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Engineering Research and Graduate Programs

Engineering Research and Graduate Programs
1042 Rathbone Hall
1701B Platt St.
Manhattan, KS 66506

785-532-5844
Fax:785-532-7810
ergp@k-state.edu

Frequently Asked Questions 

PROPOSAL SUPPORT SERVICES

Whom do I contact to help me prepare my proposal?

The Carl R. Ice College of Engineering’s proposal preparation team works with faculty on grant proposals and pre-proposals to help make preparation and submission as smooth as possible. Assistance with several aspects of proposal preparation is offered, as well as advice and information based on extensive combined experience with funding agencies and the submission process. For the best outcome and to take advantage of the value-added services available, contact one of the following team members as early as possible in the proposal or pre-proposal process:

  • Kim Rewinkel, grant specialist, Engineering Research and Graduate Programs, krewinkel@ksu.edu, 532-5447

  • Effie Swanson, grants and Contracts Administrator, PreAward Services, effies@ksu.edu, 532-3229

  • Carole Lovin, research administrator, Engineering Research and Graduate Programs, clovin@ksu.edu, 532-5463

What proposal preparation services are provided?

  • Meet with the PI to plan an amenable timeline and discuss how to share tasks to prepare and submit the proposal.

  • Lead preparation of certain required components of the submission (e.g., budget, current and pending support, general formatting) to allow faculty to focus on the technical components of the proposal.

  • Offer strategic advice, practical tips, and other information or guidance to aid in the development of the proposal and compliance with sponsor requirements.

  • Guide the proposal through the university’s internal review process, including routing through the electronic PI Certification and Unit Approval process via Cayuse SP and working with PreAward Services to obtain approval for the budget and other materials.

  • Work with external and internal collaborators to gather required materials and information (e.g., work with grant specialists/sponsored projects offices at a subrecipient institution).

What is the standard K-State proposal submission and award process?

Faculty must submit all proposals and awards through the university’s PreAward Services Office for official university review.

A detailed overview of proposal preparation steps can be found here.

Certification and approval of proposals, awards and other sponsored project activities are obtained through Cayuse SP, the university’s electronic signature system for sponsored programs activities. 

What additional research administration services are offered by ERGP?

In addition to proposal preparation activities, ERGP is committed to providing the following:

  • In partnership with the Office of Research Development (ORD), identify interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary programs for highly competitive funding opportunities conducive to both college and university areas of strength, build collaborative teams across campus and provide leadership to coordinate proposal preparation to include value-added planning and coordination.

  • Provide resources for support and encouragement of tenure-track faculty through monthly tenure-track faculty network meetings, events, workshops, and a dedicated grants specialist to guide and direct faculty in proposal preparation activities.

  • Provide liaison services to university-sponsored project offices, including the Office of Research Development (ORD), and PreAward Services (PAS).

  • Provide reports for research, education, and outreach activities for the college.

  • Promote and support of on- and off-campus events for faculty through ORD calendar of classes, workshops, and training, as well as other campus research-related events.

PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT

How do I find funding opportunities? 

  • The Funding Connection, published in Research Weekly, is a weekly publication of the Office of Research Development.

  • The research edition of @ENGG this week, published on Tuesdays, highlights funding opportunities for research areas supported in the college.

  • Pivot, a worldwide funding opportunities database, is available to faculty and staff to locate potential funding sources.

  • An excellent way to identify potential sponsors is networking with faculty colleagues, industry representatives, and funding agency program managers and personnel. 

  • Other resources can be found on the “Find Funding” page of the university’s research website.

How do I find a collaborator for a multi-disciplinary solicitation that will require faculty expertise in an area with which I'm not familiar?

Use Pivot profiles to find an internal or external collaborator. Update your profile with a CV, publications page and grant information to help others find you as a potential collaborator. 

Another resource made available through K-State Libraries is Scopus, an abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature including scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings. 

