Office of the Provost

SPARC FAQ

Who is SPARC?

The Sponsored Programs, Agreements, Research and Contracts office initiates, administers, and ensures compliance of externally funded projects brought to the university.  

Sponsored programs enhance the scholarship and academic mission of the institution.

SPARC provides oversight, support, coordination, and submission of all sponsored program proposals to advance the programs, activities, and services of the institution in accordance with the institutional strategic plan.

How do I or my department get access to SPARC resources?

Email:    sparc@suu.edu
Phone: 435.865.8175

What is the role of SPARC at SUU?

Pre-Award

In collaboration with interested Principal Investigators (PI’s), SPARC: 

  • Identifies funding opportunities,
  • Facilitates the development of project ideas and proposals,
  • Assists with approval process
  • Submits proposals through appropriate application venues.   

Post-Award

Upon notification of receiving a grant, SPARC: 

  • Provides oversight of the project,
  • Tracks expenditures based on the agreed budget through the project cycle,
  • Monitors financial and performance reporting
  • Serves as liaison between the funding agency and faculty/staff project personnel.
  • Carries out the Close out process

The SPARC Office provides oversight on the sponsored projects and works to ensure successful completion of the project.  Also assists with the monitoring of award to ensure successful completion of the projects.

I am a new faculty member. Who in Sponsored Programs will help me?

All SPARC staff are knowledgeable in assisting new faculty members.

Where does SPARC generate its resources to help the university?

The SPARC Office is solely supported by state appropriated funds, distributed each fiscal year, for operating, training and providing grant/contract support to all university entities.

Additionally, SPARC uses private and public databases to locate funding opportunities.

What is a sponsored project?

"Sponsored Projects” means all projects, programs, research, training, public service and other activities that receive external funding through grants to the University or through contracts or cooperative agreements between the University and a Sponsor, where one or more of the following obligations applies:

  1. financial obligation -the University is required to comply with conditions imposed when a Sponsor awards Funding for the performance of services or delivery of products described in a statement of work;
  2. regulatory obligation - - the University is required to comply with Sponsor regulations;
  3. reporting obligation - - the University is required to provide to the Sponsor technical performance reports or regulatory or administrative reports; or
  4. an accounting obligation - - the University is required to establish a separate accounting record of project expenditures to demonstrate feasibility of costs, to maintain financial accountability, to make financial reports to the Sponsor, and to preserve appropriate records for audit.

Who can initiate a project?
A project is initiated by a person or team who submit a proposal with a scope of work and a budget to a funding agency.
Submitted proposals are usually competitive and awarded based on the project scope of work and budget alignment with the sponsor guidelines.

Who is eligible at SUU to submit proposals?

The Director of SPARC is the authority to submit proposals on behalf of the university

Where can I get information about fundraising to support my program or initiative?

Funding Search Engines 

  1. Grants.gov - A free service sponsored by the federal government.  The website (http://www.grants.gov) provides a search engine and resources for applicants as well as a mechanism for submitting most federal grant proposals.  The search engine allows the user to search for open grant programs by name, CDFA (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) number, or topic.  Users may also subscribe to receive daily notifications of all new federal grant opportunities.  RSS feeds customized to your research interests, or updates to critical issues (http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/manage-subscriptions.html
  2. Grants Resource Center (GRC)-  a resource open to member institutions of the American Council of State Colleges and Universities.  Lists deadlines and has a searchable database.  Contact the Grants Office for the password.
  3. Foundation Center- The SUU Library has a subscription to the on-line FC Search engine. Contact either the Library or SPARC for help.

What’s the difference between a "Sponsored Programs" and a "Grants office?" 

The terms Sponsored programs and Grants are often used interchangeably.  

These titles refer to financial awards given by federal or a state agency or private foundations to a recipient organization or group to support or stimulate a private or public purpose.  

What is the difference between a grant and a contract?

There are three types of award instruments normally used when federal funds are involved: grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts.  The following chart explains when each award is used:

If the principal purpose of the award is to:

The agency will award a:

Support or stimulate recipient activity, but no substantial programmatic involvement by the government is anticipated

Grant

Support or stimulate recipient activity, but the parties anticipate substantial programmatic involvement by the federal agency

Cooperative Agreement

Acquire goods or services for the government’s own use

Contract

I am PI of my first research grant. What is the University going to hold me responsible for?

Although SUU is legally the official recipient of a grant or contract, the Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for its proper fiscal management and conduct, after the grant is awarded.

