Acronyms and Glossary

Acronyms & Glossary 

BAA broad agency announcement
Co-PI co-principal investigator
CR cost reimbursement
F&A costs facilities and administrative costs
FAR Federal Acquisition Regulations
FAS final award synopsis
FFP firm fixed price
GFE government-furnished equipment
IACUC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee
IGA intergovernmental agreement
IP intellectual property
IRB Institutional Review Board (human subjects)
MTDC modified total direct cost
NCE no-cost extension
PASS Proposal Approval and Submission Sheet
PI/PD principal investigator/project director
SPA Sponsored Projects Accounting
SPO The Sponsored Projects Office
  • A-21 "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions," a circular published by the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, contracts and other government agreements with educational institutions (also known as Sponsored Projects). OMB Circular A-21 defines allowable costs as those that are reasonable, allocable to the project and given consistent treatment by use of generally accepted accounting principles. They must also conform to any limitations or exclusions set forth by the sponsor award terms or OMB Circular A-21.
  • Amendment: Any change made to an existing sponsored agreement.
  • Animal and/or human-subjects approval: University approval obtained by a PI to conduct research that involves experiments on or treatment of animal or human subjects. If animals are involved, approval is obtained from the IACUC Committee. If humans are involved, approval is obtained from the IRB Committee.
  • Award amount: Funds obligated by a funding agency for a particular project. This term is used for both original award and supplements; it can mean monies or equipment.
  • Award notification: Prepared by the SPO, summarizes the essential terms of the grant or contract, including the period of performance, the amount of funding and method of payment, the F&A rate, and the dates on which any technical and financial reports are due.
  • Broad agency announcement (BAA): An announcement that is general in nature and identifies areas of research interest, including criteria for selecting proposals, and soliciting the participation of all offerers capable of satisfying the government’s needs.
  • Budget: The detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant or contract.
  • Budget period: The interval of time, usually 12 months, into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.
  • Classified research: Research sponsored by a federal government entity that involves restrictions imposed, by agreement or otherwise, on the distribution or publication of the research findings, or results for a specified period or for an indefinite duration following completion of the research. The University of California does not participate in classified research. 
  • Clinical trial (CT)/clinical study (CS): A special category of activity that combines research with the testing of practical applications in biomedicine. Trials/studies are usually funded by commercial sponsors seeking approval of new pharmaceutical products or treatments.
  • Close-out: The completion of all work on a sponsored project, followed by the accounting of all costs and the filing of all required final reports; financial, technical, patents and inventions, and any other reports required by the sponsor.
  • Competing proposals: Proposals submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted must compete for research funds. Ongoing projects must compete again (renewal) if the term of the original award has expired.
  • Continuation project (non-competing): Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only. A project approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time. At the end of the initial budget period, progress on the project is assessed. If satisfactory, an award is made for the next budget period, subject to the availability of funds. Continuation projects do not compete with new project proposals and are not subjected to peer review beyond the initial project approval.
  • Consortium: Two or more institutions working on the same research project. Each institution may be funded directly by the supporting agency or one prime institution may subaward funds to the other members of the consortium.
  • Contract: An agreement to acquire services that primarily benefit the sponsor. For an award to be considered a contract, it normally contains the following elements: detailed financial and legal requirements and a specific statement of work to be performed; a specific set of deliverables and/or reports to the sponsor; separate accounting procedures; legally binding contract clauses; benefits of the project accrue first to the sponsor, then to the university then to the nation.
  • Cooperative agreement: An award similar to a grant, in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation. It anticipates the sponsor will have substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.
  • Cost accounting standards (CAS): Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and spending funds.
  • Cost reimbursement (CR): A type of agreement whereby payments are based on actual allowable costs incurred in performance of the work.
  • Cost sharing: A general term, used as a noun or adjective, that can describe virtually any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs or institutions. Example: A university receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000. The sponsor agrees to pay 75 percent ($75,000) and the university agrees to pay 25 percent ($25,000). The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component.
  • Cost transfer: A system that allows department administrators to correct objects and move or transfer payroll and non-payroll expenses from one account/fund to a different account/fund source.
  • Deficit (also known as overdrafts): The condition where total expenditure and encumbrances exceed an appropriation.
  • Direct costs: Clearly identifiable costs related to a specific project. General categories of direct costs include, but are not limited to, salaries and wages, fringe benefits, supplies, contractual services, travel, communication, equipment and computer use.
  • Effort: The amount of time, usually expressed as a percentage of total effort (100 percent) that faculty members or other employees spend on a project. Effort is certified and documented through the effort reporting system.
  • Electronic research administration (ERA): Conducting research administration by utilizing electronic resources such as the internet, the web, form templates, databases, and other electronic tools.
  • Encumbrance (also known as a lien): A transaction that reflects university’s legal obligation to pay for goods or services ordered through a formal purchase order or various maintenance, consultant, rental and lease agreements.
