Overview of Capstone Agreement Options
Experiential learning through student projects with external sponsors is an opportunity for students to gain real-world experience in their chosen discipline. The Overview of Capstone Administration Process, along with the utilization of the current pre-approved template agreements, has been established to increase the efficiency of the administration of externally sponsored student projects. Implementation of these tools will allow the instructor’s focus to be on engaging students rather than negotiating contracts, and will allow sponsors to more quickly and simply engage Texas A&M. In order to facilitate further efficiencies and increased local control, post-award administration of capstone projects will be managed within the Texas A&M department/college.
The capstone agreement process has been approved by the college’s academic leadership and Texas A&M Research Administration (TAMRA). Minor changes may be allowed to meet special needs of a department and would need to be approved by TAMRA prior to implementation.
Department Heads may execute any agreements utilizing the unaltered templates described in the first four options below. Copies of all executed capstone agreements must be submitted to TAMRA.
The following options are listed in order from most preferable to least preferable:
Option 1 – Capstone Letter Agreement
(This template must be used for any unfunded capstone projects.) The current approved Capstone Letter Agreement should be the first option provided to potential sponsors, as it requires no negotiation and can be immediately executed.
Note: Unfunded capstone projects may not require intellectual property (IP) assignment by the students.
Option 2 – Capstone Letter Agreement including confidentiality
If the sponsor of a funded capstone project wishes to include standard confidentiality terms, the current approved Capstone Letter Agreement together with the current approved Capstone Student NDA Agreement template should be utilized.
Option 3 – Capstone Agreement
If the sponsor of a funded capstone project requires a more formal agreement than the Capstone Simple Letter Agreement, the current approved Standard Capstone Agreement template should be utilized. If the sponsor requires disclosure of confidential information to the students in connection with the Project, this template should be utilized and the sponsor should also be provided the signed Student Nondisclosure Agreement template.
Option 4 – Capstone Agreement with Student IP
If the sponsor of a funded capstone project requires a more formal agreement along with assignment of student IP, the current approved Capstone Agreement template should be utilized along with the current approved Capstone Student IP Agreement template. The student, at his/her option, may sign the Capstone Student IP Agreement template.
Option 5 – Negotiated Capstone
If the sponsor of a funded capstone project will not agree to utilize one of the above 4 options and the project is high impact for the college and department, a full contract negotiation may be requested by the Department Head. During the negotiation process, the agreement may involve legal review by the System Office of General Counsel and/or the sponsor’s legal department. These additional layers of review and approval will likely result in delays up to several months.
Third parties have the option to provide gifts to departments. Gift funding may be utilized by the department to offer capstone opportunities; however, the donor may not put restrictions on the funding and there shall be no deliverables, restrictions on confidentiality, or intellectual property terms associated with the gift.
Proposals are not required for capstone projects. No expenses for faculty or research staff effort is allowable on a capstone agreement, otherwise it becomes a sponsored project requiring a full proposal, complete with a budget for estimated costs including full F&A application.
Questions and comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Capstone Agreement Templates
Questions and comments may be directed to Katherine Kissmann, Director of Research Contracts, at email@example.com.
Overview of Capstone Administration Process
- No proposals are required.
- Capstone projects will not be administered by Texas A&M Sponsored Research Services (SRS) or set up in Maestro. Agreements will be tracked by the Texas A&M Research Administration office (TAMRA).
- Prior to execution of a Capstone template, the department should provide the name of the potential sponsor to TAMRA so that restricted party and state vendor hold screening can be documented. TAMRA will confirm to the department that the sponsor is eligible to continue in this process, or will work with the sponsor to attempt to clear any issues found during the screening steps.
- No faculty or research staff effort is allowable on a capstone agreement’s statement of work or budget. If faculty/researcher effort is required by the sponsor in order to complete the scope of work, it is deemed a sponsored project and requires full indirect costs. Capstone-related faculty and staff effort may be expensed on a capstone account but such effort shall not be specifically required under an individual agreement.
