Research Administration Glossary

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A-21: "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions," a circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants and other government agreements with educational institutions (also known as Sponsored Projects).

A-110: "Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations," a circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies in the administration of grants to and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations.

A-133: "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," a circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies for the audit of States, local governments, and non-profit organizations expending Federal awards.

AAALAC: Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International

AAAS: American Association for the Advancement of Science

AAHRPP: Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc.

AALAS: American Association for Laboratory Animal Science

AAMC: American Association of Medical Colleges

ACES: ACOR Certification and Education Series

ACOR: Administrative Committee on Research

ACS: American Cancer Society

ACS/PRF: American Chemical Society - Petroleum Research Fund

AHA: American Heart Association

AIAF: Internal form used at Penn State for departmental/college sign-off on awards.

AFOSR: Air Force Office of Scientific Research (DOD)

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.

ALN: Assistance Listing Numbers (formerly known as Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance or CFDA) are the publicly available listings of Federal assistance programs.

AMA: American Medical Association 

ARL: Applied Research Laboratory 

ARP: Animal Resource Program 

ARPA-E: Advanced Research Projects Agency (DOD)

ASPR: Armed Services Procurement Regulations

Audit: 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.

AUTM: Association of University Technology Managers 

AVMA: American Veterinary Medical Association

Award: Funds that have been obligated by a funding agency for a particular project


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Bequests: A type of donation or gift. Bequests and gifts 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.

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA): An announcement of a federal agency's general research interests that invites proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made.

Budget: The detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant or contract.(See also rebudget.)

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

Budget Adjustment: The act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another.


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Capital Expenditures: The cost of the asset including the cost to put it in place. For example the price of a piece of equipment, plus the cost of any accessories, attachments, modifications, r auxiliary apparatus necessary to make the equipment usable.

CBD: Commerce Business Daily

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CFDA: Catalog of Federal Domestic AssistanceNumber assigned to most federal grants.

CFR: Code of Federal Regulations The codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

Challenge Grant: A grant that provides monies in response to monies from other sources, usually according to a formula. A challenge grant may, for example, offer two dollars for every one that is obtained from a fund drive. The grant usually has a fixed upper limit, and may have a challenge minimum below which no grant will be made. This form of grant is fairly common in the arts, humanities, and some other fields, but is less common in the sciences. A challenge grant differs from a matching grant in at least one important respect: The amount of money that the recipient organization realizes from a challenge grant may vary widely, depending upon how successful that organization is in meeting the challenge. Matching grants usually award a clearly defined amount and require that a specified sum be obtained before any award is made.

Change Order: A written order signed by the contracting officer, directing the contractor to make changes that the changes clause of the contract authorizes the contracting officer to order without the consent of the contractor.

CITI: Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative

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

COGR: Council on Governmental Relations

COI: Conflict of Interest 

Coins: Conflict of Interest System

COLA: Cost of Living Allowance granted to employees based in a foreign city, where cost of living is higher than in Washington, D.C.

Collaborator: The third party performing collaborative sponsored project effort under a Subaward.

Collaborative Proposal: A proposal submitted with another institution where one project description is used to perform collaborative research, but each institution submits a separate budget and receives a separate award.

Competing Proposals: Proposals that are submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted; either must compete for research funds. Ongoing projects must compete again if the term of the original award has expired.

Consortium Agreement: Group of collaborative investigators/institutions; arrangement can be formalized with specified terms and conditions.

Continuation Project (Non-Competing): Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only. A project approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time. At the end of the initial budget period, progress on the project is assessed. If satisfactory, an award is made for the next budget period, subject to the availability of funds. Continuation projects do not compete with new project proposals and are not subjected to peer review beyond the initial project approval.

Contract: A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals.

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.)

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.

COS: Community of Science.  A web server containing information about scientific expertise, funded scientific research, and funding opportunities for research.

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: A general term, used as a noun or adjective, that can describe virtually any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs, institutions. Example: A university receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000. The sponsor agrees to pay 75% ($75,000) and the university agrees to pay 25% ($25,000). The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component.

