Research Policy Analysis and Coordination
Chapter 19-200: The Federal Extramural Support System
There are two basic types of mechanisms that federal agencies use to provide funds to State governments and other recipients in furtherance of public programs, including research: assistance and acquisition. An assistance-type relationship exists when the principal purpose of the relationship is the transfer of anything of value in order to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation. An acquisition-type relationship exists when the principal purpose is the acquisition, by purchase, lease, or barter, of property or services for the direct benefit or use of the Federal Government. (See Section 2-F02 of this Manual.)
Grants and cooperative agreements are used when the government wants to assist a recipient in accomplishing a public purpose. Grants are normally used when no substantial involvement is anticipated between the federal agency and the recipient during the performance of the contemplated activity. When substantial involvement is anticipated, a cooperative agreement is usually awarded.
When the government wants to acquire goods and services for its own direct benefit or use, it usually issues a contract.
Research, training, and public service activities supported by federal funds are governed by two broad sets of regulations depending on whether grants and cooperative agreements or contracts are used to provide the funds. Assistance regulations are discussed below in Section 19-210 and acquisition regulations are discussed in Section 19-220.
19-210 Assistance Regulations
Regulations governing grants and cooperative agreements awarded by a particular federal agency are usually codified in that agency's section of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). (For example, grant rules for the Department of Health and Human Services are codified at 45 CFR Part 74.) These regulations are often repeated in and supplemented by handbooks, guides, manuals, or other documents. In the formulation of its grant and cooperative agreement rules for universities, a federal agency is required to follow the guidance in Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations, 2 CFR Part 215 (OMB Circular A-110) unless prohibited by statute or OMB grants an exception.
19-211 2 CFR 215 - OMB Circular A-110
2 CFR Part 215 sets forth standards for obtaining consistency among federal agencies in the administration of grants to and cooperative agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations.
The three major sections of this CFR part concern pre-award, during-award, and after-award requirements. Specific sub-sections of this CFR part are covered in various chapters of this Manual, as follows:
- Pre-award and during-award requirements are covered in Chapter 2, including monitoring and reporting program performance and termination.
- Financial reporting and program management are covered in Chapter 6, with the exception of cost sharing and matching which are discussed in Chapter 5.
- Property standards are covered in Chapter 15, with the exception of insurance coverage which is discussed in Chapter 21.
- Procurement standards are found in Chapter 16.
- Retention and access requirements for records are covered in Chapter 17.
19-212 Agency Implementations of 2 CFR 215 – A-110
Individual federal agencies implement 2 CFR 215 in their respective sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and may supplement it with additional administrative requirements in various agency-specific handbooks, guides, and manuals for their grants and cooperative agreements.
19-213 Federal Demonstration Partnership - 2 CFR 215 Implementation
Federal agencies which are members of the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) apply an FDP modified version of OMB A-110 to their respective grant awards. In addition, individual FDP federal agency members publish individual agency implementation statements.
19-220 Acquisition Regulations
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) System was established by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93-400), as amended by Pub. L. 96-83, and Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Policy Letter 85-1 dated August 19, 1985. Its purpose is to codify and publish uniform policies and procedures for acquisition by all executive agencies. The Federal Acquisition Regulation System consists of the FAR, which is the primary document, and individual agency acquisition regulations that implement or supplement the FAR.
19-221 FAR and FAR Supplements
The FAR is issued and maintained jointly by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and NASA which make up the FAR Regulatory Council. It is available on-line from various sources including Acquisition Central and Hill Air Force Base. It is also published in Chapter 1 of Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Proposed and interim rules and well as other changes to the FAR including notices must be published in the Federal Register for comment before they are published as final rules. The Office of the President Office of Research Policy Analysis and Coordination (RPAC) reviews the daily Federal Register for items which affect the University’s operations, in general, and research administration in particular. (For more information, see Chapter 10-413 of this Manual.)