- The department should utilize the most current approved Capstone Letter Agreement or template agreement options provided by TAMRA as approved by the Office of General Counsel (OGC). If the sponsor will not agree to utilize an unaltered, approved template, then the agreement will need to be reviewed, negotiated and approved by TAMRA and OGC.
- Unfunded capstone agreements may not include the requirement of student intellectual property assignment to the sponsor.
- Unfunded capstone agreements must utilize the unaltered Capstone Letter Agreement template.
- An account will be established by TAMRA in the FAMIS financial system. The account number will be in the restricted funds range of accounts (Ledger 4). Funds are subject to the terms of Capstone agreements and are restricted for use to expenditures related to the Capstone projects, including faculty and/or staff effort involved in coordinating projects.
- Accounts will be coded for reporting with the “Instruction” function. Capstone projects are required in order for a student to receive credit for an academic course.
- Accounts will be assigned at the academic department level, such as one account per department.
- If the department requires more detailed accounting and tracking of expenses, the department may create support accounts.
- The department may request more than one account, if needed. For instance, separate accounts may be requested for each Professor of Practice within a department.
- The responsible person on the account should be either the Department Head or the Professor of Practice.
- There will be no end dates on accounts. The department may spend funds as long as the department has active Capstone projects.
- Account Revenues:
- Departments will be responsible for depositing funds and working with Texas A&M Financial Management Operations (FMO) to ensure deposit of funds received from sponsors into the account(s). The iPayments application should be used to process accounts receivable invoices and deposits electronically. Refer to Texas A&M’s Financial Management Operations procedures at https://fmo.tamu.edu/sales-receivables/docs/ipayments.html.
- If the sponsor does not make payment upon execution of the Capstone agreement, the department or FMO will be responsible for following up with the sponsor. For any sponsors with unpaid invoice after 120 days, the sponsor may be placed on State vendor hold and the invoice may be written off at year-end as bad debt.
- If the sponsor requires an invoice, the department is responsible for creating the invoice using iPayments and sending it to the sponsor. Once the invoice is created in iPayments, a receivable is posted to the Capstone account and budget authority becomes available for expenditure. If the sponsor is not set up as a customer, the department is responsible for obtaining a customer information form from the sponsor and submitting it to FMO so a customer can be set up for the sponsor: https://it-lf-ecmf.tamu.edu/Forms/Initiate-Customer-Information-Form. A customer number must be established before an invoice can be generated. Department should open the link and complete the information on the form. Agency name is the agency the requestor represents. Dept. Code is the requestor’s department code with the agency prefix. Enter the customer contact name and email address, customer name and email address, and the company name and Click Submit. This will launch an email to the customer contact from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If a Capstone account number does not appear in iPayments, a request should be sent to Texas A&M FMO to add the FAMIS account. The request to add a FAMIS account number in iPayments may be completed online at: https://forms.tamuds.tamu.edu/ipayment-request/.
- Only revenues from Capstone projects are allowed in the Capstone accounts.
- Revenue received from sponsors should be coded as follows:
- Subcode 0254 – Local Sponsor such as City, County, ISD
- Subcode 0255 – Private Sponsor
- Subcode 0256 – Foreign Sponsor
- Subcode 0260 – Federal Lab
- Budget – The account will generate the budget automatically when a deposit is made into the account. (Will activate GEB attribute – Generate Expense Budget in FAMIS at time the account is created.)
- Expenditures – All expenditures must support the department’s Capstone projects/program.
- Transfers of funds to other FAMIS accounts are not allowed except for a transfer between other Ledger 4 accounts. (i.e. if there are remaining funds from a current Capstone account which is currently managed by SRS, the transfer of funds into the new series of Capstone accounts for the same department is allowable).
- If funds are received for a Capstone project from a federal sponsor, a separate support account is required to account for these funds since they must be identified by the sponsor and source of federal funds (CFDA number – Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) for year-end reporting.
Questions and comments may be directed to email@example.com
Agreements and Negotiations
Katherine V. Kissmann, Director of Research Contracts
Janet Killion, Director of Research Reporting
Texas A&M Financial Management Operations, Sales and Receivables
Stacie Sodolak, Assistant Director, Financial Management Services