Development directors in the Office of Research Development, Mary Lou Marino and Joel Anderson and the associate dean for research and graduate programs can also assist with finding appropriate collaborators.

What is considered to be a "large" or “complex” proposal?

Large and/or complex proposals involve complex budget structures that may include subawards and/or significant cost sharing, compliance issues, international collaborators, teaming agreements or other complex factors which require increased demands on proposal services. To optimize the abilities of the PI, college, and university to manage large proposal preparation and produce a competitive proposal submission, a substantial amount of time is needed to assist faculty teams with proposal development strategy; collection of information, data, and documentation; and various internal and external approvals prior to the submission deadline. 

What services are offered for "large" or “complex” proposals?

ERGP and K-State's Office of Research Development (ORD) work together to help faculty succeed in their research, scholarly, and creative activity and discovery efforts. Contact either Carole Lovin in ERGP and/or Mary Lou Marino or Joel Anderson, development directors in the Office of Research and Development (ORD). University proposal services offered include the following:
  • Individual strategic consultations are available to review potential solicitations; develop proposal development strategies; and identify additional faculty expertise, resources, and other special needs of the solicitation. 

  • Group coordination services for large complex submissions are offered to help the lead PI work well in advance to develop a proposal-production timeline and coordinate other aspects of development. 

  • Finding collaborators for interdisciplinary proposals can often be a challenge when a PI does not have the necessary contacts. ORD development directors can help connect PIs with other faculty who may be interested in participating in a collaborative effort. ORD development directors are informed about different campus research groups and serve as matchmakers to help avoid "reinventing the wheel" to meet proposal requirements.

  • Coordinating critical reviews of proposal narrative drafts, including red teams, improves readability, strengthens rationale, and ensures that all sponsor requirements are addressed thoroughly and convincingly.

  • For broader impacts, rather than "re-inventing the wheel" each time something is required for a proposal, just tap into already existing K-State programs. Recruitment, retention and outreach networks are in place so you do not have to build them. 

How much time should I plan for development of a "large" or "complex" proposal?

To fully embrace services offered to facilitate proposal development, PIs should be prepared to provide adequate lead time. Many funding agencies recommend proposal development and preparation timelines of at least six months and for regularly reoccurring programs (e.g. NIH R01), up to one year. For PIs wishing to benefit from ORD proposal development services a minimum of two months' advance notice is required to allow development directors to effectively assist with team building, narrative strategies, and writing services.

What do I need to know about working with industry partners?

K-State has adopted an innovative approach to industry-sponsored research. The K-State Research website provides information for faculty who are establishing collaborative relationships with industry. Find the tools you need to build a successful collaboration including learning how to work with industry, steps for conducting industry-sponsored research and development or steps to provide industry partners with testing and evaluation services. The powerpoint presentation, Working with Industry Executive Summary, provides an overview from understanding and engaging industry partners to intellectual property. The K-State Working With Industry team also has a series of workshops to help faculty develop and enhance research relationships with corporate partners.  

PROPOSAL PREPARATION

Where can I find preparation information about the different components required for my proposal?

The K-State Research website provides proposal preparation information, including budgetsgrant writing tips, development resources for data management plans and postdoctoral researcher mentoring plansbroader impacts, and evaluation plans.

When are the university’s internal deadlines for proposal materials? What is a standard timeline for preparing and submitting a proposal?

University policy sets the internal deadline at one to two weeks before the sponsor’s deadline. Ideally, the budget would be finalized five to seven business days before the sponsor deadline and all other materials would be ready two to three days before the sponsor deadline. We will work with faculty on a proposal-by-proposal basis to plan a reasonable timeline with feasible deadlines for the budget and other materials.

Many funding agencies use federal websites such as Grants.gov, FastLane or Research.gov for proposal submission, in addition to the many lesser-known electronic submission sites used by NASA and non-profit agencies. Electronic sites can be finicky and slow, and have been known to crash during high-traffic times. Sponsors highly suggest submitting proposals 24 to 48 hours in advance to ensure submissions meet electronic-enforced deadlines. Submitting 24 to 48 hours in advance also allows time for changes and an amended submission should errors be found.

