Systems

Contents

What’s in This Systems Section?

We use a number of systems to track and report our research administration activities and requirements.

This section covers the following systems that can be accessed directly from the Topics Section above. Before going to a specific system section, please review the first section below on Document Access that applies to a number of the systems covered in this section.

The following research-related systems are covered in OTHER SECTIONS of the SPA Guide:

  • Prior Approval Request (PAR)
  • TEARS Effort Reporting system

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Document Access – Important General Information

All SPARCS applications (PINS, RADAR, COI, and NOI) offer a connection to a document database system. This is our attempt to make our offices, if not paperless, at least less paper-dependent.

You can access the documents by using the “Add/View Supporting Documentation” button illustrated in the screen shot below. (A PINS screen excerpt is displayed, but they are all similar.)

Screen Segment

The Supporting Documentation screen opens up in a new window or tab, as illustrated in the screen excerpt below. Note that the document names are links that open in the original format of the document (PDF’s, Excel, etc.).

Supporting Documentation Screen Shot

Clicking on the links illustrated in the screen above gives you viewing access to the documents, but depending on your responsibilities concerning the project or disclosure, you may also be able to upload new documents or delete current documents.

In PINS, COI and NOI, the application restricts your access to a proposal or disclosure, but in all of these systems, you always have access to your own proposals or disclosures.

In RADAR, everyone with a valid Unity ID can see every project, but access to the documents is restricted for individual projects. The “Add/View Supporting Documents” button does not appear in RADAR for individuals who do not have access to the specific projects’ supporting documents.

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Project Information Navigation System (PINS)

PINS is an electronic system used to track proposal data and to verify approvals from all faculty and administrators involved in submitting a particular proposal. The use of the PINS system is a required part of the submission process for all proposals submitted by all university faculty.

Once the required proposal information is entered into PINS, researchers (including PI’s and co-PI’s) as well as department heads are responsible for approving proposals in the system. It is designed for quick and accurate proposal reviews.

Access to PINS

PI’s and Department personnel who are given access to PINS can log in to PINS using their Unity IDs and passwords.

It is best to refer them to the “Login to PINS” link on the SPARCS page to access the system. The SPARCS page link is always up-to-date and contains related references and how-to guides on the same page. (See web page illustration and access below.)

Anyone who receives an error message when trying to login to PINS can call the SPARCS helpline at 515-4267 or 515-2444. If someone with a working Unity ID and password receives an error message when trying to login to PINS, an online option for help is also available at http://research.ncsu.edu/intranet/sparcs/pins/pins-user-id/.

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PINS How-To Resources

Our PIs and university staff can access a number of resources on how to use PINS to enter or review proposal information.

Click on the SPARCS page below to explore or bookmark any or all of the linked resources that you may need depending on your role at the university and your access to PINS records.

SPARCS PINS Web Page

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PINS Peformane TipsGetting Top Performance from PINS

For more specific reminders on how to complete certain sections of the PINS record, access this Common Proposal MIsHap$ handout from an 8-2-2011 Q&A session.

Review the these tips also on how to get the best performance from the PINS system. These tips may save some time and prevent some mishaps! (Click on the tips list to open in a new tab or window for printing or bookmarking.)

  • Help Desk:
    If you have trouble using the PINS system, call the SPARCS helpline at 515-4267 or 515-2444 for assistance.
  • Unity ID:
    If you have forgotten your unity ID or password, you will need to contact the main university help desk at 515-4357.
  • Online Help:
    If someone with a working Unity ID and password receives an error message when trying to login to PINS, an online option for help is also available at http://research.ncsu.edu/intranet/sparcs/pins/pins-user-id/.

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Research Administration Data & Reporting (RADAR)

RADAR is an online system for monitoring and recording all award actions. It is used by SPARCS to store proposal and award data. It also allows campus users to run queries and reports on sponsored project data.

RADAR consists of 5 basic functions:

  1. Project Queries
  2. Recently Viewed Projects
  3. Progress Journal Entries Queries
  4. Date-Limited Reports
  5. Multi-Year Reports

Query or Report?

Using RADAR, you can access several types of reports by using the “Queries” or “Reports” functions. Even though you may be accessing RADAR for the same type of information generally, it is helpful to understand how the system returns data if you need more information or a different scope/range for other inquiries.

