I thought it might be helpful to point out a few important aspects of proposal budget development.  This is something that is reviewed closely in our Office of Sponsored Programs so moving forward with a clear budget and justification will alleviate much of the last minute stress associated with looming proposal deadlines.

#1: Start your proposal preparations with a draft budget.  The budget will drive your objectives for the project and will help focus you on what is reasonable given the timeframe and budgetary restrictions.

#2: These are the items I consider a “must have” of any project development –

  1. personnel – expressed as either FTE, months requested, or even hourly rates;
  2. benefits or OPE – don’t forget the benefits and be sure to calculate these out separately from the salary base;
  3. travel – many sponsor require at least one person attend an annual meeting (read the guidelines carefully).  This is also a great opportunity for graduate students &/or post-doctoral scholars to work on their presentation skills, include some funds for them to participate as well.  Travel includes mileage, parking, flights, hotel, per diem, transit, etc.;
  4. supplies – this is often greatly underestimated; look at a current project and what you spend monthly…you’ll be surprised at the cost of research disposables;
  5. publications / dissemination costs – include at least a little something to offset the costs associated with project dissemination; and finally
  6. indirect or F&A costs – don’t forget to calculate indirect costs as they are a substantial part of your total costs.

#3: There are a lot of resources but do pay close attention to current OPE, per diem, tuition, and indirect cost rates.  It appears that “Resources” may be the title of my next blog but I’ve posted most of them on our resources webpage (scroll to the bottom). There are also budget building templates there to assist.
Some other quick points of clarification:

  • If you have a subaward (or several) in your budget, we will need a detailed budget breakdown, justification, statement of work and an institutional letter of approval prior to submission.  I encourage you to give your subaward a fixed amount to work with so that it doesn’t affect your budget development efforts.
  • If the sponsor has published a restricted indirect cost rate with their proposal guidelines, OSU will honor this reduced rate.  Make sure to note if it is a rate based on total direct cost or total program costs.

Remember, you can always contact me, Sarah Child &/or Rebecca Ott to quickly put together a draft budget.  All it takes is a quick phone call or email.

Now on to part two – a little later than promised but a snow day seems to be the perfect opportunity to finish the blog about our Cayuse system.  Part 1 can be found at http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/research4agriculture/2013/11/08/cayuse-unlocking-mysteries-part-1/.

My standard reminder: the CayuseSP module is internal to OSU.  This is basically the new, electronic version of our proposal transmittal form (the old blue sheet for those of you that remember).  This is information that will be kept in our Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) but not distributed out to the sponsor or to any other institutions.

Now, let’s continue our review of common areas of confusion:

Budget” –

  1. Note that there are two columns; the one of the left is for the “Initial/Current Budget Period” (normally year 1 funds but could be 1st quarter, etc.) and the one on the right is for the “Project Period/Project Request” (this is the full requested amount)
    • The two columns can certainly be the same and the 2nd / right-side column will auto-fill if you press the “Click Here if this is a one year project”.
  2. This is just the summary budgetary information and, at this time, there is not an option to add any details.  As such, you should always attach a detailed budget breakdown.  A spreadsheet showing formulas is preferred.
  3. Also note that there is space to calculate two separate F&A amounts if needed; an example would be partial on- and partial off-campus research.
    • Direct” is the amount of all direct costs (no indirect costs)
    • F&A Base” is the amount of direct costs subject to the indirect cost calculation (if using our on campus modified total direct costs (MTDC) rate, this would be your direct costs less tuition, subawards over $25K, and equipment over $5K)
    • Be sure to press both the “Calculate Amt” and “Calculate Total” links to allow the system to auto-calculate the F&A and grand total.  I find this is a good general check of my spreadsheet for errors
    • The “Change Rate” link should be used to change to a sponsor-restricted or ‘other’ indirect costs rate
  4. If you proposed budget included cost sharing or matching funds, some additional questions will pop up when “yes” is selected.
    • Be sure to “Add a Cost Sharing/Cash Matching Unit”. This will most often be your home unit or department, especially if you are using salary as match. It can be the College if you are only using unrecovered indirect costs or unallowable costs (per sponsor) as match.  These are actually costs waived and tracked at a University level. Contact Liz if you are unsure how to list proposed match
    • Whoever is listed (unit or college) will be asked to sign-off on the amount in question
  5. There are occasional times when you will select that the Dean, Chair or VP for Research provide support funds but this should be negotiated and documented well ahead of submitting through the Cayuse system.
    • Don’t use this as your way of broaching the subject
  6. The “Personnel/Space/Equipment” questions would only be “Yes” if you are asking for additional office, lab, or building space be supplied by your unit or college.

