Grants Management Frequently Asked Questions

How do I obtain an NIH eRA Commons account?

In order to obtain an NIH eRA Commons account, please complete the NIH Registration Request Form.

How do I register in NSF FastLane?

In order to obtain an NSF account, please complete the NSF FastLane Registration.

Who should I contact if I have a problem with my existing NIH or NSF account?

For questions regarding existing NIH or NSF accounts, please contact Eric Larson.

How do I sign up to be on the Office of Sponsored Programs email distribution list?

In order to be included on the Office of Sponsored Programs email distribution list, please complete the form to add yourself to the Research Administrator Distribution List.

What is required before the Office of Sponsored Programs will submit/endorse my proposal?

While the Office of Sponsored Programs has been closely involved in the implementation of the requirements for disclosure and training, it is important to understand that those requirements were created by other University offices in response to mandated changes from the federal government.  Information on disclosures can be found on the Conflict of Interest homepage.

Annual COI Disclosures are required to be up-to-date at the time of proposal submission.

Who can be a Principal Investigator on a research proposal?

Because of the diversity in type and purpose of various proposal mechanisms, we strongly encourage close review of eligibility requirements within the solicitation, as well as close collaboration with your specific Dean's Office, to ensure that the PI is an appropriate candidate for the proposal/award.  Some mechanisms apply to current graduate and PhD students (fellowships, etc.); others are geared toward new investigators; others are for breakthrough research, etc.  In addition, there are solicitations which limit the number of proposals the University may submit.

A faculty member wants to submit a Letter/Statement of Intent (LOI/SOI) or Pre-proposal to a sponsor. Does this need to be reviewed by the Office of Sponsored Programs?

The procedure and submission requirements for submitting a Letter/Statement of Intent are located on the Prepare Proposal Page on the Grants Management Services team site.

A sponsor allows the Principal Investigator to submit a grant application electronically rather than requiring submission by the Office of Sponsored Programs. Does the Office of Sponsored Programs have to review the proposal first?

Yes, even if a sponsor does not require the endorsement of the University at time of application, the University mandates portfolio creation for all proposal submissions.  Proposal information should be routed through PERIS™ MyFunding, and the option for the department to submit the proposal directly to the sponsor should be selected.  This will ensure that the Office of Sponsored Programs reviews and approves the funding application prior to sponsor receipt. 

How can I check the status of a grant application sent to the Office of Sponsored Programs?

Proposals are being tracked through PERISTM MyFunding.  Please refer questions about your MyFunding access to perishelp@pitt.edu.

Who are the PHS funded agencies?

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA)

Does a Principal Investigator have to include effort on every project?

Consistent with federal regulations, all faculty members listed as the PI on a sponsored project must contribute some level of effort to that project to provide necessary supervision/administration.  For additional information on Effort Reporting refer to http://www.cfo.pitt.edu/policies/policy/11/11-01-07.html 

What is the difference between a Federal Grant and a Federal Contract?

Federal Grants and Federal Contracts have significant differences. To assist in the differentiation of the two, we have developed a Federal Grant vs. Federal Contract Guidance document.

What is the COI Approval and does the department need to take any to obtain this approval?

The COI Approval is only necessary when an individual listed as Key Personnel on a PHS-Funded project answers YES to the responses on their annual COI disclosure form. 

The request for approval is sent to the COI Office by the Office of Sponsored Programs at award stage and the file is held until the approval is received.  As long as all of the documents necessary for account activation are on file with the Office of Sponsored Programs, no other action is necessary by the department.

How do I create a subaccount?

If I want to create a subaccount, please go to the MyFunding Quick Guide site and follow the following guide https://electronicresearch.pitt.edu/wp-content/uploads/Requesting-a-subaccount-4.11.19.pdf

 

What is a GAR and when should it be requested?

A Grant Application Review (GAR), completed by the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), is required before monies can be released by the Office of Sponsored Programs for Public Health Service (PHS), National Science Foundation (NSF) or American Heart Association (AHA) awards. A GAR will need to be completed when either animal studies are being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh or funds from a University of Pittsburgh award are being used through a subaward to support the animal research at another institution.  During the GAR, the IACUC ensures that the animal research proposed in the grant is contained in an IACUC-approved protocol.

