University Organization for Research Administration

Administrative Policy Considerations

Roles and Responsibilities

Preparation of Proposals

Types of Agreements and Instruments

Initiating the Project Award

Award Administration

Project Changes

Effort Reports

Guidelines for Cost Transfers

Project Reporting


Accounting Procedures for Non-Federal Sponsors and the F&A Costs of Sponsored Projects

Establishing a University Purchase Order for Subrecipients

Detailed Efffort Reporting Procedures

Service Centers and Recharge Centers

Financial Reporting

The Closeout and Final Reporting Process

OMB Circular A21

Additional Reference Materials





















7         Initiating the Project Award

7.1      Award Notification

When a proposal has been approved by a sponsor for support, ORS will usually receive notice that an award has been made or a contract is being prepared. If the PI receives such a notice, s/he must contact ORS immediately to insure that ORS has also received the notice. ORS cannot administratively initiate the project without formal sponsor notification. Many award instruments are received which require both sponsor and University signatures (bilateral agreement) before they become effective. Principal Investigators are not authorized to sign award documents on behalf of the University.

When an award document is received which requires University signature in order to be effective, it is the responsibility of ORS to return signed copies to the sponsor. Upon receipt of the fully executed documents, ORS will process the award. On occasion, a sponsor may award support for an investigator without a formal proposal being submitted through the University. In such cases, formal approval of the project as described in University Review of Proposals , must be completed prior to ORS's acceptance of the award.

7.2      What to Look for in a Notice of Award

Most notices of award address these points:

  • Period of Performance. These dates may not coincide with the dates of the total project period.
  • Name of the Principal Investigator. This individual is responsible for conducting the project in accordance with University policies and sponsor requirements.
  • Dollars Committed and/or Obligated. Not all project funds may be released at the beginning of the project but may be obligated incrementally. The sponsor is under no legal obligation to pay dollars not yet obligated.
  • Future Year Commitments. These funds are contingent on their availability and on satisfactory progress on the project. Use these amounts for planning purposes.
  • Cost Sharing. If the sponsor requires the University to contribute its own resources to the project, it usually specifies those requirements in the award notice. Accounting and reporting on these costs is a formal requirement for the University.
  • Accounting and Reporting Obligations. Virtually all awards require technical and financial reports. Most awards require patent and property reports.
  • Deliverables. Under some contracts, the University must deliver specified work products to the sponsor.
  • Payment to University. Awards specify how the University will be funded or reimbursed by the sponsor.
  • Special Terms and Conditions. The award may have additional terms and conditions which may specify such things as key personnel, limitations on availability or use of funds, need for prior approvals and similar additional oversight by the awarding agency. It is critical to understand these restrictions before incurring costs. Both the PI and the responsible BA must take note of these requirements in addition to reading all referenced documents within the award notice.

7.3      Account Information Sheet

When an award has been received and accepted, ORS will establish an account fund number and prepare an Account Information Sheet (AIS) which summarizes accounting information and highlights special terms and conditions of the award. A copy of the AIS and the award document is distributed to the business administrator who is responsible for providing a copy to the principal investigator. It is the principal investigator's responsibility to become familiar with the requirements and restrictions of the project by referring to the AIS and the attached award documentation. If there are any questions, contact ORS for guidance.

7.4      Establishing the Account

The AIS contains the BEN Financials account number that has been uniquely assigned to this project. All project expenses will be charged to this account number.

7.5      Budgeting

Once an account has been established as evidenced by an AIS, the department/school business office must enter a detailed budget for the account in BEN Financials.

7.6      Payroll Management

Concurrent with the preparation of the budget, the payroll management system should be updated for each University employee to be paid on the project. For establishment and hiring for new positions, contact the departmental/school business office or the Office of Human Resources.

7.7      Sponsor Payments

Most awards are made on a "cost-reimbursable" basis and the University is reimbursed for actual expense incurred, usually on a monthly basis, by billing the sponsor or by drawing against a sponsor's letter of credit account. Some awards, usually from private sponsors, are funded by a payment schedule which typically includes some advance payment.

Should the principal investigator receive a sponsor check, he/she should take it to his/her business office which will forward it immediately to ORS along with identifying information for deposit to the project account. Sponsored project payments should not be processed on a Cashier's Cash Memorandum (D-Slip).

7.8      Anticipated Awards (Advance Account Requests)

There may be a legitimate need to start a project prior to the receipt of formal notification of an award from a sponsor. In this situation, an account number may be requested from ORS prior to the formal notification by completing an Advance Account Request form, with the indicated approvals. An advance account number is then established by ORS and an AIS is issued. A detailed budget for the amount of the advance account should be entered in BEN Financials. When the formal award is received a revised AIS will be issued. If for any reason an award is not received, or if sponsor conditions preclude pre-award-date expenses, the department/school is responsible for any unreimbursed expenditures.

7.9      Supplements to Awards

An existing award may be supplemented with additional funds during its performance period. Notification to the PI and BA will occur through an AIS from ORS.

Revised 9/16/04


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