The University is legally and financially responsible and accountable to the sponsor for the performance of the activity funded–but needs the full cooperation of the PI to do so.

My sponsor requires that I submit my proposal electronically. How do I do that?

You must contact SPARC for all proposal submissions.

Email:sparc@suu.edu or Phone: 435.865.8175.

What is an RFP? 

Request for Proposal

What is an RFA?

Request for Application

I’ve written a proposal to a Foundation, which is a private organization.
From whom do I have to get permission to submit it?

The Director of SPARC has the authority to submit proposals on behalf of the university.

As well, the SPARC office provides all appropriate support and review of narratives, outcomes and budget guidelines to ensure compliance with submission requirements.


What’s a DUNS number? 

A DUNS number is a Dun & Bradstreet unique nine-digit identification number for a physical location of a business. This is required for all organizations SUU to have when submitting proposals for any government entity, RFP.
SUU’s DUNS number is 020917670

What’s our EIN number? 

An employer identification number (EIN) is a nine-digit number assigned by the IRS. It is used to identify the tax accounts of businesses.

The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers that are required to file various business tax returns.

SUU’s EIN is 87-6000481

What congressional district are we in?

Utah 002

What if I didn’t tell SPARC about a proposal I sent to a potential sponsor. Is that OK?

No.

If the SPARC staff is not notified, the project may have a delayed start date or not be accepted by SUU Administration.

Please notify SPARC staff immediately so they can assist you with the potential project.  

What is a "Pre-award?"

Pre-award refers to the following steps in the Grants Life Cycle:

1. Generate Your Idea

2. Find Funding

3. Develop Your Proposal

4. Submit Your Proposal

5. Award Negotiation & Setup

What is a "Post-award?"

Post-award refers to the following steps in the Grant’s Life Cycle:

6. Manage Your Award

7. Share Your Research

What is the proposal routing process?

In the process for applying for sponsored funds there are signature authorities that must be obtained in order to submit a proposal. 

The forms for approval are available in the SPARC office.  The signature lines include the Deans and the Chairs of the PI’s department, the Provost, and SPARC office. 

Once SUU receives notification of an award if the amount is above $50,000 then the President or the VP of Finance will sign for the award. 

If it is less than $50,000 the director of SPARC can sign for the award.

All submissions MUST be completed and turn in, to the SPARC office 10 business days prior to the submission deadline for university authority approval.

GRANT WRITING FAQ

 FAQ: New Grant Proposal Writers:

 Where do I go to begin the grant-writing process?

begin with stating the problem you are addressing and do a literature review of the best information available on how to solve the problem.  

You will then explain your solution and give reasons why you believe your solution is more effective.

What kind of grant should I apply for or what granting agency might fund my work? 

Your choice of funding agency will depend on the project you are interested in doing.

  • If you are interested in doing a research based project you might choose an agency that has a similar interest in your type of research.  
  • If you are interested in doing a program, you would choose an institution that has interest in serving a population similar to the one you seek to serve.  

Start with what you are broadly passionate about doing and look to partner with funding agencies who will “get” what you want to do.

I know what kind of grant I want to apply for and what agency offers it.
But I've never written a grant before. How do I start?

The SPARC office can provide you with grant proposal-writing guidelines. Often, these guidelines are determined on a proposal-by-proposal basis. At the minimum, you will need to be prepared to produce the following:

  • Outline of what you want to accomplish with the funding;
  • Breakdown of objectives that will be met as part of the proposed program;
  • “Measured Outcomes,” which include how the proposed course of action will impact and achieve the goals of your proposed program;
  • Itemized budget and narrative, which breaks down how the funding will be used.

What is the most frequent mistake grant proposal writers make?

Time management is usually the most common error a grant proposal writer makes. The amount of time from the announcement until the deadline is not open for debate and is often less than a couple of weeks.

When writing a grant proposal the writer needs to be aware of the many parts associated with submitting a proposal, and manage the time it takes to write drafts, include reviews and revisions and attain the necessary endorsements (when applicable), and meeting the checklists as outlined by the funding agency.   

Are there other common mistakes that beginning grant writers make?