The best time to apply for a GAR is upon receiving notice of a fundable score on a PHS, NSF, or AHA submission (new or competing renewal) that includes conducting live animal procedures.

Please note that GAR letters are project-specific and should be revised if there is a change to the information (i.e., PI or IACUC Protocol Number).
 

Can an Activation Coordinator accept signed documents via email?

The Activation Coordinator will accept all documents via the MyFunding record.

What is the difference between a Subaward/Subcontract and a Services Agreement?

The differences between a Subaward and a Services Agreement are substantial.  The Office of Sponsored Programs is responsible for issuing subawards from prime agreements (contract, grant, or cooperative agreement) awarded to the University.  Purchasing Services is responsible for issuing services agreements for goods and services from contractors.  Click here for more information on the different characteristics between Subrecipients and Contractors.

My faculty member has a training grant. How should I submit my compliance documents to the Office of Sponsored Programs?

Because training grants involve multiple trainees and various faculty mentoring them, typically there are multiple IRB and IACUC approvals that do not clearly map to the specific faculty and students on the project.  For this reason, the Office of Sponsored Programs recommends the compilation of a chart which shows which students are working under each faculty member and the associated protocols that cover those projects, along with the termination date of those approvals.

Can I submit internal forms electronically?

The Office of Sponsored Programs encourages the use of electronic signatures (ex: DocuSign or scanned original signatures), and it is no longer requiring internal forms to be submitted on paper or in triplicate copies.  All proposal submissions should be routed electronically through PERIS™ MyFunding.

What should be included in a Collaborator’s Scope of Work/Statement of Work (SOW) in an outgoing Subaward/Subcontract? 

When submitting a request for an outgoing Subaward/Subcontract, one of the most critical elements is the Scope of Work (SOW).  The SOW should provide a full and detailed explanation of the work to be conducted, including project goals, deliverables, reporting requirements, investigator responsibilities, as well as materials, drugs or devices to be exchanged between the University and the sites.  It is typically one or two paragraphs and contains simple, non-scientific terms explaining what research will be performed at the Subrecipient site.  The Scope of Work should not be the budget justification or the listing of specific aims from the proposal.

I am working on a proposal that will involve a clinical trial and will have Subawards to other institutions.  Should those Subawards be fixed-priced?  Is there anything special I need to know?

If you receive an award for conducting a clinical trial, and a portion of that work will be done at another institution, you should ask the Office of Sponsored Programs to issue a Fixed-Price Subaward.  

To issue a Fixed-Price Subaward, you must have approval from the sponsoring agency.  The best way to do so is within your proposal to sponsor.  Language that you may consider using in your proposal can be found here.  

If you need to request prior approval to issue Fixed-Price Subawards or to exceed the Simplified Acquisition Threshold after your award has been issued by sponsor, language guidance can be found here

Another helpful resource is the NSF prior approval matrix which gives a helpful overview of some major federal agency (including NIH) prior-approval requirements.  Information on Fixed-Price Subawards can be located on the bottom of page one.

If you plan to issue cost-reimbursable Subawards, you should include a cost-reimbursable budget.  Attaching fixed-priced, milestone-driven budgets to your cost-reimbursable Subaward goes against the NIH policy statement as well as the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) FAQs.  NIH discusses this in Section  8.1.2.11 Provide Subawards Based on Fixed Amounts.

If it isn’t clear at the proposal stage whether the funding will come to the University in the form of grant or a contract – who should I work with at the Office of Sponsored Programs?

When a solicitation states that the proposal may be awarded as either a grant, cooperative agreement, or procurement contract, you will work with your designated Grants and Contracts Officer if:

  1. The solicitation has a CFDA number, AND
  2. The solicitation does not include FAR clauses or provisions.

However, if the solicitation states that the proposal may be awarded as an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), you will always work with your designated Federal Contracts Officer.

What is an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA)?

Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) are defined in the negative because there is no statutory or regulatory definition of “other transaction.” An OTA is a legally valid contract with the federal government that is not a traditional procurement contract, grant, or cooperative agreement. It is not subject to the federal laws and regulations that apply to government acquisition contracts (FAR/supplement clauses) or assistance awards. The federal government uses OTAs to streamline research and development, prototype development, and other projects.