The Research Service Center (RSC) will assist in all elements of budget preparation. While each sponsor may have a specific and unique set of guidelines that will be reviewed with the project director on each project, there are some general rules and University policies that apply to all grants.
SALARIES AND WAGES. Faculty salaries will be computed at 1/9 of the academic base salary to determine monthly salary rates for significant portions of time or for shorter periods of time, daily rates will be computed at 1/185 of academic year, or for professional staff, 1/12 or 1/225 of the fiscal year base respectively.
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS. The University of Maine System annually negotiates an employee benefit rate with the US Department of Health and Human Services. Through the application of this rate, the University recovers the costs associated with personnel for items such as social security, workers compensation, unemployment compensation, health and life insurance, etc. The University has a two-tiered rate. For all temporary non-faculty employees there is a rate of 8.5% (FY17 Provisional rate) that covers the first three items mentioned above, for all other employees (excluding students) there is a 54.5% rate that includes all benefits paid to regular employees. These rates will be applied to all personnel costs whether or not funds have been budgeted.
GENERAL OPERATING COSTS. This includes such items as supplies, telephone, postage, printing, to name a few. The RSC can assist you in developing strategies to ensure that your project is appropriately budgeted.
TRAVEL. Local and in-state travel are governed primarily by University policy. Out-of-state and international travel, while also governed by University policy, should be specifically indicated in your budget.
EQUIPMENT. Generally, permanent equipment must be specifically approved within your budget prior to the purchase of such items. Title to such items will be determined by the sponsor's guidelines. Items costing in excess of $5,000 are excluded from indirect costs.
SUBCONTRACTING & CONSULTANTS.
The University routinely engages the services of non-employees to complete tasks or portions of projects. Some of these will be engaged as vendors, and some as sub-recipients. A determination as to which of these designations is appropriate is critical as Federal funds carry additional reporting requirements for sub-recipients and there are implications for the assessment of F&A/Indirect costs. Such a determination should be made at the proposal stage of a project in consultation with RSC. (There is some guidance available to help you determine whether a SubContractor is a vendor or a subrecipient.)
General rules to follow for SubContracting are:
- If the work is to be performed by an individual, the appropriate form to complete is the Personal Services SubContract. These forms can be obtained through Purchasing or through the Research Service Center. You will need to fill in the blank areas and obtain all signatures. If the SubContract amount is under $10,000, the Dean will need to sign the agreement on behalf of the University. If the SubContract amount is more than $10,000, you will need to have RSC sign the agreement on behalf of the University. The contractor will also need to fill out an IRS W-9 form. Once the contractor has filled out one W-9 for any project, it will not be necessary for s/he to complete a second one. Routinely, individuals would be considered to be vendors.
- If the work is to be performed by a corporate/business entity, you should use the SubContract for Special Services form. These forms can only be obtained through the Research Service Center. You will need to fill in the blank areas, and obtain all signatures. If the contract amount is under $10,000, the Dean will need to sign the Agreement on behalf of the University. If the contract amount is more than $10,000, you will need to have RSC sign the Agreement on behalf of the University. The contractor will also need to fill out an IRS W-9 form. Once the contractor has filled out one W-9 for any project, it will not be necessary for s/he to complete a second one. Entities in this category could be either a vendor or a sub-recipient.
- If the contract will involve funds of over $25,000, you must make sure that there was a bid process conducted or that you have a justification for a sole-source procurement.
Once a SubContract has been signed by both the consultant and the appropriate University representative, it will need to be forwarded to the Purchasing Department to obtain a Purchase Order (P.O.) number. The consultant should reference that number is any billings.
From time to time, the University may either be required to, or desire to, provide some form of cost sharing as a part of an externally-funded program. Cost sharing occurs when the full cost of a program will not be reimbursed by the sponsor. It may be in the form of direct costs, e.g. contributed faculty or staff time, or indirect costs via a reduction in the chargeable rate.
Any form of cost sharing, either required or voluntary, should be approved by the Dean and RSC prior to the submission of a proposal. The source of funds for direct cost sharing also needs to be identified in advance.
Any questions regarding the value of contributed items or their allowance should be directed to RSC.
Review and Approval
An internal Proposal Approval Form (Blue Sheet) is used to record the progress/status of your proposal and the approval of appropriate University officials. The form indicates the responsible unit within the University that will be administering the project as well as any collaborating units. The signature of the unit head, department chair, and the dean or director is required and indicates knowledge of and responsibility for any program commitments. Similar signatures from any collaborating unit must be obtained. The form also shows pertinent information about the project, such as staffing and the source of any University cost sharing. Proposals will not be submitted to a sponsoring agency without properly completed form. A new form is required for continuation and renewal submissions as well.
A project should be reviewed within a unit to confirm that it is compatible with unit priorities, workload, staff commitments, and mission. Deans should ensure that the proposal is reasonable, appropriate, and of sufficient quality. They should also review the degree to which the project commits the college to current financial support, to long-term staff or monetary commitments, or to programs that may evolve from the project.
The RSC shall be the final USM signator before transmitting a proposal to a sponsor. If a proposal is not approved by the RSC, or if a conflict arises in the case of a project involving two or more schools or colleges, an appeal can be made to the Provost for final resolution. Proposals may not be approved if department or RSC approvals are not obtained, if a proposal is not consistent with a campus plan to solicit support from the proposed sponsoring agency, or if the proposal does not meet acceptable quality standards.