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This Glossary contains short concise definitions of common terms in Research Administration. They should not be taken as complete or all encompassing. The terms may have a link to the Research Handbook or other areas with more detailed definitions and concepts.


A-21 "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions,"
The circular (now Uniform Guidance) establishing the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other government agreements (also known as Sponsored Projects) with educational institutions. 

A-110 "Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education . . ."
The circular (now Uniform Guidance) establishing uniform administrative requirements for grants and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals and other non-profit organizations.

A-133 "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations"
This circular (now Uniform Guidance) sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies for the audit of States, local governments, and non-profit organizations expending Federal awards.

Allocable Costs
Those allowable costs that actually benefit the grant or contract to which they are being charged.

Allowable Costs
Those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, such as salaries and equipment. Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.

A request for financial support of a project/activity submitted to a sponsoring agency.

The amount of funds authorized by Congress allowing federal agencies to make awards.

Assistance Agreement (see Grant)

Statements concerning institution or organization compliance with Civil Rights, Title IX, Human Subjects, etc.

A formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or financial situation. An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable terms, laws, and regulations.

Congressional legislation establishing a specific program.

Authorized Signature
Signature of person legally responsible for making agreements on behalf of an organization; must appear on an application before it can be considered an official request; implies that if an award is accepted, the responsibility for its proper administration is assured.

The provision of funds, based on an approved application or proposal and budget, to an organizational entity or an individual to carry out an activity or project.


Block Grant
Lump sum of money given to a state or local governing agency based on a formula to be spent in generally eligible areas. Purposes are broadly defined and few restrictions are mandated from the funding source. Restrictions can be imposed by the re-granting agency.

Estimated cost of conducting the proposed project, consisting of direct/indirect costs, matching contribution (cost sharing), and justification.

Budget Justification (Budget Explanation)
A clarification of the budget; explains how dollar amounts were determined; not a rationale for the amounts requested.

Budget Negotiation
Discussion between submitting organization and funding source prior to the time an award is made; often involves modification of a budget request; initiated by the funding source; often results in a budget reduction.

Budget Period
The interval of time - usually twelve months - into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.


Carry-over or Carry-forward
Unexpended award funds on grants and contracts that are moved to the next funding period (usually a year) where the agency (sponsor) allows the carryover of unexpended funds.

Categorical Grant
Usually awarded to state or local governments for broad expenditures; somewhat more restricted than for a block grant.

Clinical Investigations (also known as Clinical Study or Clinical Trial)
A scientific treatment plan or study outline for using an experimental procedure or a new treatment to see how it works in people.

Close Out
The act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project.

The extension of an actively funded project; based on an application made in the same manner as a new application; competes with new requests.

Conflict of Interest
When a University employee is in a position to influence the conduct of a project for personal gain due to responsibilities or to arrangements with an outside entity.

A participant, usually external to the University, whose participation does not require a sub-award or subcontract, and who is paid via a personal service agreement.

A legal document specifying work, scope, budget and time of performance; usually results in a tangible product.

Contract/Grant Officer
A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the business officer of the grantee/contractor organization, the grant/contract officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and interprets the associated administration policies, regulations, and provisions. (For definition of scientific officer, see Program/Project Officer.)

Contracting Officers' Technical Representatives (COTR's)
Sponsors contracting officers appoint individuals selected by program offices to act as authorized representatives in the monitoring and administration of a contract. Also see Program Officer.

Cooperative Agreement
An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation, and anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.

A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.

Cost Accounting Standards (CAS)
Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and spending funds.

Cost-Reimbursement Type Contract/Grant
A contract/grant for which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount.

Cost Sharing
Financial contribution by the grantee; typically less than one third of the total cost; more common to research grants; a form of matching.

Data (see Research Data)

Data Rights
Maintaining ownership and stewardship of the scientific data and records for research projects. In the case of federal contracts/grants, refer to FAR Clause Subpart 27.4-Rights in Data and Copyrights, in which it prescribes policies, procedures, and contract clauses pertaining to patents and directs agencies to develop coverage for Rights in Data and Copyrights.

An action taken by a debarring official in accordance with the regulations to exclude a person from participating in covered transactions. A person so excluded is debarred.

Demonstration Grant
An award that allows a grantee to create a working model; usually meant to be reproduced by others.

Direct Costs
Expenses directly associated with carrying out the sponsored project. Included, but not limited to, salaries and fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, printing costs, etc.

Disallowance or Disallowed Cost
A charge to a grant that the Federal awarding agency determines to be unallowable, in accordance with the applicable federal cost principles or other terms and conditions contained in the award. Typically the sponsor will not pay for these expenditures and the disallowed expenditure becomes the responsibility of the PI and must be transferred to another budget (non-federal) or receive after-the-fact approval from the sponsor.

Discretionary Grant
An award made in accordance with legislation allowing the funding source to exercise reasonable freedom in selecting the project, the grantee, and determining the amount of the award.

