Award Management FAQs
Award management can be complex. This compilation of FAQs will help you with the most frequently encountered issues, from getting ready to set up your budget, to spending and tracking money to award termination and closeout.
Prior to Budget Setup
First, you will get an email notification letting you know the agreement has been logged (added) to the VERAS processing queue. You will then soon receive an award acceptance notice (AAN) task notice from the Office of Sponsored Programs. A copy of the award will be attached to the notification, and you will be asked to review the award and confirm that:
- It corresponds to your work plan and budgets
- You agree to the required reporting/deliverables and the time frame for those reports/deliverables
- You understand all agency restrictions and guidelines
Once OSP receives the task approval we can continue processing the agreement. During this time OSP will coordinate any contract review and negotiations and reach out to compliance committee officers for protocol and financial conflict of interest approvals. If there are any items in the award acceptance notice with which you disagree or are unsure about, include those items in your response to OSP Post Award.
The Office of Sponsored Programs Contract Review Unit will work with the sponsoring agency to negotiate any issues identified by you in the award acceptance notice or any other issues that put the university at risk or run counter to university policy, state requirements or federal regulations that U of I must adhere to. Once any issues (including compliance protocols) have been resolved and the fully executed (signed by both parties) agreement is on file, OSP can set up your accounting and you can begin work.
If you indicated on your proposal, or it was subsequently determined, that the scope of work would involve high-risk items such as use of vertebrate animals, work with human subjects, biohazards or recombinant DNA, access to a BSL-3 lab, or potential export control issues, protocols or assurances need to be in place before your work can begin in order to comply with federal and university regulations.
Contacts for assistance with compliance protocols are:
- Animal Care and Use Committee
- Institutional Review Board (human subjects)
- Biohazard Safety Office (biohazards/BSL-3/recombinant DNA)
- Export Control Officer
Any needed compliance protocol information will be identified in your routing memo.
My funding is assured but pending an official award by the agency. Is there a way that I can start my project work now?
If you need the Office of Sponsored Programs to set up a preliminary budget pending the official agency award receipt or review and acceptance, you can request an early setup in VERAS.
The rules on early setup requests are as follows:
- Any required compliance protocols or assurances must be in place before the accounting can be released.
- You will be requested to provide the anticipated start date. Agencies who issue contracts or agreements effective with the date of the final signature are not eligible for early setup.
- If the early setup is not eligible for a VPRED guarantee, a guarantee index number is required in addition to Chair and Dean signatures. The Post Award team will route your early setup request form for Chair/Dean approvals if the project is not VPRED eligible.
- Standard procedure is to set up the early setup index for 25% of the first increment of funding and for 90 days from the start date. Other dollar amounts and time frames must be requested in the form and will be evaluated by the Office of Sponsored Programs.
Monitoring Budgets and Expenses
It is the principal investigator's/project manager's responsibility to ensure that the funding he or she has received is expended for charges that are "allowable" for the project in question. Under federal guidance, for an expense to be considered allowable to be direct-charged to an award, it must first satisfy four conditions:
- Reasonable - If the nature and amount of the expenditure reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the same circumstances.
- Allocable - Chargeable or assignable in that is it either incurred solely to advance the project work or has a reasonable basis for proportional assignment. Note that items generally covered by indirect costs (e.g. office supplies, administrative personnel, facilities costs) should not be assigned as direct costs to sponsored projects. For more information, please refer to APM 45.06.
- Consistently treated - Through application of generally accepted accounting principles, like expenses must be treated in the same way.
- Conforming to any limitations or exclusions either specific to the sponsor or to federal regulations.
Questions regarding the allowability of costs should be directed to the Cost Accounting Unit of the Office of Sponsored Programs. You may also choose to view the PowerPoint file under Instructional Resources.
No. Due to the risk associated with incorrectly charging items to sponsored projects, these budgets may not be selected as default purchasing card budgets. For more information on purchasing cards, see the Purchasing Card section of the Controller's Office website.
There are a number of Banner and Argos reports available that your departmental grant administrator can run and provide to you. The Office of Sponsored Programs makes some of these reports directly available to principal investigators on a monthly basis via VandalWeb.
