November 27, 2014

Grants Accounting and Compliance

Marine Biological Laboratory
Policy No. E.1.1

Financial Services

Initiated by: Financial Services
Approved by: Chief Academic and Scientific Officer
Date: March 30, 1995
Revision: #4, November, 2007
Distribution: MBL Scientific Community and General Staff

1.0 Policy Statement:
The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) as a recipient of federal funds through grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts is required to comply with regulatory requirements that include but are not limited to the Office of Budget Management (OMB) Circulars A-110, A-122, and A-133, as well as applicable CFAR regulations for agency contracts.  As lack of compliance can lead to sanctions, it is imperative that the MBL promotes an organizational culture with a commitment to compliance with the regulations and certifications applicable to sponsored programs.

The institutional endorsement on a proposal for federal funding carries enormous obligations for the applicant organization, such as the certification below required by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

APPLICANT ORGANIZATION CERTIFICATION AND ACCEPTANCE: “I certify that the statements herein are true, complete and accurate to the best of my knowledge, and accept the obligation to comply with Public Health Servicexs terms and conditions if a grant is awarded as a result of this application.  I am aware that any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or claims may subject me to criminal, civil, or administrative penalties.”

Institutions are not the only legally responsible parties as the NIH and the National Science Foundation require institutions to obtain a similar certification from Principal Investigators (PI) prior to submission with the additional provision that the PI “…agree(s) to accept responsibility for the scientific conduct of the project and to provide the required progress reports if a grant is awarded as a result of this application.”  This is because they view the PI as a member of the grantee team responsible for ensuring compliance with the financial and administrative aspects of the award.

This policy defines the responsibilities for handling the awards and the consequences of violation of the policy or underlying procedures.  It should be used in conjunction with other policies including but not limited to the Code of Conduct, the Employee Conflict of Interest, and the Allegations of Misconduct.  It is also supported by the underlying MBL Grants Administration Procedures maintained by and available from Financial Services.

2.0  Responsibilities
The MBL, Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), Grant Accounting, and the Principal (PI) Investigators must work as a team to assure compliance with government regulations and this policy.   All research and education grants are prepared by a PI and then reviewed and submitted through the OSP.  As all awards received are made to the institution stewardship of the property and funds requires administrative attention.  The OSP and Grant Accounting units are responsible for the review, acceptance, administration, and oversight of compliance of all grants, cooperative agreements and contracts for research & education at the MBL.  These administrative units will follow the well defined Grants Administration Procedures to protect the MBL from inherent or perceived conflicts and to ensure objectivity and consistency in managing all aspects of awards.

2.1 Primary Responsibilities of Office of Sponsored Programs (Pre Award)

2.1.1    Serve as the MBL point of contact and signatory official for proposals and requests to government funding agencies and corporate sponsors, certifying that the MBL will comply with all applicable assurances & certifications and make appropriate use of funds awarded.

2.1.2    Facilitate preparation of grant and contract proposals by MBL scientists and other authorized individuals.

2.1.3    Review and approve the Proposal Summary Form as well as all grant budgets and re-budgeting requests for compliance with agency regulations and MBL policies.

2.1.4    Negotiate the final terms and conditions of grants, contracts and cooperative agreements.

2.1.5    Prepare and negotiate all sub-awards and amendments of sub-awards to other institutions per the request and approval from Principal Investigators overseeing the grant

2.1.6    Maintain grant-related certifications and assurances on behalf of the MBL

2.1.7    Collaborate with the Grants Accountant and Controller to assure proper grants accounting and guarantee MBLxs compliance with regulations and laws

2.1.8    Notify investigators of agency-specific report and close out requirements.

2.1.9    Determine how any residual equipment and/or funds from a grant, contract or cooperative agreement will be disposed of by consulting with the PI and Controller.

2.1.10  Co-direct the administration of invention disclosures and Intellectual Property (IP) at the MBL with the Chief Financial Officer and coordinate IP activities with Brown Technology Partnerships

2.2   Primary Responsibilities of Grant Accounting (Post Award)

2.2.1    Oversees all Awards compliance including accounting of costs on active jobs and all billing to government and private agencies.  Federal guidelines that provide guidance for administration of federal awards are OMB Circulars A-110 Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Non-Profit Organizations, A-122 Cost Principals for Non-Profit Organizations and A-133 Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.

2.2.2    Assure regulatory and MBL policy compliance including reconciling allowable expenses to federal financial assistance, sustaining A-133 audit requirements, and developing management reports.

2.2.3    Maintain with the OSP support the MBL Grants Administration Procedures for accounting and compliance for federal and non-federal contracts, grants and cooperative agreements.

2.2.4    Review laboratory agreements and establish new job centers for awards including set up procedures.

2.2.5    Complete Financial Close-Out of all completed awards assuring proper reporting to federal and non-federal agencies.

2.3 Primary Responsibilities of Principal Investigators (PI)

2.3.1    Submit all grant, contract, and cooperative agreement proposals to the OSP for their review prior to submitting to a funding agency.

2.3.2    Submit a Proposal Summary Form (available from the Office of Sponsored Programs) well in advance (preferably one month) of the due date for application to Sponsored Programs Administration to assure institutional facilities and resources are available to support the proposal, that an acceptable indirect cost recovery rate is being utilized, and any proposed cost sharing is acceptable.

2.3.3    Understand and comply with sponsoring agency rules and regulations for the contract, grant or cooperative agreement awards.

2.3.4  Monitor and ensure charges to the award are related to the approved budget.  Key to this is the requirement under federal regulations to have PIs overseeing expenditures for any scientific staff salary on each grant to make a monthly time and effort certification.  The PI must appreciate that this information is used to support the appropriateness of the majority of the grant expenditures and should exercise due care in approving scientific employee time sheets.

2.3.5    If cost sharing is applicable the source should be clearly identified prior to submission and accounted for properly if an award is received.

2.3.6    Oversee the purchase of equipment and general supplies authorized in any award.  Note that the employee conflict of interest applies to these purchasing activities and that disclosure of any vendor relationships is important.

2.3.7    Ensure any budget changes to an award are appropriate and filed in a timely manner.

2.3.8    Ensure performance/technical/final reports or deliverables are completed and submitted on scheduled basis with sponsoring agency.

2.3.9    If sub-awards are applicable the PI is responsible for monitoring their work, reviewing their invoices and approving availability of funds.

3.0 Violation of Grant Accounting and Compliance Policy

Employees and individuals who violate this policy may be subject to disciplinary action.  The MBL and the individuals may also be subject to civil penalties, which can be severe.

Any member of the MBL Community having knowledge of violation of this policy should contact the Manager of Sponsored Programs, the Controller, or the Compliance Coordinator.

4.0 Policy Clarification and Updates:
Policy clarification and updates are available from the Financial Services Office.