Sheldon’s Fun-day Friday

This week I am appalled by the entire human race.

ALL OF YOU.

And not just because you refuse to add in a ramp at the Starbucks counter so I can order my venti-half caff- caramel drizzle-skim –no foam-and for the love of god no whip coffee without fear of getting skipped or stepped on. Which is rude, by the way. This week has just been a downward spiral of horror.

It didn’t start off that bad.  I managed to only be slightly appalled at BritBrit and more appalled at the fact that I refer to her as BritBrit. I even handled the birth of Pig Country into the Kardashian Family with freaking grace. Then, this happened.

 

I don’t know what kind of ridiculous cheerios you are feeding kids these days but I’m NOT okay with this. Her dress has a side tail and a mane! It also is boasting a sweet shoulder streamer “garland”.  I’m traumatized. I’m appalled. I’m not even curious where to get the drugs to be okay with this!

I’m proposing a new public health study to deal with these types of abominations. This is more serious than zombies, people! Your future generations are at stake.

Good luck to you, minions. You obviously need it.

Use A Little Luck, And We Will Make It Work Out Better

As mentioned earlier this week, we’ve been moving our blog from WordPress servers to a private host, which will allow us to provide more and better content to you, our loyal readers, in the future.  However, thanks to the wonders of DNS caches, some folks are still reaching our old WordPress-hosted site instead of our new spiffy digs.  This is why many readers were unable to access today’s first attempt at Fun-Day Frday, as a Murphy’s Law of issues resulted in it being posted to our old setup.

Here’s a quick check to determine to which BloggingORA your ISP is directing you: If you see links to our Twitter and Facebook accounts on the column on the right, you’re still going through WordPress.  If you simply see a recitation of our previous blog entries, you’re all caught up.

[Additionally, check out the actual link to today’s offering from Sheldon.  If you can read it and it ends in -28, you’re still seeing us via WordPress.  If you can read it and it ends in -30, you’ve been reset.]

We’re posting this message to both platforms to ensure maximum coverage, and, as everyone’s ISPs flush and reset their DNS caches, the misrouting should eventually die away.  Until that happens, we apologize for any inconvenience that you may encounter and thank you, yet again, for your patience.

Sheldon’s Fun-day Friday

Stop 10 — Monroeville, PA

Distance from previous location: 826 miles

Total distance traveled (on purpose) 11,432 miles

Dearest minions, I was on my way from scenic Iowa to Long Island to see I’ll Have Another try to make history, but two-thirds of the way there something stopped me cold. As your fearless leader, I feel a duty to warn you all.

[Now try not to overreact; panicking makes you age quicker.]

THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING!!!! And they’re going to eat your face.

Regardless of what the CDC claims, you are all going to get EATEN. Not me, of course, turtles aren’t affected by zombie apocalypses. Just another way we are superior to humans. . .maybe you should invest in some shells.

Anyway, what I love most about a good apocalypse are the people who want to take advantage of the fun to be had. For example, this guy decided to dress like a zombie and chase random people around Miami. A large part of me is really excited for this dude’s ability to realize that entertaining me is more important than living. A small part of me was worried the whole time that some prepared citizen would double-tap him.

Luckily for you, if you actually decide that the undead are your people, there’s an entire city in Pennsylvania that would LOVE to have you. Forget the pedestrian stuff like ammo. Monroeville, PA, has a Zombie Mall that hosts a Zombie crawl, Zombie carnival, and other activities relating to … you guessed it, zombies. Humans have weird fascinations with other humans (or themselves) becoming the undead, and that’s only increased given the latest happenings. To combat those nerves, the CDC, in their infinite wisdom, created a Zombie Novella to help you prepare.

Listen, I appreciate the government spending my your tax dollars to address the most pressing problems of the day, and this instance is no different. However, I decided to read said Novella on your behalf, and there are a few problems:

1. There was a Zombie apocalypse and everyone rushed to the hospital. . .no one tried to leave town! I would be getting the heck out of dodge, but apparently the CDC was SO convincing that they stayed put. FALSE! When the apocalypse does occur, run for your lives, minions!

2. The CDC magically created an anti-virus in less than a week and shipped it. Umm, this is the federal government we’re talking about. It would take about 3 weeks for just someone to process the paperwork!

3. There was not a single protest. No one protested for the ethical treatment of zombies! Or the right to choose whether or not to get the anti-zombie shot! Wishful thinking, CDC, wishful thinking.

4. There were no clinical trials for the Zombie cure. They may have stopped the Zombie virus but given everyone a strain that turns them into vampires or werewolves. I DON’T FEEL SAFE.

5. Not a single zombie was shot, killed or dismembered. Puhlease, this is mass chaos of a zombie apocalypse. I at LEAST want to see a stray arm that some unsuspecting zombie lost while arm wrestling!