  • Expanded authorities: Policy implementation by some federal granting agencies which delegate certain prior approval authorities to grantee institutions. This delegation allows for internal university approval of administrative and spending actions, thus avoiding delays in project progress.
  • Facilities and administrative costs (F&A or indirect costs): Actual costs incurred during the normal business activities of an organization that cannot be readily identified with or directly charged to a specific project or activity. They often include instruction and departmental research, library services, public service and other institutional activities. F&A costs are real, auditable costs incurred by the university each time it accepts an award for a sponsored project. If the university does not collect full reimbursement for these costs, other university resources must be used to subsidize them.
  • Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR): Established to codify the uniform policies for the acquisition of supplies and services by executive agencies, normally applied to requests for proposals and federal contracts.
  • Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP): A cooperative initiative among federal agencies and institutional recipients of federal funds established to increase research productivity by streamlining the administrative process and minimizing the administrative burden on PIs while maintaining effective stewardship of federal funds. Under the FDP a researcher, as a recipient of federal grants, has management flexibility that includes 90-day pre-spending authority, institutionally approved no-cost extensions up to one additional year and automatic carryover of unobligated funds from one budget period to the next.
  • Final report: The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.
  • Firm fixed price (FFP): A type of agreement whereby payment is not based on actual cost expended but upon a mutually agreed upon price.
  • Fiscal year (FY): Any 12-month period for which annual accounts are kept (at UC Merced, July 1 through June 30).
  • Fund number: A five digit number, linked to an account number, that indicates the source of funds. The fund, allocated for the purpose of meeting certain programmatic or contractual objectives, often has associated regulations, restrictions or limitations that require separate budgeting and accounting. A fund number is required to begin spending award monies.
  • General purpose equipment: Equipment not limited to use for research, scientific or other technical activities. Examples of general purpose equipment include office equipment and furnishings, air conditioning equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, motor vehicles and automatic data processing equipment.
  • Gift: A unilateral transfer of money, property or other assets to the recipient for the recipient’s ownership and use, by a donor who makes no claims on the recipient in connection with the gift. Gifts normally have the following characteristics: The circumstances of the gift allow the recipient significant freedom; No deliverables are involved; Separate accounting procedures are not required; Benefits of the project are to accrue to the nation and the world; and the donor receives no audit reports.
  • Grant: An agreement to transfer money, property, services or anything of value to accomplish a purpose, such as provide support or assistance in an area of interest to the grantor. For an award to be considered a grant, it normally will contain the following elements: The statement of work allows the project director significant freedom to change emphasis within the general area of work as the project progresses; Deliverables are minimal, usually consisting of reports only; and separate accounting procedures are required.
  • Grantee: The recipient of a grant. When the university accepts a grant award on behalf of an individual, it becomes the grantee.
  • Inception to date: A time period reflecting information collected since the inception or start of an award.
  • Informed consent: The voluntary agreement obtained from a human subject (or the subject’s legally authorized representative) agreeing to participate in research or related activity, before participating in that activity. The consent must permit the individual (or legally authorized representative) to exercise free power of choice without undue inducement or any element of deceit, fraud, force, duress or other form of coercion or constraint.
  • In-kind contribution: A non-cash commitment (such as contributed effort, facilities use, supplies) to share the costs of a sponsored project.
  • Institutional authorized officials: The contract and grant officer/analyst; individuals authorized by the University of California Regents to sign grants, contracts and agreements on the Regents' behalf. 
  • Intellectual property (IP): Results of research conducted by the university with potential value for practical applications or other uses by the public. Major examples of intellectual property are inventions, computer software, biological materials and original writings. When is it in the interest of the university, or otherwise necessary, a patent or copyright is obtained to protect intellectual property rights.
  • Invoicing: For some extramural awards, the sponsor initiates payment only after receiving an invoice with or without expenditure breakdown. Invoices are prepared based on general ledger expenses and are submitted to sponsors and payments of invoices are recorded. 
  • Key personnel: People considered of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.
  • Material transfer agreement (MTA): A written agreement entered into by a provider and a recipient of research material to protect the intellectual and other property rights of the provider while permitting research with the material to proceed.
  • Memo liens: Unofficial commitment based on spending requests that have not yet been approved or encumbered.
  • Modification: Any change made to an existing sponsored agreement.
  • Modified total direct cost (MTDC): The basis for federally negotiated F&A rates, MTDC is derived by excluding certain costs from the direct cost total. Exclusions include: equipment, patient care, alterations and renovations, space rental, tuition remission, subawards to other UC campuses, and, in all other subawards, any amount beyond the first $25,000.
  • No-cost extension (NCE): Provides for an additional period of performance to accomplish project goals. Requests may be handled internally by the SPO in certain circumstances or sought externally from the sponsor.
  • Non-payroll cost transfers: Also known as non-PEAR, are non-payroll expenditure adjustment requests. They provide a chance to adjust financial transactions on the general ledgers. The adjustment requests must be fully explained, justified and approved.