Conflict of Interest” –

  1. In a perfect world, the answers would always be “Yes” and “No” to questions 1 and 2, respectively.  But, read them carefully.  If you have any questions, or are not sure if you have done your annual research conflict of interest form, contact http://oregonstate.edu/research/coi/.
  2. Regulatory Compliance”, “Export Control”, and “Intellectual Property” sections mirror similar sections in your proposal applications to federal agencies.  These three sections all help keep our University in compliance and can create necessary reports for review.  Read and answer honestly, they each should only take a couple minutes.
  3. Subaward/Subcontracts” is simply a section where you would list any collaborating institutions.  If you do not have subawards in your proposal, simply select the “No Subcontracts” button to get your green check mark required for internal submission.
  4. Outreach and Engagement” is your best estimate on the breakdown of funds allocated towards our three principal missions (Research, Teaching, and Outreach).  Remember, this is internal and your best guess.
  5. Location of Sponsored Activities” – This is also your best estimate on the allocation of time towards your project in any given location.  This should reflect only OSU’s (your) share of the project.
    • All four sections must total 100% and you can’t edit an entry but rather only have the option to delete and re-add with a different allocation percentage.
    • As such, if a complex project, I like to sketch out an estimate on scratch paper before entering into the system

Application Abstract” –

  1. This is meant to be a simple cut and paste from your proposal summary section but it doesn’t need to be overly elaborate either.  Feel confident typing in the general scope of your research if you’d rather.
  2. You do have to select a “CIP code” to save the page – these are very generic so pick the best fit (only one allowed).

Attachments” –

  1. At a minimum, this should include a detailed budget, budget justification, and scope of work.
  2. Any additional documentation is always appreciated – The proposal announcement guidelines, Draft narrative, Required attachments, Letters of support or match, Any required signed documents for an application

Approving Depts” –

  1. This section will auto-populate from the information entered on the “General Info” and “Investigators/Research Team” section.  It will also include any cost match units from the “Budget” section.
  2. Press the “Authorize Departmental Listings” button and the College level approvers will also auto-populate.  This will give you the required green check mark as well.
  3. Be sure to change the routing order to all “2”s to avoid a linear approval process and speed up the internal review.
  4. Check this section carefully.  If anything seems out of place, go back to the sections mentioned in “a” above and change if necessary.

Submission Notes” –

  1. This is the only section that is automatically checked off, which is rather unfortunate.  This is an excellent place to add any notes of clarification regarding submission, status of final application, etc.
  2. Use this section!

Once you get through the systems a couple times, it really becomes much easier (I promise).  Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions.  A 10 second phone call can save you an hour of frustration.

We are beginning to ramp up our sponsored research proposal efforts as many of the popular NSF, USDA, EPA, and NIH annual solicitations are opening back up.  As such, is seems an appropriate time to unravel some of the mysteries of Cayuse.

One quick reminder: the CayuseSP module is internal to OSU.  This is basically the new, electronic version of our proposal transmittal form (the old blue sheet for those of you that remember).  This is information that will be kept in our Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) but not distributed out to the sponsor or to any other institutions.


