The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws

OMB Circulars

OMB Circular A-110

OMB Circular A-110 establishes uniform administrative requirements for federal grants and agreements awarded to institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations. Federal awarding agencies may not impose additional or inconsistent requirements, except as provided. Records must be kept for three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report. See the Chart on the OMB page for codification of grant requirements by Departments

70 Fed. Reg. 4159, Jan. 28, 2005 Notice of proposed issuance of policy on terms and conditions for grants under Federal research and research-related programs.

The Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), a streamlining initiative of ten Federal awarding offices and 92 academic and nonprofit research institutions, developed a core set of FDP terms and conditions that it has been using for several years for the implementation of OMB Circular A-110, ``Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations,'' (2 CFR part 215). The Office of Science and Technology Policy a (OSTP) and the Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM) request comment on making the FDP terms and conditions a government-wide standard, and broadening their use to all academic and nonprofit grantees, under Federal research and research-related programs. The proposed policy directive also instructs Federal agencies to minimize the degree to which they supplement the core set with agency-specific, program-specific, or award-specific terms and conditions. The OSTP and OFFM also endorsed the use of a standard form developed by the Federal Demonstration Partnership, in cases where institutions agree to share grant money from a single grant.

Public Access to Research Data

See the Department of Education implementation of the OMB revision to Circular A-110 making research data available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This interim rule was published at 65 Fed. Reg. 14,405 (March 16, 2000). The revisions are effective April 15, 2000. The OMB has stated it will most likely be three years before a legitimate FOIA request can be made, as the revisions only apply to new awards after the effective date of the rule, and a federal rule based on federally-funded research usually takes at least that long.

Research data is defined as the "recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate researching findings, but not any of the following: preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues. This 'recorded' material excludes physical objects (e.g., laboratory samples). Research data also do not include: (A) Trade secrets, commercial information, materials necessary to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published, or similar information which is protected under the law; and (B) Personnel and medical information and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as information that could be used to identify a particular research subject in a research study."

OMB defines published as "either when: (A) Research findings are published in a peer-reviewed scientific or technical journal; or (B) A Federal agency publicly and officially cites the research findings in support of an agency action that has the force and effect of law."

Based on the comments submitted (over 9000 in all), the OMB decided that applying FOIA to data "used by the Federal Government in Developing Policy or Rules" would cause implementation problems if the scope extended to agency actions such as guidance, surveys, assessments and reports. OMB believes the need for public access to data would be less for agency actions that do not have the force and effect of law or are not subject to judicial review. OMB believes that the reasonable fee an agency could charge is separate from the FOIA fee an agency could assess.

OMB granted deference to the traditional scientific process and did not construe the statute to require scientists to make research date publicly available while research is ongoing. When the request is received by the federal awarding agency, it will pass the request along to the recipient for an assessment of the costs of complying with the request for information. When the recipient sends the research data to the agency, it should include an accounting for associated costs. The federal agency will seek reimbursement from the FOIA requester and reimburse the institution.

If this is not adequate, OMB will consider revising OMB Circular A-21 "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions" as necessary to ensure institutions are reimbursed for the costs of complying with this new law.


OMB circulars


updated 4/4/13 CCR