Skip to Search Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content
Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 9 - General Provisions
Publication Date: April 13, 2005
Responsible Executive: VP for Research

9.32 Sponsored Programs Administration

  1. Grants and Contracts

    1. Purpose and Procedures

      Any formal proposal requesting project support from an external funding organization must be approved before it is submitted to the organization. Funding organizations include all federal, state, county and local government agencies; foundations; nonprofit organizations; private corporations; and private groups and individuals who award grants to universities, contract with universities or otherwise enter into agreements with universities to provide funds to support specific projects, for the performance of a specific scope of work. Formal proposals include all submissions to governmental grant programs, proposed contracts and proposed cooperative agreements which formally propose specific obligations or commitments of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

      Proposals being submitted to a funding organization which are renewal applications or continuation applications must be approved before they can be submitted, as well as proposals which are being revised and re-submitted to a funding organization.

      A grant or contract proposal must be approved by the appropriate university administrators, including the department chair, dean, and director of research development (DRD). The DRD is authorized to sign grant awards and cooperative agreement documents on behalf of the university, whereas the vice president of business affairs (VPBA) is authorized to sign contract documents on behalf of the university. Faculty are not authorized to sign for the university.

      The final version of the proposal needs approval as outlined previously. No changes will be permitted in proposals after they have received final approval, except when specifically authorized by the DRD. If a proposal is submitted to a funding organization with changes that were made after the proposal was approved and that were not authorized by the DRD, the university may withdraw the proposal. Proposals which have not been fully approved may not be delivered to a funding organization. Any proposals delivered to a funding organization which have not been fully approved by the university may be withdrawn by the university. All proposals which have been approved by the university administration become the property of the university and are considered to be State documents.

    2. Processing Funds From External Sources

      The appropriate processing of funds from external sources is of extreme importance to the university. Some general rules governing the processing of external funds are:

      1. Grants, Contracts, and Cooperative Agreements. All requests for funding support to external sponsors, including those to industry, private foundations, the state, the federal government, and local government sponsors must be processed through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). OSP will obtain all necessary institutional signatures once the proposal has been approved by the appropriate department head(s), college dean(s) and/or institute/center director(s). When funds are received in support of a sponsored activity, there should be either a proposal which has been processed through OSP, a grant, contract or cooperative agreement that OSP has reviewed and approved, or some arrangement relating to the receipt of project funds which have been agreed to by OSP.

      2. Gifts. Funds which are designated as gifts to the university and not defined as project grants/contracts or research arrangements are subject to the clearance and approval procedures for gift solicitation developed by the vice president for external relations (VPER). In the cases in which project support is being sought from a foundation or corporation, OSP will ask the VPER to ascertain whether the grant development efforts conflict with University fund raising efforts carried out by the VPER.

      3. Other. Occasionally, departments receive funds which are not the result of research contracts, grants, cooperative agreements or gifts. Where there is a question regarding classification of external funding as a grant, contract, or gift, the VPBA should be informed of the circumstances surrounding the receipt of these funds. The VPBA in conjunction with OSP and the VPER will discuss the matter and determine the appropriate classification and acceptable uses of the funds. After review, the VPBA will ensure the funds are placed in the appropriate departmental accounts. The provision for or the lack of funding for Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) is not relevant in classifying external funding as a grant, contract, or gift.

    3. Applicable Regulations

      OSP is required to check all proposals for conformity to applicable university policies and to State and Federal regulations related to research and grants prior to the proposal being submitted to an external funding organization.

    4. Responsibilities of Principal Investigators and Project Directors

      It is the responsibility of the principal investigator (PI) and project directors (PD) to manage an externally funded project in accordance with the requirements of the sponsoring agency as well as the policies and procedures established by the university.

    5. Negotiations and Unusual Requirements

      All grant and contract awards are negotiated by the DRD. Faculty and staff are not authorized to negotiate the terms or costs of an agreement.

      All negotiated budgets that differ from the original budget that was submitted with the request for funding must be approved by the appropriate university administrators.

      A grant or contract proposal with unusual procedural, reporting, or billing requirements beyond the normal policies or practices of the university detailed in the UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures, should not be accepted or recommended for approval until the DRD has cleared the requirements with appropriate university officials.

