Running Grants Through RMBL
Individuals considering running a grant through RMBL should review our Grant Administration Manual, which includes the most current information.
Why Submit a Grant Through RMBL?
There are three good reasons for submitting a grant through RMBL. First, it is generally much easier to submit a grant through RMBL than a large institution. We keep the bureaucracy to a minimum and we will do everything we can to make the process painless for you. Second, RMBL receives revenue from the NSF when you run a grant through the lab as a percentage of the grant as overhead. This revenue helps fund operations of RMBL, including building maintenance and computer facilities, and keeps user costs lower than they would otherwise be. In most cases, RMBL’s indirect rate will be substantially lower than what you will find at universities. The final advantage of running a grant through RMBL is that if there is a crunch for space, we will prioritize research groups with grants run through the lab. Running a grant does not guarantee extra space beyond the two research assistants per principal investigator limit. But, all other things being equal, we will give priority to the research group with a grant run through us.
Grant proposals should follow all guidelines as determined by NSF. RMBL is required to follow all rules and regulations as outlined by the NSF in the NSF Grant General Conditions document and any subsequent Transmittal Notices or documents of revision. General guidelines for grant proposals can be found here. Please inform the Director that you plan to submit a grant as soon as you start preparing the proposal (ideally at least two weeks before the proposal is due). At that time, you should inform the Director of when the proposal is due and whether the proposal involves any work that has not been approved by RMBL's Research Committee. If the research has not been approved by the Research Committee, the Director cannot guarantee that the work will be permitted at RMBL.
Please submit a draft of the proposal to the Director one week before the grant is due. The draft need only have an outline of the experiments planned. You should also submit your budget one week ahead of time. The budget should be close to your final budget. RMBL will review your budget to ensure that the indirect revenue for the lab is sufficient to cover the costs of administering the grant. If the indirect is not sufficient to justify the cost of administration of the grant, we will not accept the grant. We will also determine whether the expenses generated by use of RMBL facilities are approximately correct.
Please have the proposal ready to submit online at least 48 hours before the proposal is due. This will give us a chance to deal with any last minute problems, including glitches with the electronic submission process.
If you miss these deadlines we will do everything we can to get your grant submitted. However, we cannot guarantee that we will have sufficient time to deal with any problems that arise. We encourage you to keep us informed if you miss our deadlines so we can be ready to deal with the grant when it is ready for review and submission. The Director will submit the grant electronically. In case of an emergency and with prior approval from the Director, billy barr is authorized to submit a grant. By submitting the electronic signature on Fastlane the representative affirms on behalf of RMBL that all requirements for handling and managing the grant will be met.
You can run a grant through your home institution, but subcontract the RMBL portion through us. You will need to fill out a separate budget sheet for the portion contracted through RMBL. Your home institution can take indirect at its usual rate up to $25,000 of the amount subcontracted through RMBL. Billy Barr can assist you with the details of subcontracting the grant through RMBL.
Subcontracting, like running the grant through RMBL, has a number of advantages. You will find that it is much more convenient to run the RMBL portion of the grant through us. If the grant is contracted through us, you will be able to charge expenditures locally, considerably reducing your paperwork. Additionally, we have a much faster turn around than most institutions. Our indirect rate is considerably lower than almost all other institutions. Finally, subcontracting the grant through RMBL supports the lab financially. This allows RMBL to keep rates low without reducing our services.
PI’s must include fringe benefits to include FICA (for all employees) and retirement (for full-time employees paid by RMBL year-round). All other categories such as travel, salaries, supplies, equipment, and publications are added at the discretion of the PI. To insure sufficient funding after year 1 of the grant it is best to add a 5% increase to all user fees in following years. Rates are generally set in September for the following summer.
Items to keep in mind are:
Fringe Benefits: RMBL’s policy is that PI’s include 10% retirement on all salary and 10% to cover workmen’s compensation, social security, and medicare- 20% total. Employees who are working full-time, year-round receive 10% retirement. For undergraduate and graduate students working at a PI’s institution, funds to cover tuition and related fees can be included, based on costs for attending the PI’s institution.