  • Queries give you information on all projects in the database filtered by your search criteria. Queries link to the entire project record.
  • Reports give you information on specific project activity during a defined period of time, including activity on any individual project as well as running multi-year reports on a project. Reports may not contain all of the activity on a project, however, as Queries do.

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Four Sample Reports

The following are four sample report excerpts from RADAR.

A Typical Query (screen excerpt):

spa-radar-query

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A Typical Report (screen excerpt):

Radar Report Example

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A Multi-Year Report (useful for annual or year-to-date comparisons and can include up to 10 time periods, placed one year apart as well as percentage changes between each period):

Multi-Year Report Sample

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A Progress Journal

This is a function of RADAR similar to the reports. The journals are a good resource to provide current status information on projects. It contains some actions that are added automatically by the system but also allows manual note additions.

Progress Journal

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Help Guide!

For specifics on how to use RADAR, click the Help Guide illustration below to review or bookmark the guide.

RADAR Help Guide

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RADAR Access

If you want to access the RADAR system now, click the “Login to RADAR” link on the SPARCS Systems Portal screen illustrated below (opens in a new tab or window).

SPARCS RADAR Log In Page

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The screen shot below illustrates the opening RADAR screen.

RADAR Opening Screen

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Using RADAR to Request a Pre-Award Account

Click the screen illustrations below to go to the “Using RADAR to Request a Pre-Award Account” in Section 4 of this guide (Award Negotiations and Pre-Award Accounts), if you want to review the steps that the College Research Officer or Business Officer uses in RADAR to request a Pre-Award Account (opens in new tab or window).

Pre Award Screen Shots and Link to Step-by-Step

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Getting Help

Help Desk:
If you have trouble using RADAR, call the SPARCS helpline at 919-515-4267 or 919-515-2444 for assistance.

Unity ID:
If you have forgotten your unity ID or password, you will need to contact the main university help desk at 919-515-4357.

Online Help:
If someone with a working Unity ID and password receives an error message when trying to login to RADAR, an online option for help is also available at http://research.ncsu.edu/intranet/sparcs/pins/pins-user-id/.

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Wolfpack Reporting

In this segment, you can access, review, and save a number of resources to help you use our Wolfpack Reporting System. The reports are often called “Wolf Reports” or “WRS.”

Click the screen excerpt below to access the Wolfpack Reporting System User Guide. (Note the reference on page 3 to an e-mail link to submit questions you may have as you use Wolfpack Reporting.)

Wolf Reports Guide

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Click below to review the two-page Wolfpack Reporting System Quick Reference Guide for another resource and some tips for usage.

Link to WRS Quick Reference Guide

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The following is an example of the commonly used Report 5 from the Wolfpack Reporting System.

Sample Wolf Report 5

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 Closeout System

We use an electronic Closeout system for final reporting and documentation but there are many processes and activities that must take place on an ongoing basis to make the final Closeout accurate and timely. This section contains information on both parts of the process – ongoing project and final Closeout processes.

Here are a few important points to keep in mind regarding Closeouts:

  • The Closeout date is based on specific agency Interim or Final reporting requirements and is based on the Budget End Date rather than the Project End Date.
  • Depending on the business practice of each college, closeouts will either be prepared at the College level or routed to the Departmental Bookkeeper/Contract Manager for processing.
  • The Office of Contracts and Grants generates monthly College Closeout Lists via Report 2 Web for College contacts noting projects with end dates within the next 60 days.

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Advanced Planning is the Key!

The closeout process starts with the receipt of the award when you set up reminders concerning required annual progress reports, expenditure reports, and final technical reports as well as your ongoing tracking of expenses related to the final budget.

Closeout Starts as Soon as Get AwardAs projects near the end, use the College Closeout Lists to help you:

  • Begin checking on the status of project deliverables and final project goals and objectives
  • Request a no-cost extension if there is additional technical work to be performed (if allowable)
  • Make sure that the College Financial Reconciliation Report (i.e., Closeout) will be completed to meet the Contracts and Grants deadline: 30 days prior to the actual term date, with online Closeout completed at least two weeks prior to the term date.

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 Best Practices NCURA Video

Review this optional 2 minute Closeout – Best Practices video from the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA). It is an overview segment featuring a short commentary from another university representative sharing basic concepts that apply to our university also.

