Find all of the document, processes, policies, and expectations necessary in order to manage your grant and report your progress.
- Western SARE Subaward Process
- Western SARE & USDA Policies and Requirements
- Reporting Expectations
- Invoicing Procedures
- Guidelines for Acknowledging Funds
- ADA Requirements for Video and Audio
- Western SARE Survey
- Project Modifications
Western SARE Subaward Process
If your proposal has been selected for funding, your institution/organization will enter into a Subaward Agreement with Montana State University (MSU), the Western Region Host Institution. Within a couple of weeks of notification from Western SARE that your proposal has been selected for funding, you will receive a follow up email from the Western SARE Fiscal Manager with instructions for initiating the subaward process*.
*Please note: if you requested a later start date (late summer/early fall), please expect this email early summer as we work to initiate those awards with a spring start date first.
Remember: any entity receiving Federal Funds in any amount is required by the Federal Government to obtain a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) from the System for Award Management (SAM). If you have not already applied for your UEI, follow these directions.
The Western SARE Fiscal Manager will request, at a minimum, the following documents:
- Subrecipient Commitment Form – completed and signed; this is typically completed and signed by the grant recipient’s Authorized Official.
- Scope of Work(SOW) for the project – The SOW is a one-page summary that concisely identifies and outlines the work to be performed under this agreement (the tasks/objectives). The SOW should also include your proposed project deliverables (e.g., publications, presentation of research findings, outreach activities, materials, etc.) and corresponding timeline for accomplishing your objectives and deliverables. You are encouraged to use the relevant portions of text from your proposal to compose the SOW. At the top of the SOW document, it is helpful to include the following details: PI name, institution name, project title and Western SARE Project number.
Additional documents that may be requested include:
- Revised budget and justification, typically for one or more of the following reasons:
- Errors in the proposal budget were found, e.g., incorrect IDC calculation
- Insufficient budget detail was provided in the proposal budget
- A proposed expense is not allowable and must therefore be re-budgeted
- The PI notifies Western SARE of changes that need to be made to the proposal budget, e.g., shifting funds from one budget category to another. Significant changes require Western SARE Regional Coordinator approval; minor revisions are typically okay.
- IRB/IACUC approvals, if applicable, and not provided at time of proposal submission.
- Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, e.g. W-9 form. MSU is required to report all payments to the IRS, this includes payments made via a subaward agreement. If your organization has never received funds from MSU or it has been several years, Western SARE will request a taxpayer identification form.
The above documentation is reviewed and then forwarded with a formal request to initiate your subaward to MSU’s Subaward Coordinator in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).
Once approved for opening, the MSU Subaward Manager drafts the Subaward Agreement. The draft agreement is sent via email to all contacts listed on Attachment 3 of the Subaward Agreement. The agreement should be signed by the Subrecipient’s Authorized Official and returned to the MSU Subaward Manager.
MSU’s Authorized Official then signs the agreement. A digital copy of the fully executed Subaward Agreement is returned to all subrecipient contacts and Western SARE. The subrecipient institution may begin invoicing MSU for project expenditures. Details and requirements for invoicing are outlined in the Subaward Agreement as well as below (see Western Invoicing Procedures).
In general, once the Subrecipient PI/Institution has provided the Western SARE Fiscal Manager with ALL the required documentation, the fully executed Subaward Agreement should be in place within four-to-eight weeks.
Western SARE and USDA Policies and Requirements
All SARE grant recipients must read and subscribe to the spirit and letter of the policies, requirements and restrictions listed in the following special notes:
1. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs and marital or familial status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternate means of communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact Western SARE.
