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Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Pre-Award Spending Request?

When a new award is imminent, or a competitive phase of an existing award is pending it is sometimes necessary to start work on the project before the sponsor issues an award notice. In such cases it may be appropriate to submit a Pre-Award Spending Request through UC Merced’s Sponsored Projects Office (SPO). A request for a Pre-Award Spending Fund must be initiated and signed by the PI with the concurrence of the PI’s Department/Unit.

Why should I request a Pre-Award Spending Request?

It is never appropriate to charge a pending project’s costs to another sponsored project and to transfer these costs after the pending project’s fund has been established. Such a cost transfer can result in penalties and other sanctions applied to the University that could affect Merced’s research enterprise.

Are there any restrictions on requesting a Pre-Award Spending FAU?

A Pre-Award Spending request will not be possible if it is clear that the effective start date of the project is tied to the date of final signature on the agreement. In such cases spending cannot begin until the award or contract is fully executed. This includes most State of California and UCOP awards.

A Pre-Award Spending request is not necessary in between project periods when the terms of the original award commit the sponsor to future years of support for specific funding amounts without the need for additional agency approval.

How will I know if the Pre-Award Spending Request has been approved?

After SPO issues a Notice of Award, an email confirmation including the Pre-Award Spending Form will be sent to the department staff requesting the budget entry. A completion email confirming the activation of the fund with budget entry will be sent to the PI/Department/ORU with FAU.

What happens if the sponsor has not issued the award by the end of the Pre-Award Spending period and more time and/or more funds are needed?

If the sponsor has not issued the award by the end of the initial Pre-Award Spending period or additional funds are needed beyond the amount already requests, a Pre-Award Spending continuation request should be submitted to SPO requesting more time and/or funds. (Please note: Type “A” Pre-Award Spending Requests are limited to 90 calendar days.)

If the PI spends over the amount of beyond the time period authorized by the original or any subsequent Pre-Award Spending requests, any deficit that results will be resolved according to the Campus Policy on Deficit Resolution. (need one)

What happens if the award is never received/accepted, less funding is received than expected, or the sponsor disallows any pre-award costs incurred during the Pre-Award Spending period?

The Department/ORU should transfer the expenses incurred during the Pre-Award Spending period to the guarantee FAU or another appropriate fund source. This source should never be another restricted fund.

Who do I contact if I have questions about filling out the UCM Pre-Award Spending Request Form?

If you have any additional questions regarding how to fill out the UCM Pre-Award Spending Request Form, please contact awards@ucmerced.edu.

What is a “business day?”
A business day is Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm. This is eight business hours (8 am to noon and 1 pm to 5 pm). Official national and state holidays and Campus/SPO closure days are not considered business days and are not counted when assessing the priority level of a proposal.

For NSF collaborative submissions where Merced is not the lead, what are the requirements?
At least five business days prior to the NSF deadline SPO must receive:

A draft technical section in Cayuse. This should be the lead organization's overall project description (in draft or final form) and any other sponsor-required technical components. If this is not possible, SPO will accept, at a minimum, a scope of work for Merced’s role on the project.

All administrative sections of Merced’s proposal in FastLane. All administrative sections must be complete.

If this internal deadline is not met or if the lead organization’s final proposal is not uploaded into Fastlane at least eight business hours prior to the NSF deadline, the proposal will be handled as a Third Priority Proposal.

What is the “proposal deadline” for a hard copy proposal that must be received by a particular date?
If the sponsor requires that a hard copy of a proposal be received by a certain due date, the proposal deadline in Cayuse should be the date the proposal needs to physically be mailed or transited to a sponsor in order to be received by the sponsor’s due date. If a sponsor requires both an electronic and hard copy of the proposal be received by a certain date, the proposal deadline in Cayuse should be the mailing/transmittal date for the hard copy proposal. The proposal policy always will be based on the mailing/transmittal date of the hard copy proposal

What is meant by “all administrative sections of the proposal required by the sponsor?”
Every sponsor requires administrative information that supports the proposed scope of work. The administrative sections may be labeled differently by specific sponsors, but typically the administrative section includes the cover sheet (listing details about the institution, the amount of funding requested, cost sharing, and the personnel involved, etc.); the budget and budget justification; biographical information about the key project personnel; current and pending support; and a description of the facilities, equipment, and other resources that will support the project. The administrative section also includes any required special information and supplementary documentation if requested by the sponsor (e.g., Letters of Support/Participation, Data Management Plan, Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan).

Note: For proposals to NSF and PHS (or other sponsors that have adopted the NSF or PHS financial disclosure requirements), it also will be necessary to submit the Subrecipient Commitment Form (Non-FDP Pilot Institutions) or FDP Pilot Subrecipient Project Information for each named Subrecipient.

If a proposal makes the five-day deadline, and SPO notes that corrections need to be made to the proposal, will the proposal be returned as incomplete?
No. This is part of SPO’s normal review process. Note: SPO will note that a proposal error needs to be corrected no more than twice.

If my proposal is due at 2 pm on Friday, when do I need to submit my proposal to SPO to meet the five-business day deadline? The 16-business hour deadline? The 8-16 business hour deadline?

Five Business Day Deadline: The proposal with a complete administrative section and at least a draft technical section would need to be submitted to SPO by 2 pm the previous Friday.

16 Business Hour Deadline: The proposal with a complete administrative section and at least a draft technical section would need to be submitted to SPO by 2 pm on Wednesday.

8-16 Business Hour Deadline: The proposal with a complete administrative section and at least a draft technical section would need to be submitted to SPO after 2 pm on Wednesday until 2 pm on Thursday. After 2 pm on Thursday, the proposal (if approved by the VCR) will be treated as a Third Priority proposal.

Please note: The date and time that the proposal is submitted to SPO is determined by the date and time of the dean/chair/head’s approval in Cayuse.

How do I determine when my proposal is due to SPO if my proposal is due at 5 pm EST?
You would first convert the sponsor’s deadline to PST and determine the various internal submission deadlines based on this conversion. For example, 5 pm EST = 2 pm PST.

When UCM is a subawardee and the proposal is being submitted to a lead institution what date does SPO use to determine if the proposal is late—the agency deadline or when the lead institution requires the receipt of the proposal?
Proposals to lead institutions are always due at SPO five working days before the proposal is required by the lead institution.

What is required for a subaward proposal being submitted by UC Merced to a lead institution/organization?
A subaward proposal should always include UC Merced’s statement of work (draft or final form) as well as the budget and budget justification (in final form). In addition, the proposal initiator also should include the instructions from the lead institution/organization indicating what is required by the lead institution/organization in addition to the statement of work, budget, and budget justification. If significant additional administrative information is requested by the lead institution/organization after the five-day deadline, the proposal will be considered incomplete.

How is a proposal with a target date processed by SPO?
SPO will typically process all first and second priority proposals that have a target date before any third priority proposals due that same day. However, if a proposal’s target deadline is flexible, SPO may make adjustments in proposal submission order to ensure all proposals due on a particular day are submitted successfully.