RMBL does not offer a Health Care plan to its employees. Rather, it has established a TascFlex plan that allows employees to take money out of salary before taxes to pay health care expenses. You will need to talk to Billy Barr about the details of setting up the account.
Indirect Costs (Overhead): The rate for 2013 is 57%. RMBL allows PI’s to run grants at a 30% overhead rate as a way of facilitating research. This rate is fixed for the duration of the grant. RMBL reserves the right to reject the handling of any grant in which the indirect cost amount is considered to be inadequate. Because RMBL allows grants to be run at a lower rate, it does not pass on any of the indirect revenue to support research. Any exceptions to this policy should be negotiated with the RMBL Director before the proposal is submitted. RMBL takes the full indirect rate on subcontracts run through the lab. However, as per NSF guidelines, RMBL takes indirect only on the first $25,000 on the subcontract.
Salaries: Salaries must be approved by the RMBL Director. PI’s will need to provide justification for salaries for all individuals on the grant, including PI’s, in writing.
For housing, meals, station fees and lab rental please check our rate schedule.
We need less lead-time on REU supplements. Please do let us know that you will be submitting a supplement at least one week before it is due. At that time, let us know when you will put the grant online and when we will need to submit it by.
According to NSF 'Indirect costs for REU awards are not allowed; however, an administrative allowance limited to 25% of the student stipend support is allowed (enter at line I of Form 1030). Total costs per year are expected to be typically about $6,000 per student.' If you are submitting a supplement to a grant run through the lab, you should include the full administrative allowance. If that creates a problem, please contact the Director to request an exception well in advance (at least a week).
REU students that are funded on a supplemental, whether run through the grant or not, are considered research assistants and will count toward the PI's total.
Currently RMBL will only accept vehicles purchased through grants run through RMBL. Vehicles purchased made from grants belong to RMBL. According to NSF, the vehicles are for the exclusive use of the PIs during the period of the grant, though RMBL has a more lenient policy. Except under unusual circumstances, the PI will have exclusive use of the vehicle as long as they are conducting research at RMBL.
PIs must receive permission from the RMBL Director before purchasing a vehicle. The PIs will be responsible for all costs associated with the vehicle, including parking fees at RMBL, insurance and maintenance costs. The PI controls who uses the vehicle and where they can drive it, though the vehicle should be used solely for research-related purposes. PIs can keep vehicles at their home institutions during the winter.
RMBL is ultimately responsible that the vehicle is operated safely. That means RMBL reserves the right to ensure that drivers receive adequate training, that the vehicles are properly maintained, and that drivers can operate the vehicle safely. If RMBL has concerns over the safety of operation, it will approach the PI to work out issues. If problems cannot be worked out to satisfaction of RMBL, the Director can take such measures as require that certain individuals not operate the vehicle, require that the vehicle be appropriately maintained before being used, have RMBL take over control of the vehicle, or have RMBL transfer ownership of the vehicle to another non-profit or University. The PI is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is insured whenever the vehicle is operated. PIs need to take out complete liability coverage and for vehicles less than 6 years old they need to take out collision coverage. Additionally, they need to provide RMBL with the names of all drivers a copy of their drivers licenses. Please contact Billy Barr for assistance in getting coverage. If RMBL determines that a vehicle has been operated without insurance, this will be grounds for RMBL assuming control over the vehicle.
Once a PI is no longer conducting research at RMBL, or using the vehicle for research purposes at the RMBL, control of the vehicle will revert to RMBL. At that time RMBL can use it for any purpose. RMBL will not, and legally cannot, simply transfer ownership of the vehicle to an individual for less than fair market cost.
Equipment purchased from grants belong to RMBL. According to NSF, the item is for the exclusive use of the PIs during the period of the grant. Except under unusual circumstances, the PI will have exclusive use of the equipment as long as they are conducting research at RMBL.