Document Summary Sheet (DSS)
An internal routing form for institutional approval for submitting proposals (U of U).


Effective Date
Date award is made; allowable project costs may not be charged to the project until this date.

Electronic Research Administration (ERA)
Conducting research administration by utilizing electronic resources such as the internet, the world wide web, form templates, databases, and other electronic tools.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
The computer-application-to-computer-application exchange of business information in a standard electronic format. Translation software aids in the exchange by converting data extracted from the application database into standard EDI format for transmission to one or more trading partners.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
The transfer of funds from one account to another electronically usually through an EFT software program run on a computer.

Obligations in the form of purchase orders, contracts, or salary commitments which are chargeable to an award and for which a part of the awarded amount is reserved. They cease to be encumbrances when paid.

Tangible assets over $5,000 acquired through donation, gift, purchase, capital lease, or self construction with a life expectancy of more than one year.

Expanded Authorities
The operating authorities provided to grantees under certain research grant mechanisms that waive the requirement for agency approval for specified actions.

Expiration Date (Termination Date)
Last date of a project; no charges may be made to a project after this date; see Duration Dates and Grant Period.


Facility and Administration (F&A) Costs (also known as indirect costs)
The overhead expenses indirectly associated with the sponsored project. Included are administrative expenses, utilities, physical plant maintenance, library facilities, etc.

False Claims Act
Covers fraud involving any federally funded contract or program, with the exception of tax fraud.

False Statement Act
Covers any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.

Federal Flow Through Funds
When the initial source of funds for a project is directly attributable to the federal government through a grant or contract to a non-federal sponsor and the funds are received by the University from the non-federal sponsor. Federal flow through funds gain the identity of federal funds upon receipt of an award to the University and federal rules apply to the receipt, spending and accounting of the funds unless expressly exempted by the federal agency initially making the award.

An award made directly to an individual in support of specific educational pursuits; recipients may be subject to service and/or payback requirements after the fellowship terminates.

Fiscal Compliance
Assurance that funds are appropriately spent and that the work is completed and at the highest standards.

Fixed-Price (FP) Type Contract/Grant
A contract/grant for which one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered. Quite often this is a fee-for-service agreement.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
A federal statute that allows any person the right to obtain federal agency records unless the records (or part of the records) are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law.

Fringe Benefits
Employee benefits paid by the employer. (e.g., FICA, Worker's Compensation, Withholding Tax, Insurance, etc.)

Full Time Equivalent (FTE) (also see Percent of Effort)
The percentage of full-time employment. For hourly paid personnel, the FTE is used in the generation of time reports to calculate the number of hours to assign on the report. For salaried personnel, it is not used for hours calculation but rather just to show a general distribution of time and effort that equates to the distribution of cost.


Gifts and bequests are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support.

General statements of anticipated project outcomes; usually, more global in scope than objectives and not expected to be measurable; if used, goals should be supported by well-stated objectives.

Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA)
It sets forth guidelines for classifying information in (Utah) government records based upon who has the right to access that information.

Award of financial or other assistance which does not hold the grantee to a rigid work plan; more flexible than a contract; grantee or grantee's client is usually the beneficiary.

Grant Period
The period between "effective date" and "expiration date", during which time items may be charged against the grant or contract.

Grant/Contract Officer
A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the business officer of the grantee/contractor organization, the grant/contract officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and interprets the associated administration policies regulations, and provisions (For definition of scientific officer, see Program/Project Officer.)


Indirect Costs (see also F&A)
The overhead expenses indirectly associated with the sponsored project. Included are administrative expenses, utilities, physical plant maintenance, library facilities, etc.

In-Kind Contribution
A service or item donated in lieu of dollars to the operation of a funded project; usually given by the grantee or a third party; (e.g., donated equipment or guest speaker's time); should be referenced in budget as a real direct project cost but designated as in-kind; must be auditable with letter of agreement as a minimum paper trail.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)
Temporary assignments of personnel between governmental agencies and other qualified institutions under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program when the assignment is for work of mutual concern and benefit.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
Monitors care and use of animals in laboratory and research programs of a organization to assure that animals are treated humanely in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Research with Human Subjects
Reviews all proposed research projects that involve human subjects to assure that the rights of such subjects are protected, that adequate and informed consent for their participation is obtained, and that any possible benefits of the research are commensurate with the risks involved.

Intellectual Property
Potentially legally protectable knowledge, technology, ideas, and information often resulting from performance of sponsored activity.


Matching (Funds)
Financial contribution by the grantee; common to capital and/or equipment grants when grantee and/or grantee's clients are the primary beneficiary; typically one third (1/3) or greater; a form of cost sharing.

Misconduct in Science
Fabrication, plagiarism, fraud, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

Mission Agency
An agency of the federal government that has a specific or special mission (i.e. ONR, DOD, etc.)

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)
Basic indirect costs are calculated on a subset of direct costs, normally excluding among other costs, equipment, patient care, space rental, alterations and renovations, and subcontract costs in excess of the first $25,000.

