Office of Sponsored Programs Glossary of Terms

Resources (purple section)

Glossary of Terms

At risk awards

Awards for which a formal award document has not been received from the sponsor.


Substantial and direct intellectual contribution to the project.


The record established from the grant or contract received by an organization. Awards are used to fund one or more projects.


Any part of an employee's remuneration package that is not pay.

Bonus (performance/incentive)

A lump-sum, non-cumulative cash award that may be granted to an employee in the following situations:

  • for a significant contribution that substantially benefits the Research Foundation, project, or unit.
  • as a productivity bonus when certain predetermined productivity measures are met during the performance period

Certification of effort

Effort is certified when the employee, principal investigator, or responsible official signs the Oracle effort report or timesheet to confirm that the distribution of charges represents a reasonable estimate of the work performed by the employee during the period.

Note: Only one signature (of the employee, principal investigator, or responsible official) is required for certification.

Committed funds

Monies awarded by external sponsors for sponsored program expenditures in which a definitive, written funding commitment was received from the sponsor or in which the campus has taken on the responsibility of the commitment and has authorized the spending of sponsored program funds. Committed funds are calculated as the net change in active installments (increases or decreases).


An individual (or firm) possessing expertise in a particular field engaged to perform a specific task during a defined period of time for a stated fee. The consultant acts independently and is free to select the means and methods necessary to accomplish the assignment or tasks to be performed


Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Cost Sharing

Costs necessary for the conduct of the project which are not funded by the sponsor but are usually an institutional contribution. According to Federal regulations, any cost sharing indicated in the proposal becomes a commitment at the time of award. Any proposed cost sharing approved by the sponsor MUST be contributed, and these costs may not come from other Federal projects. Any deviation requires sponsor approval.

Direct Costs

Expenses budgeted as necessary for the conduct of the project. Salaries, equipment, supplies and travel are examples of direct costs.

Effective date

Refers to the change date or start date (not necessarily the same as the posting date). The date a transaction affects the balances in the general ledger. Also known as the value date. The date, set in the Alter Effective Date window, for which you are entering and viewing information. See also date track.

Effort Reporting (on Federal projects only):

Certifies time devoted to the project by all project staff, and must be certified by someone with firsthand knowledge of the employee's activities, usually a supervisor or PI/PD. This must be accomplished at the end of each semester and at the end of the summer. Sponsor approval is needed for any significant changes in effort.

Employment at will

Created when an employee agrees to work for an employer but there is no specified length of time the employee or employer expect the employment to last. In an employment-at-will situation, the employment relationship can, in general, be terminated at any time by either party.*

*Definition taken from Fear of Firing, A Legal and Personnel Analysis of Employment-At-Will by Lorber, Kirk, Kirschner, Handorf, copyright 1984, The ASPA Foundation.


The recording of a commitment made against project funds to purchase material or services for which actual payment will not be made until materials are delivered or service rendered. Encumbrances are recorded when purchase orders, contracts, subcontracts, or other forms of purchase agreements are issued to the vendor. Salaries and wages are encumbered after the payroll encumbrance processes are run for a particular pay period.

Exempt position

A position that satisfies the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) tests for exemption from the act's overtime provisions based on salary and position responsibilities.


Activities that represent payments, repayments or receipts for goods or services provided. The term included actual expenses and accrued liabilities. Expenditures do not include anticipated expenses, such as encumbrances.

Extra service

Payment for performance beyond that normally required by the professional obligation.

Full-time Research Foundation employees in exempt positions who have regular assignment and full-time SUNY professional employees may be compensated by means of extra service for work beyond that which is normally required by their professional obligation. Such activity may involve, but is not limited to, teaching, research, and public service. An extra service assignment can be made when...

  • the work performed is different from or in addition to the person's professional obligation,
  • the work performed is outside of regularly scheduled hours and extra service is actually rendered,
  • the payment conforms to Research Foundation and SUNY policy,
  • the payment is properly authorized under SUNY and Research Foundation policy, and
  • the sponsor has formally approved the appointment, if required.

    Such appointments are excluded from the requirement for effort reporting under OMB Circular A-21.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs (interchangeable with Indirect Costs)

These are expenses associated with the use of University facilities and various administrative costs that cannot be directly and uniquely assigned to any particular project. Examples of F&A costs in Fredonia's negotiated rates include: space, utilities, administration/fiscal services, custodial and maintenance services, insurance, and Reed Library.


An individual who is paid a stipend through the Research Foundation and is not required to perform a service to receive the stipend.


Nonwage payments in support of the recipient's academic study or fellow-initiated research and in recognition of the recipient's promise as a research or teaching scholar. Fellowship awards administered by the Research Foundation on behalf of SUNY are for scholarly study or research by faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate and graduate students at a SUNY campus or at other locations in conjunction with SUNY academic programs.

Fiscal year

Any yearly accounting period without regard to its relationship to a calendar year.

Fixed price award

A fixed price award is any sponsored grant or contract where the sponsor does not require the Research Foundation to return any unexpended funds at the conclusion of the project.