Overall, you’re probably doomed, but I’m sure you’re fine with it. I’m a little concerned as to who is going to chop my fruit into little pieces if everyone’s a zombie, but I guess I can always train a dog or something to do it. Good luck, minions! You’ll need it.

From The Vault: Revised Budget Submission Policy

[Occasionally, we like to revisit posts from days gone by that either (1) are always relevant, or (2) are the subject of recent questions received by our office.  Like last time, today’s Oldie But Goodie falls into both categories, as we continue to receive questions regarding revised budgets in COEUS.]

Originally Published February 15, 2012

Although ORA’s intention is always to minimize the administrative burden and system requirements for departments, the changing landscape has resulted in a dramatic increase in reduced budgets. Because many of these budgets have specific disallowed costs included in the cuts, and not just across-the-board percentage cuts, the University requires that documentation of those cuts are recorded.  Therefore, revised budgets will be required to be submitted through Coeus as “Revision” in the following instances:

A revised itemized budget is submitted to the sponsor

  • A formal or informal notice of reduction by Sponsor affecting funding levels by any percentage when it includes specific line item reductions or disallowances that are not explicitly outlined in the NOA
  • For grants, the reduction is 25% or greater of the original budget (this does not apply to federal training grants)
  • For cooperative agreements/contracts, the reduction is 10% or greater of the original budget
  • There is a change in the number/type of training grant slots on a federal training grant

Significant reductions (25% for basic research grants, 10% for cooperative agreements or contracts) will also require a revised Statement of Work consistent with the budget cut.

Procedure:

Revised budget submission will be initiated immediately upon notification of reduction by sponsor in accordance with the criteria above.

    1. If department learns of need to rebudget from sponsor, department should immediately contact ORA for confirmation of need to submit revised budget through Coeus.
    2. If ORA first learns of need to rebudget, ORA will contact department to create a Coeus PD record.
  1. Department creates a Coeus PD using “Revision” proposal type, and links to the previous IPN.  The revised budget can be uploaded as a spreadsheet. The only additional documentation required to be included in the Revision PD is the request from the sponsor, if applicable.
  2. Only once ORA has approved the Revision PD will the revised budget be submitted to the sponsor, if necessary.
  3. All contact with sponsor regarding revised budgets must be coordinated through ORA.

Note: Budgets submitted for Task Orders on established Master Agreements must be submitted in Coeus as “New Task Order” prior to submission to the sponsor.

 

NCURA’s YouTube Tuesday

Have you checked out today’s installment of NCURA’s YouTube Tuesday?  Researchers generally like to stick with the status quo when it comes to their projects, which is why you’ll see Universities collaborating with the same “major” research facilities from project to project.  However, it’s important to remember the importance and capabilities of Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), who can usually offer similar work with a modicum of the issues involved with negotiating and working with larger institutions.

 

Don’t forget to visit NCURA’s YouTube page for even more instructional and helpful videos!

Why Universities Are Afraid of JOBS

If you’re under the impression that we’re one step away from reinventing ourselves as Blogging Bayh-Dole, it’s perfectly understandable.  We have spent a good amount of time analyzing the Act and its related issues.  However, Bayh-Dole, and Intellectual Property in general, is one of the most important issues of any award, so it stands to reason that we’d write about it with some frequency.

That all being said, as we mentioned in a recent post, recently signed legislation will have a significant impact on a University’s tech transfer initiatives, and more specifically on how a PI moves forward with any IP created during a government-funded project.  Deemed the “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” (or “JOBS Act”), the bill, among other provisions, shifts the responsibility of commercialization of subject inventions from the owning entity (i.e. the University) to the named inventor(s) of a patent application.

Currently, when a PI develops a patentable technology through his or her University under a government-funded project, he or she is almost always beholden to that University’s Tech Transfer office when it comes to marketing the patent and finding licensees who will commercialize it appropriately.  (This is presuming that the University has properly perfected its ownership rights.  Stanford University says Hello.)

Under the JOBS Act, this “automatic” right of Tech Transfer will disappear, and instead government-money recipients must allow the PIs themselves to choose the entity that will help bring their idea(s) to market.  Even though the assignee will still retain ownership of any such patents or patent applications, they will lose the ability to control the direction of any related commercialization projects.  As such, unless the PIs elect to utilize their University’s Tech Transfer office, the University will be beholden to the PIs for efforts directed to reaping financial rewards.

In theory, the Act is intended to open up avenues for commercialization that previously were closed off and increase the number of marketed technologies.  However, there are many resultant issues that could severely hinder this occurrence, with two particularly standing out.

