Proposals, CRIS reporting, and eCALS

A campus mailing was sent out last week to all CALS PIs which included a policy statement about sponsored project proposals submitted outside college/campus channels, an explanation about CRIS reporting and the often confusing aspect of the requirements place on our college by acceptance of USDA-CSREES funding, and an alert that the Research Division staff is placing updates on research issues in eCALS on a regular basis. The information is repeated this week in eCALS to be sure the information is available to all CALS faculty and staff.

1. Cover Memo

DATE: 1/3/07
TO: CALS PIs, Department and Center Administrators, and Extension Colleagues
FROM: Irwin Goldman and Dick Straub
RE: Proposals, CRIS reporting, and eCALS

Attached please find two documents on research matters. The first is a policy statement about sponsored project proposals submitted outside college and campus channels. The second is an explanation about CRIS reporting, and often confusing aspect of the requirements placed on our college by acceptance of USDA-CSREES funding.

We would also like to let you know that the Research Division staff is placing updates on research issues in eCALS on a regular basis. We will use eCALS as a way to communicate these issues with CALS faculty and staff, an we encourage you to look at this section of the newsletter. An archive of eCALS newsletters is also available on the CALS website at
If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact us at and
Thank you.

2. Sponsored Project Proposals Submitted Outside CALS/UW Channels — Approved by CALS APC, November, 2006

Effective immediately, awards generated by actions submitted without College and University approval prior to submission will not be accepted. If you have already submitted any extramural support applications without College and University approval, please route them with a campus transmittal form to CALS Research Division as soon as possible but no later than January 31, 2007. After that date, we will no longer accept awards for applications that have not been routed and approved by the College and University prior to submission.

Since August, 2006, we have identified at least 23 proposals that were submitted to research sponsors by CALS PIs directly to the sponsor and therefore not routed through the CALS (College) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (University). This is an extraordinarily large number of proposals that define a significant liability for PIs, their departments, the College, and the University.

The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System has designated signature authority to Research and Sponsored Programs for proposals, agreements, contracts, etc. related to extramural support activities of faculty/staff of the University. This authority originates in Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin Statutes and is proceduralized in Regent Resolutions 8074 and UW System General Administrative Policy Paper (GAPP 2). As such, the University requires all proposals to be routed and approved by the College and University prior to being submitted to any sponsor or funding agency for the following reason: When a PI submits an application for funding to a sponsor or agency without institutional approval, they do so outside of the scope of their employment. Use of university facilities or staff is not authorized for this work; however a submission that originates at UW implies to the sponsor or funding agency that institutional approval has been granted.

Misrepresentation of this type may expose the individual to personal accountability for the commitments made in the document and to liability associated with execution of the project. Such misrepresentation often invalidates the application. This can be a particularly difficult situation for research agreements, where sponsors intend to hold a person to the terms and conditions proposed within the application that are unacceptable to the institution. In fact it is common that budgets, terms, and conditions in proposals submitted without campus approval may not be accepted under state, federal, or campus rules/regulations.

The university mandate requires all extramural support proposals, agreements, contracts, etc. to be submitted for College and University review and approval, along with a transmittal form signed by the department chair/center director or his/her designate prior to submission. This applies to the following types of communications with sponsors or collaborators:

  • – letters of intent and preproposals
  • – agreements
  • – contracts
  • – full proposals
  • – proposal revisions, renewals, continuations, supplements
  • – subcontracting proposals, and other extramural support actions

3. CRIS AD-421 Annual Reports Are Due February 1, 2007

CRIS reports (AD-421) are due for all CALS sponsored projects on February 1, 2007. These reports are required of CALS faculty and staff, because we are a recipient of Federal Formula Funds (Hatch, McIntire-Stennis and Animal Health). These funds total over 5.4 million dollars and have previously or do currently support work in every CALS department. These funds are also used to help provide critical start-up funding for many of our new faculty, especially those in the applied agricultural or natural resource related departments. This allows use of other funds, such as Fund 150 (overhead return), to be used for faculty start-ups in other departments and for other critical needs in CALS.

What happens if these reports are not filed?
After February 15, 2007, the CALS Research Division will not process sponsored project related business and submissions for faculty and staff who have not completed their CRIS reports. USDA monitors these reports for deadline compliance and quality of the reports. Non-compliance with the February 1, 2007, deadline jeopardizes our Formula Funding allocation.

What is CRIS?
CRIS (Current Research Information System) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s documentation and reporting system for ongoing and recently completed research and education projects in agriculture, food and nutrition, and forestry. Projects are conducted or sponsored by USDA research agencies, state agricultural experiment stations, land-grant universities, other cooperating state institutions, and participants in CSREES-administered grant programs, including Small Business Innovation Research and National Research Initiative, and the programs administered by the CSREES Science and Education Resources Development unit. This is a database that is used by the public, academics, businesses and governmental agencies, officials and legislators. What we submit and the quality of our reports are very important.

Do you need to file CRIS reports if you dont have Formula Funding?
Yes, all Formula Funded projects and certain other projects (including NRI, SBIR, and Special Grants) require a CRIS report specific to that particular funded project. However, all sponsored projects must be reported in the CRIS system and can be lumped under an appropriate umbrella project. The AD-416, AD-417, and Assurance Form CSREES-2008 are the mechanisms used in the CRIS system to initiate these projects. The Research Division has historically tried to lump projects, not requiring specific individual reports, into this umbrella project for you in an effort to minimize the number of reports you are required do. If you feel adjustments need to be made in how the sponsored projects are grouped together, please contact CALS Research Division and we will work with you to correctly categorize your work under appropriate CRIS projects and titles.

Who are primary contacts for issues related to CRIS reports?
Richard Straub (890-0689,, Angie Seitler (261-1432,, and Casey Hillmer (262-2397,