2. The Western SARE program considers all funded proposals and subsequent reports and related information to be in the public domain. A prime directive from Congress in the SARE enabling legislation ensures that results from all studies be provided to producers and other interested parties in a timely and effective manner. Successful applicants (and their institutions) must agree to grant to Montana State University, the host institution, an irrevocable royalty-free, nonexclusive right and license to use, reproduce, make derivative works, display, publish and perform any copyrights or copyrighted materials (including any computer software and its documentation and/or databases) developed under Subcontract for the purpose of education and research or to the extent required to meet MSU’s obligations under its Prime Award. All reports related to funded projects will be made available to all interested parties in printed, electronic or other means of communication without discrimination. Names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of investigators (from funded projects) may be provided to interested news entities, producers or organizations for subsequent inquiries.
3. The Western SARE Administrative Council will give considerable weight to reporting records (length of time that reports are overdue, etc.) of previous recipients of SARE contracts or grants when evaluating projects for any future Western SARE funding. Grant recipients are encouraged to submit reports in a timely manner, as this will affect Administrative Council decisions.
Project reports are public documents shared with agricultural stakeholders and legislators. As such, reports reflect not only the quality of your project but also the quality and integrity of Western SARE programs. Project reports are the ultimate outcome, and is what taxpayers get from their contribution to a federally funded program. To help you prepare for a successful project report submitted for the Research & Education, Farmer/Rancher, Professional + Producer, or Sabbatical Research & Education program, please review Criteria for Approving Project Reports.
Writers of project reports for Professional Development Program and Research to Grassroots grants can reference the Helpful Hints for Reporting document.
Western SARE grants are issued as cost reimbursable subawards. This means the subrecipient will invoice Western SARE/MSU for allowable project costs incurred. Per the terms of the Subaward Agreement, Western SARE/MSU subrecipients shall submit invoices not more often than monthly and not less frequently than quarterly for allowable costs incurred.
Invoices must meet the requirements of the Agreement Terms and Conditions. Invoices that do not meet these requirements may be returned the subrecipient.
All invoices submitted to Western SARE must include the following:
- Reference to the MSU Subaward ID (see your Subaward Agreement; begins with G, e.g., G123-20-W1234)
- Include current period and cumulative costs by budget category.
- Signature, date and certified as to truth and accuracy. Invoices will include a certification, signed by an authorized official, which reads as follows (must be verbatim): "By signing this report, I certify to the best of my knowledge and belief that the report is true, complete, and accurate, and the expenditures, disbursements and cash receipts are for the purposes and objectives set forth in the terms and conditions of the Federal award. I am aware that any false, fictitious, or fraudulent information, or the omission of any material fact, may subject me to criminal, civil or administrative penalties for fraud, false statements, false claims or otherwise. (U.S. Code Title 18, Section 1001 and Title 31, Sections 3729–3730 and 3801–3812)."
All invoices must be emailed to:
Jen von Sehlen, Western SARE Fiscal Manager
Please note: 10% of total award budget is held pending receipt and approval of the final report. Therefore, if an interim invoice exceeds 90% of the award budget, a partial payment of up to 90% of the budget will be made with the remainder paid with the final invoice.
- Invoice regularly (monthly or at a minimum, quarterly)
- Irregular invoicing can be an indication no progress is being made on the project and will be reported to the Program Manager.
- Invoice by budget categories that align with your approved project budget.
- Invoice expenditures will be compared to the approved project budget found in Attachment 5 of the Subaward Agreement.
- If the subrecipient cannot invoice by specific budget categories, g., salaries, benefits, supplies, contracted services, etc., Western SARE will request backup documentation in order to determine whether spending is in alignment with the approved budget.
- Indicate whether the invoice is “interim” or “final”. Final invoices must be marked “final”.
- Follow all invoicing instructions.
Invoice Payment Delays
Payment of invoices may be delayed for any of the following reasons.
- The invoice does not follow the instructions noted above and in the Subaward Agreement (Attachment 6).
- An interim progress or final report has not been submitted.
- Progress reports are due annually each year the project is ongoing (see Reporting Expectations above and your Subaward Agreement Attachment 4A)
- A final report is due no later than 60 days from the project end date.
- An interim or final report was submitted, however, revisions were requested and not addressed – the PI should address these in a timely manner.
- Backup documentation was requested but not provided.