Fixed price balance award

A fixed price balance award is an award established to record the balance of funds that remain after termination of a project (either grant or contract) supported by a fixed price award.

Full-time employee

One who works for at least the number of hours per week that represents the operating location's standard workweek. That employee is said to be working at 1.0 FTE.

Full meal per diem

Meal allowance of one breakfast and one dinner for an employee who is on travel for official Research Foundation business. To be entitled to a full meal allowance, a traveler must be in overnight travel status. See meal allowance and per diem.

Full time equivalent (FTE)

The time a person devotes to an assignment. Expressed as a whole number or a decimal (e.g., 1, .5, .25)

Funds available

The difference between an authorized spending amount and all actual and anticipated expenditures. In other words, funds available is the amount budgeted less actual expenses and encumbrances of all types. Oracle Financials lets you check funds available online for requisitions, purchase orders, and invoices. Funds Available = Budget - (Actual Expenses + Encumbrances).

I-9 form

An employee's status with respect to Immigration Reform and Control Act documentation requirements.

IFR (income fund reimbursement)

Process to reimburse SUNY for direct charges and fringe benefit costs related to SUNY employees working on RF administered grants. Also see labor distribution.

Incidental expenses

Incidentals are minor expenses such as tips to maids and bellhops. Incidental expenses are part of the per diem meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) rates, which are governed by the General Services Administration (GSA).

Independent contractor

Any individual or firm who offers services to the public in return for an established fee and over whom the Research Foundation exercises no control or direction as to the details or means by which a result is accomplished. An independent contractor is compensated based on a fee, and payment is made through the Research Foundation's accounts payable system. Examples of an independent contractor include consultants and lecturers.


Document created online that generates a payment to a supplier (Accounts Payable invoice) or from a sponsor (Accounts Receivable invoice).


A role with a set of qualifications and duties (e.g., Research Assistant

Labor surplus area

A geographical area in which the rate of unemployment exceeds the national average. Vendors in such areas are eligible to receive preferential treatment in bidding on procurements made on Federally supported programs in accordance with Executive Order 12073.


A person having specialized knowledge of a particular subject who is engaged to convey this knowledge by discourse to an audience in return for an established fee. If the speaking engagements are extensive, the person may have to be considered an employee.

NOTE: The IRS has ruled, in most cases, that adjunct faculty are employees.

Local travel

Travel is local if the approved Research Foundation (RF) business is conducted in and around the traveler's official station.

Meal allowance

One meal allowance is a combination of one breakfast and one diner (or vice versa).

Minority owned business

A business owned at least 51 percent by minority group members. In the case of publicly-owned businesses, if 51 percent of more of the stock is owned by minorities, then that business also qualifies as a minority-owned business. Minorities include African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish-Speaking Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, American Eskimos, and American Aleuts.


The National Association of College and University Business Officers is a nonprofit professional organization representing chief administrative and financial officers at more than 2,100 colleges and universities across the country. NACUBO's mission is to promote sound management and financial practices at colleges and universities. See

Nonemployee compensation

Payments to human subjects and payments to independent contractors for services such as consulting or lecturing where an employer-employee relationship does not exist.

Nonexempt position

A position that does not satisfy the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) tests for exemption from the FLSA overtime provisions based on salary and position responsibilities.

Nonprofessional, SUNY

A person employed by the State University of New York (SUNY) in a clerical, technical, or administrative position who is covered by the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). See also nonexempt position.

Nonresident alien

A person who is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S., but who has gained a right from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to reside in the U.S. and may have the right to work for a specific period of time. Authorization to work in the U.S. is required for a nonresident alien.

An alien or foreign person is any person who is not a citizen of the U.S., also referred to as a "non-citizen."

Official station

The official station of an employee is the address of the office to which the employee is assigned. Such designation should be in the best interest of the RF or project and not for the convenience of the RF employee.

OMB (Office of Management and Budget)

OMB, working cooperatively with Federal agencies and non-Federal parties, establishes governmentwide grants management policies and guidelines through circulars and common rules. These policies are adopted by each grantmaking agency and inserted into their Federal regulations.

OMB Circular A-110

A federal publication issued by the United States Office of Management and Budget which prescribes uniform administrative requirements to be fulfilled by institutions of higher education in the management and performances of grants and agreements awarded by the Federal government. The Research Foundation procurement policy is based in large part on the requirements specified in Sections .40 to .48 of this federal regulation.

Overnight status

When an employee is on travel for official RF business, he/she is in overnight travel status only on those days when the employee stays overnight at the travel destination and does not return home or to his/her official station.

Participant stipend

Nonwage support payments for a person engaged in a nonacademic vocational or secondary school education and training program administered by the Research Foundation. In many cases, a participant stipend is paid in a summer outreach and enrichment program. A person engaged in a program of this type may be paid a stipend based on hours of participation.

Part-time employee

One who works for less than the operating location's standard workweek. Any employee who is working at anything less than 1.0 FTE is a part-time employee.

Per diem

A per diem is an allowance that can include a breakfast, a dinner, overnight lodging, and incidental expenses.

