The new Uniform Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards (commonly referred to as Uniform Guidance) mandates that recipients of Federal funds document their process of classifying third parties included in grant proposals as either subrecipients or contractors. In order to meet this requirement, OARS and Grants & Contracts have developed an online form that must be completed, saved as a PDF, and attached to your eSPA proposal record for all proposals that include funds going to a third party.
A separate form is required for each entity to be included in your proposal budget. Although this requirement is for funds from Federal sources, consistency principles dictate that we apply this same scrutiny to all proposals, whether the sponsor is Federal or non-Federal. Nothing is new in the criteria for determining whether a third party is classified as a subrecipient or a contractor — the only thing new is the requirement to document our process for making the determination.
A link to the online form can be found in the Proposal Preparation Resources section of the OARS website, as well as on the Budget and Subcontract pages in eSPA. If you have any questions about this new form, please contact your OARS representative. Use of this form will begin immediately.
Photo of contractor by Amanda Bicknell, from the FEMA Photo Library, via Wikimedia Commons, used under public domain.
Thanks to all who completed our eSPA satisfaction survey. We received a total of 133 responses. Twenty percent of respondent had not used the system and no additional data was collected from those respondents. Sixty-five percent of respondents find the Cayuse system easy or “neutral” to use with only 3% saying it is very difficult.
In terms of training and support resources, more respondents had participated in group training, but as would be expected, one-on-one training was rated as the most helpful. There was no interest in follow-up training. There was a great deal of positive feedback about the ease of use, ability to track all phases of proposal routing, ability to have all pieces of a proposal in one place, and the speed and ease of paperless routing. About a dozen users felt that the system was too time consuming, difficult and required too much work. Of the handful of respondents expressing frustration about the need to enter budgets on multiple forms, one actually noted that “having to do it both ways has helped me to catch errors, so I should probably get over it!” There was also frustration with the number of compliance questions and seemingly irrelevant questions, particularly in the “Community Benefits” section.
I am still irritated about having to do a budget spreadsheet for OARS’ approval and then re-do the budget in eSPA. HOWEVER, having to do it both ways has helped me to catch errors, so I should probably get over it. — eSPA survey respondent
In response to your comments, OARS has taken several steps to address some of the concerns expressed. We have reworded the questions in the Community Benefits section to clarify what we are looking for and provided examples for each. For approvers, we eliminated the so-called entity email accounts, which were a great source of frustration, so all automated emails notifications from this system now go to approvers’ personal email addresses. We also continue to work with new eSPA users to provide one-on-one training as time allows and when we have no upcoming group trainings scheduled. However, because of limited staffing, this is not something we can do for every new user on a continuing basis.
Regarding the need to complete OARS’ internal budget spreadsheet and enter a detailed budget on the budget tab in SP, and — in the case of NSF proposals — also enter a detailed budget in Fastlane, let me provide some explanation that might facilitate a better understanding of this requirement. The first point is that our internal business practices have not changed with the initiation of the eSPA system; we previously used the internal budget template as a mechanism for PIs to draft their budgets and for OARS to provide feedback before the final budget is entered into the funding agency’s budget form, so this is not new. What is new is the need to enter the detailed budget on the budget page in Cayuse SP. This is actually one of the Lean outcomes of this system. Cayuse SP is able to interface with our Banner post-award accounting system, so the detailed budget can be transferred from SP to the Banner grant award account, eliminating the need for double entry of the budget. While this does put a slight additional burden on individual PIs at proposal submission, the cumulative time saved at the central office level is significant, and allows both Grants and Contracts and OARS staff to focus on more proactive initiatives and to better serve the needs of our PIs.
Written by Anne Schauer, Director of Research & Sponsored Programs, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.
OARS heard frustrations about the entity accounts we originally established for eSPA notifications, and we’ve taken action to make things better. Last month we began changing the email addresses associated with approver accounts in eSPA to each approver’s personal Miami account. That process is now complete, and from this point forward, all notifications that a proposal record or advanced account request is waiting for approval will be sent to approvers’ personal Miami email inbox.
When we launched eSPA, we initially thought that having to change email addresses every time a chair, dean, or director changed would be too labor-intensive for our small staff. However, now that the system has been up and running for nearly a year, we have learned that changing approvers in departments and colleges requires other manual changes in eSPA, and that changing email addresses at the same time takes little additional effort.
We thank approvers for their feedback and hope they continue to let us know how the system works for for them as we go forward. To that end, OARS will distribute a short survey in the coming month. We ask all approvers to be on the lookout for this survey and to encourage their grant-active faculty who have experience with eSPA to complete it as well.
The OARS staff has been hard at work getting our new electronic sponsored programs administration, or eSPA, system (Evisions Cayuse 424/SP) ready to roll out to the Miami community. Our campus-wide training sessions began on October 29 and will continue to be offered on numerous dates at various times through January 2015.
Online registration is required for these 90 minute sessions, which will provide an overview of the on-line system, and a walk-through of the steps involved in creating a proposal record, building a proposal, routing the proposal for approvals, and monitoring proposal and award activity.
Implementation of the new on-line system will begin on January 1, 2015, at which point paper routing forms will no longer be accepted. All faculty and staff will be required to use the new eSPA system for the submission of all external grant proposals beginning January 1, 2015.
If you are involved in submitting proposals for external funding, we strongly encourage you to attend one or more of the following sessions (click on the date to register). All sessions are in the B.E.S.T. Library instructional space, 116 Laws Hall.
“eSPA?” you ask. In case you have missed our previous announcements, OARS is in the process of implementing a new Electronic Sponsored Programs Administration (eSPA) software tool — Evisions Cayuse Research Suite — that will officially launch on January 1, 2015.
This system will provide for system-to-system electronic submission of all Federal proposals formerly submitted through grants.gov and Fastlane, and will replace our paper Proposal Approval Form (PAF) with electronic routing. In addition, the new system’s robust features will allow faculty and administrators to generate grant-activity reports on their own at any time.
We will launch training for this new system on October 6-8, when Evisions staff will be onsite at the Oxford campus. OARS will lead additional training sessions throughout the remainder of fall semester, with multiple sessions every two weeks, to accommodate as many schedules as possible. Be on the look out — here on the blog, on Twitter @MiamiOH_OARS, on the OARS website, and on 25Live — for the training schedule for specific dates and times.
For more information about eSPA, read the FAQs on the OARS website or contact me.
Featured image (left) by freeimages.com user flavioloka, used with permission. Image above by Matthieu Riegler (user:Kyro) via Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons license.