UMass Boston




A-21 – The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulatory circular titled, “Cost Principles for Educational Institutions." A-21 “establishes principles for determining costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other agreements with educational institutions.” Now codified under 2 CFR 220.

A-110 – The OMB regulatory circular titled, “Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations.” A-110 “sets for standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies in the administration of grants and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other nonprofit organizations.” Now codified under 2 CFR 215.

A-133 – The OMB regulatory circular titled, “Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations.” A-133 “sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies for the audit of States, local governments, and nonprofit organizations expending Federal awards.”

Academic Year – The period that academic classes are in session excluding the summer months.

Administrative Costs – See "Indirect Costs".

Agency – See “Sponsor”

Agency Guidelines – General guidelines and instructions published by a sponsor on how to prepare and submit proposals to that sponsor.

Allocable Cost – Allowable costs that actually benefit the grant or contract to which they are being charged.

Allowable Cost – A cost incurred by a recipient that is: reasonable for the performance of the award; allocable; in conformance with any limitations or exclusions set forth in the federal cost principles applicable to the organization incurring the cost or in the Notice of Grant Award; consistent with internal regulations, policies and procedures that apply uniformly to both federally-funded and other activities of the organization; accorded consistent treatment; determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles; and not included as a cost in any other federally-funded grant (unless specifically authorized).

Applied Research – Original work undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge with a specific application in mind.

Assurance – A signed statement that constitutes a guarantee or pledge to do something and/or abide by certain terms and conditions. Also, a legally binding written document that requires a public or private institution to comply with applicable federal minimum standards for the protection of human subjects in research.

Audit – An examination of records or financial accounts to check their accuracy. Audits of sponsored programs are governed by OMB Circular A-133. Audits are an independent and systematic review of study data, associated records, protocol procedures, study conduct, and interim or final study reports to determine whether the information is accurate and whether the study has been carried out in compliance with the protocol, standard operating procedures, good clinical practice, and applicable regulations. Sponsors may conduct internal audits, audits of AROs/CROs designated to perform sponsor responsibilities, and audits of investigative sites participating in a clinical trial. Audits may also be performed to review manufacturing practices, laboratory processes, and storage facilities.

Audit Trail- Documentation of events that allows auditors to identify the original source of the data and track the path of changes made to the original documentation.

Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) – The individual who is authorized to sign on behalf of the proposing organization. At UMass Boston, the AOR is the Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Award – A sponsoring agency’s agreement to contribute funding to a specific project.


Base – The costs that indirect costs are calculated on. See Modified Total Direct Costs.

Basic Research – Experimental and theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge without a specific application in mind.

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) – An announcement of a federal agency's general research interests that invites proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made.


Calendar Year – The period from January 1 to December 31.

Cash Match – The most common form of Matching/Cost Sharing (M/CS), using direct costs and/or unrecovered F&A.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) – A database of all Federal programs available to state and local governments (including the District of Columbia); federally -recognized Indian tribal governments; Territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public, quasi-public, and private profit and nonprofit organizations and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals.

Central Contractor Registration (CCR) – The primary vendor database for the U.S. Federal Government. The CCR collects, validates, stores and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions.

Certification – A document that is signed by a grantee in a proposal application that attests to the truth of certain stated facts.

Classified Research – Research that has a security classification established by a federal agency, usually designated as Top Secret, Secret, or Confidential.

Co-Investigator (Co-I) – An individual that makes a significant contribution to the research or project, with the potential for credit in future publications, but without the responsibility for the overall project management. See “Principal Investigator.”

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) – General and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

Cognizant Agency – The Federal agency that, on behalf of all Federal agencies, is responsible for reviewing, negotiating, and approving indirect cost, staff, and leave benefit rates.

Collaborator – An individual who collaborates with the principal investigator in the scientific development or execution of a project. A collaborator would typically devote a specific percent of effort to the project and would be identified as key personnel.

Conflict of Interest – A conflict between a person's private interests and public (university-related) obligations.

Consultant – A consultant is an individual hired to provide professional advice or services on a project. A consultant is usually not an employee of the organization that requires their services.

Contract - An award that is more restrictive than a grant. Contracts often require defined deliverables on specific schedules.