Note that these NCURA videos are useful as additional references on our SPA Guide topics, but be sure to refer to our specific university policies, procedures, and contacts when making project decisions. (Take a moment before clicking the play arrow to grab your ear buds or adjust your computer’s volume up or down to listen in your work environment.)

(Note: If the video does not download from YouTube in the space above, you can save this link to try again at a later time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYyepB-w6N4.)

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Reporting RequirementsClseout Time Frames Chart

Review this list of common reporting requirements.

Note: You can find more information University Closeout due dates on page one of the Closeout Getting Started Quick Reference Guide (also pictured/linked below).

Also, note that the CNG Due Date that is listed on the Closeout system always falls on the 1st or 15th of the month at least 15 days prior to the agency due date.

This gives CNG time to complete their required processes for final submission by the agency due date.

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Financial Consequences for Incomplete/Delinquent Closeouts

The Office of Contracts and Grants (C&G) MUST comply with sponsor deadlines. If the colleges do not provide all required documentation and deliverables to C&G by the deadline, the colleges must absorb costs that the sponsors deemed unallowable as a result of not adhering to the reporting requirements or other terms and conditions of the award.

Review the following list of the actions that must be taken by C&G and be sure to contact the Fiscal Manager assigned to your project with as much advance notice as possible if you anticipate problems. C&G staff will work with you to avoid these issues if at all possible, but without enough time or opportunity to meet the requirements by the deadline, the following consequences can occur.

  • Even without the College Financial Report (i.e., Closeout), C&G must report to meet the sponsor’s expectations using whatever data is available, which results in:
    • Reporting final costs from data in the Wolfpack Reporting System (WRS) as of the project end date which could result in legitimate expenditures NOT being billed to the sponsor
    • Any resulting direct costs that were not reported as reconciling items or trailing expenses become the responsibility of the Colleges/Departments
    • Even if the project is overspent as of the end date, C&G can only report up to the award amount
    • Unallowable costs that have been incorrectly applied to the project will not be discovered by C&G (which can result in audit findings)
  • It is rare that C&G will revise final reporting to include more in costs than previously reported.
  • If the college does not supply the Final Cost Sharing Report, C&G reports only the Effort that can be substantiated in TEARS.
  • If a No-Cost Extension is pending, the college checks this item in the Closeout system. However, review the following notice that states that the College/Department assumes all financial responsibility for expenses incurred after budget end date.

No Cost Extension Pending System Note

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Who Does What?

Review the following chart as an overview of the Closeout process. Contact your Department or College Research staff to double-check on any specific additions or variations on this process.

Closeout Flow Chart

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 Closeout System User Guide

Click to access and save the following user guide with step-by-step instructions and screen shots.

Link to User Guide

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 Getting Started Quick Reference Guide

Click to review and save the following two-page Quick Reference Guide for a number of tips and reminders about completing the Closeout process and using the Closeout system.

Closeout Quick Reference Guide

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 Top 10 Reminders Quick Reference Guide

Click to review and save the following two-page Quick Reference Guide for a number of tips and reminders about completing the Closeout process and using the Closeout system.

Closeout Top 10 Reminders

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Procedures for Closing a Fixed Price Account

The Office of Contracts and Grants has designed a specific Closeout process for Fixed Price Accounts. Click to review and save the following C&G web page for future reference:

 Link to Closing Fixed Price Account Section

The College is responsible for these Fixed price Account Closeouts. Note the following special considerations.

Remember that the following requirements apply to closing out Fixed Price Accounts:

  • The completion of all deliverables required under the fixed-price agreement
  • All costs in fulfilling the requirements of the award have been charged to the account (including appropriate salaries)
  • Residual fund transfers do not occur until receipt of full payment from the sponsor

The Closeout system has the following special fields/sections that apply.

  • A line for Direct Costs Budgeted
  • Total PROJECTED Direct Costs Budget Balance Available
  • Place to add your ledger 7 account for the balance

The Closeout User Guide (referenced above) also contains a special section on Fixed Price Accounts.

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Conflict of Interest (COI)

COI Magnifying GlassAs the magnifying glass in the title icon implies, our projects’ federal sponsors require that we “look into” research staffs’ potential conflicts of interest that could bias the design, conduct, or reporting related to the research projects.

