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School of Medicine

Requirements for Faculty with Joint VCU/VAMC Appointments and Externally Funded Research

VCU Faculty who hold paid appointments at VCU and also have a paid appointment at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) are considered to be faculty holding a joint VCU/VAMC appointment. This relationship is quite common between academic medical centers and VAMCs.

The federal government requires that Faculty Investigators who hold joint university and VAMC appointments define their total professional responsibility between the two institutions by disclosing and documenting their time spent on research and other activities at both institutions no less than annually.  This disclosure is done through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) approved by appropriate individuals at both the university and VAMC.

The VCU School of Medicine has developed guidance and an MOU template to aid investigators and their department administration in ensuring the MOU is completed and approved no less than annually

SOM Guidance for Joint Appointment MOUs

VA MOU Template

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is an MOU required for faculty conducting research who holds a joint VCU/VAMC appointment?

The MOU is required in order to clearly document how much total professional effort of a faculty member is available for research for both the university and VAMC appointments.  The MOU further certifies that there is no possibility of dual compensation [payment by more than one entity for the same effort] for the same work or of an actual or apparent conflict of interest.

What is the difference between total professional effort and university effort?

The NIH defines total professional effort as the total (100 percent) professional responsibilities of an investigator for their efforts at both the university and VAMC. University effort is 100 percent of the activity funded under the VCU institutional base salary. The institutional base salary is the total of VCU and MCVP salary as applicable. The percent effort proposed in a university grant application is the percent of university effort. A conversion must be made when translating the university committed effort to total professional effort for joint appointment MOU reporting purposes.

What is a VA "eighths" appointment?

VA appointments are often referred to as a VA Tour of Duty and are categorized in eighths and based on a 40 hour work week.  Each VA eighth represents 5 hours.  Example - A 5/8 VA appointment is equivalent to a 25 hour work week ((5/8)*40)=25.

Is VA salary included as part of total compensation when budgeting for VCU proposal submissions?

No. The salary used for VCU proposal submissions is an investigator’s institutional base salary. This is the total of the VCU and MCVP salaries as applicable. The NIH sets guidelines in determining institutional base salaries. Since salary earned from a VAMC is paid through a separate, federally-funded paycheck, this compensation is not included in the VCU institutional base salary.

How do you determine if compensation exceeds the NIH Salary Cap when having a joint appointment with the VA?

The salary used for university proposal submissions (institutional base salary) is the compensation used for the purpose of determining whether an investigator is over the NIH salary cap.

Should a joint appointment be disclosed in an application for funding?

Yes.  Any faculty member holding a joint VCU/VAMC appointment should disclose the joint appointment in the budget justification of an application for funding. 

Should I include my VA-funded research in my Other Support pages?

Yes. Sponsors are expecting disclosure of all research, regardless of funding. Investigators should be certain to clarify when representing effort on Other Support pages to clearly indicate whether they are using total professional effort or the university effort only.

When I certify my VCU effort reports do I have to report effort for my VAMC activities?

No. The VCU effort report is a reflection of the work performed under your VCU institutional base salary. This is the total of the VCU and MCVP salaries as applicable. Only university effort is reported on VCU effort reports.