Contractor and Government Entity (CAGE) Code – A five-character ID code used extensively within the federal government to identify an organization.

Cooperative Agreement – An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor has substantial involvement in preparation of the cooperative agreement as well as in research activities once the award has been made.

Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) – Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and expenditure of funds.

Cost of Living Allowance - An allowance for changes in the consumer price index (e.g., to adjust for inflation).

Cost Reimbursement Agreement - Award made in which the University can recover only what is expended. Once an expense is incurred the University is entitled to receive payment as long as total expenditures do not exceed the total award and are within the prescribed budget allowances. 

Cost Sharing – See "Matching/Cost Sharing"


Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number – A unique nine-digit identification number provided by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) used to identify an organization. UMass Boston's DUNS number is 808008122.

Deemed Export Rule – An export of technology or source code (except encryption source code) is "deemed" to take place when it is released to a foreign national within the United States. See §734.2(b)(2)(ii) of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). For brevity, these questions and answers refer only to "technology" but apply equally to source code.

Departmental Research – Defined in Circular A-21 as research and development activities that are not considered sponsored research or university research and consequently, do not meet the criteria to be considered "separately budgeted and accounted for." Departmental research is considered incidental to the primary activity occurring in the department. Departmental research is included under the instruction function for F&A purposes.

Direct Costs – “Costs that can be identified specifically with a federally sponsored project, a research or instructional activity, or any other institutional activity, with relative ease and a high degree of accuracy. These costs meet the allowability criteria established in OMB Circular A-21 and are not expressly disallowed in the award budget.”

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE, "deebee") – A small business that is at least 51% owned by women, minorities, or other individuals on a case-by-case basis.

Dual-Purpose – Technologies that have both commercial and military applications.


Earmark – Funds reserved or set aside for a particular purpose.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – The IRS Federal Employer Tax ID Number used to identify an organization. UMass Boston's EIN is 043167352.

Equipment – Any item that has a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit.

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) – U.S. Department of Commerce regulations governing the export of goods and technology.


Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs – See "Indirect Costs".

Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) – A set of uniform policies and procedures for acquisition used by all executive agencies.

Federal Register – The daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.

Financial Conflict of Interest – A conflict of interest involving something of monetary value, such as salary or other payment for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria), equity interests (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interests), or intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights).

Finding – Any issues identified after an audit. Elements of a finding include: the basis or criteria for determining that a problem exists; the condition or situation that was observed; the effect or impact of the condition; and the cause of the problem to the extent that it can be determined. Findings should result in recommendations that resolve the issue and be helpful to the policy makers and entity audited.

Fiscal Year (FY) - Any twelve-month period for which annual financial accounts are kept. At UMass Boston, the fiscal year is July 1 – June 30.

Fixed Price Agreement - Award made at a set price level, regardless of actual costs for completing the scope of work. The University is entitled to collect at the end of the project or during its performance at the contract dollar level. The only condition to receiving this full amount is that the project is completed by the University and is accepted by the sponsoring agency. Characteristics of projects under fixed price agreements: • are similar to purchase orders where a work product is delivered, i.e., container of chemicals or a computer. • are routine in nature • have a well defined statement of work • are where the outcome is relatively certain. • have a failure rate of next to zero • are where the University bears the risk that a routine project does not come within the "costs" and the University has to cover those costs. • normally short-term in nature (< 1yr.) • costs are normally known.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – All federal agencies are generally required under the FOIA to disclose records requested in writing by any person. However, agencies may withhold information pursuant to nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the statute. The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies. Each state has its own public access laws that should be consulted for access to state and local records.

Fringe Benefits – Employee benefits paid by the employer, such as, FICA, Worker's Compensation, Withholding Tax, Insurance, etc.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) – A measurement equal to one person working full-time for one year. For example, a staff person that works full-time at 40 hours per work every year is considered 1.0 FTE.

Fundamental Research – Basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.


General Services Administration (GSA) – A Federal organization that develops and implements government-wide policies, including allowable per diem rates for travel.

Grant – A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the sponsor anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities.

Grant General Conditions (GC-1) – NSF’s guidelines for post-award administration of a NSF grant.  