    6. Budget Categories and Classifications

      All grant and contract proposal budgets shall comply with the applicable regulations of the intended funding organization and with the fiscal and personnel policies of the university.

      All proposal budget items must satisfy three basic tests: allowable, reasonable and necessary as defined in OMB Circular A-21. A cost is allowable if it is within the applicable regulations or has been approved by the funding agency. A cost is reasonable if the nature of the goods or services acquired and the amount involved reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision was made to incur the cost. A cost is considered necessary if it is required to successfully and satisfactorily complete the project.

      A proposed budget must be based upon a "good faith estimate" of the anticipated costs. A proposal budget may not include false, inaccurate or misleading cost information. The cost estimates cannot simply be fabricated, but must have a reasonable basis.

      Any personnel position in a proposal budget must use the established university personnel job titles, pay scales and appropriate employee benefits.

      1. Salary. OMB Circular A-21 requires that charges for work performed on sponsored agreements by faculty members must be based on the individual faculty member's regular compensation which constitutes the basis of his or her salary, i.e., the faculty member's budgeted academic rate. In no event may charges to sponsored agreements exceed the proportionate share of the base salary for the period covered.

        Budgeted salaries and wages for non-faculty employed on grants and contracts must agree with the payroll plan currently in effect at UTSA. Employees on grants and contracts are considered to be State employees and are entitled to State mandated pay increases. Electronic Personnel Action Forms (PAF's) must be used to appoint both faculty and non-faculty employees to grants or contracts.

      2. Administrative Stipends. Supplemental administrative stipends which result in an increase to the base salary are not allowable in accordance with OMB Circular A-21.

    7. Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A)

      University policy provides that allowable facilities and administrative costs be included in all proposals submitted to prospective sponsors. Except as described below, a waiver, in whole or in part, of full recovery must be justified to and approved by the provost and vice president for academic affairs or his or her designate and the VPBA. Authorized exceptions to this general policy are when legislation establishing the program and/or the appropriations act providing the funding prohibits or limits reimbursement for F&A; and when the sponsor has a written policy governing F&A recovery, a copy of which should accompany the proposal.

      Allocation of F&A Costs. Initiated in Fiscal Year 1998, it is university policy to return a portion of recovered F&A costs to the university community.

      1. To be eligible for the F&A return, the grant or contract must recover the full F&A rate available to the university or fall within one of the authorized exceptions listed above.
      2. Any grants or contracts with waivers approved locally will not be eligible for the allocation of F&A costs.
      3. The distributed funds must be spent in support of the research effort and in a manner consistent with university regulations concerning accounts.
      4. Returned portions can be used to support the research effort and examples of such allowable expenses include:
        1. Travel related to research or sponsored program activity
        2. Salary for PIs, post docs, graduate research assistants, research associates, administrative support
        3. Materials and supplies for research or sponsored program activity.
      5. Examples of unallowable expenses include but are not limited to:
        1. Travel not related to research or sponsored program activity
        2. Salary supplementation above 100%
        3. Tuition and fees for regular college coursework
        4. Entertainment/Food
        5. Gifts
        6. Lobbying
    8. Cost Sharing

      Cost sharing required by federal agencies must represent more than a token amount (normally defined as one percent or less of total project cost). Proposals showing cost sharing at a significant level (greater than five percent of total project costs) must be adequately justified and approved by the provost and vice president for academic affairs or his or her designate and the VPBA. When not required by the sponsor, a proposed commitment by the university to defray part of the project's total costs, including the waiver or partial waiver of F&A as matching, will not be approved unless adequate justification in writing is presented to and subsequently approved by the two previously designated vice presidents. Decisions regarding the use of university funds for matching commitments are made on the basis of a number of criteria, including, but not limited to, budgetary concerns, academic priorities, relevance of the proposed project to the mission of the university, strategic initiatives and new program development.

      Prior approval from the university administration is required before any proposal committing cost sharing or matching funds can be submitted to a sponsoring agency. The nature and extent of cost sharing or matching funds must be clearly outlined in the proposal, explained on the Request for University Matching Funds form and noted on the proposal routing form, Grant and Contract Proposal Review and Approval. This notation must identify the source of funds to be used and must be signed by the university official responsible for the funds.

