Research Administration Certificate Program

The Research Administration Certificate Program developed in collaboration with a cross-campus advisory committee, and coordinated through the Office of Sponsored Programs, is a professional development opportunity designed to educate staff about sponsored programs administration. The curriculum provides a deeper understanding of key concepts related to grant and contract administration. Participants attend 11 sessions, engage in problem-based learning exercises, and other hands-on or problem solving exercises to receive the Research Administration certificate.

To view the details for each training session, click on the name of the session:

(1) Overview of Sponsored Research

The kick-off session of the Research Administration Certificate Program will cover topics including the research and regulatory environment, sponsored projects policies, the life cycle of an award, and an overview of the Office of Sponsored Programs.  The requirements of the certificate program will be reviewed, and there will be time for questions and answers.

(2, 3) Proposal and Budgets

This combined session provides an overview of the information available on the OSP website and covers the proposal preparation process from completing the Request for Proposal Assignment form to the routing process. A Federal sponsor solicitation will be reviewed and participants will put together a proposal package for electronic submission.  An overview of the proposal budgeting process will include detailed information  on budget categories as well as allowable costs.  Participants will build a sample budget and budget justification using the budget templates from the OSP website.  

(4) Federal Contracting

This session will review the differences between federal grants, contracts and cooperative agreements once a proposal has been selected for funding.  Discussion will include which federal regulations are commonly incorporated into these awards, which ones are favorable to a university, and which ones pose problems.  Review of how OSP negotiates these terms with federal and corporate sponsors to reach a mutually acceptable agreement while protecting our educational mission and preserving the interests of our faculty and student researchers.  This session will also introduce relevant federal contract laws such as the OMB Uniform Guidance, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Export Control Laws, and newly enacted laws governing data security and controlled, unclassified information.

(5) Award Management

Managing externally funded sponsored projects can be a fun and challenging adventure. Many new research administrators wonder about the overall process including their roles in the support and management of the project; which rules apply and where to look for those rules; who else has a role in supporting the project; and who they can call if they have questions.  This session will provide an overview of the award acceptance and setup process and best practices that can be used for the post award management of your projects from the central OSP and college/department level perspectives here at Mason.

(6) Reconciliation of Sponsored Projects

This hands-on session will provide an overview of the PI Report in MicroStrategy, which displays Banner financial data for sponsored projects. The PI Report provides a summary for sponsored project funds with the ability to view details for all charges including personnel and direct expenditures. Fund by Month, Reconciliation by Fund, and data export options will also be reviewed. The GMU reconciliation policy, overall reconciliation process, sample templates to track both personnel transactions and direct expenditures, and sample reconciliations will be reviewed. A computer will be provided for each attendee to navigate through the reports.

(7) Administering Labor Expenditures on Sponsored Projects

This session provides an overview of managing labor expenditures on sponsored projects. Topics include position types, steps for charging labor, processing pay, reallocations, compliance with federal regulations, university policies, and cost transfers. Funding change forms, EPAFs, labor commitments, fringe benefits, and reconciling labor charges are also discussed.

(8) Administering Non-Labor Expenditures on Sponsored Projects 

This session provides an overview of managing non-labor expenditures on sponsored projects. Topics include indirect versus direct costs, steps for charging direct expenditures, and transaction types including petty cash, food and beverage, tuition, fellowships, travel, participant support, subrecipients, contractors, etc.  Journal vouchers, cost transfers, and reconciling non-labor charges are also discussed.

(9) Research Compliance 

This session will review federal requirements for research with animals and human subjects, conflicts of interest, research misconduct, responsible conduct of research and export controls.  We will be covering the basic regulatory information including definitions, required policies, required boards, and record keeping practices.   

(10) Financial Compliance 

This session provides an overview of the many regulations and compliance concerns pertaining to post award administration to include unallowable charges, cost transfers, Fly America Act, and more.  Review of how OSP implements their post audit review and lessons learned from sponsor and internal audits or reviews will be discussed.

(11) Reporting Billing and Closeout

In this session, OSP’s Financial Reporting and Billing team will review the different types of sponsored awards, invoices, and financial reports.  Payroll certification, cost share, and the award closeout process will be discussed.