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UPPS 02.02.01 - Applying for Sponsored Programs

Applying for Sponsored Programs

UPPS No. 02.02.01
Issue No. 10
Effective Date: 8/28/2015
Next Review Date: 7/01/2017 (ONY)
Sr. Reviewer: Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Federal Relations


    1. This policy provides guidelines for developing and submitting proposals through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).

    1. Texas State University encourages faculty and staff to pursue sponsored program activities in their areas of expertise. Because scholarly activities augment teaching, faculty are expected to participate in meetings, conventions, and other activities that promote scholarship and creative work, including applying for and administering sponsored programs.

    2. Texas State’s policies apply to all sponsored programs unless the granting agency establishes exceptions. Sponsor guidance must clearly identify any policies that deviate. These exceptions may not conflict with federal or state law or with the Regents’ Rules. The Office of the Associate Vice President for Research and Federal Relations (AVPR) shall determine all conflicts and mediate all solutions.

    3. Sponsored Program - Sponsored programs are activities sponsored, in whole or in part, by sources external to the university for which there is an expectation (implied or specifically stated) on the sponsor’s part for performance, deliverable or outcome. The university awards sponsored programs through various mechanisms (e.g., grants, contracts, non-teaching consulting services, cooperative agreements, or other legally- binding means of transfer).

    4. Sponsored programs, identified by the following characteristics, may support instruction or research activities. A program does not need to include all elements to be considered “sponsored:”

      1. inclusion or allowance of indirect costs/administrative costs;

      2. percentage of faculty time on project (the sponsor may or may not compensate this);

      3. expectation of performance or outcome by the sponsor;

      4. statement or expectation of a “quid pro quo” relationship between the university and the sponsor;

      5. specific description of the proposal or contract activity or work, sometimes known as a Scope of Work;

      6. a line-item budget is involved;

      7. a financial report is required, and the budget or performance is subject to audit;

      8. all government funds, exclusive of financial aid;

      9. all corporate research contracts, subcontracts or agreements;

      10. defined time period for conducting the work;

      11. definition of the manner for spending funds and what conditions may apply to residual funds; and

      12. use of university resources (e.g., equipment, space, students) mandate processing through OSP to determine classification (i.e., does the activity qualify as a sponsored program and who must approve the use of these resources).

    5. The following further clarifies definitions relating to sponsored activities:

      1. Grant – a type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. The proposal typically defines a Scope of Work or performance. The sponsor may make an award based upon a competitive review, and establish performance terms and conditions. The proposal may state these terms generally, as in many federal awards, or may specifically describe allowable and unallowable activities and costs. Unless prohibited by sponsor regulations, individuals involved with the award may modify performance as necessary under project conditions. The proposal may allow the university to approve such modifications internally or may require sponsor authorization. A sponsor may award grants through simple contractual agreements, letters of authorization, payments of fees, or other similar mechanisms.

      2. Contract – a legally binding arrangement or performance agreement for carrying out a specific service or procuring a product that entails specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Contracts are a more restrictive mechanism for securing services than grants, and may specify penalties for non-performance. In a Fixed Cost or Fee for Service Agreement, one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered. In a Cost-Reimbursement Agreement, the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred for the work conducted up to an agreed-upon amount, and for which the sponsor generally requires invoices containing back-up information of costs incurred. In a Percent Completion contract, the sponsor contracts for completion of specific tasks, and makes payment upon receipt and approval of a report or other deliverable.

        Research, assessment, specific work performance, instruction, training, or similar activities are reasons for awarding contracts. Generally, contracts will define specific details of the legal relationship between the participating entities and will incorporate the description and cost of the work to be performed either as a legally-binding attachment or embedded in the contract document. A purchase order may constitute a contract.