  • OMB Circular A-21: Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars give instructions to the federal agencies that they are required to implement. The effect is to provide guidance regarding the maximum requirements for government agencies and the minimum standards for institutions.
  • Other sponsored activities: A broad range of activities integral to the university’s educational, research and public service missions. Some examples are art exhibitions, performing arts productions, continuing education projects and the provision of special resources to the public.
  • PASS Form: A unique UC Merced term that refers to the Proposal Approval and Submission Sheet that must be completed and signed by a PI, a school dean or the ORU director before a proposal can be submitted to the SPO for review and submission to a sponsor.
  • Principal investigator (PI): Typically, a faculty member who submitted a proposal funded by an external sponsor may be referred to as the project director. The PI has primary responsibility for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work and fiscal stewardship of sponsor funds.
  • Co-PI: Investigator who shares equal responsibility for the direction of a research program.
  • Prior approval: Prior written approval can be required to use project funds for purposes not in the approved budget, or to change aspects of the program from those originally planned and approved. Approval must be obtained before the performance of the act requiring such approval.
  • Program announcement: Describes existence of a research opportunity. It may describe new or expanded interest in a particular extramural program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in an extramural program.
  • Program income: Gross income earned by a research grant recipient from the activities of the grant, support for which was borne as a direct cost by the grant. Examples include fees for services performed under the grant, rental or usage fees charged for use of equipment purchased with grant funds, third party patient reimbursements for hospital or medical services paid from the grant, funds generated by the sale of commodities, such as cell lines or research animals developed for or paid for from the grant, and patent or copyright royalties.
  • Program/project officer: A sponsor's designated official responsible for the technical, scientific or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the PI/project director of the grantee/contractor organization, the program/project officer deals with the grantee/contractor organization staff to assure programmatic progress.
  • Progress report: Periodic, scheduled reports required by the sponsor summarizing research progress to date. Technical, fiscal, and invention reports may be required.
  • Project period (PP): The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved. A project period may consist of one or more budget periods.
  • Proposal: A set of documents containing a descriptive narrative of an idea and a budget to be submitted to a funding agency for sponsored support. Some agencies require that proposals be submitted on preprinted forms, while others have no specific format.
  • Public service: Provides support for the purpose of organizing, establishing, providing or enhancing the delivery of services to a particular community or non-university audience (e.g. musical or dramatic productions; tutorial services to the university.)
  • Re-budgeting: Process by which funds available for spending are reallocated between budget categories to allow best use of funds for accomplishing project goals.
  • Request for applications (RFA): Announcements that indicate the availability of funds for research of specific interest to sponsors. Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in grant awards. Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific sponsor publications. The RFA instructions include the information necessary to complete the application and mailing instructions.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP): Announcements that specify a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered, and appropriate applicants sought. Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in a contract award. Notices of Federal RFPs are published in the Commerce Business Daily.
  • Research: Diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories or applications.
  • Revision: A modified and resubmitted request for funding for a project that was previously not funded because it was either denied by the sponsor or withdrawn by the PI.
  • Special purpose equipment: Equipment that can be used only for research or other technical activities.
  • Sponsor: An external funding agency that enters into an agreement with the university to support research, instruction, public service or other sponsored activities. Sponsors include private businesses, corporations, foundations and other nonprofit organizations, other universities, and federal, state and local governments.
  • Sponsored research (also referred to as extramural support/funding): Funding for research, training, or public service programs provided by Federal or private sources outside the university, usually requiring formal acceptance of terms and conditions by the university related to the performance of the research.
  • Sub and object codes: Two-digit sub codes are general cost categories such as salaries (sub 00, 01, 02), supplies (sub 03), equipment (sub 04), overhead (sub 9H) etc; while four-digit object codes are further breakdowns of subcodes. Examples are 1XXX - salaries and wages; 2XXX - travel costs; 3XXX - transportation of things. Allowability of expenditure on extramural funds are monitored by analyzing these cost categories.
  • Subaward, subcontract, subgrant or subagreement: Written under the authority of, and consistent with, the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.
  • Supplemental (Rebudgeting or Modification) Proposal: A request to the sponsor for additional funds for an ongoing project during an already approved performance period. A supplemental proposal may result from increased costs, modifications in design, or a desire to add a closely related component to the ongoing project.
  • Terms of award: All legal requirements imposed on recipient by sponsors, whether by statute, regulation(s) or terms in the award document. The terms of an agreement may include both standard and special provisions considered necessary to protect the sponsor's interests.
  • Transfer of funds (TOF): Initiated to establish budgetary appropriations and adjust budgetary appropriations.
  • Total direct cost (TDC): The total of all direct costs of a project.
  • Unobligated or unexpended balance: Unspent fund balance.
  • Unrestricted funds: Monies with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are considered unrestricted funds.
  • Unsolicited proposal: Proposals submitted to sponsors that are not in response to RFPs, RFAs or program announcements.