Once you get the great news that your project has been funded, you may have many questions about how to manage your award. This section will take you step-by-step through the issues you’ll want to consider.
Setting up the Award
- Award Notice from Sponsor
- Typically the award document will come directly to Office of Sponsored Projects; however, occasionally a sponsor will send the award directly to the PI or department. In these cases, please immediately forward this award document to OSP so we can begin the process of setting up your award. Do not sign these agreements if you receive them, as signature authority rests with the Director of OSP and not at the department level.
- Award Negotiation
- A notice of grant award or contract is a legally binding document with terms and conditions that need to be reviewed carefully. Much of this review can be handled within OSP; however, certain terms and conditions will need additional review by Legal Counsel, the Office of Technology Management, and/or the Office of Research Security.
- Once the document has been reviewed, your OSP Grants & Contracts Administrator will begin the negotiation process with the sponsor, if needed. During this stage, we will request that the sponsor revise certain language in the award document. This negotiation process can be lengthy at times, depending on the complexity of the award as well as on the type of sponsor funding the agreement.
- Some of the more common terms we see that need to be negotiated involve:
- Indemnification – MSU is prohibited by law from agreeing to indemnify or hold harmless another party.
- Governing Law – As an entity of the state of Mississippi, MSU cannot make the State of Mississippi subject to the laws of another state.
- Warranties – MSU is a nonprofit, educational institution conducting research on a reasonable efforts basis, and therefore, does not warrant its goods or services.
- Once both MSU and the sponsor are comfortable with the terms and conditions in the award document, the director of OSP as well as the authorized official from the sponsor will sign the document.
- Award Notification from OSP
- Once an agreement has been signed by both parties, we will process the award in Banner. You will receive an email with your Notice of Award as well as the signed award documents. These emails are sent to the PI as well as to the designated contacts for the managing unit of the award, so it is important to notify us if this distribution list ever needs to be changed. After emailing the award to you, we will forward the original award documents to Sponsored Programs Accounting, who will load the award budget into Banner and assign a fund number to the award. You will then receive an email from Sponsored Programs Accounting notifying you of the fund number for your project.
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Over the life of the project, you may find that things change from what was originally proposed. In these cases, it may be necessary to request a modification to the award. Listed below are some of the more common modification requests. Please contact your OSP Grants and Contracts Administrator with any questions you may have about these or other award modifications that may be needed.
- Budget Revisions
- Some budget revisions may need sponsor approval while some may be handled internally. The award terms and conditions will specify what type of approval or notification is needed in the case of a budget revision. Certain budget revisions are subject to expanded authorities, meaning that the sponsor may allow MSU to make revisions to the budget without notification or approval from the sponsor (see the Expanded Authorities matrix).
- In the case where the budget revision can be handled internally, you will need to complete the Restricted Fund Budget Revision form and send to Sponsored Programs Accounting.
- If sponsor approval is required for a budget revision, Office of Sponsored Projects will make the request to the sponsor. You will need to provide a justification for the revision as well as a revised budget.
- Extension of Time
- If it appears you will not be able to complete the work by the end date of the project, please contact your OSP Grants and Contracts Administrator to see what options may be available to you. It is possible that the sponsor may allow a no-cost extension (NCE) on the project, extending the end date by a certain period of time. In order to request the NCE, you will need to provide a justification of why the extension is necessary. Note that spending out the account is not a valid reason to extend a project. Some sponsors do require additional budgetary information, and OSP can advise you of additional information that may be needed before making the request to the sponsor. OSP will be the one to actually submit the formal request to the sponsor and will update the end date of the project if the extension is approved. If the NCE is not approved, communication with your program manager is essential to making sure both MSU and the sponsor are satisfied with the work that will actually be completed by the end date.
- Change of PI (Internal Transfer)
- A change in PI requires permission from the sponsor in most cases. Check the terms and conditions of your grant/contract and then contact Office of Sponsored Projects to discuss your options. You will need to send an explanation for the change as well as a revised budget if the new PI’s salary is different.
- Your Grants and Contracts Administrator will then send the request to the sponsor for approval. Once approved, a modification will be completed and the new PI as well as the departmental contact will receive a copy of the Banner modification indicating the change.
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- Compliance on an award includes both compliance with the terms and conditions of the award as well as compliance with regulatory issues, such as those identified at the proposal stage. If you have questions about how to comply with the terms and conditions of the award, please contact your Grants & Contracts Administrator. If you have specific questions on other regulatory requirements, such as financial conflict of interest, human subjects research, animal care and use, or biosafety regulations, please contact the Office of Research Compliance. Export control compliance questions should be directed to the Office of Research Security.
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Preliminary Account Requests
- There may be times where the official award has not been received by MSU, but we have been informed or have reasonable assurance to believe that an award is forthcoming. In these cases, you may request that a preliminary fund be established to allow project spending to begin. To request this preliminary fund, you should complete a Preliminary Account Request (PAR) form and forward the complete, signed form to your OSP Grants & Contracts Administrator. Please be sure to complete all sections of the form as well as attach a budget to your request.
- Upon receipt of the PAR, we will process the request in Banner and will then forward the request to Sponsored Programs Accounting, who will set up a fund number for this anticipated funding and will notify the department of the fund number. Please be aware that, if for some reason MSU does not receive the award money, or if the project start/end dates do not correspond with the expenditures posted during this preliminary period, your department will be responsible for covering any expenditures that have posted to the fund.
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Other Agreement Types
Other agreements you might encounter can be non-monetary in nature and may include:
- Teaming Agreements
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) / Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
- Non-disclosure Agreements (NDA)
- Material Transfer Agreements (MTA)
Teaming Agreements, MOUs/MOAs, Incoming MTAs, and some NDAs are negotiated and executed through our office. If your specific agreement type is not listed above, or if you are unsure of how to handle, please contact your Grants & Contracts Administrator within OSP.
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- Reporting on a project typically consists of both financial and technical reports, due at certain intervals during the period of performance, as well as a final financial and technical report due on or soon after the end date of the project. Refer to your award terms and conditions for actual reporting requirements as well as submission format. Sponsored Programs Accounting submits the financial reports based on the expenditures posted in Banner, and the Principal Investigators are responsible for submitting the technical reports.
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- Preparation for closeout of a project should begin several weeks prior to the actual end date of the award. Expenditures should be reviewed regularly, and any errors in expenditures should be corrected in a timely manner, rather than waiting until the end of the project to resolve. Personnel costs should also be reviewed regularly to be certain they are appropriate in relation to effort on the project. Neither the work nor the expenditures should continue past the end date of the project.
- The final financial report will be submitted to the sponsor by Sponsored Programs Accounting, and the departmental contact for the award will be asked to work with the Principal Investigator to certify that all expenditures have posted. The final technical report should be submitted by the Principal Investigator by the due date, and best practice would be for the department to maintain a copy of the final report on file. In some cases, sponsors require final reporting of patents, equipment, and other items. Office of Sponsored Projects works with the various departments involved in the aspects of the project and submits these final closeout reports to the sponsor.
- Once the project is closed out, the status in Banner will be changed to “Inactive”. The department should maintain documentation related to the award, including backup for expenditures, for the amount of time prescribed in the award document. Contact Office of Sponsored Projects regarding questions you may have about record retention on your award.
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