        The following shall provide further distinction between the types of awards:

        Characteristic Grant Cooperative Agreement Contract
        Basic Purpose Provide assistance with few restrictions Provide assistance with substantial involvement between parties Procure tangible goods or services
        Solicitation Method Application kit or guidelines Request for proposals Request for bid or quote
        Award Instrument Short, may refer to general conditions Describes involvement, party relationships Long, detailed specs, clauses, regulations and expected results
        Involvement by Sponsor Generally, none Substantial involvement May be extensive
        Re-budgeting Flexible Usually allowed Occasionally allowed within restrictions
        Equipment Title Grantee Varies Contractor
        Patent Rights Generally liberal May be involved Provision in contract
        Publication Unrestricted May ask to be informed May require prior review/deletion of proprietary information
        Technical Annual summary report Frequent reports Detailed, often monthly
      3. Matching Grant – Some sponsors require the applicant to demonstrate commitment to the proposed activity by providing funds in support of the overall project costs. Institutional resources may generate matching funds, either in-kind (donated time, space, equipment use, etc.) or cash, or the funds may originate from other entities (third-parties).

        Cost-sharing has become a major issue in federal awards. Many programs prohibit cost-sharing. The federal government issued specific guidance on matching funds and the responsibilities of recipients in accounting for these funds. Failure to comply may result in loss of revenue associated with the specifically-funded project, or in general sanctions against the institution. In cases where cost-sharing is permitted, the following are the three types of cost-sharing:

        1. Mandatory – required by the sponsor and specifically referenced in the proposal, budget or other submitted document. The institution’s accounting system must account for the funds;

        2. Voluntary Committed – committed by the institution in the proposal, budget or other submitted document to enhance possibility of funding, but NOT required by the sponsor. The institution’s accounting system must account for the funds. (NOTE: After award, a proposal initially submitted with voluntary cost-sharing converts to mandatory cost-sharing.); and

        3. Voluntary Uncommitted – The university or principal investigator (PI) provides more cost-sharing than promised or required. For example, if a PI spends more time on the project than originally projected, the university must track and verify these funds but it does not enter the funds into the institution’s cost-sharing system.

        The policy of the university is to limit matching to no more than the minimum required by the sponsor. Inclusion of “Voluntary Committed” or “Voluntary Uncommitted” funds in proposal submissions must be approved by the AVPR.

        Funds promised or provided by third parties to a sponsored program must meet the same reporting requirements imposed on the institution. The recipient (university) is responsible for acquiring and maintaining third-party matching documentation. For Texas State, the PI is responsible for this documentation.

      4. Challenge Grant – a grant that provides monies in response to monies from other sources, usually according to a formula. A challenge grant may, for example, offer two dollars for every dollar it obtains from a fund drive. The grant usually has a fixed upper limit, and may have a challenge minimum below which the sponsor will not create a grant. This form of grant is fairly common in the arts, humanities, and some other fields, but is less common in the sciences. A challenge grant differs from a matching grant in at least one important respect: the amount of money that the recipient organization realizes from a challenge grant may vary widely, depending upon how successful that organization is in meeting the challenge. Matching grants usually award a clearly-defined amount and require the institution to obtain a specified sum before making any award.

      5. Cooperative Agreement – an award similar to a grant, but one in which the sponsor’s staff may play an active role in proposal preparation, and anticipate substantial involvement in research activities after receiving the award.

      6. Non-Teaching Consulting Services – Consulting as an agent of the university is defined as additional activity beyond duties assigned by the institution, professional in nature, and based in the appropriate discipline for which the individual receives additional compensation during the contract year. Consultancy services include addressing the technical and professional needs of communities, groups, agencies, businesses and other entities outside the university. Consulting services are NOT sponsored programs unless the university is the direct recipient of funds, and liable for the conduct of the activity performed by the university employee. In this instance, it is essential that these contracts are managed as sponsored programs, in that they involve coordination of faculty time and effort reporting, and determination of appropriate overload policy interpretation.

      7. Training, Workshops, Non-Credit Teaching – Proposals for conducting training, workshops or non-credit teaching functions are considered sponsored programs if they meet any of the above-stated criteria.

        NOTE: The director of Continuing Education may propose activities meeting the above criteria in the same manner as other sponsored programs. OSP will review, process, and submit proposals on behalf of that unit as with other colleges and schools. The same distribution as other units will apply to indirect costs generated from these sponsored activities.

      8. Gift – a flexible, irrevocable award of money, equipment, or other property provided by a donor with few or no conditions specified. Frequently, developing programs use gifts to support developing programs that do not receive other funding. Because gifts meet the determination of having no “quid pro quo” relationship with the university, University Advancement handles them.