- Cumulative costs indicate over-spending in one or more budget category in excess of 10% of the total budget and/or a new budget category has been introduced.
- Re-budgeting among budget categories in excess of 10% of the overall award amount and/or introducing a new budget category requires Western SARE pre-approval (see Requesting Project Modifications above).
- Invoice payment may be delayed until a re-budget request has been submitted to and approved by Western SARE.
- The invoice was sent to the incorrect contact.
For your convenience, a standard invoice template is provided. Institutions may choose to use this template or their own so long as all invoicing requirements are met.
Guidelines for Acknowledging Funds
Proper citation of Western SARE is required on all printed or electronic materials produced in conjunction with your project or when referencing the project itself. The proper name to be used is “Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education” on first reference and “Western SARE” on subsequent references.
We also encourage you to include the Western SARE logo,the NIFA logo, and where feasible, the Western SARE website, and phone number, 406-994-4785.
The following acknowledgement should be included on all materials for your Western SARE project:
"This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number XXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX through the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under project number [reference your Western SARE project number]. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
The USDA-NIFA Award Number can be found in your Subaward Agreement with MSU (see Attachment 2A); your SARE Project Number is referenced on Attachment 4A, and can also be found when you login to projects.sare.org.
Whenever practical, the Western SARE logo and NIFA’s official identifier should be included in publications, posters, websites and presentations resulting from their award.
- The Western SARE logo and guidelines for use.
- The NIFA identifier.
All publications and other materials, except scientific articles or papers published in scientific journals, MUST contain the following statement:
"Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture."
The awardee is responsible for acknowledging NIFA support during news media interviews that discuss work supported by NIFA.
ADA Requirements for Video and Audio
When linking to or uploading a video or podcast audio in the project database, you agree to provide captions in order to meet accessibility compliance requirements.
You have the following options to provide captions:
- Upload the video to your own YouTube channel and turn on auto-captioning. Add the YouTube link into the project report. This is the preferred option.
- Send the video to your regional communication specialists to upload to the regional SARE YouTube channel which provides auto-captioning and the regions can embed the YouTube into the project report.
- Include transcript files along with videos or podcasts when uploading them to the media library or when linking to videos or podcasts on third party sites.
In order to meet ADA compliance requirements, videos must include captions. However, adding captions to videos has benefits that extend beyond accessibility. Captions can boost the amount of time a viewer stays engaged with a video, enable viewers to watch videos on mute (a common practice), and help videos perform better on search engines.
Western SARE Survey
Project leaders should use this survey and evaluation tool at workshops and other events that take place as part of their Western SARE-funded project.
Requesting Project Modifications
We understand issues and challenges can arise throughout the life of your Western SARE project. With this in mind, the project PI may request modifying their project. This section details the common modifications a PI may need to request.
For all proposed changes, please download and complete the Western SARE Project Modification Request Form .
Please be aware that for Western SARE to consider any project modification request(s), the PI must be up-to-date on required Progress Reports and the subrecipient must be current on invoicing for project-related expenses.
Email the completed form and any attachments to the Program Manager for your grant:
- Research and Education: email@example.com
- Professional + Producer: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Graduate Student: email@example.com
- Sabbatical Research and Education grant programs: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Farmer/Rancher grant program: email@example.com
- Professional Development; State Implementation; Enhanced State; and, Research to Grassroots grant programs: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be sure to copy:
- Clayton Marlow, Western SARE Regional Coordinator
- Jen von Sehlen, Western SARE Fiscal Manager
Once we receive your modification request, we will review the proposed change(s) and follow up with any questions. If the modifications are approved, MSU Office of Sponsored Programs will draft an amended Subaward Agreement and send it to the subrecipient contacts for review and signature. Note: modifications can take up to six weeks to process so please plan accordingly.
Types of Modifications:
Western SARE grantees may request a no-cost extension for their project if it will not be completed by the project end date. Grantees are required to submit their requests at least 30-days prior to the project end date.
