Managing Your Award
The PI/PD is the primary individual responsible for the proper management of an externally funded project. S/he must conduct the work as outlined by the approved scope of work (original or revised) and within the fiscal constraints of the approved budget. Any changes to either the scope of work or budget must be coordinated through the OSP and the Program Officer for your sponsor. In many instances, the OSP can enact the changes desired, but there are specific regulations from some sponsors that prohibit local actions and must receive sponsor approvals.
When authorizing expenditures to an award, the PI/PD is certifying that those expenses are appropriate, necessary, and directly related to the approved scope of work relevant to the project. This is a critical responsibility for the PI/PD. Charges made to an award not directly related to the scope are not allowable and cannot be charged. Not carefully reviewing expenditure requests can result in an increased audit risk to Fredonia and disallowed expenditures have to be paid by Fredonia. The OSP may call into question expenditures that do not seem to conform to the approved project/budget.
Please see the attached PI/PD Checklist.
As a general rule, contract and grant funds must be expended in accordance with Fredonia and Research Foundation policies, and sponsor requirements. A PI/PD is expected to manage grant funds in a manner consistent with these principles, and exercise sound fiscal management. All expenditures made against a grant fund should be reasonable, allowable under the above guidance, and allocable to that specific project. The expectation is each transaction would pass the “reasonable person” test, as well as the “front page” test.
There are several resources available to PI/PD’s to assist in managing your grant/contract. OSP provides support in managing the budget, will work with PI/PD and sponsor, reviews and assists with personnel actions, planning, budgeting, account management and assist in issue resolution. The office provides staff support to the HSRC and is the contact point for submission of protocols, assistance or questions. PI’s have “real time” access to their grant funds to monitor balances and expenditures through the PIAI.
Purchasing and Accounts Payable fall under the responsibility of the Grants Management Specialist (GMS) in the OSP. The OSP is the first stop for Purchasing processing. OSP staff can assist with any questions related to requisitions, purchase orders, payments and timing. OSP works closely with State staff in Purchasing though all purchased authorizations are initiated in the OSP offices. Purchasing can assist in identifying potential vendors, determining the necessity for and managing the open bid process if required. For more detailed information, please see the training PowerPoint by following this link. [link to PPT on AP/PO]
The GMS also provides guidance on the allowability of expenditures under regulations, travel requirements, participant stipend payments, and other non-purchase order issues.
The Associate Director, assisted by Human Resources and the RF Benefits Specialist there, performs personnel processing, can assist in determining the classification and pay scale of grant employees, benefits applicable to a specific class of employee, and provides assistance and processing for hiring actions and all employee enrollment, verification, changes, etc. All employment actions must be consistent with university and RF personnel policies.
In order to be allowable on an award, charges must be reasonable, allocable to the specific project, and allowable under sponsor, Fredonia and Research Foundations regulations. All charges submitted for payment are examined for compliance with sponsor, Fredonia and RF rules, including the possible need for bids for large purchases and/or justification for sole source buying. Travel follows the Research Foundation regulations unless the sponsor has issued more restrictive ones.
OSP reviews all expenditures for personnel, travel, contracted services, independent contractors, and equipment and supply purchases. Federal projects are held to OMB Circular A-21 standards of allowable transactions. If there is ever any question, don’t hesitate to call the OSP.
Program/project/progress reports as required by sponsors are to be submitted by the PI/PD with a copy sent to the OSP office for the files. As fiscal transactions (like draw-downs) are dependent on timely filing of these reports, it is critical that they be filed by the specified sponsor deadline. Fiscal reports are prepared by OSP and the RF Central Office. Please remember that some sponsors want the progress report and fiscal report submitted at the same time and it may require additional time to coordinate the submission with the Central Office.
In addition to the progress reports to be filed with the sponsor, PI/PDs have a responsibility to verify, sign and return Effort Reports as sent to them three times per year.
Budget Revisions: The budget is the financial expression of the project or program for which funds have been awarded. It is also, when the award is made, the contractual amount the sponsor agrees to reimburse for the specified activities per the budget. Re-budgeting of funds is an important task to assure full expenditure, but it is also one that is subject to OSP review and approvals as well as potentially those of the sponsor. OSP staff will work closely with PI/PDs in examining expenditures and shifting budget amounts based on actual expenditures. Once approved, the revised budget is sent to the sponsor (when required and as a courtesy) for approvals. Expenditures for new budget items or over-expenditures on specific lines will not be authorized until the review and final approval is received. Once sponsor approval is obtained, OSP notifies RF with the new budget figures that are entered into the account. An award Abstract is issued to the OSP and forwarded to the PI/PD reflecting the changes.
It is prudent for PI/PDs to meet with OSP staff 30-60 days prior to the term of their project to either prepare for closing the award or requesting a no-cost extension to allow for spend-down of funds. The terms and conditions of most awards specify that a project be closed in a timely manner after the termination date, usually 60-90 days. The termination date, if an extension is not obtained, is considered final and not charges can be incurred on the award after that date. No new obligations may be incurred. The PI/PDs are responsible for assuring timely submission of requisitions and/or reimbursements.
Closeout procedures for all awards are generally specified by the sponsor. Requirements may range from simple final fiscal and narrative reports to a series of detailed reports, including but not limited to: disposition of property, certificates of compliance, disclosure and releases. The number of reports required to be sent to the sponsor also may vary, as may be the kind of report (electronic or hard-copy).
The OSP works to fulfill the closeout procedures of the sponsor and to assure adequate and complete fiscal and managerial records for retention for possible future audit.