        A gift to an organization implies no responsibility to provide the donor a product, service, technical or scientific report, or intellectual property rights. The donor may specify the fund use (as into a specific scholarship fund) or may allow the recipient to use the gift in meeting the needs identified by the organization.

      9. Research Gift – A gift for research generally must meet the following conditions:

        1. funds are awarded irrevocably;

        2. the donor does not impose restrictive contractual obligations;

        3. there is no commitment of direct project personnel effort to accomplish the research; and

        4. the funds are designated for scholarly endeavors.

        The university may consider a research gift a sponsored project pending discussions with University Advancement.

      10. Endowment – a fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty or research positions (e.g., endowed chair). Recipients may not consider an endowment a sponsored activity.

      11. Internships – an externally-supported opportunity for an individual (student or faculty member) to engage in an extended learning activity. If the university receives internship funds and the funding mechanism contains specific details concerning the intern’s or institution’s obligation, the university must treat the activity as a sponsored program, subject to internal approval, and submit it as such.

      12. Congressional or Legislative Allocations – In certain circumstances, federal or state governing bodies may directly appropriate funds to the university for specific purposes. It is important that the purpose of these funds represents the intent of the funding entity. In the case of most federal and state appropriations, the most common conveyance mechanism is to attach these funds to an existing agency program, and to request a proposal describing how the university will utilize these in keeping with the general intent of that specific program’s mandate. The university then receives the award from the agency. In this circumstance, the federal or state regulations and restrictions applied to all recipients of funds under that agency program apply to the use of funds awarded to the university. For this reason, proposals requesting support under direct appropriations become sponsored programs to facilitate proper accounting and management.

      13. Limited Submission – a limitation placed by the funder on the number of proposals that can be submitted by an organization for consideration of funding under a specific sponsored program.

    6. E-Verify – an Internet-based system that requires an employer, using information reported on an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to determine the eligibility of that employee to work in the United States. There is no charge to employers to use E-Verify. The Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Social Security Administration, operates the E-Verify system.


    Faculty and staff wishing to submit a proposal to an external funding source should confer with their chair, director, college research coordinators and possibly their dean to discuss the proposal plans, particularly when the proposal involves committing university resources (e.g., additional space required, renovation, cost-sharing). OSP serves as the next point of contact for faculty or staff seeking external funds. When the commitment of university resources (cost-sharing or cost-matching) requires additional space or additional staff (including post-doctoral research associates) for the project’s completion, the PI must notify their chair, director or dean.

    1. The AVPR is responsible for submitting proposals to public and private funding agencies, except for proposals that require submission by University Advancement or the Development Foundation.

    2. Faculty and staff must submit all proposals for research or sponsored programs (whether for grants or contracts) through OSP. They must submit all proposals for permanent endowments, certain types of scholarships, and capital improvements through the vice president for University Advancement. Proposals for research or sponsored programs (whether for grants or contracts) required to be submitted through a 501(c )(3) organization may be submitted through OSP via the Texas State University Research Foundation or the Texas State University Development Foundation. Proposals not submitted through proper university channels are subject to recall at the AVPR’s discretion.

    3. Each college and school has research coordinators, several of which are tasked with proposal support for PIs during proposal development.

    4. Proposal Preparation

      1. Deadline – OSP must receive the complete proposal package (including a complete budget, narrative, executive summary, and all required sponsor forms) no later than three working days prior to the submission deadline or the OSP will not guarantee proposal submission.

      2. Changes to Completed Proposals Prior to Submission – OSP will update changes submitted within the three-day review window at its own discretion. OSP reserves the right to effect changes to bring the proposal into compliance with program guidelines and will inform the PI in writing of changes made prior to submitting the proposal.

      3. Only the following are eligible to serve as a PI on a sponsored program: (1) full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty; (2) full-time research faculty; (3) certain directors of research program centers or institutes; and (4) full-time staff employees. The college dean or the AVPR may approve exceptions to this policy.

      4. University faculty and staff who wish to submit a proposal to an external funding source are encouraged to contact their chair, dean, or director to discuss the proposal plans.

      5. The PI of the project must notify OSP by initiating a proposal in PropStart to begin working with OSP on budget development and initiating the internal routing process.

