Applied Program Support (APS) Administered Within CARD

An Internal Funding Mechanism for Applied R&D Projects Administered Within CARD

1. Background and Motivation

In 2011, the University of Oklahoma Norman campus recently established the Center for Applied Research and Development (CARD; see https://vpr-norman.ou.edu/files/vpr/reports/CARD.pdf) within the Office of the Vice President for Research. The goal of CARD is to complement existing Norman campus strengths in basic research and outreach via the addition of an organization that focuses on applied research and development across all disciplines. CARD brings new intellectual opportunities to faculty and students, provides mechanisms for innovating research outcomes into capabilities that serve society, facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration, and creates new administrative modes of engagement with industry, government agencies, and other stakeholders public and private.

Simultaneous with the creation of CARD was the establishment of a new internal funding program, known as Applied Program Support (APS), designed to provide discretionary resources to support applied research and development. By virtue of its focus on research support, APS contrasts sharply with SRI, which is intended to function as a research incentive. APS applies only to activities associated with CARD, i.e., only to projects that are of an applied R&D nature and have been approved for inclusion [1] in CARD.

2. Structure of and Rationale for the APS Distribution Model

APS is computed as a fraction of indirect costs expended on externally supported projects that have been approved for CARD, with funding distributed as follows: [2]

  • 25% directly to the project director/principal investigator (one person)
  • 20% to the dean of the project director/principal investigator (or deans if the PI/PD has an official multi-college appointment)
  • 10% to the unit administering the project (to be named at the time of infosheet submission)
  • 5% to the home academic unit of the principal investigator/project director (if the appointment is officially split, the principal investigator/project director will name the academic unit)
  • 40% to CARD/VPR Office for re-investment in research and CARD

The rationale for this distribution is as follows:

  • Having a broad view of their colleges and the strategic directions of their departments and programs, deans have an important responsibility of investing in research infrastructure (including people) and related activities. The APS model shown here will help provide resources of a meaningful amount for that purpose.
  • The project director/principal investigator likewise needs funding to support project activities in ways she or he feels are appropriate – a unique role played by the project director – and to seed new activities that will lead to future projects. Decisions regarding the use of APS dollars can, for projects involving multiple collaborators, be made jointly with those collaborators as the project director sees fit, thus facilitating joint decision making. When decisions about internal funding distributions are made centrally, as occurs with SRI, not only is this leadership opportunity bypassed but the money is spread thinly.
  • The academic or research unit administering the project requires financial resources to support its many obligations in processing appointments, arranging for travel and processing vouchers, purchasing equipment, housing personnel, etc.
  • The research enterprise is inextricably linked with the academic mission of the University, and it is for this reason that all research unit directors are formally associated with an academic program. Consequently, it is appropriate that a portion of APS be directed toward supporting academic programs.

3. Eligibility Criteria for CARD Submission and Receipt of APS

Effective 1 July 2017, to be eligible for submission through CARD and thus receipt of Applied Program Support (APS), a proposal submitted to an external funding source must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Have a total original budget of at least $250,000 if submitted to a private for-profit company (Federal flow-through funding from the company is allowed), or a total original budget of $750,000 if submitted directly to a Federal agency;
  • Recover full indirect costs at the on-campus rate for organized research;
  • Involve no University cost sharing as part of the submission, or committed internal funding, as part of the project, separate from the submission;
  • Be of an applied R&D nature according to the evaluation used by CARD [1]

In addition, the following apply effective 1 July 2017:

  • The eligibility criteria above are effective for new proposals submitted on or after 1 July 2017. Currently pending proposals submitted prior to 1 July will not be grandfathered in;
  • Submission of proposals to a company owned by a University faculty member, or in which the faculty member has a substantial financial interest, is allowable for receipt of APS provided all eligibility criteria are met and an approved conflict of interest management plan is in place;
  • If the final negotiated budget, at the award stage, is less than the original budget submitted such that it takes the proposal out of APS eligibility, the award will remain eligible for APS because eligibility is determined by the original budget submitted;
  • If a proposal, with an original total budget that meets all of the eligibility criteria, is re-submitted but with a budget that does not meet the eligibility criteria, the latter will not be eligible for APS;
  • If a proposal, with an original total budget that does not meet all of the eligibility criteria, is re-submitted but with a budget that does meet the eligibility criteria, the latter will be eligible for APS;
  • APS will be distributed, as previously, based upon actual indirect costs expended;
  • SBIR and STTR programs are allowable within the new policy provided the associated proposals meet all of the eligibility criteria.

4. Other Points

  • Several units and individuals have special arrangements with regard to their SRI distribution. All such agreements will be excluded from APS, and the distribution model shown in section 2 will be rigorously followed without exception.
  • In contrast to SRI, APS is placed in new, separate University accounts with brief annual reports required by those receiving it so as to demonstrate the purpose and expected value of investments made. The Office of the Vice President for Research reserves the right to suspend or terminate the receipt of APS by any unit failing to generate the report or meet the intended purpose of APS.
  • The operation of APS depends upon the availability of funds and may be revised, suspended or terminated at any time by the Office of the Vice President for Research after consultation with deans, chairs and the faculty.

[1] CARD has devised a matrix containing a number of questions to guide the decision, made by the VPR with input from others as appropriate (e.g., PI, CARD Director, Legal Counsel, ORS, OTD, Export Controls), as to whether a given project is appropriate for administration within CARD. The questions in it concern, for example, the nature of the contract vehicle (e.g., ID/IQ, GSA Schedule, CRADA) and work to be done (e.g., creation of work products using existing knowledge), specification of deliverables, funding source (mission agency, private company), publication restrictions, inclusion of training, etc.

[2] For comparison, the SRI percentages are: 2% to the dean(s), 18% to the department(s) or program(s) in which the investigators are appointed, and 80% to the VPR Office.

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