COMMITTED - Mandatory: Required as a condition to receive an award, and specified by the agency in the proposal guidelines or program announcement. This would be the minimum cost sharing required by the agency. Anything committed beyond the minimum becomes Voluntary Committed cost sharing.

Voluntary: Committed by the University through the inclusion in the proposal as a specific commitment. This commitment could appear in the proposal either in the administrative/business section (e.g. budget or budget justification) or the narrative.

UNCOMMITTED - Voluntary: University expenses, such as faculty salaries, that are over and above that which is committed and budgeted for in a sponsored agreement. These expenses DO NOT appear on the sponsor budget or narrative and are not subject to DCAA Audits.

CPIA: Certified Professional IACUC Administrator

CUI: Controlled Unclassified Information

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DAR: Defense Acquisition Regulations

DCAA: Defense Contract Audit Agency

DEA: Drug Enforcement Administration

DED: Department of Education

Defense Acquisition Regulations (DAR): The source regulations for research projects sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Deficit: Expenditures exceed funds available.

Deliverables: Requirements of the sponsor that are part of the contractual agreement and must be given to the sponsor at specified intervals or the end of the project period. An example would be a final report.

DFARS: Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement

DHHS: Department of Health and Human Services

Direct Costs: Clearly identifiable costs related to a specific project. General categories of direct costs include but are not limited to salaries and wages, fringe benefits, supplies, contractual services, travel and communication, equipment, and computer use. This does not include any Facilities and Administrative costs.

DRG: Division of Research Grants (National Institutes of Health)

Drone: Drone Operations

DOD: Department of Defense (includes Air Force, Army, DARPA, and Navy)

DOE: Department of Energy

DOI: Department of Interior

DOT: Department of Transportation

Donation: Transfer of equipment, money, goods, services, and property with or without specifications as to its use. Sometimes donation is used to designate contributions that are made with more specific intent than is usually the case with a gift, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. (Also see Gift)

DUA: Data Use Agreement

DURC: Dual Use Research of Concern

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EDGAR: Education Department General Administrative Regs

EHS: Environmental Health and Safety

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

Encumbrance: Funds that have been set aside or "claimed" for projected expenses pending actual expenditure of the funds.

Endowment: A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions (e.g., endowed chair).

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency

eRA Commons:  The NIH eRA Commons is a web-based system that allows NIH extramural grantee organizations, grantees, and the public to receive and transmit information electronically about the administration of biomedical and behavioral research.

Equipment: An article of nonexpendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost which equals or exceeds $5,000.

ESCRO(Human) Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight

Expiration Date (end date): the date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award.

Export: The term export as used in the various export control regulations has an expansive meaning. In general an export includes any: (1) actual shipment of any covered goods or items; (2) the electronic or digital transmission of any covered goods, items or related goods or items; or (3) any release or disclosure, including verbal disclosures or visual inspections, of any technology, software or technical data to any Foreign National/Person. An export may also include the actual use or application abroad of personal knowledge or technical experience acquired in the United States. Complete definitions of the term “Export” are contained within the regulations cited below. These regulations should be consulted when determining whether a particular course of action will constitute an export under those regulations. (Remember, discussion of the material with a Foreign National/Person, regardless of the country of which the individual is a citizen, constitutes export.)

Export Administration Regulations (EAR): The EAR is composed of published regulations and guidelines concerning the Department of Commerce review of regulated exports. The EAR generally refers to items that have “dual use,” i.e. both military and commercial applications. Goods and services that are regulated by the EAR are listed in the Commerce Control List (CCL). The EAR and CCL are updated and re-published annually in the Code of Federal Regulations. The current EAR is published in 15 CFR §§ 730-774 (Commerce and Foreign Trade). The complete CCL is published in 15 CFR § 774, Supp. 1.

Extension: An additional period of time given by the sponsor to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or contract. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date.



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FAA: Federal Aviation Administration 

FAR: Federal Acquisition Regulations for Federal Contracts

FastLane:  One of NSF's websites for electronically submitting proposals, notifications, and reports to NSF. NSF has transitioned many proposals, notifications, and reports to

Final Report: The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs: Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. F&A costs are synonymous with Indirect Costs.