        NOTE: the PI must submit one Proposal Notification Form (PNF) for each proposal prepared.

      6. Other responsibilities of the PI include the following:

        1. The PI bears the primary responsibility for the accuracy of all material in the proposal and for compliance with all federal, state, and private regulations, and policies of The Texas State University System (TSUS) and Texas State, such as those relating to scientific misconduct in research, disclosure of conflicts of interest (financial and otherwise), and management of human research subjects or lab animals. He or she has the responsibility to become informed about those regulations, with guidance from the Office of Research Compliance (ORC);

        2. loading the proposal information (with the help of OSP) into the proposal management system for internal routing;

        3. developing and verifying all financial data with OSP prior to routing the proposal. OSP will determine that the requested facilities and administration costs conform to the university’s federally-negotiated rate or the maximum allowed by the funding source. PI’s are not authorized to negotiate sponsored program agreement terms with prospective funders. The AVPR must approve all deviations from the specified sponsor rate or federally-negotiated rate in writing;

        4. identifying all requirements for space needed to operate the contract or grant. If the needed space is not available and under the control of the department chair, the dean must identify available space under control of the college. If space is not available within the college, the PI must add a request for rent or lease funds in the contract or grant budget to obtain space. If the sponsored program’s success requires space, the PI must arrange, at the department or college level, for additional space before submitting the proposal to OSP. Please see UPPS No. 08.01.01, Scheduling of University Facilities, and UPPS No. 01.03.01, Space Management;

        5. determining, with ORC’s assistance, which university review boards must review proposal methodology or protocols for compliance with state and federal guidelines concerning research activities. The PI must meet all compliance requirements prior to expending funds. Relevant university review boards include: the Institutional Review Board on the Use of Human Subjects in Research (see UPPS No. 02.02.03, Protection of Human Research Subjects) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (see UPPS No. 02.02.05, Animal Care and Use Policy). For information regarding export controls, see UPPS No. 02.02.10, Export Control Laws and Regulations, and biosafety. Certain training is required for proposals meeting the above requirements. ORC can assist and guide the PI and other personnel to the appropriate training provided by CITI training that most review boards require to be up-to-date prior to award setup;

        6. identifying, with assistance from OSP, any technology needs. The PI must notify OSP and the vice president for Information Technology of requirements related to hardware or software procurement or technical support required of Technology Resources or Instructional Technologies Support;

        7. ensuring, with the help from IT Security, that sensitive, restricted and confidential data collected, stored, and reported in conjunction with the grant or contract receive the appropriate protections. To meet this responsibility, the PI should become familiar with the data classification guidelines in Section 04.08 of UPPS No. 04.01.01, Security of Texas State Information Resources;

        8. identifying the amount and source of matching funds, both monetary and in-kind, as well as making sure that the account manager for these funds has approved the pledge through the internal routing process or in writing. The sponsor must approve and the AVPR must approve in writing, pledges of indirect cost as all or part of a match;

        9. ensuring, with help from OSP, that the proposal complies with pertinent state, federal, or university policy such as those relating to scientific misconduct in research or disclosure of financial conflicts of interest, coordination of financial aid, and management of human subjects and lab animals;

        10. ensuring, with help from OSP, that the proposal complies with affirmative action regulations and that it meets any other regulations that might apply, such as those mandated by Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, and other relevant federal and state laws pertaining to persons with disabilities;

        11. identifying, with assistance from OSP, any facility and infrastructure needs. The PI must notify the vice president for Finance and Support Services and the associate vice president for Facilities of facility, infrastructure, and utility requirements as well as obtain planning, design, and cost estimating support. For additional guidance, refer to UPPS No. 01.03.02, University Construction Policy; and

        12. when a PI that discovers a solicitation they plan to pursue is a limited submission, the PI must inform the Office of Research Development of the limit as outlined in AA/PPS No. 03.01.02, Limited Submissions for Certain Sponsored Programs.