The reports you will most likely use are as follows, along with a link to download the Banner Forms and Reports manual:
- Itemization of Expenses by Period (FWRITEM): This report can be run for any time period by budget number and provides either expenses by expense code (e.g., Lab Supplies) in its summary form, or expenses by invoice in its detailed form. It allows you to see all expenses that posted to a given budget, including time charged by employee. Note that items still in processing will not be included; work with your departmental grant administrator to determine any pending expenses.
- This report is now in Argos.
- Grant Inception to Date Summary (FWRSUMR): This report is a one-page summary by primary expense code (e.g., travel) of the budget, the expenses, the encumbrances, the balances by category and in total and the percent of time and percent of funding remaining for a given award. It is a good snapshot of your rate of spending versus time remaining.
- This report is now in Argos.
- Banner Forms and Reports Manual.
The Office of Sponsored Programs makes an effort to add budgetary restriction information to the information contained in your Award Acceptance Notice and Award Detail report that you will receive at accounting setup. It is important to review those restrictions and also take time to review the award document and any agency guidelines for more specific information.
If there are no budgetary restrictions on your award, then generally you may move up to 25 percent of budgeted line items to other categories. Request the transfer from your departmental grant administrator along with a brief explanation of the need for the transfer to be provided for audit purposes.
Any budgetary changes that fall into the restricted category (over 25 percent or other sponsor limitation) must have prior approval from an authorized official of the sponsor. Please complete a prior approval request in VERAS for review and Authorized Organizational Representative signature.
When substantive programmatic work is going to be done by another institution or company (not an individual), then a subaward should be issued by the university to create a binding subaward relationship and agreement for that work.
The need to have programmatic work performed by another institution or company should ideally be determined and identified prior to your proposal submission. In the event that the need for a subaward is identified after the prime award has been issued, you must request prior approval in VERAS.
Subawards to a third party cannot be issued until the prime award to University of Idaho is fully executed, U of I accounting has been set up in Banner and the unit has submitted a subaward request to the Contract Review unit via TDNext.
The process starts when the Principal Investigator (PI) or departmental grant administrator, at the request of the PI, completes a ticket and submits the ticket in TDNext with the necessary information.
Invoices from the subawardee or subcontractor will be sent to the department financial contact for processing. Departmental processing should include confirming and having the PI date and sign that the indicated work has been completed; identifying the subaward index and expense code (ES) to be used; and forwarding the invoice to OSP Cost Accounting (OSP-Cost@uidaho.edu); OSP will then forward to Accounts Payable for payment.
OSP has prepared a “Best Practices” checklist for the things the department/PI should be monitoring during the life of the award. Download the Subaward Best Practice document for more information.
A Subaward Amendment request must be completed via TDNext before OSP Contract Review can take action to amend a subaward. This is true for all annual obligations, regardless of whether multiple years were planned in the proposal.
Issuing a Service Agreement
You can find it in VandalWeb.
These are routing from Purchasing Services to OSP Cost Accounting when grant or contract (sponsored project) funding is involved.
It is important that you identify the specific expectations you have of the work to be performed. Some questions to consider are:
- What is the recipient of the funding supposed to accomplish? Be specific. Contracts are only written to prevent relationships going bad. If you aren’t specific, you may be caught paying for something that didn’t get done.
- Do the services have to be performed in a specific way?
- When will the recipient be required to perform the services?
- Do they have to be completed at a specific time or on a specific day?
- Is time of the essence?
- Do the services have to be performed at a specific place?
- Are deliverables expected? If so, in what format and when?
- Is the scope of work outlined consistent with what was submitted in the proposal?
Program income must be managed according to the same guidelines and restrictions as the main award, so OSP must review service agreements issued using program income funds.
Effort reporting is the mechanism used to confirm that salaries and wages charged to each sponsored agreement are reasonable in relation to the actual work performed. For an effort report to be certified, it must reasonably reflect the activity for which the employee is compensated by the institution. Cost sharing commitments must also be confirmed, either through the effort report or through some other reporting mechanism.
Federal regulations require institutions receiving federal awards to maintain systems and procedures documenting the distribution of activity, and associated payroll charges, to each individual sponsored agreement.