Here are some reference points for proposal writers:

  • Read the RFP carefully! Many mistakes happen by writers who attempt to submit their proposals, but never get read because of some detail that was left out, based on the RFP guidelines.
  • Proof your proposal and let other people read your proposal.
  • Allow yourself sufficient time to gather all the components, get approvals and time for submission.
  • Speak to the sponsor representative to share your idea and get their input.
  • If you can, get access to prior proposals that were successfully funded, they provide valuable information into how the proposal was drafted and how it met the requirements of the funding agency.
  • If your proposal was not awarded, consider revising and resubmitting it to additional funding agencies, where appropriate. One of the worst mistake is to not resubmit your proposal after not being funded the first time.  Learn from the readers’ comments, make changes and resubmit to the same or to another sponsor.

How do I build a plausible case that I am validated as a principle resource, or that my program is competitive in an RFP? 

Your CV will most likely be a required document.  It will list your research and programmatic history.  If you do not feel that you will be recognized as a principle resource, you may want to team with other investigators who will build credibility for the project.  

How do I use references as part of my proposal to convince reviewers that my project is noteworthy?

The RFP will determine whether you are allowed to include references as part of your narrative. You may also integrate references through the narrative as case studies to support your argument, if space (and RFP guidelines) allow. 

How important is it to get senior investigators and additional qualified writing experts to read my drafts before I submit my proposal?

After you have read your proposal, you will want to share it with someone who knows your field, and someone who does not know your field to get their comments.  

Are there resources to help me write, revise, and re-write a proposal?

The SPARC Office personnel are willing to proof and help with proposal writing (to an extent). It will be important to take guidance from the resources they provide.  

How much time does it take to prepare and submit a grant proposal?

The times for proposal preparation vary with the sponsor requirements and the investigator’s experience, but expect to spend between five and seven hours per-page, as defined by the RFP as to how many pages you may submit. This is based on the amount of time needed for research, draft-writing, follow-up, additional data-gathering and final submission.

Additional time may be needed for meetings when collaborating between departments or with investigators at different schools.

Do first-time investigators have a realistic chance of getting a grant?

Your chances of winning a grant are dependent on the amount of competition and the quality of your proposal and budget.  

New investigators may want to put in for a small grant from a regional agency or foundation or collaborate as a co-investigator to build their research portfolio before proposing to a federal agency.  

If a proposal is not funded the first time, it is a good practice to get the reviewer comments, rework the proposal and apply again.

Where do I get forms (if any)?

You can find the pre-award forms on our website (LINK).  If you need assistance in filling out the forms, SPARC is happy to help.  

How long does it take to get approval of my grant at the various steps?

Internal approvals may take up to a week depending on the availability of your Department Chair, Dean or Director, the Director of SPARC and the Provost.

Aside from Deadlines defined by a specific RFP, are there any other deadlines I should know?

To assure the submission of a quality proposal please plan on working through the approval process 10 days prior to the deadline for the proposal.

It takes time to get all the approved signatures of the Deans, Department Chairs, Provost, and SPARC office.  The goal is to have the proposal submitted 3 business days prior to the deadline to work through any potential technical problems.

How do I write a budget to match a funding source’s guidelines and avoid writing an unrealistic budget (either too low or too high)?

Funding announcements will give you sponsoring guidelines on what costs are allowable and if there is an expectation of cost share.  

When designing your budget you will look at your project and estimate realistically the costs of the project.  Salaries, wages and benefits are verified with Human Resources.  If the project is more than a year, you may need to put in an inflationary factor to keep up with these costs.  

Use internet sources to estimate costs of travel, capital equipment and supplies.  Add the indirect cost rate.  If your total is over what the sponsor allows, you will need to trim your project and that will trim your budget.  Your budget may impact the scope of work.    

If cost share is required a budget for those expenses needs to accompany your budget and clear commitments made for the additional funding need to be specified.

What are “Indirect rates?”

Indirect rates are the total costs associated with organized research can be categorized as either direct costs or indirect costs (also referred to as facilities & administrative (F&A) costs).

  • Direct Costs:
    Direct costs are those which can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project or that can be directly assigned to such activities with a high degree of accuracy.
    The portion of salary and fringe benefits of a faculty member performing an experiment or specialized laboratory commodities necessary for performing an experiment are examples of direct costs.
  • Indirect Costs:
    Indirect costs are those that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project. They are real costs incurred by the department and the University in support of sponsored activities but cannot be directly identified with any specific grant or contract.

    The costs of shared services such as libraries, physical plant operation and maintenance, utilities, departmental support costs (e.g., salaries, postage and related administrative costs), and depreciation for buildings and equipment are examples of indirect costs.

