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Federal Research Terms and Conditions

Order of Precedence

When there is a question about whether a federal rule applies to an award, the following order of precedence should be followed:

  1. Award-specific terms and conditions
  2. Federal Agency’s program-specific terms and conditions
  3. Federal Agency’s general terms and conditions
  4. Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR 200)

The Federal Terms and Conditions (RTCs) grew out of an initiative by the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), which is a non-profit association of federal agencies, academic research institutions (administrative, faculty and technical), and research policy organizations that works to streamline the administration of federally sponsored research.

(Formerly the Federal Demonstration Partnership Special Conditions)*

The FDP was established to increase research productivity by streamlining the administrative process and minimizing the administrative burden on principal investigators while maintaining effective stewardship of federal funds. The National Science Foundation (NSF) serves as the official web host of participating agency documents relating to the RTCs. The latest version of the Federal-Wide Terms and Conditions are available and hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), but they impact all federal agencies.

In addition to the basic provisions, each member federal agency has a supplemental set of agency-specific terms and conditions. A typical grant is actually covered by both the federal-wide Research Terms and Conditions (RTC) and the agency-specific terms and conditions.

Changes Authorized under the RTCs

If the Federal RTCs apply, certain changes can be made without prior sponsor approval. Use the Award Change Request process, as necessary.

The following changes, with some agency exceptions, do not need the prior approval of ORSP:

  1. Rebudgeting between most direct cost categories and between direct and indirect costs;
  2. Carry-forward of unexpended balances to subsequent non-competitive funding periods;

The following changes, with some agency exceptions, can be made with the prior approval of ORSP:

  1. Time extensions (one-time only), without additional funds, for up to twelve months;
  2. Equipment purchases of $25,000 or more that were not included in the sponsor-approved budget;
  3. Space alteration and/or renovation costing less than $25,000.
  4. Pre-Award costs for up to 90 days prior to the effective date of the award.

Note:If pre-award costs are associated with a request to establish a new project/grant, please follow the hardship request procedure in eResearch Proposal Management.

*Sometimes Federal-Wide Terms and Conditions are referred to as FDP because they were first established by the FDP. Now, the latest version of the Federal-Wide Terms and Conditions are available and hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), but they impact all federal agencies.