The FAR is divided into 53 parts. Parts 1-51 constitute a "policy and procedures manual" for government Contracting Officers: terms are defined, standards are outlined, and instructions are given on which clauses to use in which kinds of contracts under which conditions. Part 52 contains the actual contract clauses that become binding on the contractor when a contract containing the identified clause is executed; it also contains provisions used in solicitations for government contracts. Part 53 is used to reprint relevant standard forms, including forms to be used by contractors in submitting required reports.
Within parts 1-51, the FAR uses an X.XXX-X numbering scheme. The numbering scheme represents the part and subpart of the specific item. So, for example, FAR 25.108-3 is subsection 3 within section 8 of subpart 1 of part 25, as illustrated below:
Within part 52, the numbering scheme is 52.2XX-Y, where the XX refers to the FAR part in which the clause is prescribed in parts 1 to 51. The -Y, however, is merely a sequential identifier (beginning with -1) and is not related to the prescribing FAR section. Thus 52.229-4 is the fourth clause prescribed in part 29.
Each federal contracting agency has the option of issuing its own supplement to the FAR, and these supplements are assigned a unique 1- or 2-digit number that precedes the corresponding FAR number. For example, the Department of Defense (DOD) is assigned the number 2, so that in its FAR supplement, the Defense FAR Supplement or DFARS, clauses all begin with 252. Thus 252.227-XXXX identifies DFARS clauses that are prescribed in part 227 of the DFARS and pertain to subject matter covered in part 27 of the FAR (in this case, intellectual property).
Although each agency has a certain part or section of the CFR where it publishes its acquisition regulations (including grant assistance rules), FAR supplements for all agencies are codified in Part 48 of the CFR. FAR part 25, for example, is found in 48 CFR Chapter 1, Part 25. The DFARS is found at 48 CFR Chapter 2; the Department of Health and Human Services HHSAR Supplement is 48 CFR Chapter 3; and so on.
Agencies must seek approval from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy as well as publish proposed changes for public comment in the Federal Register in order to add to or modify their FAR supplements.
19-222 FAR Clause Database
The OP Research Policy Analysis & Coordination Office (RPAC) reviews changes in the FAR and major agency FAR supplements as they are published in the Federal Register. RPAC maintains FAR clause guidance on its homepage. Lists of FAR, DFARS, and NASA FAR Supplement provisions and clauses that are of interest to Contract and Grant Officers are available in an on-line database on the RPAC homepage. These lists provide the clause/provision name and number, date, prescription location, summary, guidance, and other information for FAR, DFARS and NASA FAR clauses generally found in research contracts with educational institutions.
Provisions and clauses are added to these lists both in response to campus requests and as a result of review of issuances in the Federal Register. The "Comment" field in each list provides guidance if there are any special circumstances that Contract and Grant Officers should know about the clause, including whether the clause is generally not acceptable to the University. Mere listing of a clause is not intended to be synonymous with saying that the clause is acceptable to the University, nor is non-appearance on a list a sign that the clause is not acceptable as context and applicability as well as University policy must be considered in reviewing these clauses
19-230 System Reforms
OP RPAC is committed to working with sponsors and campuses to make structural improvements in the extramural support system. The development of master agreements or master terms and conditions with State and private sponsors (see Section 19-330) as well as participation in the Federal Demonstration Partnership, the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) and other national organizations.
19-231 Federal Demonstration Partnership
The Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) is a cooperative initiative of participating federal agencies and research universities whose purpose is to reduce the administrative burden associated with research contracts and grants and to foster productive research environments by:
- Promoting communication and cooperation among all participants in the research support system at the federal, state, and institutional levels;
- Serving as a laboratory to evaluate innovative and controversial changes to existing research support practices;
- Improving, streamlining, and standardizing the management and administration of the research support system; and
- Optimizing the investment of research funds while maintaining appropriate stewardship.
The University has been a participant in the FDP since its inception in 1988, and has taken the lead in the areas of allocation of costs, documentation of costs, equipment screening requirements, contract terms, and subcontracting.
Various pilot projects conducted under the FDP have resulted in measurable decreases in non-productive administrative burdens on both research scientists and university administrators. The long-term goal is to institutionalize and codify changes that have been successfully demonstrated in the pilot projects.