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RoboGuide - Contracts & Grants Administration
  • The Contract Administrators for Robotics are Cheryl Wehrer (NSH 3105, x8.3744, wehrer@cmu.edu) and Debbie Harvard (NSH 3103, x8.2996, dw4r@andrew.cmu.edu).
  • Accounting Responsibility
  • It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to control expenditures within the limits of the budget. Any overruns or deficits must be avoided.

  • Cost transfers to or from projects may sometimes be necessary to correct errors in the original charges. Transfers must be made as soon as the error is discovered and a full explanation of how the error occurred, as well as certification of the correctness of the new charge, are required. Cost transfers moving costs on to a sponsored award (awards beginning with 1xxxxxx) must be processed within 90 days from the date of the transaction.

  • Please remember that office supplies may NOT be charged to federally sponsored awards. We are seeing some of these charges on federal accounts, mainly through PCards, or through supply closet recharging. If you don't know if your award is federally sponsored, please check with the business administrator for your area.

  • Remember:
    • If it's a lab supply call it "technical supplies."
    • No "office supplies" on federally sponsored research; use your FRAS for office supplies instead.


  • Items which may be charged to government research contracts (if directly related to the specific research contract) include:
    • computers, see Computing and Federally-Sponsored Projects
    • copying
    • express mail service
    • facsimiles
    • lab supplies (tools, gasoline for vehicles, wires, wood, metal, etc.)
    • long-distance telephone calls
    • metered postage and delivery charges
    • publication costs (i.e., progress reports, technical reports, etc., both internal and external)
    • travel (including meals during the trip)


  • Items which may not be charged to government research contracts include:
    • business cards
    • clerical student help (work/study)
    • costs related to raising money including proposal preparation costs
    • general use postage stamps
    • local lunches/dinners
    • office equipment
    • office furniture
    • office supplies
    • promotional materials (i.e., logos, tshirts, pins, hats, etc.)
    • retreats
    • secretarial services
    • telephone (equipment and local calls)
    • visitor parking permits
  • Oracle Project Names and Key Membership Maintenance for Sponsored Projects
  • With the increased emphasis on timely review of sponsored project accounting, we're implementing a few small changes to hopefully make account review a bit easier for you.

  • 1) Choose Your Oracle Project and Task Names
    Each externally or internally sponsored project is defined with project, task, and award (PTA) numbers, e.g., 12345.1.1234567. Each of these three account segments is also assigned a name. PTA names and numbers can be seen on the Oracle financial reporting website in the Quick Info, View Project Report, and View Award Report sections. PTA names and numbers are also found in various Oracle notifications including monthly planned effort reports that are sent through email.

  • At the time of new account setup, your business manager will ask you for your preferred project and task names. Project names must begin with "ROB-" but can then have the name of your choice. Existing projects and tasks may also be renamed to something convenient for you. Project and task names are limited to no more than 30 and 20 characters respectively. Please send any requests for project/task renaming to your business manager. Award names are controlled and defined centrally by Sponsored Projects Accounting (SPA).

  • 2) Select Your Oracle Project Key Membership and Key Member Maintenance
    Each Oracle project has a list of "key members" assigned to that project. Key members include departmental business staff, faculty/principal investigators, and faculty/principal investigator designees. Key Membership controls access for financial accounting information for that project. You are encouraged to add and delete key members as needed throughout the course of your project.

  • Once all technical and reporting requirements have been met at project close, business managers will promptly end date key membership of Principal Investors and their designated project or support staff so that closed accounts no longer appear on your pick lists or drop down menus. Your list of accounts in the future should include current and very recently closed accounts only. During the month of July we will be completing maintenance to update Key Member drop down lists.
  • Computer Research Facilities at the School of Computer Science
  • Property and Equipment
  • The purchase of equipment on contracts is dependent on each individual contract and each sponsor's rules and regulations. For answers to questions on the allowability of equipment purchase, contact your Contract Coordinator.

  • Equipment which is used off-campus for a demo should be registered with the Property Accounting Office for insurance purposes. Send email to Alan Guisewite (adg@cmu.edu) with a list of equipment, serial numbers, CMU tag numbers, address of off-campus location and dates of off-campus use.

  • Capital equipment/capital software include items which cost at least $5,000/unit and have a useful life of two years or more. These items are not overheaded on research contracts. They are included in the University insured property list. Special procedures must be followed to purchase equipment on a contract. Contact your Contract Coordinator if you have questions.

  • Equipment should be ordered prior to the final three months of a contract or grant. Equipment generally is needed in order to perform the research of a particular contract or grant; a belated acquisition may not be justifiable in the case of an audit.

  • Fabricated Equipment indicates that a piece of capital equipment will be assembled / produced as a result of the research being done on a contract. Such items tend not to be readily available in the general marketplace. Fabricated equipment must be "taggable" by the University Property Accounting Office when it is completed. These items must be coded with the object code "Fabricated Equipment Materials" so overhead is not charged to the item.

  • Hiring Consultants on Research Contracts & Grants
  • Awardees normally are expected to utilize the services of their own employees to the maximum extent in managing and performing the research activities of a particular contract or grant. If the need for consulting services is known at the time a proposal is submitted, the proposal narrative should provide appropriate rationale and the budget should estimate the amount of funds which may be required.

  • There may be various requirements if the need for a consultant arises after the contract or grant has been awarded without an appropriate consulting budget line. The terms of the specific contract or grant should be reviewed to determine the allowability and to identify the requirements for obtaining approval. In some cases, the sponsor and administrative contracting office must approve; in other cases no approval is required.

  • Generally, most grants (as opposed to contracts) allow the university to approve the hiring of a consultant, but a budget revision may be required. Contracts are usually more stringent and require the Contracting Officer's approval.

  • Your department's business manager and the Office of Sponsored Research will assist you in determining your specific contract's or grant's rules.

  • Reports
  • The PI is responsible for completion and submission of all required non-financial reports. The project award document should be reviewed to determine the necessary reports and their due dates.

  • Financial reports are prepared by Sponsored Project Accounting.

  • Disclosures and Inventions (Related to Contracts)
  • Universities are given title to inventions arising from U.S. government sponsorship. Under the law: 1) the government receives an irrevocable non-royalty bearing, nonexclusive license for government purposes; 2) exclusive licensees must manufacture products for the U.S. market substantially in the U.S.; 3) licenses are required for export of certain products; and 4) the government may exercise march-in rights if an exclusive licensee is not exploiting the technology.

  • Government agencies also require reports of all invention disclosures and patent applications and notification of abandonment of patent applications. For further information, contact your Contract Coordinator.

  • See also Intellectual Property.

  • Refer to the CMU Intellectual Property Policy.

  • Contract Signatures
  • Sponsored research agreements must be signed by the Provost or Associate Provost for Research and Academic Administration. No other personnel are authorized to commit the University to a sponsored research agreement.


  • Last Update 27 Feb 2013