To meet this requirement, the university has established standards and procedures that include a mandatory disclosure requirement for all faculty and EPAs, plus coverd SPAs and graduate students. For more information on when SPAs and graduate students need to complete the COI, please check out this information about positions paid from ledger 5 funds. Also, for a general FAQ on the COI system and disclosure questions, refer to Conflict of Interest Frequently Asked Questions.

We remind our faculty that the COI disclosure is not a “bad thing” but rather a way to manage any potential problems. By disclosing any possible conflicts in advance and having an approved management plan in place if necessary, the University and our researchers have protections in place in case any questions arise.

For more information on the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” related to how to manage this requirement for faculty and staff who work on our sponsored projects, review the COI section in the Regulatory Compliance section of the guide.

In the segment below, you can review the steps required to complete the online COI disclosure.

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Completing the Online COI Disclosure

Click the following screen shot to access this 5-minute narrated tutorial. You may also bookmark it for future reference.

COI Video Tutorial

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 COI Login PageLogging in to COI

If you want to log in to the COI system now, click the SPARCS log in page illustrated here (opens in new window or tab).

Then click the highlighted link as pictured on the right.

You will be required to enter your Unity ID and password.

For future access, you’ll be able to access this COI log-in link through your MyPack Portal page:

MyPack Portal Banner

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Getting Help with COI

Help Desk:
If you have trouble using the online COI disclosure system, call the specialized help desk at 919-515-4267 for assistance.

Unity ID:
If you have forgotten your unity ID or password, you will need to contact the main university help desk at 919-515-4357.

Online Help:
To access the COI online Help, you can click the Help button on all of the COI screens (as pictured in the Tutorial screen above) or go directly to COI Help for more information on common questions. It also contains a link to submit your questions via an online Help form.

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Notice of Intent (NOI)

NOI Magnifying Glass IconOnce again, as the magnifying glass on the NOI icon implies, our projects’ federal sponsors require that we “look into” research staffs’ consulting arrangements or External Professional Activities for Pay (EPAP) that might create conflicts of interest and commitment that could detract from their employment responsibilities. Any outside activities must be approved by their Department Heads as they relate to any of these areas:

  • Conflict of commitment
  • External Professional Activities for Pay (EPAP)
  • Consulting
  • Intellectual Property

To meet this requirement, the university has established standards and procedures that include a mandatory Notice of Intent (NOI) disclosure requirement. We remind our faculty that the NOI disclosure is not a “bad thing” but rather a way to manage any potential problems. By disclosing any possible issues in advance and having an approved management plan in place if necessary, the University and our researchers have protections in place in case any questions arise.

For more information on the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” related to how to manage this requirement for faculty who work on our sponsored projects, review the NOI section in the Regulatory Compliance section of the guide.

In the segment below, you can review the steps required to complete the online NOI approval process.

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 Completing the Online NOI

Click the following screen shot to access this 4-minute narrated tutorial. You may also bookmark it for future reference.

NOI Tutorial

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 Logging in to NOI

NOI Login PageIf you want to log in to the NOI system now, click the SPARCS log in page illustrated here (opens in new window or tab).

Then click the highlighted link as pictured on the right.

You will be required to enter your Unity ID and password.

For future access, you’ll be able to access this NOI log-in link through your MyPack Portal page:

MyPack Portal Banner

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Getting Help with NOI

Help Desk:
If you have trouble using the online NOI disclosure system, call the specialized help desk at 919-515-4267 for assistance.

Unity ID:
If you have forgotten your unity ID or password, you will need to contact the main university help desk at 919-515-4357.

Online Help:
To access the NOI online Help, you can click the Help button on all of the NOI screens (as pictured in the Tutorial screen above) or go directly to NOI Help for more information on common questions. It also contains a link to submit your questions via an online Help form.

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  • Send an e-mail to a University expert if your College Business Office cannot help on questions related to the Wolfpack Reporting (WRS) or Closeout system.
  • Send an e-mail to a University expert if your College Business Office cannot help on questions related to the PINS, RADAR, COI or NOI systems.
  • Send an e-mail to the webmaster for this site if you discover broken links or want to make suggestions for improvement of this guide.
Last Update: October 11, 2013