BASIC STEPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL SUBCONTRACT SUBMISSION
- Make sure the University PI is in agreement with your project design and deliverables.
- Complete the Purchase Request Worksheet.
- Complete your Scope of Work documentation.
- Complete the forms designated in Steps 7 and 8 (these can be downloaded from the bottom grey area of any page in this site).
- Submit your Purchase Request agreement with each of the completed supporting documentation.
- After your submit your Subcontract Purchase Request allow 2-4 weeks for the purchasing agent (or buyer) to contact the university and formalize the contract.
- All Educational R&D subcontracts are for unclassified work that is able to be published in open literature.
- A basic subcontract is defined as a contract with no work-on-site or other complicating requirements.
- Get specific instructions for work-on-site subcontracts.
HOW LONG SHOULD THE PROCESS TAKE?
- As soon as your documents are filled out and submitted—which may require some time as the LANL PI and the University PI must discuss the project and come to agreements—then ASSM at LANL begins to execute the subcontract.
- The time from when a purchase request is submitted to when it is approved varies greatly depending on the quality of the documents submitted, time of year (how busy ASSM purchasers are), how quickly the LANL PI and the University return required documents, and if the University takes exception to any of the terms and conditions.
- In general, six to eight weeks is reasonable turnaround for a basic subcontract without any extenuating issues.
- Note: All subcontracts with the University of California and Texa A&M will require additional DOE approval as they are affiliate partners, which adds to processing time.
The LANL Principal Investigator (Requester) and the University Principal Investigator must discuss the proposed collaboration and determine:
- Potential research topics and scope of work
- Deliverables and deadlines
- Resources and funding availability
Why do we call it a “Subcontract” and not a “Contract”: LANL is managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, under contract to the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). LANS is the “contractor.” LANS then holds an agreement with a university, hence, the university is the “subcontractor.”
Definitions: Understanding the names of key players and how they are often used interchangeably can help to avoid misunderstandings. Some examples:
- LANL Requester, PI, Principal Investigator, STR, AdSTR, Administrative Subcontract Technical Representative, etc.
- LANL Contract Administrator, Buyer, ASM, Acquisition Services Management, etc.
- University Grants and Contracts, Sponsored Programs, Accounting, External Funding, Administration, Office of…, etc
The process of filling out the PR Worksheet will help you collect and consolidate information and identify additional forms that may be required. Submit the PR Worksheet with your Purchase Request to help you efficiently communicate to Procurement what your needs are.
University Contact Information: Ask your University PI for the appropriate University Administrator contact information to include on the PR Worksheet and Form 6351. The University Administrator will generally work in a “Grants and Contracts Administration Office” or similar office. Ensure they are included in preliminary discussions at the university to help facilitate the formal proposal process.
Use Exhibit D: Scope of Work and Technical Specifications (doc) to develop a Scope of Work that is:
- Collaborative: developed jointly between LANL PI (Requester) and University PI
- Clear and Concise: understandable to both technical and lay personnel
- Performance Based: defines “what” vs. “how”
The Scope of Work does not need to be overly detailed and should not be a copy of a technical abstract. Keep it simple and easy to understand.
Evolving Research: If this is a multi-year subcontract and you are unable to define the technical scope for “out” years due to the evolving nature of your research, keep the scope general and include a “Deliverable” (noted below in Step 6) that requires collaborative development of specific annual technical scope and deliverables at the beginning of each year. This allows you to set up a multi-year subcontract without having to change the scope of work each year.
Clear expectations should be set between the entities on who pays for what, and descriptions of special items (but no dollar amounts) should be identified in the scope of work.
University expenses allowed by LANL can include the following:
- Salaries: Faculty and/or student wages, benefits and overhead; note that university administrative staff is generally not included.
- Tuition/Fees: LANL may pay up to one quarter/semester at the beginning of the quarter/semester; all other tuition costs are reimbursable (payable to the University after costs incurred).
- Specific Materials and Supplies: Specific consumables required for technical work allowed; general office supplies are not allowed.
- Equipment: Government Furnished Property (GFP) or Subcontractor Acquired Property (SAP); note that disposition at end of subcontract varies depending upon type of property.
- Laptops and Computers: Need justification; restriction on certain types of funding such as LDRD would be similar as if spending at LANL; can be either Government Furnished Property (GFP) or Subcontractor Acquired Property (SAP); disposition at end of subcontract varies depending upon type of property.
- Domestic Travel: Technical visits to LANL encouraged, especially for students (less than 10 days/12 months for meetings do not require additional Exhibits per Subcontract Documents).
- Foreign Travel: Must be strongly justified; requires the LANL Requester to process additional DOE written pre-approvals and the university to submit all receipts for reimbursement; unless compelling justification foreign travel is strongly discouraged due to compliance issues.
- PR Amount: The amount of funding the Purchase Request is submitted for; is an estimate only; will show up in Oracle financial reports as an Outstanding Commitment.
- Incremental Funding: Partial funding, with additional funds anticipated to be provided at a later time; funds are normally added on October 1 but can be added anytime depending upon the project and funding source.
- First Year Increment: The amount of funding that will added to the subcontract the first year.
- Ceiling: The sum of all years’ incremental funding, established at the beginning of the contract; may be modified if additional funding added.
- Approved Funding: The total funding that has been approved to date.
- Approved Cost Proposal: The proposed budgets that are approved as part of the formal proposal process.
- Outstanding Commitment: The Total Approved Funding LESS Costs (shown in Oracle financial reports).
- Taxes: Educational R&D Subcontracts are subject to G&A and LDRD taxes on the LANL side (consult your CFO Financial Contact for current rates); Universities normally apply their own overhead.
How Long Can I Write a Subcontract For: Subcontracts can be written for up to five years (or in the case of LDRD, up to three). Certain Reimbursable codes may have specific terms.
Multi-year Subcontracts: It is critical to establish the original subcontract for multiple years from the start, with first year incremental funding, and annual incremental funding after that. Trying to set up a single year subcontract thinking to save time and planning to deal with out years later is a false economy. In reality, adding an additional year to a single year subcontract requires a request to the university for a new proposal and resubmittal to NIRT (See Step 8) – in essence – nearly as many steps as a new subcontract – and nearly as much work for you, the LANL Contract Administrator, and the university. Set expectations in early discussions with the university and estimate budgets for out years as closely as you can. You can always request changes to budgets for out years, or even cancel them completely depending upon funding availability. But if funding remains as planned, adding incremental funding for the out year is a very simple Purchase Request to “Accept Approved Cost Proposal” followed by a very simple modification.
All discussions up to this point are informal and no commitment on either party is implied or made.
Once a Purchase Request is submitted, the LANL Contract Administrator with LANL’s Acquisition and Services Management (ASM) Division will send a formal Request for Proposal to the University, at which time the University will prepare a formal Proposal in response, and, if both parties agree to all Terms and Conditions, an executed subcontract will result.
If any of these special situations are required they should be included in the “Scope of Work” under “Other Requirements”. In general, having a completed, or at least a draft, Exhibit D – Scope of Work to submit with your request as noted below will assist in completing the requirements and mitigate any potential delays.
- Software as a Deliverable: Requires a formal review of the Statement of Work by LANL Feynman Center for Innovation (FCI) initiated prior to submittal of Purchase Request. Submit your completed Exhibit D – Scope of Work with your Software Review Form to FCI.
- LANL Data Stored on Non-LANL Computers: Requires Exhibit G-Cyber Security (you will need a LANL cryptocard). Initiate your request here early in the process. The final Exhibit G-Cyber Security returned to you will be submitted with your Purchase Request. You can track your submission here in the Footprints system if you have a cryptocard.
- Working with the New Mexico Consortium: If your Subcontract will be with the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) you will need to contact the LANL National Security Education Center (NSEC) Office's representative Alan Hurd for prior approval. Submit approval documentation from NSEC with your Purchase Request.
- Access to LANL Networks (Excluding Green): This is considered “Work-on-Site”. Proceed as a “Work-on-Site” Subcontract.
- Work “On-site” at LANL: requires additional Exhibits for Safety, Security and ES&H. Proceed as a “Work-on-Site” Subcontract.
- Property: If LANL is providing “Government Furnished Property” to the university, descriptions of the property should be included under “Other Requirements” and a list of equipment and associated property numbers should be submitted with the Purchase Request for inclusion in the subcontract.
The Scope of Work is entirely customizable – add any unique requirements under “Work Included” or “Work Not Included” sections, as appropriate for your project.
How to Get a PR Number: For some of these Special Requirements you must have a “PR Number” to submit with your request. Your LANL DPR (Designated Procurement Representative) should be able to go into the Oracle system and open a Purchase Request to create the PR Number for you. Having this number will allow requests to track back to the Subcontract.
University R&D Subcontracts are not grants, and the “Deliverables” section of the “Scope of Work” is the critical part of the agreement that provides for documentation of what LANL is receiving in exchange for funding. Using the principals of “SMART” goals are generally sound:
Sample deliverables are included in the “Scope of Work” template, but feel free to customize best to fit your individual needs.
How Do We Write Deliverables When We Don’t Know Where the Research Will Go: These are subcontracts for Research and Development Services so it is not an expectation that exact technical deliverables can be written for each of five years. One deliverable example due at the beginning of each fiscal year: “SUBCONTRACTOR will coordinate with the LANL AdSTR to develop project specific technical deliverables for the upcoming year.”
Students/Postdocs: University Subcontracts often involve students and postdocs and experience has shown that the most successful projects include clear requirements in these areas:
- Regular Progress Reports such as monthly emails; video or teleconferencing with participation of both the LANL and University PIs.
- Tangible goals such as submittal of a paper/poster/presentation to a professional journal or conference as appropriate.
- Specific technical goals, often defined at the beginning of the academic year; per quarter/semester.
- Travel to/from LANL for purpose of a technical visit, to provide a briefing, etc., is particularly valuable especially where potential recruitment of the student is desired.
What if I am Using G&A, LDRD, or Reimbursable Funding: It is important to remember if you have restrictions on your funding. For example, G&A funding cannot be used for research but could be used for student development. LDRD generally limits funding to three years so a subcontract cannot be written beyond the end date of the LDRD code. There may be restrictions on purchase of computers or other equipment. Reimbursables often have specific end dates or other restrictions. Contact your Budget Analyst if you have specific questions.
This is a required form and you should be able to take most of the information needed off of the “PR Worksheet”. The LANL Requester signs and scans.
Note that this form is unique to Educational R&D Subcontracts and replaces the need for a Non-Competitive Justification.
- The PR# is not required.
- The “Principal Investigator” and the “Administrative Contact” are the University contacts.
- Be sure to check “Yes” or “No” in the last box just above the “PR#” at the bottom of the page. It is often missed.
This required form must also be submitted with the Purchase Request The named individual should be the University Principal Investigator. There will be at least one NIRT for each Purchase Request. Be sure to address each of the four questions in Part 1 and secure both LANL Requester and LANL Group Leader signatures.
There will be at least one NIRT for each Purchase Request. But not necessarily for each additional staff and/or student.
You will need to submit a NIRT form for each “Named” individual. If, for example, the LANL PI “selects” a university student, then that student is “named”. If the university “selects” the student and LANL simply approves the selection, then the student is not named by LANL and a NIRT is not needed.
LANL “Selects” University Staff or Student = Named Individual (Form 3042 Required)
University “Selects” with LANL Approval = Not Named Individual and form not required
- Once all forms and signatures are complete, scan and/or file all documents.
- Exhibit D must be submitted in WORD FORMAT.
- All other attachments may be in PDF format.
- Submit a Purchase Request including all attachments.
The time it takes ASSM to execute a subcontract from when a purchase request is submitted varies greatly depending on the quality of the documents submitted, time of year (how busy they are), how quickly the LANL PI and the University return required documents, and if the University takes exception to any of the terms and conditions. In general, six to eight weeks is reasonable turnaround for a basic subcontract without any extenuating issues.
Note: all subcontracts with the University of California and Texa A&M will require additional DOE approval as they are affiliate partners, which adds to processing time.
After the PR is submitted, check with your DPR to see who needs to sign off in Oracle on the PR. Managers are more likely to sign off on the PR if they are aware of the project ahead of time and that the PR is pending their signature. It is the responsibility of the LANL Requester to socialize this information with their line managers.
Save all forms in both original and pdf format. For future modifications the original format can be simply opened, modified and saved, instead of having to recreate documents from saved pdfs.
The LANL Contract Administrator (also known as the “Buyer”) will send a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) to the University (generally to their Grants and Contracts Administrator) who will respond with the formal Proposal.
Once the PR is submitted all communications between the University and LANL generally go through the LANL Contract Administrator and the University Grants and Contracts Administrator as part of the formal proposal process.
Questions during this time should be directed to the Contract Administrator.
The LANL Requester will be sent the Proposal with a Technical Evaluation Form. To keep the process moving be sure to fill out the Technical Evaluation Report completely and return to the LANL Contract Administrator quickly.
Note: Remember that no work can begin until all parties are notified by the LANL Contract Administrator with an Executed Subcontract.