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Business Procedures for Faculty Releases Funded by Sponsored Activities

For Implementation Beginning July 1, 2011

Reviewed by President's Cabinet:  February 14, 2011
Reviewed by Council of Deans:  April 14, 2011

Background

The funded release mechanism is used at IUP to provide teaching release time for faculty involved in sponsored research. The Research Institute transfers sponsored program funds for salaries and benefits to the Office of Grants and Special Fund Accounting for state-salaried employees (typically, faculty) working on a sponsored project. This permits Grants and Special Fund to apply the release to the faculty member.

Alternate Workload Equivalents (AWE’s) and funded releases are the transactions used to recover the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to state-funded faculty devoting effort to grants and contracts (staff assignments do not require AWE’s, but otherwise, the mechanism is the same). These are time-sensitive transactions treated as actual personnel appointments to the sponsored award. They are directly tied to the Research Institute’s effort certification process, which is mandated by the federal government.

Several problems have been identified that need to be rectified to ensure that IUP can collect all of the F&A (Indirect Costs) that it deserves. These problems include: 

  • Lack of recognition that grant-funded AWE’s must be both submitted and processed in a timely manner. Grants expire. If the AWE is either submitted or processed after-the-fact and the grant has expired, then E&G funds must be used for the AWE, and no F&A can be reimbursed by the sponsor.
  • Lack of recognition that the PASSHE Compensation Policy forbids the use of grant-funded AWEs as overload, which also results in less F&A reimbursed.
  • A system that has allowed faculty to move AWEs from semester to semester, including summer. Summer AWEs cost less than academic year ones due to the CBA’s use of old salary scales for summer calculations.

Business Procedures

The following actions are recommended to address and correct the problems stated above. The recommendations are subdivided by the administering unit.

Research Institute 

  1. The Research Institute will produce a monthly report of all new grant-funded faculty releases, CE/CI contracts, and other personnel items. This report will be sent to the Deans, the Provost’s Office, A&F Grants and Special Funds Accounting, and to the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
  2. All funded release transactions must be included in project budgets as base salary, with no funded releases listed as overloads.
  3. Projects must request funding for the actual costs of each personnel on the project and may not budget for replacement cost alone. If the sponsor does not allow this, then replacement may be requested.
  4. Proposals requesting “TBD or generic” funded releases (i.e., releases where actual personnel will be determined later) should use the average salary of the faculty member in that department rather than the maximum salary. Approval for this must be first obtained from the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
  5. ALL received grant funds remaining in the Research Institute at the termination of the grant or contract will continue to be placed into a Research Institute Revolving Account. The PI may use the funds through the end of two fiscal years to complete the project and support research. Funds not spent after this time will revert to a Research Institute fund to support research. PIs may request an extension of this time period prior to the expiration of the grant or contract. The extension shall not exceed one year.

Grants and Special Fund Accounting

  1. Research-funded assignments must be processed as part of the employee’s base annual salary, that is, they are considered as part of the first 100% of the individual’s salary, not as overloads (see the Chancellor’s “Compensation Policy for Sponsored Activities for PASSHE Universities” dated Feb. 18, 2009). All faculty assignments to sponsored awards must be reflected in their workload.
  2. Salary payments are paid out from the sponsored award and credited to the college’s funded release account.
  3. Normally, regular E&G salary funds freed up as a result of funded releases will first be used to replace the instruction that the faculty member named in the sponsored project would have performed. This replacement may involve hiring a temporary faculty member or providing an overload to a current faculty member, and may – at the discretion of the Dean – take place in the same academic semester or a future academic semester.
    1. Any balance of freed up salary dollars not used for paying faculty in the same fiscal year will remain in the college designated fund.
    2. These residual funded release monies may then be used to support additional sponsored activity or for any other purpose at the discretion of the Dean, in consultation with the Department Chair and Principal Investigator, and in accord with state expenditure regulations these funds will not roll over to the next fiscal year. This provides an incentive for Deans to encourage and support grant-funded activities.
    3. If these residual funded release monies are to be used for personnel, the Budget Office will execute a transfer to the appropriate departmental personnel account. If used for faculty summer contracts, salary and the summer fringe benefit rate will be transferred.  
  4. ALL received grant funds remaining at IUP at the termination of the grant or contract, if not required to be returned to the funding agency, will continue to be placed into a Designated Fund account. The PI may use the funds through the end of two fiscal years to complete the project and support research. Funds not spent after this time will revert to the college dean to support research. PIs may request an extension of this two fiscal year time period prior to the expiration of the grant or contract. The extension shall not exceed one year.

Academic Deans

  1. Scheduling of funded releases as specified in the approved project budget may not be changed without prior approval of the Dean.

  2. To comply with federal guidelines set forth in OMB Circular A-21 and the Cost Accounting Standards, faculty release forms should be submitted by the dean to the Provost before the beginning of the effort.  This is to ensure that the grant funds are actually available to pay for the release.  In no case should the release be submitted more than two weeks after that effort has begun.

Monthly Reporting

Upon receipt of the completed faculty release form from a vice president, Grants and Special Fund Accounting will:

  • Process the form in a timely manner.
  • Produce a monthly report for the grant showing salary and benefits expenditures.  This report shall be sent to the Research Institute.  The purpose of the monthly report is to provide the timely feedback needed so that the Research Institute and the PIs can ensure that all budgeted salaries, benefits, and F&A are charged to the award.

The implementation of the recommendations in this document should result in a more responsive system that enables IUP to maximize the collection of F&A.  It also helps the faculty better understand how much money they have in their grants, which is something the faculty have long been asking for.

  • School of Graduate Studies and Research
  • Assistant Dean for Research
    Stright Hall, Room 113
    210 South Tenth Street
    Indiana, PA 15705-1081
  • Phone: 724-357-7730
  • Fax: 724-357-2715
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.