Grant Proposal Guide - The guide for preparing and submitting proposals to NSF. Most NSF proposals follow the GPG unless a specific program announcement includes deviations. – A website that allows organizations to electronically find and apply for competitive grant opportunities from all Federal grant-making agencies.


Honorarium - Payment that is given to a professional for services which fees are not legally or traditionally required.


In-Kind Contributions – Nonmonetary contributions or assistance that are typically used for cost sharing. Contributions include equipment, materials, or services of recognized value that are offered in lieu of cash. Circular A-110 provides guidance in evaluating the value of in-kind contributions. Also see "Matching/Cost Sharing."

Indirect Costs – " …general institutional costs that are incurred for common and joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular research project, instructional activity, or any other institutional activity."

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) – A UMass Boston committee that reviews and grants approval of all research involving the use of live vertebrates (fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, or mammals) to ensure that ethical principles for the conduct of research are applied.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) – A UMass Boston committee that reviews and grants approval of all research involving the use of human subjects to ensure that ethical principles for the conduct of research are applied.

Instruction – The teaching and training activities of an institution according to Circular A-21. Research training may be a component of organized research not instruction. See definition of research.

Intellectual Property (IP) – Any product of the human intellect that is unique, novel, and has some value in the marketplace. Examples include an idea, invention, expression or literary creation, unique name, business method, industrial process, chemical formula, computer program process, or presentation.

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) – U.S. Department of State regulations that govern the export and import of defense articles and defense services.

Inter-Departmental Service Agreement (ISA) -- An ISA is a “contract” between two state departments that fulfills the legislative mandates of both departments.  ISAs are used when contracting with another state department provides a “better value” than contracting with an outside vendor. The contract enables multiple departments to jointly fulfill the same or similar legislative mandates.


Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) – U.S. Department of Defense regulations regarding per diem, travel, and transportation allowances.

Just-In-Time Review (JIT) – A process for reviewing IACUC, IRB, or other protocol applications just before or right after an award is made, but before the award is set up.


Key Personnel- Personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.


Land Grant Institution – A U.S. institution that benefits from the provisions of the Morrill Act (1862), which gave federal lands to the states for the establishment of colleges offering programs in agriculture, engineering, and home economics, as well as in the traditional academic subjects.

Letter of Intent (LOI) – A brief letter or statement indicating interest and/or intention to submit a formal proposal to a sponsor.

Letter of Support (LOS)- A letter from a collaborator or other interested party that states their support of the project.


Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program – The National Science Foundation program designed to increase access to scientific and engineering equipment for research and research training in U.S. institutions of higher education, research museums, and nonprofit research institutions.

Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) – This act established a Federal responsibility to conserve marine mammals with management vested in the Department of Interior for sea otter, walrus, polar bear, dugong, and manatee. The Department of Commerce is responsible for cetaceans and pinnipeds, other than the walrus.

Matching/Cost Sharing (M/CS) – The terms matching, cost sharing, and in-kind contributions (all referred to as M/CS) refer to the portion of allowable project costs not paid by the sponsoring agency. These project costs are paid by the university or through contributions by third parties. M/CS may consist of direct costs and/or unrecovered F&A costs (also known as "cash match") or the value of donated services and real or personal property (also known as "in-kind"). The sponsor may place restrictions on the types of M/CS it will accept.

Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) – A contract that governs the transfer of tangible research materials between two organizations, when the recipient intends to use it for his or her own research purposes, and when no research collaboration between scientists is planned. The MTA defines the rights of the provider and the recipient with respect to the materials and any derivatives. Biological materials, such as reagents, cell lines, plasmids, and vectors, are the most frequently transferred materials, but MTAs may also be used for other types of materials, such as chemical compounds and even some types of software.

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) – A written agreement between two or more parties which delineates what tasks, jurisdiction, standard operating procedures, or other matters which the agencies or units are duly authorized and directed to conduct. Sometimes referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – See " Memorandum of Agreement".

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC, MTDC Base, Base) – Consists of Total Direct Costs (TDC) minus “…equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care and tuition remission, long-term space rental costs, scholarships, and fellowships as well as the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000.” Many sponsors also require that participant support be excluded from the MTDC Base.