Now, let’s tackle some of the common areas of confusion:

General Info” (aka “Start New Proposal”) –

  1. The “Funding Agency” is who will provide funds directly to OSU.  This causes some confusion when we are a subawardee; in that case, we would list the other institution (i.e. University of Washington) and then utilize the “Prime Funding Agency” to list the sponsor of the program funds (i.e. NSF).  Otherwise, this “Prime Funding Agency” field can be left blank.
  2. Be sure to select an “Activity Code.”  It isn’t a required field for saving, but is required by OSP.  This isn’t the activity code we associate with indexes but rather whether the project is applied research, basic research, development, other sponsored activity, or research training.
  3. Award Admin Dept” should be your home department (not college); this will be the first to receive your proposal for routing and should match what is listed under your department in the “Investigators/Research Team” section.
  4. Please identify a primary administrative contact who will manage this project should it be awarded:” – in most cases, this would be the name of the lead PI.


Investigators/Research Team” –

  1. You must add the name of the lead PI first (required of the system).
  2. Be sure to check the “Dept.” that auto-populates with your name…these can sometimes be incorrect or outdated.  Please change it if necessary.  Remember that the department of the lead PI should match that listed under the “Award Admin Dept” in the “General Info” section.
  3. As an FYI: You only need to list the names of those required to electronically sign-off on a proposal transmittal form; that would be anyone listed as a co-PI on the application package.  Other key personnel are not required to be listed here.*
  4. Person Months” are the cumulative amount of months that you will dedicate to this project.  This would be a combination of both your “Sponsored Effort” and your “Cost Shared Effort” over all years.  This would need to match what you list on a Current and Pending Support document; not just what you are requesting the sponsor fund.
  5. Sponsored Effort %” is amount of FTE requested of the sponsor (your paid effort).  It is calculated by dividing the # person months by the # project months (i.e., 1 month per year x 3 years = 3 divided by 36 = 8.3% Sponsored Effort).
  6. Cost Shared Effort %” is the FTE that you will devote to this project in excess of that funded by the sponsor.  Again, reference that Current and Pending Support document required of many agencies.  If you list an effort of 10% on this pending project but only request funding support of 0.05 FTE/year.  You would have an additional 0.05 FTE/year (5%) in this “Cost Shared Effort” category.  Do note that anything listed at 5% or above in this “Cost Shared Effort %” cell will have to be tracked internal for auditing / compliance purposes.  But, more on that later (as it is rather complicated).  Just be true to the project proposed.  If you are dedicating 1mth/year to the project but aren’t asking for full funding of that month, list the difference under this “Cost Shared Effort.
  7. Allocation of Credit %” is not used here at OSU so can be left blank

*One tricky aspect is that only those listed in the “Investigators/Research Team” section can see your proposal before routing begins.  If you need administrative assistance with your CayuseSP file, be sure to add that person and select a “Role” of either “Proposal Editor” or “Other Participant (no routing)”.  That individuals “Person Months,” “Sponsored Effort %,” and “Cost Shared Effort %” should all be zero.


Wow – that was a lot of information already and I only covered two sections.  I’ll break there and provide more next week.  Although, I’ll leave with a promise that those two sections likely cause the most confusion so the rest will be a piece of cake.

As always, contact me at any time with questions, comments, or concerns.

I do my best to bombard you with relevant funding opportunities via email, website, and now even via Facebook.  But, given the diversity of our College of Agricultural Sciences group, it isn’t easy to target those with a unique niche. As such, I thought I would provide some useful pointers on how to find the best funding to fit your research needs.


For federal funding opportunities, your best resource is going to be Grants.gov.  They have a searchable database but also note, at the bottom of that screen, that you can set up a “Subscription” tailored to your interest.  They offer several options including:

  1. Subscribing to a RSS Feeds based on (a) agency or (b) category,
  2. Receiving a daily notification of all new grant opportunities, or
  3. Received notifications based on specific criteria.

I currently use option #3 but plan to also try out the RSS Feeds as a backup.

If you find an opportunity that you think might fit your research, I highly encourage you to contact the program manager to discuss.  They encourage, even welcome, the conversations.  And, if they feel your idea isn’t quite right for this particular program, they often can advise which other opportunities might be a better fit.


Grant Forward (formally IRIS – Illinois Researcher Information Service) is another excellent resource for finding funding opportunities and includes federal, state, foundation, and “other.”  Thanks to the Research Office, anyone at OSU can subscribe to the site using their oregonstate.edu email address.  Once your account has been authorized, you can create advanced searches that can be saved. You even have the option to set up an email alert.