Faculty Company: An enterprise, either commercial or not-for-profit, in which one or more faculty members have a proprietary or other significant interest, pecuniary or otherwise.

FCOI: Financial Conflict of Interest 

FDA: Food and Drug Administration

FDP: Federal Demonstration Partnership.  The FDP is a program sponsored by the Government, University, Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academies. Its purpose is to reduce the administrative burdens associated with research grants and contracts.

FDP: Federal Demonstration Project

FIC: Fogarty International Center (NIH)

Final Report: The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.

Fiscal Year (FY): Any twelve-month period for which annual accounts are kept (at Penn State, July 1 through June 30; Federal Fiscal is October 1 through September 30).

Fixed-Price (FP) 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.

FOIA: Freedom of Information Act

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

Foreign National/Person: The term Foreign National/Person means a person (natural person as well as a corporation, business association, partnership, society, trust, or any other entity, organization, or group, including government entities) who is not a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., i.e. has not been lawfully accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with the immigration laws or who is not a protected individual. (A Foreign National/Person is a person that has not been issued a “green card” by the U.S. government, or who possesses only a student visa.)

Fundamental Research: As used in the export control regulations, Fundamental Research includes basic or applied research in science and/or engineering at an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community. Fundamental Research is distinguished from research that results in information that is restricted for proprietary reasons or pursuant to specific U.S. Government access and dissemination controls. University research will not be deemed to qualify as Fundamental Research if: (1) the University or researcher accepts any restrictions on the publication of the scientific and technical information resulting from the research, other than limited pre-publication reviews by research sponsors to prevent inadvertent divulging of proprietary information provided to the researcher by the sponsor or to insure that publication will not compromise patent rights of the sponsor; or (2) the research is funded by the U.S. Government and specific access and dissemination controls regarding the resulting information have been accepted by University or the researcher.

Funding Cycle: Range of time during which proposals are accepted, reviewed, and funds are awarded. If a sponsor has standing proposal review committees (or boards) that meet at specified times during the year, application deadlines are set to correspond with those meetings. For some sponsors, if proposals are received too late to be considered in the current funding cycle, they may be held over for the next review meeting (i.e., National Science Foundation's Target Dates).


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Gift: 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. (Also see Donation.)

GPG: Grant Proposal Guide for the National Science Foundation.

Grant: A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities.

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.). is the source to find and apply for federal grants.

GSA: General Services Administration


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Human Subject: a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information (Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 46.102). People not considered to be subjects are individuals receiving services that are not experimental and which are intended to benefit only the recipient of the service; such services include most therapeutic treatments, counseling, and academic instruction.

HRPP: Human Research Protections


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i-EDISON: NIH Extramural Invention Information Management System

IDC: Indirect Costs also referred to as Facilities and Administration (F&A) or Overhead Costs.

IACUC: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. This committee is appointed to review all proposed uses of non-human vertebrate animals by the University. Projects are reviewed for compliance with the principals of humane animal care and use as set forth by policies and regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Public Health Service. The membership of this committee is designed to provide for a balanced review of all submitted activities by inclusion of veterinarians, faculty, staff, and a local community representative.

IBC: Institutional Biosafety Committee

IFI: Institutional Financial Interest

In-Kind: Contributions or assistance in a form other than money. Equipment, materials, or services of recognized value that are offered in lieu of cash.

Incremental Funding: A method of funding contracts that provides specific spending limits below the total estimated costs. These limits may be exceeded only at the contractor's own risk. Each increment is, in essence, a funding action.

Indirect Costs: Costs related to expenses incurred in conducting or supporting research or other externally-funded activities but not directly attributable to a specific project. General categories of indirect costs include general administration (accounting, payroll, purchasing, etc.), sponsored project administration, plant operation and maintenance, library expenses, departmental administration expenses, depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment, and student administration and services. (See also Facilities and Administrative Costs.)

