Controller

Frequently Asked Questions

 


 Who in the Grants Accounting Office handles my department?

Please Click Here to see the Grants Staff Directory & Departmental Assignments.

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 When can I begin to obligate/encumber funds?

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research will notify Grants Accounting of an externally funded project.   The Grant Coordinator within Grants Accounting assigned to your department will generate the award in FMS(Financial Management System) and issue an email the Principal Investigator and their respective department.

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 What is an obligation?

Obligation means the amounts of orders placed, contracts or subgrants awarded, goods and services received, and similar transactions during a given period that will require payment by the grantee during the same or a future period. In other words, an obligation is a purchase order, a signed contract or other agreement, a purchased airplane ticket, the purchase of supplies or materials, etc., or other "commitments" to expend the funds. Grant funds may not be obligated prior to the starting date of the grant or after the ending date of the grant.

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 When does an obligation occur?

Grant funds may not be obligated prior to the starting date of the grant or after the ending date of the grant. An obligation occurs when:

  • Services by an employee – when the services are performed
  • Services by a contractor – the date of a binding written commitment to obtain services
  • Utility services – when the services are received
  • Travel – when the travel is actually taken (for example, mileage claimed, lodging, and meal expenses while on travel)
  • Rental of property – when the property is used
  • Real or personal property (including purchase of supplies and equipment) – the date of a binding written commitment to acquire the property, such as a purchase order

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 What is considered a Participant Stipend?

Participant stipends are payments for participation in vocational training, secondary school training, and other nonacademic programs. It is not related to an academic endeavor. There is no real wage, just the expectation that the participant be present at some event.

Participant stipends are considered nonemployee compensation and, as such, are subject to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements for miscellaneous income reporting (1099 or 1042 reporting).  It is the responsibility of the Project Director to maintain any other documentation that may be required by the sponsoring agency.

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 Can I spend money before or after the project period?

Not without prior written approval from the sponsor.

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 How do I know if an expense is allowable?

All expenses should be listed in the budget narrative submitted with the grant proposal. Refer first to the contract. If you're not sure about a particular expense contact your grant Coordinator. All expenses must help achieve the objectives of the program. Depending upon the type of expense, prior written approval from the sponsor may be necessary before the purchase is completed.

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 Why do Federal regulations apply to Non-federally Funded Projects?

Federal regulations affecting sponsored project apply equally to non-Federally funded projects. This can arise through several mechanisms.  The business community recognizes a number of policies and procedures as "Generally Accepted Accounting Practices".    Organizations such as the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) address such standards.

University finance areas rely on the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to assure that business practices recognize some of the unique needs of Universities. 

OMB's Circular A-21 which governs sponsored project agreements between Government Agencies and Universities provides that: "Cognizant Federal agencies involved in negotiating facilities and administrative (F&A) cost rates and auditing should assure that institutions are generally applying these cost accounting principles on a consistent basis." A-21 also includes a appendix outlining "Cost Accounting Standards for Educational Institutions." OMB includes an independent body called the Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB) which deals with the standards that must be applied. A-21requires the filing of an institutional certification of its business practices (DS-2).

In non-business areas, such as those covered by assurances of ethical practices in research (e.g., humans, laboratory animals), most universities extend the principles embodied in such assurances to all sponsored projects.

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 Why can't I charge office supplies to my federal grants?

Federal OMB Circular A-21 "Cost Principles for Education Institutions" requires postage and office supplies be considered a departmental expense (indirect cost) unless the expense can be shown to be a significant part of the project or activity and they are purchased for the sole direct technical benefit of the project. Postage for routine correspondence, including correspondence with the sponsoring agency should not be direct charged to the project.

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 Are there other costs which are not allowable on federal grant funds?

Yes. Some of the most common are listed below. For a more complete discussion of allowable and unallowable costs on federal funds, please see OMB Circular A-21.

Salaries of departmental secretarial and clerical staff are allowable only when the project or activity explicitly budgets for these salaries, and the individuals can be specifically identified with the project or activity. This means the individual must be involved in a significant role in the project. This situation will arise very infrequently and these charges will normally not be allowed as direct costs.  

Local telephone costs that include purchase, installation and/or monthly line charges, are not allowable as direct costs.

Memberships are not allowable as direct costs. 

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How often will I receive information from FMS about my program?

Monthly. The Principal Investigator will receive Grant Budget Summary Reports and Payroll Expense Details generated by FMS every month.  For assistance with these reports please refer to the Financial Reports Training Manual

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 How do I obtain access to FMS?

Forms (a FMS Security Request Form and Statement of Ethical Use) are provided at the Office of the CIO for any employees who have been named to a FMS role. Send completed forms to the Application Security Administrator at the BG@100 Project Office - 414 E. Wooster.

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 Costs were charged to the wrong sponsored account. How do I correct this?

If salary costs were mischarged you will have to work with your department to correct the distribution through a Contract Addendum. If you receive a Time and Effort Certification and the mischarge has not yet been corrected, simply write this on the certification (do not hold the certification sheets until you see the salary has been moved) and return it to our office.

If a non-salary cost has been mischarged, you may correct this by an expense journal.   Express steps to process a journal entry are available on the BGSU :: Business Operations Office :: Financial Management Solution (FMS) site. 

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 What are the reporting requirements of my program?

The contract should specify the types and due dates of all reports. There are generally two types of reports: Financial reports and Technical (also known as Progress) reports. The Grants Accounting Office prepares financial reports with Principal Investigator concurrence. Technical reports are prepared by Principal Investigator without Accounting involvement (unless financial information is required in the report). If the contract does not specify reporting requirements, contact the sponsor immediately. Failure to meet reporting requirements may jeopardize current and future funding.

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 Are there any outstanding invoices on my research grant and when is the next invoice due? 

Invoices are issued and sent by Grants Accounting according to the payment schedule of the award.  However, some invoices can only be sent after a milestone has been completed.  Please refer to the award agreement for invoicing requirements

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 What if I need more time to finish program objectives?

Contact the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research before the end of the project period to request a no-cost time extension of the project period. We must have written approval from the sponsor before the project ends in order to extend the end date.

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 What must I do when a research project has ended?

You should contact the Grant Coordinator assigned to your department.  Please refer to the Grants Accounting Departmental Assignments page.  You will work with the Grant Coordinator to identify the final expenditures.  The Coordinator will prepare and submit the final bill and/or final financial report to the sponsor, if necessary.  Depending on the agency the project closeout report is normally due within 45, 60, or even 90 days of the project end date.

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 What is the procedure if my account is in a deficit at the time of closing?

If the grant is in a deficit after its expiration, the reason for the deficit will be determined.  If necessary, the department will be contacted and requested to provide a DCC to which the expenditure(s) may be transferred.  If there is no resolution with Department, the Dean's Office will be contacted.

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 How long must I keep papers relating to a closed-out sponsored research project?

Papers on sponsored grants should be kept for a minimum of three years after the grant end date.   Our office will inform you if it is necessary to keep papers for a longer period.

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 Match represents that portion of allowable project or program costs not borne by the sponsoring agency. When is a 8XXXXX DCC needed?

A DCC is needed when:

  • The university has committed direct costs to an award, and the costs need to be tracked (including another department‘s commitments). (With exceptions, see below)

A DCC is not needed when:

  • Match is from a 3 rd party outside of the University
  • Only waived F&A is being used as match
  • Voluntary work
  • Third party In-kind Services
    Always need match certification during the life of, and at the end of the project, on letterhead and signed, stating what they did and the value of their service. Ideally, third party match should be certified either with the monthly invoice, or no greater than quarterly.

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