Office of Sponsored Programs Grants Administration Responsibilities

Grants Administration Responsibilities

While the process of managing sponsored research awards is a shared responsibility between the Principal Investigator and the staff of the Office of Sponsored Programs, both have unique areas of primary responsibility. It should be remembered that though a Principal Investigator is author of a grant, the award (except in the instance of fellowships) is made to the Institution, Fredonia (as grantee), through our fiscal agent, the Research Foundation of SUNY. The Institution carries all liability.

Role of the Principal Investigator/Project Director

The Principal Investigator (PI) has primary responsibility for achieving the technical success of the project, while also complying with the financial and administrative policies and regulations associated with the award, Fredonia and the Research Foundation. Although Principal Investigator's may have administrative staff to assist them with the management of project funds, the ultimate responsibility for the management of the sponsored research award rests with the Principal Investigator, though liability for the funding rests with the institution. These fundamental responsibilities of the Principal Investigator during the post-award phase of a sponsored research award include:

  • Execute the project as outlined in the funded proposal, using sound management techniques
  • Carry out the project's financial plan as presented in the funded proposal, or make changes to the plan following a prescribed set of policies and procedures established by the OSP and sponsor
  • Report project progress to the sponsor as outlined in the terms of award
  • Comply with all Fredonia and Research Foundation policies and procedures related to project management and personnel practices
  • Comply with all applicable sponsor rules, regulations and/or terms and conditions of the award

While project related tasks may be delegated by the principal investigator to co-investigators, professional staff, students, and other personnel associated with the project, project responsibility rests solely with the principal investigator.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) adds to these that if there is more than one PI, the first one listed will have primary responsibility for the project and the submission of reports. All others listed are considered co-PI/PD, and share in the responsibility of the scientific or technical direction of the project. The term "Principal Investigator" generally is used in research projects, while the term "Project Director" generally is used in science and engineering education and other projects. PI/co-PI is interchangeable with PD/co-PD.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) uses the following definition: The PI (who also may be known as the PD or Project Director) is the individual, designated by the university who is responsible for the scientific or technical aspects of the grant and for day-to-day management of the project or program. The PI is a member of the university team (that includes sponsored program staff and campus administrators) responsible for ensuring compliance with the financial and administrative aspects of the award. This individual works closely with designated officials within the university to create and maintain necessary documentation, including both technical and administrative reports; prepare justifications; appropriately acknowledge Federal support of research findings in publications, announcements, news programs, and other media; and ensure compliance with other Federal and organizational requirements. Sponsors and the University encourage the PI to maintain contact with their sponsor Program Officer with respect to the various aspects of the project and the OSP concerning the business and administrative aspects of the award.

Specific PI/PD responsibilities include:

1. to review the funded proposal, and to read the sponsor award documents.

2. to adhere to the certifications and statements made by the principal investigator when s/he submitted the application.

3. to follow all Fredonia and Research Foundation policies and procedures

4. to achieve the success of the project by executing the project as outlined in the funded proposal.

5. to select, train, oversee, and evaluate, project staff/students subject to (a) the plan contained in the funded proposal, and (b) the policies and procedures of Fredonia and the Research Foundation.

6. to be aware of and comply with all financial and administrative policies, statutes, and regulations by carrying out the project’s financial plan as presented in the funded proposal, or by making changes to the plan, following policies and procedures approved by the sponsor and by OSP.

7. to meet the project time frame set forth in the funded proposal or to seek approval of modifications of the project time frame, such as a no-cost extension. A no cost extension should be requested prior to the original (or amended) project end date.

8. to confer regularly with the sponsor program officer and financial administrator, and to share with OSP all written communications with these sponsor representatives.

9. to report, at intervals established by the sponsor, on the progress being made to achieve the goals and objectives of the project, and on the progress being made to expend project resources in support of the project. The principal investigator also is responsible for writing the final technical report, copies of which should be submitted to both the sponsor and the OSP.


A GRANTEE is the organization or other entity that receives a grant and assumes legal and financial responsibility and accountability both for the awarded funds and for the performance of the grant-supported activity. In our case, this is Fredonia and our fiscal agent, the Research Foundation of SUNY. Grants are normally made to organizations rather than to individual Principal Investigator/Project Director(s).