Don’t fence me in!

The NIH modular budget format is attractive to PIs for a lovely, time-saving reason: the lack of a detailed budget justification.   Modular budgeting may be used for research grant applications requesting up to $250,000 direct costs per year; funds are requested as direct costs in modules of $25,000.  The logic behind modular budgeting is efficiency: less work for the PI, less work for the reviewers.  Modular budgets give PIs a degree of flexibility during the course of the award (i.e. fewer rebudgeting requests).


If you are close to the $250,000 mark, however, modular budgeting may not be for you.  Consider the following:

  • Your competing renewal must be modular.  This means, then, that you will be limited to $250,000 for the life AND future of the project.  If your current submission is part of a grander plan, this could lead to some serious research growth-stunting.  Additionally, if it is an NCI application, it generally cannot exceed an increase of 10% over the direct cost budget awarded for the last year of the prior project period. [NOT-CA-08-026]
  • There will be no future year escalations. Annual modular budgets are average budgets for the entire award period; salary escalations may result in a request for more modules than needed for costs in the beginning years to cover escalations in future years.
  • Underfunding is a reality.  You may not have a firm grasp of the project costs at the time of submission, especially if you don’t do an internal detailed budget for yourself and/or SPA. Are costs of materials expected to increase in the out years?  What about salaries?  Space costs?  Supply needs as the project grows? Without a full understanding of the totality of costs, the project could be faced with deficits as salaries and other costs increase annually. Increases in modules can be requested in exceptional circumstances, but the request must be thoroughly justified and acquiescence is rare.


Detailed budgets are nothing to be afraid of, and should be done internally anyway to ensure research is adequately funded.  Modular budgets are a great tool for smaller projects but if you’re close to the border, check your figures again: the extra effort of a detailed budget could save you from the pain of future paucity.  If you need help in auditing future needs or budget framework, RAS is here to help!

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Your Contract

Many of you likely received the email from Beckman Coulter last week, indicating that their capillary electrophoresis (CE) unit officially became a part of AB SCIEX, effective January 1.  Many departments in WSU-SOM have Beckman Coulter contracts and if yours is one of them, please note that AB SCIEX *is* an approved vendor in WayneBuy; check to see if any purchase orders you have will need to be updated.

The Beckman Coulter/AB SCIEX situation is a good reminder that January is a goo time to check over your active contracts, especially supply ones.  Issues you will want to take note of include:

  1. Deliverables that may due, whether you are the vendor or the contractor: no one likes getting expected goods or services late.
  2. Changes in shipping times or prices: this especially important on contracts with prepaid postage (also note: USPS shipping rates have increased!)
  3. Changes in contract administration or representation: be sure your communication is not going to the dead email of a former employee!
  4. Contract expiration dates: it may be time to renew your contract if you are satisfied with the service, or search/bid out for a replacement if you are not.

Having a set time for contract once-overs is a great way to ensure uninterrupted service, and smooth(er) daily operations.  If you have any questions as to whom to talk to for contract guidance or finalization, RAS is happy to help provide guidance!