Award management is the process that encompasses the deployment of university, school, and sponsor policies and procedures pertinent to the administration of a sponsored program. It is also referred to as the post-award administration phase in the life cycle of an award. Sound management of sponsored programs is critical in maintaining the public trust in research results and outcomes, research participants, and how funds are spent.
Various individuals and units at Rutgers need to work together throughout the lifecycle of an award to effectively manage sponsored awards. Below are some of the primary responsibilities of the principal investigator and department finance post-award administrator once a project has been awarded to the university for the successful fiscal management of the award.
The principal investigator (PI) serves as the primary individual responsible for the scientific integrity and fiscal and administrative management throughout the period of the award. Some of the PI's specific post-award responsibilities include the following:
- Be cognizant of and adhering to all sponsor-imposed terms and conditions, as well as university policies and procedures related to administering sponsored agreements. This includes all relevant government and university regulations regarding the use of human and animal subjects, biohazards and biosafety, occupational health and safety, conflicts of interest, and purchasing and equipment management policies.
- Obtain approvals from Research and Sponsored Programs or working with Research Financial Services to request all required prior approvals from the sponsor for post-award changes relating to the conduct or scope of the work, budget amendment, and/or expenditure of funds awarded.
- Supervise project personnel including co-investigators, post-doctoral associates, research staff, and graduate and undergraduate students.
- Certify (or request delegation to an authorized designee) all effort cards and time reporting sheets for personnel in accordance with the deadlines established using written suitable means of justification to support the effort certified.
- Submit technical or programmatic progress reports in a timely fashion to the sponsor as required by the terms and conditions of the award.
- Manage and controlling project funds in a prudent manner and expending funds in accordance with the restrictions imposed by the award terms and conditions and university policy. Funds should only be expended to directly support the project effort and expenditures should not exceed the total amount of funds awarded. Deficits and disallowances incurred against a sponsored program fund source are the responsibility of the principal investigator, the chair and the dean.
- Advise Research Financial Services of any information on the financial instability of the sponsoring agency as soon as they are aware of these issues.
While responsibility for certain day-to-day management of the project finances may be delegated to administrative or other staff of the PI, accountability for compliance with the sponsor requirements and university policy ultimately rests with the PI.
Chronic failure to carry out the responsibilities incumbent upon a PI or chronic noncompliance with sponsor regulations can result in nonpayment of university invoices. Ultimately, this might jeopardize future funding to the PI, as well as to the university as a whole.
The administering unit indicated on the completed Endorsement Form indicates the campus department, school, and post-award finance and post-award contact individual who is responsible for the overall administration of the award.
Department finance and post-award administrators assist the PI with the award management. Some of the department’s finance and post-award administrator’s specific responsibilities include the following:
- Communicate frequently with PIs to keep them apprised of the project's financial business developments and assist them in the administration of awards.
- Provide PIs with business and accounting expertise.
- Ensure that the award's budget and other data elements in Oracle or Banner accurately reflect the terms of the award and the completed endorsement form or other associated forms.
- Review project expenditures, including fringe benefit, facilities and administration, and tuition charges, on a regular and timely basis, usually at least once a month, and timely notify Research Financial Services of any discrepancies.
- Reconcile project ledgers on a timely basis and review project financial transactions with the PI. This task should be performed routinely and within 30 days after the ledger is available.
- Ensure that project expenditures are charged in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award and/or university policy. If the direct expenditures of project funds are for costs that would normally be charged indirectly (e.g., clerical and administrative expenses, postage, office supplies, local telephone calls, general-purpose equipment, or operations and maintenance), then those items must be supported in the proposal by an explicit budget justification and must be included in the final budget awarded by the agency. These direct charges will be allowed only upon sponsor approval. In addition, when administrative and clerical costs are being proposed to a federal sponsor, the proposal must include an explanation of the activities that allow the project to be classified as a "major project". The proposal must have an explanation of why the charges would be applicable to the project, not why the project is a major project. Refer to our Administrative and Clerical Costs.
- Review general ledgers for unallowable costs posted to the award's fund source/index throughout the project period and promptly transfer any unallowable charges to an appropriate fund source/index in accordance with the university’s cost transfer policy. Any questionable charges must be brought promptly to the PI's attention, and, if needed, corrected by an appropriate cost transfer. Transfers should be initiated as soon as possible after a need has been identified. Whenever expenses are moved to or between sponsored award accounts, the PI/department must assure that the project, which ultimately pays the expense, is the project that benefited from that expense, and that there is adequate documentation to support the appropriateness of the transfer.
- Ensure that the project complies with all appropriate university payroll, reimbursement, accounting, and personnel policies and practices.
- Monitor encumbrance balances on a monthly basis and ensure that the balance reflects current purchase obligations for the award and that purchase orders are closed out on a timely basis.
- Provide the PI with regular accounting reports of project balances and expenditures, as well as projections of future expenditures.
- Assist PIs with all administrative aspects of an award, including maintenance of internal records related to project expenses, activities, and reports.
- Ensure that the PI has approved all appropriate transactions (e.g. cost transfers) in accordance with university polices.
- Ensure that the percent of salaries charged corresponds to actual time spent on the project.
- Prepare effort cards for the PI prior to certification and ensure that all effort cards are completed and processed on time and certified by the appropriate official in accordance to the university’s effort certification policies.
- Ensure that the project operates in accordance with its budget. If required, assist the PI to prepare budget amendments for sponsor that must be countersigned by either a representative of Research and Sponsored Programs or Research Financial Services prior to submission.
- Assist Research and Financial Services in the preparation of financial reports or invoices when required on awards that require confirmation of completion of deliverables prior to submission or supplemental information that must accompany any financial report or invoice submitted to sponsor.
- Ensure that cost-share budget templates are prepared and forwarded to Research and Sponsored Programs when required in accordance with university’s cost-sharing policy.
- Advise and assist the PI in fulfilling the departmental award closeout requirements in accordance with the university’s closeout policy. Provide all required documentation for the final financial report to the office of Research Financial Services, including written confirmation of final costs and any unexpended balances to be returned to the sponsor.
- Ensure transfers of any overdraft amounts resulting from unusual circumstances or unanticipated project expenses to the appropriate source of funds is promptly completed prior to closeout of the award.
- Ensure that the project records are kept in good order and are readily available for review and audit.