No-cost extensions are not guaranteed. Your request must be complete, address all questions, and include sufficient justification. Please note: the fact that funds are expected to remain unobligated at the expiration of the award is not in itself sufficient to justify a no-cost extension. You may request an extension of one-to-twelve months in length; however, bear in mind that the approved length of your no-cost extension will be dependent upon the amount of time remaining on the USDA-NIFA Cooperative Agreement from which your grant (subaward agreement) is funded. Example: for grants awarded in 2019, extensions beyond December 31, 2022 will NOT be permitted.
Second or subsequent no-cost extensions are discouraged. However, if an additional extension is needed, another justification addressing why the project could not be completed within the previous extension period must be provided, noting extenuating circumstances such as weather-related events, personnel changes, unavailability of necessary equipment, etc. Remaining funds or poor management is not considered an extenuating circumstance.
Once the NCE request is approved, Western SARE will update the end date for your project in the SARE Grant Management System (GMS).
Important note about no-cost extensions and progress reports: an additional progress report will be required should the extension fall during the timeframe when one is due, or a progress report may be required prior to NCE approval if the original end date of your project falls near the time when a progress report would have been due. See Reporting Expectations above for more details. The reporting requirements for your project will be updated in the amended Subaward Agreement (see Attachment 4A).
Minor re-budgeting from one budget category to another is permissible to carry out the original approved Scope of Work (see Attachment 5A of the Subaward Agreement). Significant spending outside of the approved budget can be an indication the project’s scope had changed. Therefore, re-budgeting among budget categories in excess of 10% of the overall award amount and/or introducing a new budget category requires Western SARE pre-approval. Additionally, if project invoices indicate over-spending in one or more budget category in excess of 10% of the total award amount has occurred and/or a new budget category has been introduced, payment may be delayed until a re-budget request is submitted and approved. Western SARE compares project-related expenses reflected on invoices to the approved budget found in Attachment 5 of the Subaward Agreement. Please reference your approved budget often.
If you are proposing adding or changing a lower-tier subrecipient on your project (this is a subaward your institution will issue from your Western SARE subaward with MSU), complete the re-budget section of the form if the change impacts your budget. Attach a Scope of Work for the proposed new lower-tier subrecipient as well as a detailed budget and justification. A letter of commitment from the lower-tier subaward PI must also be included.
When submitting a re-budget request, please be sure to include justification for all changes.
Change of Principal Investigator (PI)
If the project PI can no longer fulfill their obligation through the end of the period of performance, a formal request for a PI change must be submitted to Western SARE for consideration and approval. An email originating from the current/named PI relinquishing their role must accompany the PI change request.
In addition to the Western SARE Project Modification Request Form, please be sure to include the following:
- A letter of commitment from the proposed, new PI
- New PI’s curriculum vitae/resume
- New PI’s Current & Pending support
Additionally, if the new PI does not already have a profile set up within the SARE Grant Management System (GMS), they must create a profile before the new PI request will be approved. Please visit projects.sare.org and click on “Create an Account” to get started.
Note: if there is a change in co-PI, you need only email Western SARE about the change (no form necessary). The co-PI is not named in the Subaward Agreement; therefore, the change does not warrant an amendment. Western SARE will update the project record in the SARE Grant Management System (GMS) to reflect the co-PI change. If the new co-PI does not have already have an account set up in the SARE GMS, please advise them to do so. This can be accomplished by going to: projects.sare.org and clicking on the “Create an account” link.
Revised Scope of Work
Revisions to the Scope of Work that result in significant changes to the project outcomes and objectives will only be considered under extenuating circumstances. Such revisions must be reviewed and approved by the Western SARE Executive Committee. In addition to the justification for the changes, please be sure to include the revised Scope of Work to be included in the amended Subaward Agreement.
If you have a modification request other than those mentioned above, please fill out the top portion of page 1 of the form, indicate “Other Project Modification” on page 3 and provide a justification on page 4. When submitting your request, include relevant attachments as needed.