Permanent resident

A person who has gained a right from INS to be a permanent resident of the U.S., but is not a U.S. citizen. Authorization to work in the U.S. is not required for a permanent resident.

Position standard

A description of a specific RF position. The position standard describes the function and scope, typical duties, level of complexity, knowledge and formal training, job-related experience and special skills, and typical promotional opportunities of a position, among other items. All of these factors must be job-related as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Position title

An approved title for a position at the Research Foundation (RF).

Principal Investigator (PI)/Project Director (PD)/Program Director (PD)

Person responsible for all aspects of the grant award.

Procurement (purchase)

The acquisition of goods or services in exchange for money.

Professional, SUNY

A person employed by the State University of New York (SUNY) in an academic, executive, administrative, or professional position who is exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). See exempt position.

Program Official

Individual within the sponsoring organization responsible for technical aspects of the project.


A record to define a unit of work that can be broken down into one or more tasks. A project is the unit of work for which you specify revenue and billing methods, invoice formats, a managing organization and project manager, and bill rate schedules. You can charge costs to a project, and you can generate and maintain revenue, invoice, unbilled receivable, and unearned revenue information for a project.

Project budget

Summation of all the award budgets funding a project.


The act of assigning an employee to a position of greater responsibility that has a higher position title and salary grade.

Property control system

An information system maintained by the State University of New York Construction Fund that provides a record of state-owned equipment and equipment purchased with Research Foundation administered funds at each campus.

Purchase order (PO)

A document used to buy and request delivery of goods or services from a supplier.

Purchase order encumbrance (see obligation, encumbrance)

A transaction representing a legally binding purchase.

Purchase requisition

A request to the purchasing department, authorized by the project director, to obtain specific materials or services. Requisitions will indicate a suggested supplier, quantities of material needed, a clear description of services to be performed or goods to be provided, and required delivery date.

Reporting period

The specific period of time for which a person must certify personal activity in compliance with OMB Circular A-21. Effort reporting periods are usually referenced as spring, summer, and fall reporting periods for professional employees (i.e., exempt employees). Nonprofessional employees (i.e., nonexempt employees) report effort monthly.

Resident alien

The term applied by the IRS to a noncitizen residing in the U.S. who either holds an Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS-551), commonly known as a "Green Card," representing approval from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to remain in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time, or meets the substantial presence test for taxation and withholding purposes.


The Research Foundation of State University of New York.


All gross proceeds received by the Research Foundation as a result of negotiated agreements involving inventions and copyrights on books. A portion of the royalties is paid to the inventors and authors.


Refers to teaching, research, or other work that the recipient must agree to perform in order to obtain the fellowship or stipend award. Service does not include research initiated by the recipient or such incidental activities as preparing progress reports or giving a speech on the results of the recipient's research. A service is not constituted by a general condition that the recipient comply with degree requirements even though the person is required to teach or engage in research in order to obtain the degree.

Single source

A single source purchase is a purchase from a supplier who is chosen without soliciting for the minimum number of bids and proposals, despite the fact that competition exists, because of limiting circumstances.

Small business

A business that is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation, and qualifies under various criteria prescribed by the Small Business Administration for number of employees, average annual receipts, etc.

SSN (Social Security Number)

Individual tax identification number issued to U.S. citizens by the U.S. Social Security Administration and used for tax reporting purposes. See also Tax Identification Number.

Sole proprietorship

A business that is owned by a person who is solely responsible for all aspects of the business. The owner is personally responsible for all debts of the business.

Sole source

A purchase from the only available supplier of the product or service. Therefore, no bids or proposals can be obtained.


A written request to a supplier to submit price quotations or bids on materials required or services to be rendered that are clearly and accurately defined by the buyer.

Sponsored program

Externally funded activities in which a formal written grant, contract, or cooperative agreement is received by the Research Foundation. A sponsored program or project may be thought of as a transaction in which there is a specified statement of work and a related reciprocal transfer of something of value.

Start date

See effective date.


Name of the business or individual providing goods or services in return for payment.

Supplier file

Information about suppliers (businesses or individuals who provide goods and/or services in return for payment) recorded in the Suppliers window.

Tax Identification Number (TIN)

A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is required by the federal government for reporting purposes. A TIN can be a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). A SSN is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and an ITIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Terminating employees

Action taken to terminate an employee occurs when he or she leaves the organization. Information about the employee remains on the system but all current assignments are ended.

Travel status

An employee is in travel status when engaged in official RF business at a distance greater than 35 miles from both his or her designated official station and place of residence. Employees must be in travel status to be eligible for meals and lodging.

Tuition waiver

"An official forgiveness of part or all of the tuition at a state-operated campus (not applicable to community colleges)."*

*Definition taken from the SUNY Administrative Procedure (Item 059) "Waiver of Tuition, Fees and Other Charges" (dated September 14, 1979).

Unpaid personal effort

Services provided by SUNY employees, employees of SUNY-affiliated institutions, or other outside parties that are not reimbursed by the sponsor of the Research Foundation administered award. Also commonly referred to as cost participation.

Women owned small business

A business that is at least 51 percent owned by women who are United States citizens and who also control and operate the business.