Indirect Cost Rate: The rate, expressed as a percentage of a base amount (MTDC), established by negotiation with the cognizant federal agency on the basis of the institution's projected costs for the year and distributed as prescribed in OMB Circular A-21. Rates are set each July 1.

Intellectual property: The term used to describe the patents, copyrights, mask work protection, trade secrets, and plant variety protection certificates which cover or pertain to inventions.

Interim Funding: Authorization to expend funds on a project to a specified limit before the award document has been received from the sponsor.

Inventions: A general term which includes computer software, general instructional materials (including video tapes), novel machines, devices, compositions of matter (compounds, mixtures, genetically engineered cells, plants or animals), genetic forms, mask works, production processes, production methods, plant varieties, etc.

Invitation for Bid (IFB): A solicitation issued to prospective bidders. An IFB describes what is required and how the bidders will be evaluated. Award is based on the lowest bid. Negotiations are not conducted.

Investigator-Initiated Proposal: A proposal submitted to a sponsor that is not in response to an RFP, RFA, or a specific program announcement.

IO: Institutional Official

IRB: the human subjects Institutional Review Board. This board is appointed to review research involving human subjects for compliance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations. The IRB membership includes Penn State faculty and staff from relevant disciplines, as well as one or more member(s) of the local community.

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR): The ITAR is composed of published regulations and guidelines concerning the Department of State review of regulated exports. ITAR applies to defense articles and services, including any technical data associated with such defense articles and services. The ITAR generally refers to items that have military usage only. A list of regulated defense articles is contained in ITAR, and is commonly referred to as the U.S. Munitions List (USML). ITAR and the USML are updated and re-published annually in the Code of Federal Regulations. The current ITAR is published in 22 CFR §§ 120-125 (Foreign Relations). The complete USML is published in 22 CFR § 121.1. Additional provisions in ITAR further define and categorize the items listed in the USML.



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Key Personnel: The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.


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Limitation of Cost (LOC): A mandatory clause for cost-reimbursement type contracts. Under the clause, the sponsor is not obligated to reimburse the contractor for costs in excess of the stated amount. The contractor, however, is not obligated to continue performance once expenses reach the stated amount.


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Matching Grant: A grant that requires a specified portion of the cost of a supported item of equipment or project be obtained from other sources. The required match may be more or less than the amount of the grant. Some matching grants require that the additional funds be obtained from sources outside the recipient organization. Many matching grants are paid in installments, the payments coinciding with the attainment of pre-specified levels of additional funding. (Also see Challenge Grant.) Matching grants are very common in the sciences, especially for equipment. They are standard practice in some government agencies.

MOU: Memorandum of Understanding

Misconduct in Science: Fabrication, plagiarism, 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: A sponsor's stated purpose, which is designed to address a specified set of problems. Almost all federal research agencies are designated as mission agencies.

Modification: An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award. Example: Carryover approvals, adding or deleting special terms and conditions, changes in funding levels, administrative changes initiated by the agency, extensions that include changes in terms, change of principal investigator, etc.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC): Facilities and Administration costs are calculated on MTDC, which is total direct costs minus tuition, equipment, and subcontract costs in excess of the first $25,000.

MSS: Multi-Site Study

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NACUBO: National Association of College and University Business Officers

NAS: The National Academy of Sciences

NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NCHGR: National Center for Human Genome Research (NIH)

NCI: National Cancer Institute (NIH)

NCURA: National Council of University Research Administrators

NDA: Non-Disclosure Agreement

NEA: National Endowment for the Arts

NEH: National Endowment for the Humanities

NEI: National Eye Institute (NIH)

New Award: An award not previously awarded or a renewal or continuation award treated as a new award by the sponsor and given a new agency number.

New and Competing Proposals: Proposals that are submitted for the first time or ongoing projects that must recompete for funding prior to expiration of the original award.

NHLBI: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH)

NIA: National Institute on Aging (NIH)

NIAAA: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH)

NIAID: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH)

NIAMS: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH)

NICHD: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH)

NIDA: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH)

NIDCD: National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIH)

NIDCR: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIH)

NIDDK: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH)

NIEHS: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH)

NIGMS: National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH)

NIH: National Institutes of Health

NIMH: National Institute of Mental Health (NIH)

NINDS: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH)

NINR: National Institute for Nursing Research (NIH)

NLM: National Library of Medicine (NIH)

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 serves as a notification to the recipient and others that a grant or cooperative agreement has been made; contains or references all terms of the award; and documents the obligation of funds.