Any person paid (or with a commitment) on a federally sponsored award must certify that the salary paid (or the commitment) is reasonable in relation to the effort (activity) devoted to the award. While it is preferred that the individual faculty or staff member report his or her own effort, if necessary a "responsible person with/using suitable means of verification that the work was performed" may report for the individual. The PI of record in Banner will be required to certify for all graduate students paid on their grants.
Effort Reports must be completed twice a year. An Effort Report schedule is provided on the Forms page. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional questions.
As soon as you determine that your payroll has been incorrectly charged to a budget, you should notify your departmental payroll administrator to initiate a labor redistribution.
Tracking Cost Share
Sponsor Prior Approval Requirements
Changes that typically require sponsor preapproval are as follows. These requests must be reviewed and authorized by the Office of Sponsored Programs and approved by an authorized official of the sponsoring agency because they are typically in the form of a contractual amendment.
- A change to the period of performance (i.e., a request for an extension of time to complete the project)
- A change in status of any principal investigators, Co-PIs or named key personnel, including separation from the university, absence from the project of more than three months or a change in the proposed level of effort by more than 25 percent
- Changes to line-item budget amounts not falling within the authority prescribed by a sponsor (rebudgeting limits as per agreement or agency guidelines)
- A substantive change in scope of work
- Other items as noted in the specific agreement (e.g., some equipment purchases, sub-awards not initially proposed, carry-forward of prior budget period funding if limited by sponsor terms).
We recommend that you work closely with your program manager to keep him or her apprised of your progress. However, any issues that will require contractual amendments (time extensions, rebudgeting, change in PI, etc.) must be requested through OSP via VERAS. We therefore request that you not contact the authorizing official directly so that they are not receiving information from multiple sources.
Prior approval requests are submitted in VERAS using the following process:
- Log in to http://veras.uidaho.edu/
- If you are listed as personnel on the proposal, you can select the Forms icon under the Project Assistant workspace’s All Proposals table Actions menu.
- Selecting the Forms icon will open a list of available forms to choose from, and you will select either Start a new Submission (for a new request) or Edit Incomplete Submissions (for a previously started request) to enter the form.
- If you are not listed as personnel on the proposal, you will need to search for the proposal.
- Under Project Assistant Workspace, select Find a Proposal.
- Search for the applicable proposal number and select the pencil/paper icon to open.
- Select the Sponsor Prior Approval Request form.
- Complete the applicable information in section one of the request form to the best of your ability. Make sure to leave question 1.12 “OSP Internal Use ONLY” blank. Select Save and Continue to Next Section, then select Signoff and Submit.
- This form will require the PI to sign off and approve the submission before it goes to the OSP submission queue.
- If someone besides the PI authors the form, they must select Notify PI to Signoff for the PI to receive a system notification at the end of the form.
- When OSP receives the submission, the project status will change to Prior Approval - RUSH Processing.
- Note, you can find previously completed forms in the Project Submission Status summary under the Completed tab.
Additional instructions can be found under the upper right VERAS help button titled How to Create a Sponsor Prior Approval Request Form (.docx) under 3. Post Award Forms category.
Travel plans, especially foreign travel, should be specified in your proposal. Foreign travel is generally subject to the provisions of the Fly America Act, which requires the use of U.S. carriers except under very specific circumstances. See additional information.
Award Termination and Closeout
The Office of Sponsored Programs will normally send notification to your departmental grant administrator of awards that will end within the next 90 days, 60 days, and 30 days, along with suggestions for considerations such as whether a time extension needs to be requested and moving employees off of the project.
We recommend that you also create a reminder for yourself 60 to 90 days ahead of the termination date so you can request any needed time extension more than 30 days in advance of project termination, as required by most sponsors.
In addition to regular monitoring of your project's progress, you should be alert to the end date of the project and be working with your agency's program manager to ensure timely completion of the project. However, if delays occur, you may request an extension from the agency through OSP, providing justification for the extension and the requested new end date.
Many federal agencies automatically allow the first request for a one-year, no-cost time extension, with any subsequent extensions requiring further justification and approval. Please note that the source of funds may have limitations precluding an extension.