How much time should I plan to prepare a proposal?

This depends on the type and complexity of the proposal being submitted. A single-institution, single-PI proposal with no cost-sharing will generally take less time than a complex, large proposal with complicated budgets, multiple senior personnel, subawards or cost-sharing. In particular, proposals with external partners (universities, industry partners, etc.) require additional documentation and lead time.

Plan to meet with a grant specialist at least 30 days before the submission deadline. Faculty are strongly encouraged to take advantage of value-added proposal preparation services available at ERGP and PreAward Services by starting the proposal process early. Keep internal deadlines in mind when determining the timeline for finalizing proposal documentation. Be sure to build in lead time for the following:

  • K-State proposal preparation and review processes as internal target dates are determined for various components of a proposal

  • Adequate time to make corrections once the final review has been completed by PreAward Services

  • Possible limited availability of PIs and/or proposal development staff who may be working with multiple proposals with similar deadlines or working with particularly complex proposals

How long does it take for my proposal to be approved by K-State before submission?

The processing of proposals, and all subsequent grant and contract documents, follows a routing path determined by the type of project activity and administrative unit with which the PI is affiliated. The length of time depends on the number of proposals pending at the time yours is received by PreAward Services.

After the PI and any co-investigators have certified the IPF, the proposal must be approved by the department/unit head and next-higher authority within the school, college or institute for each PI, co-PI or senior personnel. The proposal is then available for PreAward Services review.

Do white papers and pre-proposals have to go through PreAward Services?

This depends on the sponsor's guidelines on what should be included in the white paper or pre-proposal. In cases where the sponsor requires a budget, a signature from K-State’s authorized institutional representative, and/or requires a specialized portal for submission a white paper then must be submitted through PreAward Services.

If a white paper is purely technical in nature, PreAward Services involvement may not be required. However, it is a good idea to process white papers or pre-proposals through university channels to ensure official university credit is received for submitting the proposal. This will also simplify the submission and review process should a subsequent full proposal be invited in response to the white paper.

What is "Effort %" on the Internal Processing Form (IPF) and how should it be distributed?

E% reflects intellectual contributions of each team member to the project. Bear in mind that determining effort based on distribution of budget expenditures does not necessarily reflect appropriate effort as many critical persons on a research team may not receive much or any funding in the sponsor budget.

Why do I have to submit my proposal through the university?

PreAward Services is authorized by the vice president for research as the university unit responsible for submission and negotiation of new and continuing sponsored programs for Kansas State University. The associate vice president for research, Paul R. Lowe, is the authorized institutional representative and signature authority for the university's sponsored project proposal and award activities.

My project may involve human subjects, animal subjects or biohazards. How do I proceed?

K-State's University Research Compliance Office (URCO) helps researchers meet regulations so they can do their research as safely and efficiently as possible. It is recommended that PIs contact the compliance office prior to submission of a proposal. Once the university accepts an award the PI must complete the required institutional approval processes for the compliance components before K-State will release the award to the PI to begin the project. Not having compliance documentation and paperwork in order can cause a delay. 

BUDGET

How do I begin my budget? Where can I find a proposal budget template?

The K-State Research proposal preparation site provides tools, templates and guidance information to help prepare proposal budgets. Also check with the Engineering proposal preparation team for other budget templates developed for particular programs or proposal formats (budgets by task, etc.). 

You may also contact a member of the proposal preparation team to help with development of a draft budget to ensure your budget includes current rates for fringe benefits, indirect costs and tuition.

When should I have my proposal budget finalized?

The proposal budget, including the budget justification, should be finalized and routed to PreAward Services two weeks prior to the proposal deadline. Note that PreAward Services operates budget review on a first-in, first-out basis. Two weeks allows adequate time for any corrections needed once the PreAward Services review is complete.

GRA tuition: what are the current college tuition and fee rates?