NPR: National Performance Review

NSF: National Science Foundation


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OFPP: Office of Federal Procurement Policy

Off Campus F&A Rate: "Off-campus project" means research/instruction conducted at a research/instruction site or facility not located on campus. Work being conducted at a private residence is not considered an "off-campus project

OHRP:  Office for Human Research Protections 

OLAW:  Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare 

OMB: Office of Management and Budget

OMB Circulars: Regulatory circulars issued by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). Definitions included in OMB Circulars A-21, 110, 122, 128 and 133.

ONR: Office of Naval Research

OPAS: Organizational Prior Approval System

OPRR: Office for Protection from Research Risks (DHHS)

ORA: Office of Research Affairs

ORIS:  Office of Research Information Systems

ORP:  Office for Research Protections

OSP: Office of Sponsored Programs

OTA:  Other Transaction Agreement

OTM:  Office of Technology Management


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PAM:  Post Approval Monitoring

PCA Pre-Award cost Authorization Form

Peer Review: A system using reviewers who are the professional equals of the principal investigator or program director who is to be responsible for directing or conducting the proposed project. It is a form of objective review. Peer review is legislatively mandated in some programs and in other programs is administratively required.

PEN: Project Extension Notification Form

PHS: Public Health Service

PHS 2590: Application for Continuation of a PHS Grant (National Institutes of Health )

PHS 398: Application Form for a PHS Grant (National Institutes of Health)

PI: Principal Investigator

PIAF: Internal form used at Penn State for departmental/college sign-off on proposals.

Post-Differential Allowance: Expenses authorized for employees based abroad to provide additional compensation for services as a recruitment and retention tool. When the allowance is authorized, the employee's base salary is increased accordingly.

PRAMS:  Protocol Review Approval and Management System

PRDA Program Research and Development Announcement

Pre-Proposal: A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal. Also termed Preliminary Proposal.

PRIM&R: Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research

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

Prior Approval: The requirement for written documentation of permission to use project funds for purposes not in the approved budget, or to change aspects of the program from those originally planned and approved. Prior approval must be obtained before the performance of the act that requires such approval under the terms of the agreement.

Priority Score: A score derived from the rating given a research proposal by each member on a review committee. It is used to help determine which approved proposals will be granted awards, based on funds available.

Program Announcement: Describes existence of a research opportunity. It may describe new or expanded interest in a particular extramural program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in an extramural program.

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.)

Progress Report: Periodic, scheduled reports required by the sponsor summarizing research progress to-date. Technical, fiscal, and invention reports may be required.

Project Period (PP): The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved. A project period may consist of one or more budget periods. (Also see Budget Period.)

PPE:  Personal Protective Equipment

Proposal: 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.

PSSUB Penn Sate Sub Request Form: Whereas "sub" stands for Subcontract/Subaward.  This electronic form is part of the subcontracting process that assists the Office of Sponsored Programs in managing the distribution of funds for Subrecipients. 


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Rebudget: The act of amending the budget buy moving funds from one category or line item to another. (See also Budget Adjustment)

rDNA: Recombinant dNA

Regs: Short for "regulations."

Regulations: The contractual rules and procedures governing sponsored research projects.

Renewal: Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only. A competitively reviewed proposal requesting additional funds extending the scope of work beyond the current project period.

Request for Applications (RFA): Announcements that indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a sponsor. Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in the award of a grant. Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific sponsor publications. (Also see Broad Agency Announcements.)

Request for Proposal (RFP): Announcements that specify a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered, and appropriate applicants sought. Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of a contract. Notices of federal RFPs are published in the Commerce Business Daily.

Request for Quotations (RFQ): A formal request from sponsors to vendors for a price quotation on equipment or supplies to be purchased.

