|Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and Contact Information||Kathryn Morris, PhD
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
|Financial Representative and Contact Information||Robert Marcus
Director, Office of Budget and Grant Administration
|Principal Investigator or Project Director||Faculty or Staff Member's Name and Campus Address|
|Type of Institution||Private Institution of Higher Education|
|Tax Status||Non-Profit with 501(c)(3) Status|
|Employer Federal ID Number (TIN/EIN)||35-0867977|
|Facilities and Administrative (Indirect Cost) Rate||
38% of modified total direct costs subject to agency/program guidelines.
|Federal Agency for the F&A Rate||Department of Health and Human Services
(Documentation available upon request)
|Fringe Benefit Rates||
32% of Salary for Full-Time Faculty and Staff; 8% if just FICA
|University Procurement, Travel and Per Diem Policies||http://www.butler.edu/vpstudentaffairs/websnap/documents/BusinessProcess...|
|IRB Federal Wide Assurance||00008336|