by Jennifer Donovan, public relations director
Federal research grants are the lifeline of university research. But their lengthy, complicated application and administration requirements can drain the life out of the researchers.
Michigan Tech has been accepted as a member of a select group of research institutions and federal agencies in Phase 5 of the Federal Demonstration Partnership. The partnership’s primary goal is to increase the time available for those performing research to perform the research and decrease the administrative burden while still maintaining effective stewardship of federal funds.
“What this means for Michigan Tech is that we can help streamline the process of managing federal research grants,” said Anita Quinn, director of research and sponsored programs.
For Quinn, who says she has spent her entire career at Michigan Tech trying to streamline grants administration processes, this is an important step. “We actually can have an impact and help make changes and improvements in the way the federal government operates with recipients of federal funds,” she said.
The Federal Demonstration Partnership began in 1986 as an experiment between five federal agencies and the Florida State University System. In 1988 it expanded to a national project.
Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4 implemented a number of improvements, including streamlining the terms and conditions for research grants, increasing budget flexibility, providing for pre-award costs and electronic research administration, simplifying cost sharing and sub-awards, and increasing participation of minority-serving and emerging research institutions.
Phase 5, which will start this fall and continue through 2014, focuses on two themes:
- maximize the time available for principal investigators and scientific staff to focus on research while reducing any unnecessary administrative burden
- increase the efficiency of administrative and compliance practices while reducing inefficient or redundant agency and institutional procedures and practices
“We want researchers doing science, not administration,” the FDP Strategic Planning Committee noted in its strategic plan for Phase 5.
Michigan Tech will appoint administrative, faculty and technical representatives to work with the partnership, whose members include nine federal agencies and more than 100 research institutions across the country.