Policy Steward:  Vice President for Research, and Corporate Controller


  • Purpose
  • Coordination Process
  • Further Information
  • Cross References


    Multi-investigator research proposals often require matching funds for cost sharing as well as University support for expenses that are not allowed as direct charges. When researchers from multiple Penn State units are involved, each unit typically contributes, and a summary of unit contributions to matching funds is required before a decision can be reached regarding a contribution from central administration (see RAG51 and RAG52).  The internal support provided to any proposal is determined by a range of factors, including the available resources of the participating units, the requirements of the research program, the expectations of the external sponsor, and the strategic priority of the proposed research for the University.

    These guidelines describe a standard process to coordinate the appropriate level of contributions from different units in a manner that is transparent to the participating units, that facilitates early preparation of proposal budgets, and that minimizes the administrative burden on the researchers and the research offices submitting the proposals. These guidelines are intended only for those proposals for which University contributions are anticipated from two or more Penn State colleges or interdisciplinary research institutes.


    1. Soon after formation of a multi-unit research team to pursue a proposal opportunity, the researchers and relevant unit administrators must determine which research office is submitting the proposal.  The submitting research office (i.e., the associate dean for research, institute director, or designee) assumes responsibility for preparing the proposal budget and thus also responsibility for coordinating the contributions of other units toward the proposed effort.  If matching funds or significant other University contributions are being considered, the steps outlined below should be followed, with the goal of confirming the arrangement among units at least two weeks prior to the submission of the proposal.

    2. As soon as participating researchers are identified for the proposal, the submitting research office should verify directly with the relevant research deans and institute directors that they are aware of the planned proposal.  If agreement is expected to be straightforward on the level of matching and the contributions of the different units, the research deans and institute directors may decide to coordinate via e-mail.  If that is the case, verifying agreement among the research deans is the responsibility of the submitting research office.

    3. If the division of contributions to the proposed effort is likely to be complex, or the units have significant uncertainty regarding the level of their contributions, the submitting research office should schedule a match coordination meeting (MCM) of the PI, proposal team members, and the relevant college research deans and institute directors or their representatives.  The meeting must also include the Associate Vice President for Research, Associate Dean for Research and/or Institute Director of the PI, and staff from the submitting research office.  The MCM can be scheduled by the Office of Vice President for Research (OVPR) or the Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Office (SIRO) if requested by the submitting research office.

    4. Prior to the MCM, the PI should work with the Associate Dean for Research and/or Institute Director and the submitting research office to develop and distribute a draft proposal budget.  The draft budget should include details as to how funds from the sponsor are expected to be distributed among administrative units and how funds will be separately allocated to the categories of graduate assistantship support, equipment, and external subcontracts. When appropriate, the PI should provide a list of faculty in the various units (beyond those included in the proposal) who will also be beneficially impacted, e.g., users beyond those listed in a proposal of a major research instrument.

    5. Also prior to the MCM, the PI should work with the submitting research office to develop and distribute a detailed description of requested matching funds support, a draft financial breakdown and schedule for each unit's contributions to those matching funds, and a summary of the level of match to be requested from external partners.  This support may include requests for cash, support for staff, technical personnel, post-doctoral researchers and/or graduate assistants, etc.  The division of matching commitments among colleges should typically be guided by the proportion of faculty effort in the proposed work and when appropriate, by the proportion of faculty who will benefit if the proposal were to be funded, e.g., as users of a major shared research instrument.  If the proposed research effort is expected to require significant expenses that are disallowed as direct charges to the sponsors' funds, e.g., the cost of building renovations, a draft division of responsibility for these expenses should also be distributed prior to the MCM.

    6. If the submitting research office determines that the draft budget and the proposed contributions from the participating units are agreeable to all of the units involved, then the scheduled MCM should be cancelled and the arrangement should be documented before proposal submission.

    7. At the MCM, the PI should present his/her vision for the proposed effort, the proposed budget, the matching funds request, and the distribution of effort among faculty in different units.  The other attendees will discuss and, if possible, agree on the level of support to be provided by various Penn State units and to be requested from central funds, or on a set of questions that need to be answered before the level of contributions from different units can be agreed upon.

    8. The submitting research office is responsible for distributing a draft summary of the proposed contributions from the participating units after the MCM and coordinating further discussions.  When all parties have agreed, that office is responsible for documenting confirmation from the relevant units and submitting a matching funds request to the OVPR for central matching funds.


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Research, or the Office of the Corporate Controller.


    RAG51 - Central Matching Funds Program for Research Equipment

    RAG52 - Central Matching Funds Program for Assistantships / Traineeships

    Effective Date: February 26, 2016
    Date Approved: February 22, 2016
    Date Published: February 26, 2016

    Most recent changes:

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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