FAQ

Can SPO help me find funding opportunities?

The Sponsored Projects Office does not assist with identifying funding opportunities. The Research Development Office (RDS) is available to assist faculty with this.  The RDS website can be found at rds.ucmerced.edu.

How do I budget for benefits?

The university does not charge composite rates. Benefits are charged at actual rates based on an employees benefits elections. When budgeting for benefits at the proposal stage please do the following:

1. Person named in budget – Use the person’s actual benefits rate. This can be found in the payroll system. If you do not have access to this information, please contact your SPO RA. They will be happy to assist you with computing this rate.

2. Person who is To Be Named in the budget – The university must use composite rates approved by UCOP. These rates are currently under review. Please contact your SPO RA for the most recent rates.

Please note that because the university charges actuals, there may be a variance between the rates budgeted and the rates charged. If an employee chooses to change their benefits election during open enrollment, their actual rate charged to a grant will also change. It is imperative that fund managers track changes to benefits so that the appropriate post-award action can be taken to mitigate the effect of changing benefit rates on the overall project.

What documents are required in order for SPO to review, approve, and submit a proposal?

The following documents are required 5 business days prior to the sponsor deadline in order for SPO to review, approve, and submit a proposal:

  1. Link to the solicitation guidelines
  2. Statement of work – Draft is acceptable.  Final is preferred.
  3. All proposal elements, administrative sections, and attachments required by the sponsor.  These must be final, not draft.
  4. All required internal administrative documents and forms required by UC Merced.  These must be final, including necessary approvals. 

Additional information and examples of these documents can be found at http://spo.ucmerced.edu/policies-and-procedures/spo-review

In what format should documents be provided to SPO?

Cayuse will accept documents from Word, Excel, and Adobe.  Please note, that while Adobe PDF does allow for the review of margins and text, SPO has found that it is not completely reliable.  If the proposal has formatting requirements and you want to be sure that your documents comply with these requirements, it is recommended that the documents be submitted in .doc or .docx. 

When do I have to have all my sections to SPO for submission?

SPO requires that a complete proposal package be submitted 5 business days prior to the sponsor deadline for submission.  More detailed information can be found here: http://spo.ucmerced.edu/policies-and-procedures/spo-review  Please note that proposals received after the deadline will be submitted to the sponsor without review.

Can I submit my proposal and just send a copy to SPO?

No.  Only the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) is authorized to submit proposals on behalf of UC Merced.  Proposals that are submitted without going through SPO may not be compliant with UC policy.  These projects would not be accepted if awarded.  If accepted, there may need to be extensive re-budgeting to align the award with UC policy.

I am a subcontractor on a proposal going through another institution, must I go through SPO?

Yes.  Any proposed extramurally funded project at UCM must be reviewed, approved, and submitted by SPO.  In the case of a subaward, please note that the deadline for submission to the host institution may be significantly earlier than the sponsors deadline.  In such cases, the deadline for submission to SPO is 5 days before the host institutions deadline, not the sponsors.

Can I sign an award letter or agreement with an external agency?

No.  Only an authorized university official, with delegated authority, may accept an award on behalf of UCM.  All award letters must be forwarded to SPO for review and acceptance.

What is the status of my award setup?

When an award is received by SPO, the documentation (notice of award, fully executed contract or grant agreement, etc.) is reviewed for sponsor terms and conditions.  If further negotiation is required, SPO will notify the PI and Department Research Administrator of the negotiation and delay in processing the award.  If no negotiation is required, SPO will process the award and notify Research Accounting Services of the need for a new or modified FAU.

How do I request a pre-award spending account?

Under limited circumstances a PI may request authorization to spend funds prior to the receipt of their formal award notice.  Authorization of pre-award spending is contingent upon the following:

  • An essential need to advance or commit funds prior to the receipt of an award;
  • Approval of human subjects, animal and/or biosafety protocols, as applicable;
  • Approval of financial disclosures on the federal financial disclosure form and/or the state financial disclosure form 700-U, as applicable;
  • Approval of exception to principal investigator eligibility, as applicable;
  • Certification by the PI along with the approval from the appropriate Dean and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, that any monetary loss to the campus resulting from the sponsor's failure to make the award, or from costs incurred but disallowed by the sponsor, shall be the responsibility of the PI and backed up by the funding source provided on the pre-award spending form; and
  • Receipt of a firm commitment by an authorized representative of the sponsor to SPO that an award is forthcoming

The Advanced Expenditure Authorization form must be completed, approved and forwarded to SPO for processing.  This form can be found here: http://spo.ucmerced.edu/policies-and-procedures/pre-award-spending

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