A sponsored project budget should include all costs needed to accomplish the objectives presented in the proposal or agreement. The total cost of any project includes both direct costs (salaries for the researchers, lab supplies, travel, etc.) and facilities and administrative costs (F&A).

F&A costs are real costs that provide reimbursement for actual institutional expenses that support extramural activities but cannot be directly charged to a grant or contract. The costs result from shared services such as libraries, physical plant operation and maintenance, utility costs, general, departmental and sponsored projects administration, and depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment.

How do I calculate Salaries?

If your sponsor allows for salaries and wages, you may budget for them.  Salaries of SUU personnel may include summer salary or course buyout with the approval of your administration.

6.9 Faulty & Academic Administrator Supplemental & Overload Compensation

8.3.8 Staff & Non-Academic Administrators Supplemental & Overload Compensation

Federal Register 2 CFR Ch 1-2, Part 200.430-31

SUU Policy 5.32 guidance with hiring, hourly pay rates, and benefit rates[DW1] 

How do I calculate Benefit rates?

All benefits for salary and wages are charged to the project.  

How do I know what fringe benefit rates to use in my sponsored project proposals?

Benefit rates are respective to type of compensation and change each year;

Course buyout: calculated specific to individual

Overload pay benefits: specific to university rates.  Currently 22.5%

Student wages 10.5%

Please contact SPARC Office Personnel for further assistance

What is “cost sharing” and how does it work?

Cost sharing is a commitment by SUU to contribute financially to the sponsored project.  These commitments may be in the form of effort of people working on the project (work not paid for by the sponsor), cash, or in-kind (contributions of time, talents, resources).  All contributions must be documented and applied directly to the project. Some sponsors will allow indirect costs foregone to be considered part of the contribution.  Third party cost share is contributions from outside sources who want to partner with SUU in completing the project.

“Cost sharing or matching means a portion of project costs not paid by Federal funds (unless otherwise authorized by Federal statue).”

“Voluntary committed cost sharing means cost sharing specifically pledged on a voluntary basis in the proposal’s budget or the Federal award on the part of the non-Federal entity and that becomes a binding requirement of Federal award. Under Federal research proposals, voluntary committed cost sharing is not expected.” Federal Register 2 CFR Ch 1-2, Part 200.29. 200.99, 200.306

What is the problem with offering cost sharing as a potential incentive? Will it help me get my grant funded?

With the new Uniform Guidance that was enacted on Dec. 26, 2014, Cost sharing or matching is not expected and cannot be used as a factor during the merit review of applications or proposals.  It could be viewed as trying to buy an award.  However, it may be considered if it is both in accordance with Federal awarding agency regulations and specified in a notice of funding opportunity. 

Why should I have to pay indirect costs on my grant? what happens to those dollars?

The IDC recovery on sponsored grants and contracts (i.e., the amount of indirect costs recovered from the funding agency by the University) allows SUU to build, maintain and operate the institution, including research facilities.

Indirect cost dollars received by the University are not extra dollars, a tax, a fee, or profit. These funds derived from IDC provides critical dollars necessary to support the operating expenses related to the space in which the sponsored projects are conducted, as well as the various services provided to the Principal Investigator and the college and department for administering the grant (e.g., accounting, purchasing, human resources).

Additionally, the IDC recovery supports the research enterprise by funding major research initiatives, and supporting research and shared facilities. Part of the IDC recovery is returned to the colleges.

What indirect rate do I use on my proposal?

Federally Negotiated rate, by SUU’s cognizant Federal audit agency, the Department of Health & Human Services, is 45% of Salaries/ Wages & Benefits

(Sum all Salaries/Wages & Benefits (Multiply) .45= IDC/F&A Cost)

All other rates specified in Request for Proposal (RFP), need to be processed by SPARC Office Personnel.

My sponsor won’t pay indirect costs. What can I do and who do I have to see to get a waiver?

An indirect cost waiver/reduction is an institutional agreement that the University will charge indirect costs at a rate lower than its federally negotiated rate agreement stipulates.

IDC waivers may be requested in writing by the Principal Investigator during the proposal development process to the SPARC Office. Requests for waivers must be accompanied by a copy of the funding agency’s written indirect cost policy, or RFP documentation and must be made at least a week in advance of proposal submission.

How do I know what fringe benefit rates to use in my sponsored project proposals?

Fringe benefits change each year. Please contact the SPARC office to determine how to calculate for your proposal.