GRA tuition at the current rates must be included as a direct cost in all grant and contract proposals as required by K-State Engineering GRA tuition policy. Federal grants and contracts normally allow for such costs. Multiple year budgets may include estimated tuition increases, typically ranging from five to 10 percent. In cases in which tuition is not allowed as a direct cost by the sponsor, the PI is allowed to adjust the GRA salary to include the cost of tuition. Refer to the college's GRA tuition policy for more details.

What are K-State's current fringe benefit rates?

Fringe benefit rates can be found on K-State’s Research website. Rates are updated annually based on information provided by Human Capital Services and are effective during the fiscal year, July 1 to June 30. 

Is "F&A" the same as indirect costs?

Yes. F&A refers to facilities and administrative costs, and may also be referred to as indirect costs or sponsored research overhead (SRO).

What are K-State's current facilities and administrative (F&A) cost rates for sponsored projects?

K-State's current federally-negotiated facilities and administrative (F&A) cost rates can be found on the K-State Research website. These rates apply to all sponsored project activity, including submissions to federal, non-federal, and private sector sponsors. For more details, view the Guide to Facilities and Administrative Costs (PDF).

How are indirect facilities and administrative (F&A) costs calculated? Can I use a rate lower than the standard negotiated rate?

Facilities and administrative (indirect) costs are calculated using the University’s standard negotiated rate or a sponsor’s posted/published rate. The only time it is allowable to use a different rate is if it is mandated by a sponsoring organization as their standard, documented policy and posted in a public location, such as a solicitation or the sponsor’s website. For example, USDA NIFA caps indirect costs at a percent of total requested funds. Private foundations often have limited indirect cost rates as well. The university cannot reduce the indirect cost rate for any other reasons.

What is cost sharing?

Cost sharing represents that portion of total project costs of a sponsored project borne by the university or other third parties, rather than the sponsor. In awarding grants, some sponsors require cost share to be included. Some examples of cost sharing are academic faculty effort; purchase of equipment, supplies or materials necessary for the conduct of the project; third-party contributions, either cash or in-kind. When cost share is required, PIs should discuss options with their department head and the college ADR. Contact your grant specialist to help determine allowable cost share resources. For more information on cost sharing, see chapter 7070 of K-State's Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM).

Is there a difference between cost sharing and matching?

Cost sharing and matching are often used interchangeably. Cost sharing, matching and in-kind contributions are the commitment of university resources in support of a project beyond the funds provided by the sponsor. 

Will the college or university provide match for my proposal?

ERGP manages all requests for cost sharing in the form of hard-dollar (cash) match commitments for the college. Faculty must begin with the Associate Dean for Research to request matching funds for a proposal. Contact the Associate Dean for Research as soon as a proposal is being considered for submission to discuss ideas and options that may be available.  Hard-dollar matching support for research proposals is determined on a case-by-case basis. More information on this policy can be found on the ERGP website.

What's the difference between a subrecipient and a contractor?

A subrecipient uses the federal project funds to engage in and carry out a program for the public purpose specified in the award, as opposed to a contractor who is simply providing goods or services for the project. Use the Subrecipient, Consultant, and Vendor Determination Checklist to determine what type of relationship is most appropriate for your sponsored project when working with an individual, company or organization.

What should I know about subawards to accurately prepare my proposal budget?

Two weeks prior to submission the final budget and budget justification should be routed to PreAward Services for initial review. Note that PreAward Services operates budget review on a first-in, first-out basis. Two weeks also allows adequate time for corrections as needed once the PreAward Services review is complete.

What if a potential sponsor said it would fund my research project if the university would reduce its facilities and administrative (indirect) cost rate?

K-State's policy is to pursue full costs of sponsored project activities funded by extramural sponsors, including facilities and administrative (indirect) costs borne by the university. The facilities and administrative (F&A) cost is a federally negotiated rate. Deviations from the approved F&A cost rate may be considered for organizations with published policies, consistently applied and applicable to all applicants, that reduce full-cost recovery.