This is a useful service as it extends beyond just federal opportunities.  Given that my search for the college is VERY broad / generic, I encourage researchers to fine tune their own searches. There is even an option to “create profile” which the site will then use to identify matching funding opportunities.


If you are looking for foundational funds, there really are countless options out there…I would encourage you to search for a pertinent source but also contact them to discuss your ideas.  It would also be wise to check with the OSU Foundation to ensure they are a reputable source.

Crowdfunding (Wikipedia definition)

I’ll admit that I just recently became aware of the crowdfunding option thanks to some of our brightest graduate students.  This may be an up-and-coming option.  A recent article added a little fuel to the fire when they specifically addressed using crowdfunding to fund academic research. You can read more here; I find it very interesting, some universities are even taking the extra step to partner with specific crowdfunding platforms.

I have checked with the research office on how this type of funding would be processed and they said it would simply be viewed as gift funds.  Next on my list is to start a dialog with the OSU Foundation to find out their views, policies, etc. on crowdfunding (to be continued).

Those are my top 4 resources, but please comment here to share your favorite sources for funding opportunities. All of that aside, I am also happy to meet with any of you to discuss your specific ideas.  It is ALWAYS a pleasure to meet with the faculty and get to know someone a little better.

This morning I participated in an online training webinar/conference call for the Risk Management Agency’s online application submission and reporting system. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), operating through the Risk Management Agency (RMA), recently announced a funding opportunity titled, “Risk Management Education Partnerships Program.” After reading the announcement, I felt that this targeted a rather large College of Ag base – basically, anyone with an outreach component in Crop and Soils, Horticulture, Rangeland and Animal Sciences (and beyond) could benefit from this opportunity. But, more on the specifics below.

If you feel this may be an opportunity for you, let’s talk. The submission system and the way they want applications put together lays far outside the typical process. You must use their online submission system and there is a heavy emphasis on “Proposed Results” (which are what the participants will do), “Audience Emphasis” and the “Teams and Partners.” To give this some perspective, the narrative section is limited to 400 words.

This is definitely a time where you want to get your proposal put together well before the deadline and submit several days ahead of time. Yes, I know that all agencies recommend this, but in this case you really should submit early given the way their online system operates.

Summary: The purpose of this competitive cooperative partnership agreement program is to deliver crop insurance education and risk management training to U.S. agricultural producers to assist them in identifying and managing production, marketing, legal, financial, and human risk.

Here are the priority commodities they are targeting with this program –

  1. Agricultural commodities limited to commercial crops that are not covered by catastrophic risk protection crop insurance, are used for food or fiber (except livestock), and specifically include, but are not limited to, floricultural, ornamental nursery, Christmas trees, turf grass sod, aquaculture (including ornamental fish), and industrial crops.
  2. Specialty crops that may or may not be covered under a Federal crop insurance plan and include, but are not limited to, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, syrups, honey, roots, herbs, and highly specialized varieties of traditional crops.
  3. Underserved commodities which includes: (a) Commodities, including livestock and forage, that are covered by a Federal crop insurance plan but for which participation in an area is below the national average; and (b) commodities, including livestock and forage, with inadequate crop insurance coverage.

“For the 2013 fiscal year, the FCIC Board of Directors and the FCIC Manager are seeking projects that (1) address one or more of the Priority Commodities (as defined above), (2) provides Crop Insurance Education on FCIC approved policies, or (3) address one or more of the five (5) areas of risk described as Production, Legal, Financial, Marketing or Human Risk.”

Award range is $20,000 – $99,000 for up to one year; submission deadline is July 22, 2013. You can find more detail here.

As I mentioned above; if this is something that interests you, contact me. Or if you’ve used the system before, I’d like to have some firsthand knowledge of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

P.S. Yes, this would still need to go through our internal Cayuse system but only CayuseSP (i.e. the electronic proposal transmittal form); the Sponsored Programs folks are also aware of the unique submission requirements for this particular opportunity.