Modular Budget – An NIH budget format used in R01, R03, R15, and R21 grant applications. When $250,000 or less in annual direct costs is requested, the modular budget eliminates the need for budget details. Applicants request budgets in modules of $25,000.


NASA Research Announcement (NRA) – A NASA program announcement. See “Program Announcement.”

National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) – An organization of individuals with professional interests in the administration of sponsored programs (research, education and training), primarily at colleges and universities.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – A requirement of federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.

No-Cost Extension (NCE) – An extension of the period of performance to allow the principal investigator to finish a project. No additional costs are requested from the sponsor.


Office of Research and Sponsored Programs- (ORSP)

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – A Federal office that assists the President of the United States in the development and implementation of budgets, programs, management, and regulatory policies.

Office of Naval Research (ONR) --  The office within the United States Department of the Navy that coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps through schools, universities, government laboratories, nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Other Sponsored Activity (OSA) – Programs and projects financed by Federal and non-Federal agencies and organizations which involve the performance of work other than instruction and organized research, according to Circular A-21. Examples include sponsored health service projects and community service projects. The activity recovers F&A costs at the other sponsored activity rate.

Organized Research – All research and development activities that are "separately budgeted and accounted for," according to Circular A-21. Sponsored research and university research are combined into the organized research function for Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) purposes.

Organized Research Unit – A unit whose primary activity meets the definition of research. An organized research unit can have university research, sponsored research, sponsored training and/or other sponsored activity in addition to the unit's other primary activities.

Overhead – See "Indirect Costs".


PHS 398 – The application form for an NIH Public Health Service (PHS) Grant.

Pass-Through – Money that is transferred from one entity or sponsor to another sponsor, who in turn transfers it to the recipient for funding.

Per Diem – Latin for “by the day”, this is the daily maximum allowance for travel-related expenses such as lodging, meals, and incidental costs.

Preliminary Proposal (Pre-proposal) – A brief description of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal.

Prime – Usually referring to the primary recipient of an award or contract.

Principal Investigator (PI) – The individual responsible for the overall management of research project or other activity described in a proposal for an award. At UMass Boston, usually only tenured and tenure-track faculty, research faculty, and emeritus faculty are allowed to be PIs, unless granted an exemption.

Pro Forma – Done as a formality; perfunctory.

Program Announcement – A program-specific announcement published by a sponsor that informs potential proposers of the opportunity to apply for funding and often include Program Guidelines.

Program Guidelines – Program-specific guidelines published by a sponsor on how to prepare and submit proposals to that program. These often supercede agency guidelines. See “Agency Guidelines."

Program Income – The gross income earned by the grantee that is generated directly by a grant-supported activity or earned as a result of the grant. It includes, but is not limited to, the income from fees for services performed, the use or rental of real or personal property acquired under the grant, and the sale of commodities or items developed or fabricated under the grant.

Proposal – An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project to the sponsor: project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested. Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a principal investigator.

Proprietary – Something that is exclusively owned, private, or protected by trademark, patent or copyright.

Protocol – An IACUC or IRB approved plan (including an Assurance of Animal Care or Human Subjects Application Form) for conducting a research project that involves live vertebrates or human subjects.

Prudent Person Test – A simple test to determine if a cost is reasonable. Would a prudent person would purchase the item at the same cost being proposed? A prudent person would be someone showing skill and good judgment in the use of resources.


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R01 – An NIH activity code for "Research Project Grants". R01s provide support to an institution (domestic or foreign) on behalf of a principal investigator for a project proposed by the investigator. Most NIH research is through the R01. Rarely, such a grant may be awarded directly to an individual.

R03 – An NIH activity code for "Small Grants". R03s provide limited research support usually for preliminary, short-term projects. They are nonrenewable.

R15 – An NIH activity code for "Academic Research Enhancement Awards". R15s support scientists at eligible institutions for small-scale, new, or expanded, health-related research projects such as pilot projects and feasibility studies; development, testing, and refinement of research techniques; secondary analysis of available data sets; and similar work showing research capability. This award is for smaller four-year public and private colleges and universities that provide undergraduate training for a significant number of research scientists but have had a limited share of the NIH funds.