    9. Account Assignments and Accounting Classifications

      When an award is received in OSP and the terms and conditions are accepted by the authorized official for the university, the award is transferred to the Office of Grants and Contracts Administration (G&CA). An account is established if the funding organization declares the funds to be a grant, contract or cooperative agreement; the funding organization restricts the use of funds to a specific project; the funding organization requires fiscal monitoring for allowability of expenditures; a receivable is specified; financial reporting is required; progress or technical reports are required.

    10. Postdoctoral Fellows

      The title of postdoctoral fellow is used for traditional postdoctoral appointments, normally funded from extramural grant or contract support. Nominees for this title must hold a doctoral degree, have research experience in the area of the appointment, and be capable of conducting sophisticated research under the guidance of a tenure-tract or tenured faculty member. An appointment is normally for a period of one year, but may be renewed on an annual basis. Because of the temporary nature of the positions, there is no requirement that the position be advertised, although faculty may do so if they desire.

      Postdoctoral fellow is an administrative and professional title to be appointed as a monthly employee. Deans will establish a salary range for postdoctoral fellows within their college, according to national norms. The range should fall within the boundaries of $20,000 and $45,000. Use of the upper 25% of the college range should be restricted to unusual situations. Postdoctoral fellows will be paid a salary, not a stipend, and the budget from which the salary is paid must include the appropriate fringe benefits and F&A.

      Final approval for postdoctoral fellow appointments will be made by the dean of the college. Copies of curriculum vitae of appointed fellows, along with other pertinent background information, must remain on file in the office of the dean for a minimum of four years. At periodic intervals, the vice president for research will review the files for compliance with the above guidelines and for consistency within disciplines and college.

      Faculty members desiring to hire a postdoctoral fellow should obtain approvals from the dean of the college for both the nominee and the salary before making a verbal or written offer. For all postdoctoral fellow positions funded by external grants or contracts, faculty members must present verification from the Office of G&CA to the dean that funds are available to support the requested salary, the appropriate fringe benefits, and associated F&A. Postdoctoral fellows must be informed that the position is normally for a period of one year, as noted in the above guidelines.

    11. Student Employees

      Each dean or vice president is responsible for establishing and maintaining their respective student title pay structure within the pay ranges provided in the Basic Rate Schedule for Student Titles. The dean or vice president must establish a pay structure appropriate for the student employees in their units based on the student's level of education with the upper end of the pay range reserved for employees with more extensive education and experience. These pay structures must be approved by the Human Resources Department prior to implementation and should be updated annually. The dean's or vice president's office will monitor the student employee appointments to assure that the recruitment, hiring, and compensation of student employees is equitable, free of discrimination, and in conformity with UTSA's Affirmative Action Policy and the unit's own established pay guidelines.

  2. Financial Disclosure Policy/Conflict of Interest

    1. Background

      UTSA promotes objectivity in funded research and educational activities with established standards and procedures to be followed by institutions that apply for funding to ensure that the design, conduct, or reporting of research and educational activities will not be biased by any conflicting financial interest of those investigators responsible for the activities. For purposes of complying with these regulations, and to maintain a research environment that promotes faithful attention to high ethical standards, UTSA has promulgated this policy relating to conflicts of interest to be administered in conjunction with Texas laws setting forth standards of conduct (Texas Government Code, Chapter 572 and Series 30104 of The UT System Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations).

    2. Policy Statement Relating to Conflicts of Interest

      In seeking institutional approvals for submission of grant applications, each faculty member, principal investigator or other person responsible for the design, the conduct or the report of the research proposed for funding shall submit to OSP a Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS) listing all significant financial interests of the investigator (and those of the investigator's spouse and dependent children) that would reasonably appear to be affected by the research or educational activities proposed for funding, including interests in entities whose financial interests would reasonably appear to be affected by such activities. Financial Disclosure Statements are available through OSP. Each such Financial Disclosure Statement must be updated during the pendency of the award, either on an annual basis, or as new reportable significant financial interests are obtained. The VPBA through the Office of G&CA will maintain records, identifiable to each investigator and award, of all financial disclosures and all actions taken with respect to each significant financial interest for at least three years beyond the termination or completion of the award, or until resolution of any action by a granting agency involving the records, whichever is longer.