What should I know about subawards (subrecipients) to accurately prepare my proposal, especially my budget?

Well in advance of the proposal deadline, subawardees (or subrecipients) must provide documentation in order to participate in a submission. Subrecipient information should be provided a minimum of two weeks prior to the proposal deadline to allow for K-State review, and corrections of the budget or other required documentation. K-State must then integrate the subrecipient’s information into the K-State proposal.

 In addition, providing the name of the grant specialist and information for each subrecipient institution will help expedite the process.

 Proposal elements are expected to conform to the solicitation requirements and should be in the format required by the sponsor. The following documents must be provided by the subawardee.

  • K-State’s Subrecipient Commitment Form. The form is designed to collect information about the subrecipient organization. The form must be completed and signed by an authorized signatory of the subrecipient organization.

  • Statement of Work. This document describes the work be to be conducted by the subrecipient.

  • Budget and Budget Justification. These documents must be prepared in accordance with the applicable sponsor guidelines and forms.

  • Subrecipient’s Federally Negotiated Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Rate Agreement. This agreement is required to verify calculations of budget indirect rates.

  • Additional documentation may be required as mandated by the sponsor solicitation such as biosketches, current and pending support information, letters of commitment, certifications, etc.

MANAGING YOUR AWARD

What happens after my sponsor has told me my proposal will be awarded?

PreAward Services completes a formal award review, negotiation and acceptance when faculty receive awards. After the award is accepted, Sponsored Programs Accounting assigns project account numbers. The resources below will help you manage administrative requirements of your project.

Who can help me understand my monthly expenditure reports?

Department business managers or accountants are responsible for post-award financial activities such as project accounting, project balances, etc. Sponsored Programs Accounting is also available for assistance.

Who submits financial reports for my sponsored project?

Department business managers or accountants work with PIs and Sponsored Programs Accounting to prepare project financial information for sponsored projects. All sponsored project invoices are submitted to the sponsor by SPA. 

What is committed effort?

Effort commitment is the portion of time committed to a particular activity expressed as a percentage of the individual's total activity for the institution. The level of committed effort proposed for a project should reflect the percent of time and effort required to meet the goals of the project.

What is effort certification or effort reporting?

Effort reporting is a federally mandated method of confirming that committed effort, whether paid on a sponsored project or expended in support of a sponsored project but contributed or cost shared, has been performed.

Who has to complete effort reports and how is it done?

All faculty members and personnel who receive any portion of their salary from a sponsored project, or otherwise provide effort on a sponsored project, must certify their effort. In addition, a PI is required to certify the effort of most other staff who devote effort to his/her sponsored project. Good communication with your department accountant or business manager can ensure that effort reporting is complete and accurate.

How do the university and college distribute recovered facilities and administrative (indirect) costs?

University Overhead Allocation and Sponsored Research Overhead (SRO) Distribution and can be found on the Sponsored Programs Accounting site. Distribution of K-State Engineering sponsored research overhead is defined by college policy and can be found on the college’s website.  

I have a subaward and am not sure how to manage it.

For help with managing subawards, work with department business managers or accountants. Also see Sponsored Programs Accounting's webpage for consultants, subawards, and other professional resources.

What do I need to do if I need to purchase something that was not in the budget I sent to the sponsor in my proposal?

For guidance and assistance on post-award budget-related activities, including budget revisions, work with your department business manager or accountant, or contact Tim McDaniel, PreAward Services, budget modification administrator, 532-6804, tnm8659@k-state.edu. You may also contact Kim Rewinkel in ERGP, krewinkel@ksu.edu, 532-5447.

What do I do if my project has expired or is about to expire, but I need additional time to complete the research or prepare the final report?

For non-financial project activities including time extensions and expanded authorities, contact Cecelia Scaler, PreAward Services, database/project modification specialist, 532-6804, cscaler@ksu.edu. You may also contact Kim Rewinkel in ERGP, krewinkel@ksu.edu, 532-5447.