FAQ - Prepare a Budget

Who can help me write a proposal budget?

Sponsored Programs can provide expertise in completing a proposal budget, applying fringe benefits and facilities and administrative (F&A) costs, and documenting subrecipient agreements, consultants, and cost sharing. In the case of more complicated proposal requirements, Sponsored Program will complete sponsor assurances and certifications and will assist the investigator in interpreting sponsor guidelines. Call your contact person in Sponsored Programs for assistance.

What are fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits are employer related expenses in employing an employee above the employee's salary or wage compensation such as: workers compensation, social security, medical and retirement benefits. At Appalachian, Fringe Benefits are charged proportionally to the department, or program, funding the employee's salary and wages.

What is the difference between a consultant, a subcontractor, and a vendor?

consultant is an individual who provides professional advice or services for a fee, but normally not as an employee of the engaging party. Consultants also include firms that provide professional advice or services.

subcontractor is an individual or firm that performs a substantive portion of the proposed Statement of Work incorporated into the Prime Contract and retainsintellectual property and copyright to the work produced by the Subcontractor’s personnel.

vendor is an individual or firm that provides similar goods and services to multiple customers as part of their routine business operations.

When do we pay another institution via a subcontract as opposed to paying them as a vendor via a professional services agreement (consultant)?

subcontractor is distinguished from both a vendor and a consultant in that a subcontractor:

  • Performs a substantive portion of the proposed statement of work incorporated into the Prime Contract;
  • Has responsibility for internal programmatic decision-making and design;
  • Is responsible for assisting the Prime Recipient in meeting the goals of the project;
  • Is responsible for adhering to applicable Federal programmatic compliance requirements;
  • Retains intellectual property and copyright to the work produced by the Subcontractor’s personnel.

A consultant is distinguished from both a subcontractor and a vendor in that:

  • A consultant’s deliverable may be intermittent throughout the project, is clearly defined, and similar other work is performed by that consultantcommercially on a routine basis;
  • A consultant’s deliverables do not ordinarily generate patentable or copyrightable results of an original or substantive nature;
  • A consultant is not subject to the compliance requirements of the Prime Contract;
  • A consultant fee is based on an hourly or daily rate which is provided and explained in a consultant rate proposal or quote;
  • Consultant’s services are on a “work for hire” basis, and all intellectual property or copyrightable rights are assigned to Appalachian by the consultant;
  • A consulting firm is a commercial entity whose regular business activity is to provide services similar to those proposed under the current project;
  • An individual consultant is a non-Appalachian employee hired to provide technical expertise in support of a sponsored research project;
  • As a general rule, the activities performed by a non-Appalachian faculty member who is named as an individual consultant in a proposal must fall outsideof the individual’s normal academic duties and cannot make use of his/her institutional facilities, personnel, or students. If these criteria are not met, thenthe faculty member’s home institution should appear as a subcontractor.

A Vendor is distinguished from both a subcontractor and a consultant in that a Vendor:

  • Is issued a Procurement Request or Purchase Order based on a request sent by the PI to Special Funds Accounting. The purchase of goods and services,including “Consulting Services,” are obtained from a commercial vendor;
  • A vendor provides similar goods and services to multiple customers as part of their routine business operations;
  • A vendor competes for customers with other like providers;
  • A vendor does not retain intellectual property or copyright to the deliverables;
  • Cost sharing is not required of a vendor;
  • Joint authorship of publications is not sought by vendors;
  • The general terms of the Prime Contract do not flow down to a vendor.
What is CCR?

Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the primary registrant database for the U.S. Federal Government, collects, validates, stores, and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions. Any institution or entity conducting business with the U.S. Federal Government, including subcontractors or subawardees, must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration.

What is a DUNS number?

The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number is a unique nine-digit identification number provided to a registered entity by Dun & Bradstreet. The federal government requires that all applicants for grants and contracts have a DUNS number.

What is FFATA?

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA or Transparency Act - P.L.109-282, as amended by section 6202(a) of P.L. 110-252) requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to maintain a single, searchable website that contains information on all Federal spending awards.

The FFATA Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) is the reporting tool Federal prime awardees (i.e. prime contractors and prime grants recipients) use to capture and report subaward and executive compensation data regarding their first-tier subawards to meet the FFATA reporting requirements. Prime contract awardees will report against sub-contracts awarded and prime grant awardees will report against sub-grants awarded. The sub-award information entered in FSRS will then be displayed on www.USASpending.gov associated with the prime award furthering Federal spending transparency.

What are Facilities & Administrative (F&A)/indirect costs?

The Facilities & Administrative (F&A), or Indirect, costs are the real costs of University operations which are not readily assignable to a particular project. These costs are determined by federal auditors under the guidelines of OMB Circular A-21. Indirect cost rates are negotiated with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)--the federal audit agency for Appalachian State University. These rates are applicable to all federally sponsored projects and, in accordance with University policy, are also extended to include all other sponsored activities.

Do I have to include F&A/indirect costs in my proposal budget? Why?

Yes, F&A/indirect costs must be included in your budget if these costs are allowed by the funding agency. The University is required to recover these costs, which are, in fact, the costs to the University of “doing business” with the funding agency; for example, office space, heating/cooling, lights, laboratories, libraries, administrative support.

What is MTDC and TDC?

F&A/indirect costs vary depending on the indirect cost base. Indirect costs are calculated either on a Total Direct Cost (TDC) basis or a Modified Total Direct Cost basis (MTDC).

Total Direct Cost (TDC) basis: As defined in OMB A-21, “direct costs are those which can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. The portion of salary and fringe benefits of a faculty member performing an experiment or a specialized laboratory supply necessary for performing an experiment are examples of direct costs to a sponsored project. Other general categories are: supplies, contractual services, travel and communication, equipment and computer use.”

Some externally funded projects carry an indirect cost rate of 10% TDC.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) basis: OMB A-21 defines Modified Total Direct Costs as “consisting of salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and subgrants and subcontracts up to the first $25,000 of each subgrant or subcontract (regardless of the period covered by the subgrant or subcontract). Equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, tuition remission, rental costs, scholarships, and fellowships as well as the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000 shall be excluded from modified total direct costs."

When is a project considered "off-campus" for the purpose of calculating F&A/indirect costs?

The off-campus rate applies only to projects administered in facilities not owned by the University and to which rent is directly allocated to the project.

What is cost sharing or matching?

Cost sharing represents that portion of the total project costs not borne by the funding agency. Cost sharing or matching are the terms used when the funding agency requires the University to match grant funds in some proportion with additional funds.

What is "in-kind" vs. cash matching?

An in-kind match equals the value of non-cash contributions to the project; for example, volunteer time. A cash match, on the other hand, is real cash dedicated to the project; for example, payment for new equipment for the project, or personnel to be hired to work on the project.

Can I count departmental equipment and resources as part of my match?

If you will use a particular piece of existing equipment or other resource for the project, that expense typically is not allowable as a match. If your department will purchase at its own expense a new piece of equipment during your sponsored project period for use on the project, however, it may be counted as match. Note that Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs received by the University include existing resources such as administrative time and equipment.

Contact

Office of Research
John E. Thomas Building
287 Rivers Street
Room 382
PO Box 32174
Boone, NC 28608-2174
Ph: (828) 262-7459
Fax: (828) 262-2641
Staff Contacts
Skype us at: appstate.grants1
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