What is Voluntary Uncommited Cost Sharing (VUCS)?
VUCS occurs when faculty and/or senior researchers donate effort to sponsored agreements above and beyond that which is committed and budgeted for in a sponsored agreement as either sponsor paid or cost shared.
What is NOT considered VUCS?
The following activities are not considered VUCS:
- Committed or mandatory cost share identified in a proposal or agreed to in a sponsored award document
- Effort charged directly to a sponsored agreement
- Time spent working on new or competitive proposals
- Time spent working on general administrative duties (e.g., general office purchasing, travel planning, payroll administration, etc.)
- Time spent on instruction activities (e.g., office hours for students, most mentoring, committee work, and course development)
- Bridge funding used to support salary in between projects
- Voluntary effort of anyone who is neither a faculty member nor a senior researcher (i.e., graduate students and non-PhD professional staff)
- A "shift" in committed effort from grant paid to cost share
Who can provide VUCS?
University faculty (including principal investigators and senior researchers, such as post doctoral fellows). This normally includes anyone with a PhD.
Why is VUCS Important?
VUCS allows voluntary effort to be contributed on a research project without requiring the time (effort) to be documented. In January 2001, the Office of Management and Budget clarified treatment of VUCS effort in the computation of universities´ Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate proposals. The clarification allows universities to exclude VUCS salary from the organized research base when calculating F&A costs. This is important because including this in the base would result in a reduction of the F&A rate. Equally important was a subsequent clarification that space related to VUCS effort may (and should) be included as organized research space (see below).
How can I identify VUCS on FECs?
There is no requirement to identify VUCS on the FEC. By default, VUCS appears on FECs in the Other Salary Sources portion of the Salary sources detail.
If you believe your faculty member has VUCS, please ensure this effort is consistent with his or her certified FECs during the period the VUCS is donated. Also confirm that effort and funding being considered VUCS is not already included in proposals of projects to which the VUCS is contributed.
What type of money is used to fund VUCS?
Any non-sponsored source, including state budgets, RCR, gifts, and clinical funding, may be used to pay salaries of those donating VUCS, so long as these same funds are not otherwise committed for other purposes like mandatory or committed cost share.
How does VUCS effect the F&A Space Survey?
Space used for activities of faculty and senior researchers contributing VUCS on Organized Research projects should be coded as organized research. This treatment is consistent with space associated with mandatory and committed cost sharing.
If space is coded as Organized Research as a result of VUCS, it is critical to ensure that all VUCS effort is documented to support organized research projects in that space, just as if the contributors were being paid on the grant(s) or contract(s) funding the research. Any other activity must be reflected as a reduction of the percent of organized research in the functionalization of the space.
How should I document this?
If there is any VUCS contributed to an organized research project, you should do the following:
- Confirm VUCS is consistent with certified FEC´s.
- Confirm VUCS is consistent with proposals and award documents for projects to which VUCS relates.
- Include a note in your space survey documentation on how you determined that VUCS is present and the projects to which it relates.
If space is coded as Organized Research as a result of VUCS, it is critical to ensure that:
- VUCS is identified and documented to support the organized research project(s) in the associated space, e.g. research lab.
- The funds supporting the VUCS effort are not spent or committed for other kinds of activities like departmental research, administrative effort, or committed cost share effort.
- VUCS is consistent with certified FECs, proposals, and award documents.
Additional Guidance and Questions
For additional guidance, please see the OMB Clarification.