    3. Definitions

      1. Significant Financial Interests. A significant financial interest means anything of monetary value, including but not limited to, salary or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria); equity interests (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interests); and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights). The term does not include the following:

        1. salary, royalties or other remuneration from UTSA;
        2. income from seminars, lectures or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit entities;
        3. income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities; or
        4. an equity interest that, when aggregated for the investigator and the investigator's spouse and dependent children, meets both of the following tests: does not exceed $10,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value, and does not represent more than a five percent ownership interest in any single entity; or
        5. salary, royalties or other payments that, when aggregated for the investigator and the investigator's spouse and dependent children, are not expected to exceed $10,000 during the next twelve (12) month period.
      2. Research. Research means a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to the general body of knowledge.
      3. Investigator. Investigator means the principal investigator and any other person who is responsible for the design, the conduct, or the report of research or educational activities. For the purposes of Federal regulations and university policies relating to the financial interests of investigators, "investigator" includes the investigator's spouse and dependent children.
    4. Procedures
      1. When a proposal is being routed for university review and approval, it is the responsibility of each investigator who is planning to participate in the funded research or educational activities to submit to OSP, a Financial Disclosure Statement detailing significant financial interests which would reasonably appear to be affected by the research or educational activities for which funding is being sought. The statement must be updated during the period of the award if an award is made, either on an annual basis or as new reportable significant financial interests are obtained, whichever occurs first.
      2. OSP will maintain the proposal records, including the Financial Disclosure Statement of significant financial interests, until such time as the sponsor takes action on the request for funds. If funds are awarded in response to the request for funding, OSP will forward the award document, the original proposal, the Financial Disclosure Statement and other appropriate documents related to the proposal to the Office of G&CA. If the proposal is denied, the Financial Disclosure Statement will be returned to the investigator by OSP.
      3. The VPBA will take such actions as are necessary to ensure that a significant financial interest will be managed, reduced or eliminated prior to expenditure of funds. At a minimum, the VPBA will determine whether a significant financial interest could affect the design, conduct or reporting of the research activities funded or proposed for such funding, and determine what conditions or restrictions, if any, should be imposed to manage such interests. Examples of conditions or restrictions that may be imposed to manage actual or potential conflicts of interest include the following:
        1. public disclosure of significant financial interests;
        2. monitoring of the research by independent reviewers;
        3. modification of the research plan;
        4. disqualification from participation in all or a portion of the research project in question;
        5. severance of relationships that create actual or potential conflicts.
      4. The VPBA will maintain all records received and created pursuant to this policy as well as all records of actions taken with respect to each significant financial interest for at least three years beyond the termination or completion of the award, or until resolution of any action by the granting agency involving the records, whichever is longer.
      5. In the event that an investigator participates in a research project subject to this policy and the project is being simultaneously supported by an organization that has a commercial interest in the outcome of the research project, the research support by such organization must be provided through UTSA. Any direct compensation or payment to the investigator under that support shall be considered a significant financial interest.
    5. Enforcement
      1. UTSA anticipates that its investigators will comply fully, promptly and in a timely manner with this policy. Instances of deliberate breach, including failure to submit required statements or updates thereof; failure to provide additional information requested by the VPBA; knowingly filing an incomplete, erroneous or misleading statement; knowingly violating applicable laws, the Regents' Rules and Regulations or this policy; or failure to comply with prescribed conditions or restrictions that have been imposed pursuant to this policy, will subject the investigator to disciplinary action under policies of UTSA and the Regents' Rules and Regulations. Such action could result in a formal reprimand, non-renewal of appointment, termination of appointment for good cause, or any other enforcement action mandated by a granting agency.
      2. If the failure of an investigator to comply with this policy has biased the design, conduct or reporting of research, UTSA will promptly notify the granting agency of the incident and corrective action taken.

Editorial Amendment:
December 15, 2006
January 14, 2013