Manoa Faculty Senate Committee on Research
Meeting minutes, Wednesday, 11 October Post 601: 100-330 PM
Members in attendance: David Duffy (scribe), Michael Garcia, Michael Jones, Justin Levinson, Dore Minatodani, Rodney Morales, Norma Jean Stodden, Roy Wilkens (chair), Lawrence Zane
Absent: Patricia Donegan,
SEC liaison: Rosanne Harrigan.
Dr. Yaa-Yin Fong, the new head of ORS, met with the committee for the first hour, explaining that she would be happy to work with us on any issue that ORS has control over, but that there are some such as Board policy and federal compliance that are not under ORS control.
ORS form 5 emerged as a key issue. The committee expressed a need for an electronic signature capability. She would like to expand such an electronic form to capture more information such as co PIs and information/commitments to cost sharing. ORS at present lacks the resources to modernize its web site. Hopefully the ORS advisory committee and/or our committee will be able to articulate the need for ITS assistance in developing web-based submission and management to be of campus/system-wide concern.
An electronic version of conflict of interest forms would also be very useful.
The committee discussed the ORS faculty advisory committee’s first meeting. The main three points raised in that meeting were the need for communication, the need for a service attitude, and a way of measuring or monitoring ORS backlog/productivity for the PI community. David Duffy is a member of the advisory committee and will function as a liaison with COR.
COR also discussed the need for transparency. Are particular horror stories unique? Contract status is now reported online. While this is helpful for individual PIs, we should also have summary statistics on contract/grant processing rates. Fong pointed out that processing has two steps: 1. ORS processing and negotiating the contract, and 2. “waiting for the sponsor to get back to us” once it is negotiated (the latter is not under the control of ORS).
The committee felt it would be a relatively simple programming task to have a login security component, as all the details of the processing of individual awards need not be shared with the whole world as at present.
In terms of negotiating contracts, ORS should get involved early, rather than at the last minute, close to any deadline. Also the committee suggested a model/template for contracts would help PIs avoid problems, but this would require ORS to develop internal consistency in its own expectations and guidelines.
There has been a gradual increase in staffing which has helped reduce processing backlogs. Each staff member now handles both pre-awards and contracts. Staffing for contracts has increased, and will be trained to review grant proposals also. It is easier to train contracts staff to review grant proposals than it is to train grants staff to review contracts. In the future, pre-award staff (one senior and one junior) will be assigned to a particular school, as is already the practice with contract staff.
Uncollected bills for research funds There has been a problem in the past that sponsors withheld funds because ORS did not do a final billing or because there was no final billing because ORS and the funding agency never received a final report from the PI which was a condition for a final billing. Obtaining the final report was the responsibility of a fiscal officer.
The present balance of such outstanding bills is $6.5 million, going back over 20 years. The auditors refused to write off the balance. The Vice Chancellor for Research is covering half the balance out of his RTRF funds. The rest will have to be paid by the responsible units.
The committee thanked Dr Fong for her time. She volunteered that she would be happy to return should the need arise.
Vice Chancellor Gary Ostrander then was the guest of the committee for the second half of the meeting.
He reviewed the 2005 and 2006 RTRF funds. Faculty need to route requests for RTRF support from his office through their chair and dean first. For big projects, he would expect matching support from the department and schools.
There is a commitment to JABSOM that 100% of its overhead will go back to it for the next two years.
RTRF breakdown is that 25% goes to VP Gaines which also pays for RCUH and Laboratory Animal Services, 25% goes to VC Ostrander and 50% goes back to the units that generated the RTRF.
There are no plans to change the present distribution. Long term, however, the situation is grim because of the strong potential for sharp cuts in federal funding. The question then becomes how to apportion RTRF to maintain the units generating the RTRF while satisfying the other needs for the funds.
Turning to wider budget matters, Ostrander and the other Vice Chancellors are looking to rebuild budgets across campus so there will be more strength at the department and college level.
Ostrander also serves as acting dean of the Medical School and there had been concern from the committee about his ability to fill both positions. Most operations at the Med School are handled by a management team, which relieves him of much of the day to day pressure. He and this team are focusing first on the fiscal situation which is not as bad as first appeared, with possible solutions involving a mix of general funds, RTRF and practice plan funds. He hopes the new dean will arrive in June.
Turning to other issues:
Bioprospecting is likely to continue to be an issue at the Legislature.
UARC is at the System level, he is not involved. He believes that the main issue is the Navy accepting the University’s insistence on no classified research for the first three years, but other UARCS had contracts to be renegotiated first, so UH went to the back burner.
He would like to meet with COR when it has items of mutual interest.
He also mentioned that support for research that doesn’t generate overhead is critical.
On the Outstanding Accounts issue discussed earlier, he reiterated that he will pay half. Units that are “responsible” will pay the other half. Small balances will be paid over 5 yrs and larger over 10 yrs, so less than 1-2% of their RTRF per year will be required.
The committee thanked VC Ostrander for his time and he then left.
OTHER COR Business
Lawrence Zane moved we approve the minutes of the meeting of 13 September 2006, Seconded by Justin Levinson.
The Chair welcomed Lawrence Zane and Rodney Morales as new members.
The next meeting will be on 8 November, in 601 Post. The meeting time will be moved back to 130 PM.
The committee considered the resolution presented by Michael Jones who presented the case that there was an urgent need in the face of a pending UARC decision to have an effective policy on classified research at the University of Hawaii. He also expressed a concern that researchers alone should not draw up a policy on classified research.
A variety of concerns were expressed about the resolution, such as that it conflated UARC and secret research, that it could lead to a repetition of the previous UARC committee process, and that COR did not need to seek permission to conduct its activities. The resolution was tabled by the committee.
A review of present policy for classified and proprietary research will be ongoing by the COR.
Jim Gaines The committee authorized the Chair to invite system VP for Research, Jim Gaines, to the next meeting.