Pilot Project at Michigan Tech Leads to Federal Regulations Changes

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Michigan Technological University participated in a national pilot project that helped the federal government revise its regulations to make a major reduction in the number of federal certification forms and the administrative follow-up paperwork on federal research grants.

Michigan Tech's Board of Trustees were told about the pilot project and the regulations changes at their regular Board meeting Friday, March 3. 

Michigan Tech and three other universities—George Mason, the University of California-Irvine and the University of California-Riverside—participated in a pilot project designed to develop an alternative method for certifying labor expended on federally funded projects. Julie Seppala, vice president for finance, and Tammy LaBissioniere, director of sponsored programs accounting, led the pilot program at Tech.

Using the new method, Michigan Tech was able to reduce the number of certification forms from 7,000 to 700 a year and the number of administrative follow-up forms from 3,500 to 35 a year.  Based on the results of the pilot, the US Office of Management and Budget revised federal regulations to allow all institutions to adopt the new method.

Federal Research Funding is Up

Dave Reed, vice president for research, reported that federal funding for research had gone up nearly 50 percent during the second quarter of the current fiscal year, compared to the second quarter of fiscal year 2016.  Federal research funding in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2016 totaled $21.3 million, compared to $14.5 million the previous year.

The Board also heard that funds raised as of Jan. 31, 2017 have surpassed the goal for this entire fiscal year, totaling $43.3 million.  The goal for the year that ends June 30, 2017 was $35 million.

In other business, the Board:

  • Approved emeritus rank for retired professors Mary Durfee of the Department of Social Sciences and Bruce J. Pletka, Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
  • Recognized employees David Kent for 37 years of service to the University and Patricia Asselin for 35 years of service.
  • Approved a resolution reconveying property to Michigan Tech that was titled to the State Building Authority to underwrite a 2005 bond issue for campus improvements. The State of Michigan bonds have now been paid in full.
  • Heard a report from Ellen Horsch, vice president for administration, about how students, faculty and staff are improving the “Safety Culture” through an environment of continuous improvement.  She described how Lean’s continual improvement principles helped reduce the incidence of injuries, lost time and workers’ compensation costs through student and employee involvement.
  • Learned of Jeff Toorongian’s appointment as accessible technology coordinator for Michigan Tech. He will lead efforts to bring the University into legal compliance with accessible technology regulations.

Last Modified 7:25 AM, March 6, 2017


Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.