All industry- or privately-sponsored proposals must be processed through established procedures within the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP), regardless of any tentative understanding between the Principal Investigator (PI) and the sponsor. These procedures include fulfilling all compliance requirements, completing a proposal or Scope of Work with a budget and budget justification, completing a Transmittal Sheet, obtaining all relevant signatures (to include the department chair, dean, and any others that may be required), and routing it to the ORSP. The proposal will be reviewed and approved within the ORSP, and can then be submitted to the sponsor for consideration.
It is understood that faculty or research staff members (PIs) seeking grants or contracts from industry or other “for-profit” organizations (sponsors) will be working closely with the sponsors to develop work plans and budgets. However, all final negotiations with those sponsors, especially with respect to budgets and contractual arrangements, will be done by the ORSP. For all sponsored programs involving university employees and facilities, the University of Mississippi is the official applicant and awardee, and the official UM signatory for all sponsored programs is the Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs (see UM Policy 10000650: Authority for External Funding Requests). The PI should assume that full UM Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A costs, also known as indirect costs) rates apply when preparing budgets for “for-profit” organizations (see UM Policy 10000653: Full Recovery of Facilities and Administrative Costs Required for All Sponsored Programs).
Under normal circumstances, once the proposal is accepted and approved by the sponsor, the ORSP would then negotiate the terms of a contract or agreement. However, the ORSP recognizes that these types of projects sometimes require quick approval; in that case, to streamline this process, a UM Transmittal Sheet together with a draft contract, scope of work, and budget can be delivered to the ORSP for review and negotiation.
The ORSP will review the contract (if supplied by the PI) or work with the sponsor to formulate a contract, negotiate with the sponsor any terms or conditions that may be required, and finalize acceptable language. Once the contract is fully executed, the ORSP will authorize the Accounting Office to set up an account and the project may begin. All costs associated with performing the scope of work must be expensed to the account which has been set up for that purpose. The burden of ensuring that costs are properly reported and expensed falls to the PI and his/her department or fiscal unit.
Fixed-price contracts or agreements are generally discouraged because of the risk involved, but many private entities prefer to use them. A fixed-price agreement requires that UM perform the work to the sponsor’s specifications regardless of the actual cost of doing the work. Therefore, it is imperative that the PI budget carefully to ensure that actual cost and the price paid by the sponsor will match (see Procedure for Operating Under Fixed Price Agreements for Research and Other Sponsored Programs). Any cost overruns will be the responsibility of the PI and his/her department or school.