Modular Grants
Under the NIH Modular Grant Application and Award Initiative, applicants prepare simplified proposals that provide limited budget information in a narrative format and do not have to submit other research support information until just prior to award. Applications are to request direct costs in $25,000 modules, up to a total direct costs request of $250,000 per year for all unsolicited new, revised, and competing continuation R01, R03, R15, R21, R41, and R43 grants and competing supplements, as well as applications responding to RFAs for these mechanisms.


No Cost Time Extension
An extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration data to allow the principal investigator to finish a project. Usually, no additional costs are provided.

Notice of Grant Award
The legally binding document that notifies the grantee and others that an award has been made, contains or references all terms and conditions of the award, and documents the obligations of Federal funds. May be issued in letter or electronic format.


Other Transaction Agreements (OTA) also see Technology Investment Agreement (TIA)
These agreements are a variation of a contractual agreement. There are fewer bid restrictions and the Bayh-Dole Act does not apply. This means that the sponsoring agency may retain all rights to intellectual property.


Personnel Action Notification (PAN)
The vehicle or form used to communicate to the Human Resources Information System data regarding each individual's employment at the University of Utah. When completed the form provides job-related and personal information.

Personnel Activity Report (PAR)
To comply with government requirements, the University of Utah has established a Personnel Activity Report (PAR) system which consists of after-the-fact effort reports for all exempt employees who expend effort on sponsored projects for which reimbursement is claimed from the grantor and, in addition, exempt employees in a department associated with grants and contracts.

Principal Investigator
The individual responsible for the conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal for an award.

Prior Approval
Written documentation of permission to alter any aspect of a funded project; includes programmatic and financial changes; may be obtained within grantee organization or from grantor depending upon the case in point and grantor policy.

Project Director
The individual, project director or principal investigator, responsible for supervising the sponsored program for the funded agency.

Program/Project Officer
A sponsor's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the principal investigator/project director of the grantee/contractor organization, the program/project officer deals with the grantee/contractor organization staff to assure programmatic progress. (For definition of business officer, see Grant/Contract Officer.)

Program Income
Gross income earned by a grantee that is directly generated by the grant-supported project or activity or earned as a result of the award.

Project Period
The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved. The total project period is comprised of the initial competitive segment, and subsequent competitive segment(s) resulting from a competing continuation award(s), and noncompeting extensions.

An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested. Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a principal investigator.



Real Property
Land, including land improvements, structures, and appurtenances, but not movable machinery and equipment.

Recharge Centers
Operating centers established for the primary purpose of providing specialized services to the university community (although services may be provided on an incidental basis to external users).

Representations & Certifications (Reps & Certs)
Required statements which must accompany federal contracts and proposals, and which are completed by the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Request For a Proposal (RFP)
Announcement distributed by a funding source to potential grantees defining in a general way the type of project proposals desired; often pertains to applied research which, in the interest of the grantor or contractor, or its clients, can result in either a grant or contract; same as a Request For an Application (RFA).

Request For a Quotation (RFQ)
Announcement distributed by a source to potential respondents defining in a general way the type of services/item in accordance with specifications, and within the price or price limitation, if any, set forth for each service/item.

Research Data
Includes laboratory notebooks, as well as any other records that are necessary for the reconstruction and evaluation of reported results of research and the events and processes leading to those results, regardless of the form or the media on which they may be recorded.


Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
Federal program to increase private sector commercialization of technology developed through Federal R&D and increase small business participation in Federal R&D.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program
Under this federal program, a percent of a Federal agency's extramural research or research and development (R&D) budget is reserved for awards to small businesses for cooperative R&D to be conducted jointly with a non-profit research institution.

Sponsored Research
Research funded by an outside agency either through a grant or contract.

A payment made to an individual under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual's living expenses during the period of training.

An agreement or secondary contract in which a third party agrees to perform some of the activities defined in a primary proposal; agreed upon at the time of submission but not consummated until after the award has been made to the organization submitting the primary proposal.

An action taken by a suspending official in accordance with regulations that immediately excludes a person from participating in covered transactions for a temporary period, pending completion of an investigation and such legal, debarment, or Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act proceedings as may ensue. A person so excluded is suspended.

Technology Investment Agreement (TIA)
Used to carry out basic, applied, or advanced research projects when it is appropriate to use assistance instruments and the research is to be performed at least in part by for-profit firms, especially as members of consortia. TIAs allow DOD Components to leverage for defense purposes financial investments made by for-profit firms in research related to commercial products and processes.

Total Direct Costs (TDC)
The total of all direct costs of a project.

Trade Secret
All forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information, whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically, or in writing if (A) the owner thereof has taken reasonable measures to keep such information secret; and (B) the information derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by the public.


Unallowable Cost
A cost determined to be unallowable in accordance with the applicable cost principles or other terms and conditions contained in a grant award.

Unsolicited Proposal
Proposal for which the initiative for defining the project concept and submitting the proposal rests solely with the applicant.


Last Updated: 12/1/22