ASSISTING THE PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
The Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) provides support to Smithsonian staff who are seeking, or have obtained external funding for, sponsored projects. OSP assists with the acquisition and use of grant and contract funding for Smithsonian research, education, exhibitions, collections, capital projects and administration. In addition, OSP provides assistance to Principal Investigators, administrative units, and central management staff.
The major functions of OSP include the following:
- Pre-proposal guidance
- Proposal and budget preparation and approval
- Award negotiation and acceptance
- Post-award administration
- Post-award financial management
- Indirect cost calculation
- Audit liaison.
An organizational chart of OSP is provided in Appendix A. In addition, a current listing of OSP liaisons to individual SI units is available by contacting OSP.
Chapter Two reviews in detail the services provided by OSP by pre-award, post-award and indirect cost/audit functions as well as resources available to identify funding opportunities.
SERVICES PROVIDED BY OSP
Government agencies, private foundations, corporations, and other organizations are important sources of extramural support for core Smithsonian activities. To gain and assure such support, OSP supports and facilitates the acquisition and use of grant and contract funding for Smithsonian programs. OSP assists Principal Investigators, unit administrators, and central executive staff by providing administrative services and staffing, and by offering direction, policy strategies, and operating methods throughout the duration of a sponsored project.
This system of support breaks down into three general categories: pre-award, post-award and indirect cost/audit.
OSP principal pre-award functions include:
- Finding potential sponsors: Pre-award advises on funding sources and availability of grants and contracts, in coordination with central and unit development programs. It also scans incoming newsletters and the Federal Register for new funding sources in support of the Principal Investigator’s project. When potential sponsors develop, pre-award alerts the PI of such.
- Assisting with proposal: OSP helps with preparation and submission of the proposal as well as developing a project budget. In addition, pre-award advises the PI and reviews proposal and program plans on compliance with sponsor and Smithsonian requirements and policy.
- Signing proposals: OSP acts as the Smithsonian authorizing officer.
- Deliberating, reviewing and negotiating awards: Pre-award participates in deliberations that lead to sponsored agreements and reviews proposed terms and conditions of grants and contract. It also negotiates business and legal terms and conditions of grants and contracts with sponsors.
- Accepting awards and certifying compliance: The pre-award division accepts grant and contract awards as the official Smithsonian contracting officer. Furthermore, it certifies the Smithsonian’s compliance with various representations, certifications, and assurances.
- Providing advice and assistance: OSP provides advice and assistance to executive officers of the Smithsonian in the development of Smithsonian research policy. It does so by analyzing funding trends and Federal regulatory changes.
OSP principal post-award functions include:
- Serving as the official Smithsonian representative: The post-award division does so in negotiations with funding organizations to meet their financial and administrative requirements.
- Establishing, updating, and closing-out award accounts and budgets: Post-award does this for all grants and contracts.
- Providing advice: Post award provides advice and problem resolution services to Principal Investigators, unit administrative officers, and central executive staff regarding the post-award administration of grants and contracts. It also acts as a liaison between Principal Investigators and Smithsonian support offices as well as between Principal Investigators and sponsors.
- Monitoring sponsored project activities: OSP informs the Principal Investigators of sponsor-specified expenditure restrictions.
- Developing, approving, and signing subcontract documents: as necessary to perform grant and contract scopes of work;
- Providing oversight: OSP oversees cash management of all grants and contracts, including the preparation of billings, financial reports, and letters-of-credit, and the deposit of grant and contract payments.
Indirect Cost/Audit Function
OSP serves as official liaison of the Smithsonian to external auditors in matters relating to direct and indirect grant and contract costs. The OSP indirect cost calculation and negotiation functions include:
- Preparing the annual calculation of indirect cost and other rates
- Negotiating the rates with the Smithsonian’s cognizant audit agency, presently the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- Monitoring and analyzing Federal cost principles applicable to indirect expenses
- Maintaining an indirect cost, internal control program in compliance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) OMB Circular A-122 Principles
- Ensuring that staff responsible for managing administrative allotment expenditures used in calculating the indirect cost rate receive proper training
OSP audit liaison functions include:
- Coordinating all audits of grant and contract financial management initiated by government agencies and other sponsors.
- Coordinating annually the audits of projected and actual indirect cost and other cost rate submissions.
RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO IDENTIFY FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
Resources are available to Smithsonian Principal Investigators and staff to assist in identifying funding opportunities. These resources include the following:
Both the OSP and the OD maintain libraries for the use of Smithsonian Principal Investigators and staff. The OSP library maintains a collection of the following:
- Information packets on foundations and agencies that sponsor research
- Federal, private foundation, and corporate directories
- Funding source announcements
- Business, grant, and science-related publications
Other sources to assist Principal Investigators are listed in Appendix D.
The Office of Development also maintains a library, which facilitates identification of potential funding sources.
OSP maintains a database, the Grants Management System, to assist with the process of obtaining, accepting, acknowledging, and administering externally funded awards.
This database does the following:
- Records information on all grant, contract, and interagency proposals
- Maintains all pertinent information regarding sponsored project awards.
This information is used to generate periodic reports to Smithsonian management and other Smithsonian staff on proposal and award activity, as well as specialized reports, such as individual Principal Investigator or departmental grant and contract activity. These reports can be useful to a Principal Investigator when reviewing his or her individual proposal and award history.
The Office of Development also maintains a database, "DMIS," which is a fund-raising software system that contains both a relational database and a full set of applications and analysis reports about non-profit organizations. This database is maintained by the central development office. Unit development offices and Smithsonian administrative offices have limited access to this system. Access to DMIS should be handled through the Principal Investigator’s unit development officer or by contacting the central development office.
The Office of Sponsored Projects keeps an updated webpage, accessible at http://si.edu/osp. The website provides the following information:
- Mission, vision, values and goals
- Updates in grant development and administration
- Frequently asked questions about externally funded grants and contracts
- Guide to services OSP provides
- OMB Circulars
- Guide to Sponsored Projects
- SI directives
- Sources for grants and funding opportunities
- Workshop information
- Proposal application forms
- Annual reports
- Intern opportunities
- Administrative, financial and unit portfolios
- Staff and contact information
Sponsored Programs Information Network (SPIN)
Smithsonian staff can use an on-line funding information service to which OSP subscribes. Through SPIN WWW, project directors and other staff can search through the Internet for external funding opportunities in their areas of interest. By linking to
SPIN Matching and Researcher Transmittal System (called SMARTS), users can have current funding information and updates sent directly to them via E-mail. For more information, visit the OSP’s website.