First, if there are multiple inventors for a given invention, all of the inventors have to agree on a licensing agency before any related efforts can commence.  What happens when an inventor group cannot reach a consensus as to whom to use?  The likelihood of stagnation increases exponentially.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, who will pick up the tab for protection?  When the inventors elect to hire the esteemed patent firm of Dewey, Cheatum & Howe, someone will have to pick up their stratospheric legal bills, especially if foreign patent rights are requested.  Out of whose pocket, or pockets, will payment come?  Will these costs be addressed via carve-outs in any related royalty agreements?  If so, all of the parties will have to agree on a rate-sharing contract, the negotiation of which is never a joyful endeavor.  And what if the inventors choose to pay attorney’s fees themselves?  Will the University feel confident that the most competent representative has been hired, or simply the most affordable?

Needless to say, while the JOBS Act was trumpeted as a piece of bipartisan legislation that will win fans the world over, University-affiliated organizations such as AUTM were less than pleased at its terms and potential impact.  The day may come when the law’s proponents are proven correct in their exhortations, but, for the time being, Universities are concerned as to its ramifications and are scrambling to ensure that any future licensing activities are not compromised.

 

 

NCURA’s YouTube Tuesday

Have you checked out today’s installment of NCURA’s YouTube Tuesday?  We know that the focus is generally on the end results of a particular funded research project, but how a PI gets there is equally vital, if not more so.  Research bias, however minimal, can creep in in a variety of ways, so it’s important for researchers to be aware of potential pitfalls and avoid them accordingly.

 

Don’t forget to visit NCURA’s YouTube page for even more instructional and helpful videos!

From The Vault: Top 10 Things A P.I. Should Know About Effort Reporting

[Occasionally, we like to revisit posts from days gone by that either (1) are always relevant, or (2) are the subject of recent questions received by our office.  Today’s Oldie But Goodie falls into both categories, as effort reporting continues to be the subject of many discussions involving ORA.]

Originally Published October 3, 2011

Of the myriad questions we receive each day from analysts and PIs alike, none can be  more tricky to address than those regarding effort reporting.  Naturally, keeping accurate records regarding effort is an important part of the research process, not just because of the financial ramifications to the PI, but also because of the potential audit landmines that arise when effort numbers don’t add up.

To help shed light on this complicated topic, the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) recent published a Top Ten list of the things that every PI should know about effort reporting:

1.            Effort is your work on a project, whether the sponsor pays your salary or not.

2.            When you write yourself into a grant proposal, you are committing your effort to the sponsor.

3.            If you reduce your effort, paid or unpaid, on a federal grant by 25%, you must have agency approval.  If you reduce your paid effort, you may choose to document cost-sharing so that the total effort does not decrease.

4.            Many activities cannot be charged to a federally sponsored project.  For example, the time you spend on these activities cannot be charged:

  •  Writing a proposal
  •  Serving on an IRB, IACUC or other research committee
  •  Serving on a departmental or university service committee

5.            If you work on a sponsored project, you must certify your effort.

6.            Certifying effort is not the same as certifying payroll.

7.            Certification must reasonably reflect all the effort for all the activities that are covered by your University compensation.

8.            Effort is not based on a 40-hour work week.  It’s not based on hours at all.

9.            Effort must be certified by someone with suitable means of verifying that the work was performed.

10.          In identifying audit findings, auditors look for indications that certification was based on factors other than actual, justifiable effort.

(Credit: http://tinyurl.com/6j5c4ts)

One important thing to keep in mind is that, in #3, the 25% figure is a percentage of the original amount, not a numerical percentage decrease of 25.  For example, if your original effort on an NIH grant was listed at 50%, but you decide to reduce it to 35%, the actual reduction of effort is 30%, and thus you will need agency approval.

While the above are useful in helping to understand a complicated process, we’re sure that there are other considerations not listed.  So, what are some additional recommendations/pieces of advice that you give to PIs and departments to ensure that everything runs smoothly?

 

Changes in NIH Conflict of Interest Regulations

We’ve previously gone over a couple of the recent changes to NIH protocols, with a general focus on budget-related issues.  However, one revision that perhaps has flown under the radar is the alteration of NIH’s Conflict of Interest (COI) regulations, which have taken effect and are mandatory come August 2012.

Trying to understand and navigate the COI policies of a sponsor is tough to begin with, but the new regulations imposed by NIH will likely create more headaches and confusion as institutions struggle to comply with the new, more stringent restrictions.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, it were the actions of a few high-profile PIs failing to disclose their sizable holdings that begat the new rules.

Briefly, among the requirements are the duties for the PIs to (1) disclose any reimbursed or sponsored travel, (2) disclose any payments or equity interests that exceed $5,000 per year, and (3) disclose any equity interests in companies not publicly traded.  Investigators will also have to complete proper COI training prior to performing under NIH awards.

With respect to the research institutions, they must make certain financial disclosure information available via a publicly-viewed website, and provide information as may be reasonably requested within five business days of such a request.  Additionally, the institution will have to provide a refresher training course at least every four years to ensure that investigators are kept up to date with their responsibilities.

There are myriad other changes to the COI regulations that have been in place since 1995, and everyone interested and/or affected should visit the NIH COI website to learn more.