      7. Responsibilities of OSP:

        1. When OSP receives proposals in the required format and by the deadline as specified in Section 03.04 a., it shall:

          1. review each proposal submitted for completeness and appropriate use of institutional assumptions to the best of its ability;
          2. return the proposal to the PI if there are any questions regarding the proposal’s completeness or with appropriate use of institutional assumption; and
          3. upon approval by all required parties by the deadline as specified in Section 03.04 a., submit the proposal for consideration to the potential sponsor.
        2. In the event that OSP receives the proposal in an incorrect format or past the deadline as specified in Section 03.04 a., OSP shall submit the proposal on behalf of the PI and the university. The university shall retain the right to rescind, recall, or otherwise remove the proposal from the sponsor’s funding consideration. The OSP staff is not responsible for delinquent or missed proposal submissions when it did not receive the proposal in the proper form or by the specified internal deadline.

    5. Timeline – The PI must allow enough time for adequate review of the proposal by the chair, dean, or director. The PI should initiate internal routing in the proposal management system with a finalized budget and Scope of Work at least three business days prior to the submission as specified in Section 03.04 a. (also see Section 04.).

    6. Special Consideration – Before employing faculty, staff, or students on received awards, the PI must follow all university Human Resources policies and procedures for current and future staff.


    1. PIs, with the help of OSP, must receive approval for their proposals by releasing their proposal for routing and approval through the proposal management system. The proposal should be complete, including at a minimum:

      1. an abstract or narrative;

      2. complete budget; and

      3. completion of the internal processing form.


    1. The funding source may send the notification of acceptance or rejection to any of a number of different locations. The office receiving the notification must forward it to OSP. Failure to do so will delay establishment of a Texas State account for accepted grants.

    2. The action required as a result of the rejection of a proposal varies from one proposal to another. Therefore, the PI or OSP will determine the proper individuals to notify concerning the rejection notification.

    3. When the potential funding source is a foundation, OSP will notify University Advancement for submission clearance as well as funding results.


    1. A sponsored program is not operational until the funding document is signed by all those required and the PI approves all terms and conditions. Awards at Texas State are made to the university and are not personal grants or contracts to the PI. Only the president or his or her designee can obligate the university and are the only persons authorized to sign a grant or contract. Before making a commitment, financial or otherwise, the university must receive a signed copy of the contract or a formal award in writing or the funding source must guarantee to the director of OSP that such award is in transit. If a PI deems it necessary to begin work prior to receiving an executed agreement, the PI can establish an expenditure account in accordance with Section 05.03 of UPPS No. 02.02.02, Sponsored Programs – Post Award. In the event that a PI or other unauthorized individual or contracting official signs a contract or award with a funding source, the university may hold that individual personally liable for any expenditure or obligation of university resources to the subsequently invalid contract or award. Additionally, the university may take disciplinary action against that individual including revocation of the individual’s status as a PI.

    2. Acceptance of the award constitutes a commitment by the PI to comply throughout the grant period with all policies of The Texas State University System (TSUS), the university, all state and federal regulations, and comply with all funding agency requirements. If the PI does not comply, the AVPR or the OSP director will ensure that the university fulfills its contractual obligations under the award’s terms. These steps may include removing the PI from the grant or contract and prohibiting him or her from future work as a PI.

    3. When the OSP receives the award notification, the director and staff will review the agreement’s financial terms and seek the PI’s written approval. Upon PI approval, OSP will establish a Texas State account. In the event that terms are not satisfactory, the director of OSP will attempt to renegotiate the terms and conditions of the award. If negotiations are not successful and the terms are considered unacceptable, the AVPR may reject the award on behalf of the university.

    4. The university will not reimburse individuals for expenditures from any source other than the appropriate Texas State account, even prior to the establishment of a Texas State account, as these are personal liabilities of the person making the expenditure. Exceptions due to extraordinary circumstances require approval of the director of OSP.

    5. When OSP receives an approved federal contract containing the E-Verify clause (73 FR 6770), it will notify the PI associated with the contract, who will then contact Human Resources to provide instructions.

    6. Refer to UPPS No. 02.02.02, Sponsored Programs – Post Award, for policies regarding managing an awarded grant.


    1. Reviewers of this UPPS include the following:

      Position Date
      Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Federal Relations July 1 ONY
      Director, Office of Sponsored Programs July 1 ONY

    This UPPS has been approved by the following individuals in their official capacities and represents Texas State policy and procedure from the date of this document until superseded.

    Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Federal Relations; senior reviewer of this UPPS

    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs