For Grant Recipients|
Following are some very important points for PEER PIs to understand and keep in mind as they work on their projects. Please read this document carefully, share the information with relevant financial and administrative staff members at your institution, and refer to it frequently as you work with your colleagues on your project during the coming years. As always, questions about any of these points may be sent to email@example.com or directly to your assigned grant manager.
|Can PEER grant recipients use the funding to support a visiting scientist from the United States, including for workshops? |
No. Visiting scientists from the U.S. should obtain travel funds directly from the U.S. Government agencies sponsoring their own awards, even if the purpose of the visit is to present at or attend a PEER-funded workshop.
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As noted in your grant agreement, you are required to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for review and approval of flight itineraries before you buy any tickets for international air travel using these grant funds. This requirement is made to ensure compliance with the Fly America regulations, by which you must use U.S. air carriers to the maximum extent available. The fact that a ticket on a foreign airline may be cheaper than a ticket on a U.S. airline does not provide any exemption from the Fly America rules. These rules cover all tickets to be purchased using your PEER grant funds for travel outside the boundaries of your country. Tickets for travel entirely within your country do not require NAS pre-approval. If you or your staff members purchase international air tickets without obtaining approval, you face a very serious risk of violating the travel rules. If you violate these rules, the expenses will be disallowed, and you would have to cover the costs with other non-PEER funds. Please take these travel rules seriously and make sure all staff working on your PEER project are aware of them, so that problems may be avoided.
If any portion of the cost of a visit to the United States will be covered using your PEER grant funds, then the visitor must travel on a USAID-sponsored J-1 visa unless that visitor is receiving salary from the PEER grant. For a visitor who is not receiving salary from the PEER grant, even if he or she already has an active, multi-year, multi-entry U.S. visa of another type (for example, B-1), USAID’s regulations do not allow him or her to use that visa to visit the United States using PEER grant funds, and such visitors must obtain the USAID-sponsored J-1 visa. The USAID-sponsored J-1 visa will cover only the time that visitors will be in the United States for activities directly connected with their PEER projects, and the visa period cannot be extended to cover travel on other unrelated business, visits to family or friends, or sightseeing. To avoid stress and disappointment, please notify me at least 3 months in advance of any visits to the United States on the project (for Pakistan, the lead time required is 6 months). To obtain the required J-1 visa, the official visa invitation (DS-2019 form) will be issued directly by USAID and not by your U.S. partner’s university or other U.S. host. This will require a minimum of 3 months lead time, as there are many forms that must be completed, sent to my office, approved by our PEER program manager at USAID here in Washington, and then sent to the USAID mission in your country for final approval through the TraiNet/VCS system. If the visitor will be staying 30 days or more, a medical examination may need to be completed by an approved doctor or clinic. The visa applicant may also need to complete a separate interview with USAID mission staff before proceeding with his or her official visa interview at the U.S. Embassy. Once you know the name(s) of the proposed visitor(s) to the United States and the dates and purpose of the visit(s), please contact me for further instructions and forms related to the visa application procedures. On this message, please also copy my colleague, Ms. Lina Stankute-Alexander (email@example.com), as she will be assisting with the visa application process. Even if a visitor receives PEER salary and will travel on another type of visa than the USAID-sponsored J-1, I must still keep a record of his or her travel and approve all air tickets in advance, as noted before. For project-related travel to other countries besides the United States, if a visa is required you will need to work directly with your contacts in those countries to provide any visa invitations required.
In the process of assisting with U.S. visa applications for any visitors to the United States on your PEER project, your NAS grant manager will make arrangements for the visitors’ medical insurance coverage, with the costs to be paid directly by NAS. If your project involves travel to other countries besides the United States, you will need to arrange medical insurance coverage for the travelers on those trips. The cost of this coverage is an allowable expense that should be charged to your grant.
You will be responsible for submitting an annual technical and financial report. Depending on your grant start date, your annual report due date will vary, but your NAS grant manager will notify you approximately 6 weeks in advance of that due date. Copies of the report formats for both the technical and financial reports were included as part of your grant agreement.
In addition to your annual progress reports, you are also required to submit brief quarterly reports, which will be due each year on January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15. The report format will be provided to you by your NAS grant manager. Use the grant management system to submit your reports.
Please be sure that you and your financial staff keep careful records of all spending on your PEER project. Receipts must be kept on file to document purchases of equipment, supplies, and travel, as well as payments of salaries and students stipends. You will need to include copies of the receipts with your annual financial report, and they must also be available upon request by PEER or USAID staff at any time in case of questions. If you or your financial staff have any questions about whether a particular expense is allowable, please do not hesitate to contact your us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following are links to multi-lingual documents covering various financial and administrative practices presented in training workshops that many of your program staff may have taken:
Expenses of U.S. Government (USG)-Supported Partners
You are not allowed to use the PEER grant funds you have received to cover the expenses of your U.S. partner or other people from other countries who were not listed in your approved PEER proposal unless you receive my specific, written approval. If you wish to host your U.S. partner (for example, to teach a training course or speak at a workshop), your partner’s expenses should generally be covered by his or her existing U.S. government agency funding. If that award budget does not already include approved funds for such travel, your partner should contact the program director who manages his or her grant to ask about obtaining an international supplement. Information on supplements for NSF-funded researchers may be found here. In exceptional cases where your U.S. partner cannot obtain other funds and he or she must provide urgently needed training to you and your project team, your NAS grant manager may be able to approve your request to use PEER funds only to cover your U.S. partner’s travel and living expenses while in your country. No salary costs or honoraria for U.S. partners can be covered. Please contact your grant manager to discuss this issue if you need to request approval for covering the travel costs of U.S. partners.
With the exception of when you might receive free or reduced-cost goods or services from USAID's partner organization Planet NI, any time you buy a piece of equipment or a service that costs more than $5,000, the terms of your PEER grant agreement require that you must get bids from three vendors. Records of these bids must be kept in your grant files along with a note on reasons for the final selection to show that the vendor offering the best overall value was selected. Certainly, the vendor offering the equipment or service at the lowest price should receive first consideration, but other factors may also be taken into account, such as delivery time, ability of the vendor to provide repairs and maintenance on the equipment, and past experience (good or bad) that your institution has with this vendor. If you need advice on the bid process, please contact us at email@example.com. In addition, please note that you are no longer required to buy only from U.S. vendors. You may buy equipment, other goods, and services from any country that is not under a U.S. or international embargo. Again, please contact us with questions.
Participants in the PEER program are urged to make every effort to ensure that women are included and involved in their projects to the maximum extent possible (as researchers, students, workshop or conference participants, etc.). The annual report form for your project includes a request for data on the participation of women, so please be sure to track this as you carry out project activities.
Another key goal of our sponsors at USAID is that we all strive to publicize our projects and their impacts more broadly. Program participants are strongly encouraged to help spread the word about their PEER activities. For example, you might work with your organization to see if they could issue a press release coinciding with a visit or other activity on your project (and please send us a copy or link regarding such releases so that they can be forwarded to our sponsors). You might also create a video or blog about your project. If you do post a website, video, or blog, please send a link to firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be added to the webpage that has been created about your project.
Branding and Marking
USAID requires that PIs must include the USAID logo on websites and written materials for public distribution that are produced with PEER grant funds. Such written materials would include conference and workshop agendas and programs, banners, brochures or booklets promoting your project, etc. Please note that the logo does not need to be included in articles you publish in journals. Click here to obtain electronic versions of the USAID logo in various sizes, languages, and formats for both print and Web use. In addition, major equipment items you have bought using your PEER funds should also be marked with adhesive USAID logo labels, which will be sent to you at the time your grant agreement becomes active. This requirement does not apply if applying the label would hinder use of the equipment or otherwise compromise the safety of program participants. Please contact your NAS grant manager if you need additional labels or did not receive a supply already.
Further Funding Opportunities
Further Funding Opportunities: NSF sponsors a new webpage called Newton’s List (http://newtonslist.crdfglobal.org/) that features opportunities for grants supporting collaboration in international research and education. In addition, PEER PIs and applicants also have the opportunity to be considered for additional research assistance in the form of free or discounted equipment, software, and training from Planet NI, a foundation that is part of the company National Instruments.