Cost Analysis and Audit Resolution Branch
Branch Chief: Alex WynnykCost Analysis and Audit Resolution staff (CAAR) will assist you with questions you may have in those areas noted below. However, it should be noted that reviews and the establishment of indirect cost rates are undertaken by CAAR at the request of other NSF offices.
Prior to issuing an award to a new awardee organization or an organization that has not managed an NSF award in the last three years, the Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) or Division of Acquisition and Cooperative Support (DACS) may request that CAAR undertake one or more reviews to assess the awardee’s capability to effectively administer NSF-funded awards.
- Proposal Budget Reviews: CAAR reviews proposed amounts to verify that costs are reasonable, allowable, and allocable in accordance with Federal regulations and NSF guidance.
- Financial Capability Reviews: CAAR performs financial capability reviews to determine whether a prospective awardee has adequate financial resources or the ability to obtain such resources as may be necessary to administer the proposed NSF award.
- Accounting System Reviews: CAAR reviews the awardee’s accounting system to verify that the organization is likely to be able to manage Federal funds in accordance with applicable regulations, terms, and conditions of the award.
- Establishing Indirect Cost Rates: Based on various available information (e.g., historical cost information or formal ICR proposal) and the level of funding being requested, CAAR makes a recommendation on the funding of indirect cost(s), either as an award specific amount/rate, or as a Federally negotiated rate, depending on Federal cognizance and the amount of Federal funding involved. If NSF negotiates a rate, the organization may be required to regularly (typically annually) negotiate a new rate.
- Personnel Compensation Reviews: CAAR reviews organizations receiving NSF awards to verify that they have adequate personnel compensation systems. As specified in applicable cost principles, at a minimum, organizations need to maintain adequate personnel compensation records to support labor costs charged to NSF awards.
- Cost Sharing Reviews:When requested, CAAR performs reviews of proposed cost sharing. Amounts proposed for cost sharing are expected to be consistent with what is proposed, allowable per applicable cost principles, and adequately documented in the awardee’s accounting records.
- SBIR/STTR Phase II Reviews: When an SBIR/STTR Program Officer has determined that a Phase II proposal will likely be recommended for funding, the prospective awardee will be referred to the SBIR/STTR Phase II Review website and requested to provide documentation needed by NSF to conduct various administrative and financial reviews. At the request of the SBIR/STTR Office, CAAR often performs one or more of the reviews listed above.
CAAR performs several different types of reviews after an institution receives an award. The goal of performing these types of reviews is to promote stewardship of Federal funds and provide business assistance to awardees.
- Audit Resolution: CAAR resolves compliance, internal control, and questioned costs findings contained in awardee Office of Management and Budget (OMB) A-133 audit reports and/or Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated audits and investigations of NSF awards.
- Negotiating Indirect Cost Rates (ICR): NSF is the cognizant agency for 88-125 organizations. Awardees for which NSF is the agency with rate cognizance are required to regularly (typically annually) submit proposals to update their ICRs. CAAR is responsible for negotiating and issuing ICRs for its cognizant awardees.
Advanced Monitoring Reviews: The Advanced Monitoring Program was designed to provide monitoring oversight and business assistance to ensure that awardee institutions possess adequate policies, processes, and systems to manage their NSF awards. Under the Advanced Monitoring Program, CAAR performs two types of reviews:
- Desk Reviews: CAAR undertakes the evaluation and analysis of an institution’s award administration capacity, which includes three to four core review areas, to assess the extent to which the awardee maintains a control environment within which awards are likely to be administered in compliance with Federal regulations and NSF agreement provisions. CAAR performs approximately 120 desk reviews every year.
- Site Visits: CAAR assesses awardees’ capability, performance, and compliance against applicable elements that make up each award. These elements include a review of targeted award administration areas, such as participant support costs, time and effort reporting, and subaward monitoring, to provide NSF additional assurance that institutions have established effective award administration practices. CAAR performs approximately 30 site visits every year.
Resources and References
- Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
- Prospective New Awardee Guide
- Cost Sharing Fact Sheet
- Unallowable Costs Fact Sheet
- Subaward Monitoring Fact Sheet
- Participant Support Fact Sheet
- Common Terms in Advanced Monitoring Activities Fact Sheet
- Federal Requirements: Various requirements apply to awards made by NSF and are the basis for CAAR activities. These requirements are contained in the following publications:
- Federal Cost Principles;
- Federal Management Standards; and
- Federal Audit Requirements.
- NSF Policy Office