FAQs for PIs

How Do I Get Started?

Give us a call, email, or just drop by.  Our door is always open and we are always happy to meet with faculty.  However, it is best to make an appointment, so that we are prepared.

As soon as you determine that you are going to submit a proposal, you should contact CS3.  Depending on the proposal, we could need as much as six weeks’ notice to complete the process in a sufficient manner.  In short… the sooner the better!

CS3 provides support for PIs during pre- and post-award phases of the award process.

  • Pre-award phase: CS3 staff take care of the logistics so that the proposal is submitted in a timely manner and conforms to the sponsor’s guidelines, giving the proposal optimal opportunity for success. This allows the PI to focus on the intellectual content of the proposal. Go here for more details about our pre-award services.
  • Post-award phase: CS3 advises PIs on financial activities and compliance as established by the sponsoring agency regulations and University policies and procedures. We also approve expenditures to ensure costs are allowable, allocable, reasonable and consistent with Uniform Guidance or the Sponsoring Agency’s regulations. Go here for more details about our post-award services.

We can also help direct you to sources for funding opportunities, such as monthly funding opportunity digests curated by the Center for Social Science Scholarship and various databases and agency directories provided by UMBC’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  Staff in UMBC’s Office of Sponsored Programs are also available to meet with faculty to provide an overview of how to search for funding opportunities.

Prior to the meeting, send us the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the particular proposal you want to submit. If there is no RFP, send us a link to the sponsoring agency’s website or contact information for a grant administrator or authorized representative of the sponsoring agency.

You should also prepare a list of what you will need to complete your research (e.g., personnel, travel, equipment, consultants, sub awards).  MIPAR will develop a budget based on the list, so it is very important to be meticulous.  There are many components to developing a proposal budget. We will provide more specific details for what you will need during our initial meeting.

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is the entity responsible for submitting all proposals on behalf of the PI. OSP requires that proposals be received, in a ready-to-submit state, 3 days in advance of the sponsor’s deadline. In addition, on each day at 9am, OSP will look at all the proposals that are due that day.  If your documents are not in a ready-to-submit state by 9am on the day the proposal is due, OSP will not send them forward.

In order for CS3 to meet the requirements of OSP’s policy, we must have your fully completed proposals no later than five business days prior to the submission deadline. More time may be needed if your proposal is complex. This includes all documents needed for sub awards. There is no grace period, and no exceptions will be made.

For complete timeline, deadlines, and routing information from OSP and the CAHSS Dean’s Office, see the New Proposal Timeline here

What Policies and Procedures Do I Need to Know?

Yes.  UMBC has a Policy on PI Eligibility.  See Policy UMBC IV-2.00.03.

All PIs also need to complete the following:

  • Principal Investigator Research Administration Training and Education (PIRATE): This training must be completed before obtaining PI status. MIPAR can assist with this process by providing you with instructions for PIRATE (which is completed on-line) and assuring that all the requirements are in place for you to have access to the training modules.  CS3 cannot assist you with completing the actual training.
  • PeopleSoft (PS) Finance Security Access Form: This form is required for all UMBC Principal Investigators to obtain access to PeopleSoft finance. A lack of a completed PS Finance Security Access form will delay award set up. After you complete PIRATE, we will complete the PeopleSoft Access form and forward it to the appropriate liaison in Financial Services.
  • PI Eligibility Request form: This required form is done electronically and MIPAR will complete this form for you.

There may be other circumstances that may require you to obtain special permission (e.g., if you are a post-doctoral fellow, you would need an exception from the Vice President for Research to be a PI). We will address such issues on an as-needed basis.

The Office of Sponsored Programs is responsible for making the final determination of what Facility and Administrative (F&A) Costs are applicable to your proposal.  CS3 will consult with OSP prior to beginning the budget as this may influence your budget, especially if there is a cap on the award amount. More information about UMBC’s F&A Rate is available on the OSP website.

No.  Your department still receives the full F&A recovery allocated by UMBC’s Vice President for Research. In an effort to facilitate research growth, both the faculty’s home department and MIPAR are allowed to receive equal Facilities and Administration recovered return.

UMBC uses Kuali, a cloud-based electronic research administration tool, to route research proposals and administer awards. UMBC requires faculty to route all proposals for external funding, including related documents, for review and approval prior to submission.  All proposals are routed through a series of levels:  PIs and Co-Is, department chairs for each PI/Co-I, colleges for each PI/Co-I, and OSP.  Before a proposal is routed, the PI and any named co-Investigators are required to answer two certification questions in Kuali, signifying approval of the proposal and confirmation that all information within the proposal is true and accurate. More information about certification can be found here.

Many factors influence the documents that are needed.  For instance, is there a subaward, special sponsor requirements, sponsor limits on F&A Recovery, etc.?  If yes, additional documents will need to be attached in Kuali.  UMBC policy requires faculty identified as “key personnel” in any proposal submitted or award made to disclose any real or perceived financial conflicts of interests. Disclosures can be submitted in the Kuali COI module.  CS3 will advise you on what documents are needed for your proposal.

As PI, you will always have access to your proposals and awards in Kuali. If you are not familiar with Kuali, CS3 can assist you. However, we strongly recommend that you learn about Kuali and take some basic training courses. Information about Kuali and training courses and guides can be found here.