R21 – An NIH activity code for "Exploratory/Developmental Grants Phase I". R21s encourage new research in a given program area.

Reasonable Cost – A cost of goods or services acquired or applied, and the amount involved, that reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the circumstances. See Prudent Person Test.

Request for Applications (RFA) – See “Program Announcement."

Request for Proposals (RFP) – See “Program Announcement."

Research – Research, development, and training activities of an institution. Research is defined in Circular A-110 as a systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. Development is the systematic use of knowledge and understanding gained from research directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes. Training individuals in research techniques is classified as research where the activity utilizes the same facilities as other research activities and such activities are not included in the instruction function.


Senior Personnel – Professional personnel that are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of project.

Services Acquisition - A vendor relationship, not a cooperative effort. Consulting contracts are also a vendor relationship and fall under this category. These both carry full F&A costs. Sometimes called a Vendor Service Contract.

Site Coordinator - The individual at the study site who is typically responsible for the day-to-day conduct of study activities, including case report form completion, study file maintenance, investigator assistance, study drug administration, and communicating with the sponsor. Also called trial coordinator, study coordinator, research coordinator, clinical research coordinator, research nurse, and protocol nurse.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program – A set-aside program (2.5% of an agency's extramural budget) for domestic small business concerns to engage in Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program – Similar to an SBIR program, but funds cooperative R&D projects involving a small business and a research institution (i.e., university, federally-funded R&D center, or nonprofit research institution).

Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) Program – Pronounced “sugar”, this NSF program funds small-scale, exploratory, high-risk research in the fields of science, engineering, and education.

Society of Research Administrators (SRA) – A nonprofit association dedicated to the education and the professional development of research administrators, as well as the enhancement of public understanding of the importance of research and its administration.

Soft money – a term used to describe a faculty member funded either partially or in whole by grant funding.

Sponsor – The organization that funds a research project. An individual, company, institution, or organization that initiates a project.

Sponsored Program – Any externally-funded award for activities including research, instruction, conferences, public events, library grants, etc.

Sponsored Research – All research and development activities that are sponsored by Federal and non-Federal agencies and organizations, according to Circular A-21. This includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques where the activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where these activities are not included in the instruction function. Sponsored research is combined with university research under the function of organized research for F&A purposes.

Statement of Work (SOW) – A description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project.

Subaward – Grant funded, issued by UMass Boston to other institutions of higher learning, government agencies (excluding the federal government), or other nonprofit organizations, nonprofit research institutes, hospitals, etc.) when the funds to be conveyed meet the definition of a subrecipient as defined in OMB Circular A-133. A subaward transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.

Subaward Agreement - Classified as financial assistance: when the intent is to have another organization help carry out a portion of the scope of work described in the proposal: carries F&A recovery only on the first $25,000 of the entire award.

Subawardee – The entity that is the recipient of a subaward.

Subcontract – A contract-funded subrecipient arrangement. See "Subcontract for Research".

Subcontract for Research – A contract between UMass Boston and another entity in the performance of a prime award. Issued by UMass Boston when the recipient meets the subaward criteria but is contract funded. These contracts are usually for non-personal services or professional research services requirements. See "Subaward"

Subcontractor – The entity that is the recipient of a subcontract.

Subgrant – See " Subaward"

Subrecipient – The recipient entity of either a subaward or subcontract.

Supplies (Project Supplies)- Items, usually expendable, that will be used within the duration of the project with an acquisition cost of $4,999 and under per item/unit.


Technology Transfer (TT) – The process of transferring scientific findings from research laboratories to the commercial sector.

Total Direct Costs (TDC) – The sum of all direct costs in a proposal budget.

Total Project Costs- The total allowable direct and indirect costs incurred by UMass Boston to carry out an approved project or activity.


Unallowable Cost – A cost determined to be unallowable in accordance with the applicable cost principles or other terms and conditions contained in a grant award.

Unauthorized Submission – When a proposal is submitted to a sponsor without ORSP review and AOR approval.

Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement – A standardized material transfer agreement that governs exchanges of biological materials. Implemented by NIH in 1995.

University Research – All non-sponsored research and development activities that are "separately budgeted and accounted for" under an internal application of institutional funds,


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