Research: a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge. Activities which meet this definition constitute "research," whether or not they are supported or funded under a program that is considered research for other purposes. For example, some "demonstration" and "service" programs may include research activities (Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 46.102).  One of NSF's websites for electronically submitting proposals, notifications, and reports to NSF. NSF has transitioned many proposals, notification, and reports to from Fastlane.

Revision: A modified and resubmitted request for funding for a project that was previously not funded either because it was denied by the sponsor or withdrawn by the principal investigator.

RLAT: Registered Laboratory Animal Technician.

RLATG: Registered Laboratory Animal Technologist.

RQA: Research Quality Assurance Office


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Salaries and Wages (S&W): Payments made to employees of the institution for work performed.

SBA: Small Business Administration

Scope of Work: The description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project.

Senior Personnel: Professional personnel who are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of project, but are not PIs.

SFI: Significant Financial Interest. This is a term defined in RP06: Disclosure and Management of Significant Financial Interests.

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR): Agency administered programs supported by ear-marked federal funds, making grants to small business entities.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR): Grant applications and/or programs to fund small business "teamed" with research institutions.

Small Grant: A special type of award, often limited to a beginning researcher. Typically, such an award may be obtained for one year only.

Sponsor: Refers to the governmental agency or other organization that makes an award directly to the University.

Sponsored Award: The financial assistance document processed by the Sponsor and sent to the University that provides support or stimulation to accomplish a public purpose.

Sponsored Contract: The mutually binding legal document processed by the Sponsor and sent to the University specifying the terms under which the acquisition or procurement of sponsored project services will be conducted.

Sponsored Instruction and Training: Specific instructional or training activity established by a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement.

Sponsored Research: All research and development activities that are sponsored by Federal and non-Federal agencies and organizations.

SRA: Society of Research Administrators

SRO: Sponsored Research Office

SSA: Social Security Administration

SSS: Single-Site Study

Stipend: 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.

Subaward: The document that formalizes an award of financial assistance to a third party to perform collaborative sponsored project effort based upon a Sponsored Award made to the University. The term does not include technical assistance, which provides services instead of money; other assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees, interest subsidies, or insurance; and direct payments of any kind to individuals.

Subcontract, Subgrant, or Subagreement: A document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.

Subcontractor: The third party performing substantive sponsored project services under a Subcontract or Subaward.

Subs: Short for subcontractors.

Supplemental (Rebudgeting or Modification) Proposal: A request to the sponsor for additional funds for an ongoing project during the previously approved performance period. A supplemental proposal may result from increased costs, modifications in design, or a desire to add a closely related component to the ongoing project.


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Task Order Agreement (TOA): A legally binding document authorizing work and appropriating funds as a supplement to a basic contract.

Teaming Agreement: An agreement between two or more parties to participate in a research project or teaching activity.

Technical Data: Recorded information, regardless of form or characteristic, of a scientific or technical nature. Often referred to as the "science" of a proposal.

Technology Transfer: The process whereby University creative and scholarly works may be put to public use and/or commercial application.

Templates: Facsimiles of agency forms created with common software that enable the user to fill out agency forms with their computer.

Terms of Award: All legal requirements imposed on an agreement by the sponsor, whether by statute, regulation(s), or terms in the award document. The terms of an agreement may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to protect the sponsor's interests.

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

Total Costs: The total allowable direct and indirect costs incurred by the institution to carry out an approved project or activity.



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UIC: University Isotopes Committee

Unrestricted Funds: Monies with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds.

Unilateral Award: An award made by a sponsor to an organization without considering competitive proposals. Unilateral awards are most often made when unsolicited proposals receive favorable treatment.

Unsolicited Proposal: Proposals submitted to a sponsor that are not in response to an RFP, RFA, or program announcement. (See also Investigator-Initiated Proposal.)

USAID: Agency for International Development

USDA: United States Department of Agriculture

USIA: United States Information Agency

VA: Department of Veterans Administration

VAH: Veterans Administration Hospital

Vertebrate Animal: any non-human animal possessing a well-developed nervous system as characterized by the presence of a dorsal notochord protected by a vertebral column.