Funding agencies make awards to organizations and not to individuals. UMBC requires that all proposals be submitted in the name of UMBC. (See the Principal Investigator handbook for more details regarding the policies and procedures that relate to sponsored research, service and training at UMBC.)

Most proposal submissions are done electronically through the sponsoring agency’s portal/website. The proposal must be submitted by an authorized representative of UMBC.  Hence, neither you nor another individual can submit the proposal yourselves. When the time comes to submit the proposal, CS3 will notify OSP that the proposal is in a ready-to-submit state.  OSP will then review the proposal and submit it to the sponsor.

For the most part, only the institution needs to register.  But, you may need to obtain an account with the sponsoring agency (e.g., you will need to register with eRA Commons if you plan to apply for an award from the National Institutes of Health).  CS3 can assist you with determining the specific requirements for your particular sponsor and advise you on the process.

Depending on your research, there are a variety of compliance requirements that may be applicable to your proposal. It is best to check with UMBC’s Office for Research Protections and Compliance (ORPC), which is overseen by the Office of the Vice President for Research.  On the ORPC website, you can find information about the various regulations, procedures, forms, Kuali COI and Protocols submissions, and training related to research compliance.  The website also includes information to contact ORPC staff if you would rather speak with someone.  CS3 will work with you and OPRC to ensure your research is conducted in a manner that is compliant with federal, state and institutional regulatory requirements.

Who Is Responsible for Various Administrative Tasks?

UMBC’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is institutionally responsible for the negotiation and acceptance of all sponsored agreements on behalf of the university.

Once OSP has reviewed the award notice for compliance with university policy and accepted the award, they will notify the Principal Investigator, CS3, the Dean’s Office, and the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting (OCGA) that a new award was created.  This notification contains the Kuali link to the award documents.  CS3 will go into Kuali and pull the documents needed for post award administration.  CS3 will also contact the PI to set up an implementation meeting to begin work on the award.

At this point, OCGA will set up the award in PeopleSoft Finance for post award monitoring and financial management of the award. OCGA will create the project number (which is a form of credit line for the account) against which expenditures can be charged.

As soon as CS3 receives notice that the award had been accepted and OCGA has set up the award in PeopleSoft, we will contact you for an implementation meeting. In this meeting we will go through the award budget and deliverables together to establish a timeline to meet the deliverables using processes that are in compliance with the sponsoring agency’s and the university’s policy and procedures and, if applicable, uniform guidance.  CS3 will take care of all the post-award administration (e.g. procurement, payroll, establishing a sub award, financial management and projections, etc.), so you can concentrate on the science portion of your award. Go here for further details on CS3’s post-award services.

As a whole, the Principal Investigator is responsible for the integrity of the research award.  Your grant administrator in CS3 is responsible for the financial management of your expenditures and is charged with assuring that all expenditures are allowable, allocable and reasonable as determined by uniform guidance and by sponsor and university policies.  CS3 will provide financial reports to you on a monthly basis or more frequently if warranted.  CS3 is more than happy to provide guidance on reading the financial reports generated by CS3, PeopleSoft and REX.  It is important to note that PeopleSoft is the University’s official accounting system.

UMBC’s Office of Contract and Grant Accounting (OCGA) is responsible for sending invoices to sponsors that require billing. Also, if a sponsor has questions regarding an invoice, it should be directed to OCGA, not to the Principal Investigator or to CS3.  If you receive such a request from a sponsor, you should direct them to OCGA.  If you are unsure about whom to contact in OCGA, contact CS3 and we can direct the sponsor to the grant accountant assigned to your award.

OCGA’s grant accountants are responsible for submitting all financial reports per terms and conditions of the award.  The financial report is based on information from the university’s official accounting system, PeopleSoft. If your award requires special financial reporting, OCGA will work with your department to complete this requirement.

No.  Only an authorized representative of the university can submit a modification. Budget adjustments should be discussed with CS3 staff and then we can determine if a modification is necessary and coordinate with OSP to initiate the modification request.  Depending on the terms and conditions in the Notice of Award, some budget adjustments may not require a modification.

If you would like to request a No Cost Extension (NCE) please notify your grant administrator in CS3 so you can discuss the specific requirements.

CS3 will communicate to OSP that an NCE has been requested by the Principal Investigator.  Only an authorized representative from OSP may contact the sponsor to request a NCE.  Depending on your award, there may be limitations on requests for a NCE, so be sure to check with your grant administrator in CS3 as soon as you know you will need to ask for a NCE.

If an NCE is requested, CS3 will work with OSP and OCGA to obtain authorization to allow spending to continue in anticipation of an official action to formally extend the period of performance.

Once an award has expired, UMBC will begin the closeout process. CS3 will review the expenditures on the award, the PeopleSoft accounting statements and payroll statements a final time to confirm that all expenses have posted to the award and all expenditures were allowable, allocable and reasonable.  CS3 will then send a certification to OCGA and request that the award be closed and the sponsor sent a final invoice.  OCGA is responsible for the financial reporting and final invoicing, OSP is responsible for the non-financial close out of the award, and the Principal Investigator is responsible for the technical reporting.

CS3 staff are always available to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to working with you!  Email socialscience@umbc.edu to get in touch.

These FAQs were last updated August 2019.

To make sure you are compliant with UMBC regulations on externally-funded research, consult the following: