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Agreements (ERS Corner)

ERS Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When should I use a Grant?
Q. When should I use an Assistance Type Cooperative Agreement (ATCA)?
Q. When should I use a Specific Cooperative Agreement (SCA)?
Q. When should I use a Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement (RCA)?
Q. When should I use a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?
Q. When should I use a Contract?
Q. What is the definition of "Mutual Interest"?
Q. If a non-Federal organizations wants to reimburse or pay "only" travel expenses for a Federal employee, does an Extramural agreement need to be executed?

Q. When should I use a Grant?

A. When your principle purpose is to transfer money, property, services, or anything of value to the recipient to stimulate or carry out a public purpose with no involvement anticipated by the agency during the performance of the activity.

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Q. When should I use an Assistance Type Cooperative Agreement (ATCA)?

A. When your principle purpose is to transfer money, property, services, or anything of value to the recipient to stimulate or carry out a public purpose and substantial involvement is anticipated between the agency and the recipient during the performance of the activity.

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Q. When should I use a Specific Cooperative Agreement (SCA)?

A. When there is a research program or project that will be jointly planned, executed, and funded where there is a documented mutuality of interest in the program objectives.

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Q. When should I use a Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement (RCA)?

A. Under the same circumstances as a TFCA except the other party (Cooperator) pays when billed by the agency for work completed.

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Q. When should I use a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

A. When you require a written legal plan for cooperation in carrying out a new or ongoing research activity that does not require the exchange of funds between parties. Cooperation in the execution of the MOU places emphasis on working together toward common goals of mutual interest, rather than in the sharing of funds in research activities. All parties exercise their own authority independently but cooperatively and maintain independent control of it's own resources.

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Q. When should I use a Contract?

A. To acquire specific goods and services which directly benefits the federal government (agency). A contract establishes a buyer-seller relationship. Responsibility for these arrangements lies with the Procurement and Property Division. (Link to PPD)

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Q. What is the definition of "Mutual Interest"?

A. The Office of General Council (OGC), in a written opinion dated Feb. 11, 1985, rendered its interpretation of what constitutes mutuality of interest. The opinion reads, " A mutual interest in the objectives of the agreement exists when each of the parties to the agreement has a need for a good or service and they pool their resources to obtain their joint interests. In that circumstance, the parties would have the same interest in the direct result of the agreement, even though the ultimate use of that result by the parties may be diverse. If each party to the agreement independently would have an interest in obtaining the good or service, shared by each of the other parties to the agreement, than a mutual interest exists. Cooperative agreements entered into pursuant to this authority should be scrutinized to determine whether there actually is a mutual interest in the direct result of the agreement."

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Q. If a non-Federal organizations wants to reimburse or pay "only" travel expenses for a Federal employee, does an Extramural agreement need to be executed?

A. No, an Extramural agreement does not need to be established for a non-Federal organization to only pay travel expenses for a Federal employee.

Reimbursement of these expenses should be handled by the appropriate travel office.

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Last Updated 03/17/2009

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