Joint VA and University of Pittsburgh Faculty Appointment and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Q: How is one to budget for joint VA and Pitt faculty member under a University of Pittsburgh sponsored project proposal?
A: For Pitt faculty (mainly medical school faculty) who hold appointments at both the VA and the University, the NIH gives us specific guidance on how to budget for these individuals. In short, only the University base salary can be used to calculate effort under sponsored project proposals submitted through the University. Specific guidance for this can be found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. A statement should also be placed in the budget justification identifying each jointly appointed faculty member named in the application. The following description which is currently used by the Department of Medicine can be used to satisfy this requirement:
Dr. XXXX holds a joint appointment with the Veterans Administration Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS). Both appointments are active 12-month appointments. As PHS policy is to treat a joint University/VA appointment as one full‐time equivalent, the calendar months reflected on the budget represents their University of Pittsburgh effort, not of each individual appointment. The calendar months (X.X) equate to X.X% effort or X hours of their University of Pittsburgh appointment (X/8ths). Overall effort devoted to this project will be XX calendar months (XX%).
It is further clarified that Dr. XXXX receives partial salary from both the VAPHS and the University of Pittsburgh and that there is no dual compensation from these two sources for the same work, nor is there an actual or apparent conflict of interest regarding such work. The overall set of responsibilities meets the test of reasonableness.
In order to arrive at the above percent effort and calendar month amounts, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be needed which indicates time spent under each appointment. Since the VA tracks time in terms of 8ths (one eighth is equal to 5 hours), most government sponsors request that university effort be translated from percentage of effort into hours. Although this is not an accurate indication of how universities are required to track employee effort, we have historically used hours with the understanding that it is an estimate and does not tie back to employee effort calculations in all cases.