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Record Retention: We need your files! With the end of the fiscal year and the start-up of a new academic year only a few weeks away, this is often the time that we purge files and clean our offices. Before we are too hasty in destroying financial records and sponsored program reports, I wanted to offer a few reminders.

First, all sponsored programs have record retention requirements of at least three (3) years from the end of the project. The start of the record retention period is generally measured from the date of the final report; which could actually be a month or two after the projectís ending date. Further, for some awards, the record retention period may be five (5) years from the end of the project. If you are not sure of the required retention period for your award, you may contact Sponsored Programs Accounting to verify the required period OR simply keep the files for five years.

Second, with the increased use of Small Purchase Credit Cards for expenditures, much of the detail documentation for what was purchased resides in the department and not in Sponsored Programs Accounting or Accounts Payable. Accordingly, if these records are destroyed too soon, the University may not be able to justify expenses that posted to your sponsored project. Without this detailed documentation, even compliant and allowable expenses can be rejected by a sponsor during an audit, making your department liable for those costs.

If you have any questions about what must be retained or how long it needs to be retained, please contact our office. Have a great rest of the summer!


National Science Boardís Merit Review Task Force and National Science Foundation Seek Feedback on Revisions to the Merit Review Criteria

Over the past year, the National Science Boardís (NSB) Merit Review Task Force did a careful review of the National Science Foundation's two merit review criteria http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf11001/gpg_3.jsp (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts). Substantive input from a wide variety of stakeholder groups helped guide the work of the Task Force, which recently proposed maintaining the two criteria, but revising the text to clarify the intent of the criteria and how they are to be used during the review process.

The NSF and NSB are now interested in getting feedback on the revised criteria and the underlying principles upon which they are based, and have issued a joint Dear Colleague Letter(http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/publications/2011/06_mrtf.jsp equesting your input.

The merit review process is at the heart of NSF's mission, and the merit review criteria form the critical base for that process. Please take this opportunity to provide comments and suggestions. Comments are being collected through July 14 and can be submitted to meritreview@nsf.gov.

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Center for Scientific Review Offers Tips on Cover Letters

While not shared with reviewers, a cover letter submitted to National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a grant application can "help in referring your application to a particular review group and give us other information that will help us conduct the review," according to a post in the applicant section on the website of the Center for Scientific Review. CSR is the division within NIH that reviews the majority of grant applications. The post suggests "popular reasons to use a cover letter," with details about each; it also explains how such a letter can be composed. CSR also posted its May "Peer Review Notes Newsletter."

Links: http://cms.csr.nih.gov/ResourcesforApplicants/CoverLet; http://cms.csr.nih.gov/NewsandReports/May2011PRN.htm