Summer salary paperwork is a personnel action and is initiated by the School or College. Check with your personnel administrator on the process within your unit. The paperwork for other costs is also initiated by your unit.
Hiring someone on a sponsored program is a personnel action. It is initiated by the Principal Investigator in conjunction with the personnel administrator in the unit. Individuals hired on a sponsored program are subject to all AU policy and procedures as well as the terms of the grant agreement. Your personnel administrator will need confirmation that that the grant budget will serve as funding source for this employee and so will need the account number that has been established for your grant.
AU employees or current AU students cannot be paid as consultants. Please contact your OSP staff member and your personnel administrator for more information if you want to include these positions on your grants. The personnel action will need to be initiated by your unit.
Grant fund purchases should be made according to the approved budget that is part of the grant agreement. If you need to spend funds differently from the way it appears in the approved budget, you will need to request a rebudget of your grant funds.
The Principal Investigator must request such action from OSP in writing. If sponsor approval is required, OSP will obtain the approval before the rebudget is authorized. For general guidance on re-budgeting for federal projects refer to OMB Circular A-110, Section 25 - Revision of Budget and Program Plans.
Should significant funds need to be transferred from one object code to another as a result of the sponsor's approved re-budgeting, the project brief will be revised.
Consultants or subcontractors are hired to provide essential services unavailable from existing project personnel. The Principal Investigator must discuss all proposed agreements in advance with their OSP staff member. Please see the checklist for consultant agreements in Attachment III-E of the Principal Investigator's Handbook (PDF).
A Disbursement Request is initiated by the Principal Investigator to process consultant payments. When the disbursement request has been completed and approved by the Principal Investigator, the disbursement request, together with the consultant invoice and a copy of the consultant agreement are then forwarded to OSP. This applies to all University units except for CAS, where they are processed through the CAS Budget Office. The approved request is sent to accounts payable for processing and payment.
The situation should be discussed with your OSP staff member as soon as it becomes a problem. The agreements with contractors are typically written so that there are clear performance and payment milestones. The longer you wait to formally bring it to the contractor's attention, the less work gets done and the more difficult the situation becomes. OSP can work with you and any other offices in the university necessary to resolve the issue.
All personnel, consultant payments, unbudgeted equipment with a value of $2,500 or more, and expenditures in excess of $5,000 total on one disbursement request or purchase order require the prior approval of OSP. The only exception is the College of Arts and Sciences, which has its own Contract Administrator who is responsible for CAS expenditure approval and is not required to have OSP concurrence on any expenditure.
Expenditures other than those listed above are processed through the School/College/Unit in the same way as other expenditures. OSP staff are available as a resource if those approving School/College/Unit expenditures have a question about a grant account expense.
Travel can be arranged and paid directly by the traveler, with subsequent reimbursement. However, AU strongly recommends using one of the travel agencies with which it has special agreements to arrange grant-funded travel, such as Campus Travel. These travel agents charge fees ranging up to $35, but they can provide for the grant to be charged directly, so that no personal or AU credit cards need to be used. Researchers should contact their Dean's office for more information.
Purchase of alcohol on federal university grant sponsored activities is not allowed. The federal regulations on this are explicit as noted. OMB Circular A-21 section J.3 states that expenses for alcoholic beverages are an unallowable cost for a grant budget.
For private sponsors, reimbursement for alcohol at grant funded functions must be explicitly agreed to in the approved grant budget and those holding the event are required to follow all the policies and procedures of the AU alcohol policy. With regard to personal use of alcohol with private grant funds, the AU travel policy does not allow for reimbursement for alcoholic beverages consumed while on travel for AU business. Even if the sponsor policy on this matter is different, the AU policy governs.
The Office of the Controller is responsible for the timely preparation of billings and financial reports to project sponsors. Generally, Principal Investigators should not prepare and send billings or provide financial reports to sponsors unless the terms of the grant specify such and it has been coordinated with OSP and the Office of the Controller in advance.
In some instances, the contract may have special reporting or invoicing requirements. These special cases will be coordinated in advance between the Principal Investigator and the Office of the Controller.
The Principal Investigator prepares the technical reports. Most sponsored projects require technical reports detailing progress. These reports are part of the contractual agreement between the sponsor and the university.
Failure to submit reports on a timely basis may not only affect adversely the Principal Investigator's (and the University's) ability to receive further support from the sponsor, but may result in a loss of payment for costs already incurred. Recently some agencies, including the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, have developed electronic submission procedures for technical reports that require certification by the Institutional Official. In order to provide the certification to the agency, the Principal Investigator must route to the report to the Dean of the School or College. After review and signature by the Dean, the report will be routed to the Institutional Official who will review it and authorize the electronic submission.
OSP informs Principal Investigators of due dates for technical reports and project close-out by listing those dates on the front page of the Project Brief. Due dates for reports are also listed in the award document.
Principal Investigators are required to send copies of all technical reports to the Office of Sponsored Programs upon submission.
Discuss this with your OSP staff member as soon as it becomes an issue. Research shifts that create a redirection of the statement of work described in the original proposal must be discussed with the sponsor. The Principal Investigator must obtain the approval of the teaching unit head, the college dean, and the Provost, and must send the sponsor a letter explaining the proposed change. If the change necessitates rebudgeting or a revised scope of work, the project brief will be revised by OSP.
This is one of the issues addressed during the grant close-out period. Grant funds are to be used only for the purpose of the grant. If the work is complete, in most cases the funds must be returned to the sponsor, unless there are specific provisions in the agreement. Please check with your OSP staff member about your specific grant or contract. What is grant close–out? The grant close-out period is the period 60-90 days before the end of the award in which the Principal Investigator reviews the technical and financial aspects of the award to make sure that all goals have been met and that all funds are properly expended.
The grant close-out period is the period 60-90 days before the end of the award in which the Principal Investigator reviews the technical and financial aspects of the award to make sure that all goals have been met and that all funds are properly expended.
The project brief specifies the dates of the period of performance of the grant. The final financial reporting requirements are handled by the Office of the Controller. The Principal Investigator is responsible for the final technical report. OSP handles any non-financial contractual paperwork required to close the grant.
I need more time to finish the work on this project. Is that possible?
Discuss this with your OSP staff member. It may be possible to request a no-cost extension from the sponsor. Occasionally, the completion of grant or contract work may require more time than originally specified. If no additional funds are necessary, a no–cost extension may be requested from the sponsor. The Principal Investigator must notify OSP in writing of the need for a no–cost extension at least 60 days prior to the project expiration date so that OSP can obtain the sponsor's approval.
The University is subject to audit by sponsors for specific programs and is also audited annually for its administration of sponsored programs in accordance with the OMB Circular A-133. Auditors representing sponsors will periodically examine the University's records for the purposes of:
- determining whether contract or grant funds were used in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and procedures
- making objective appraisals of the financial accounting system and administrative controls to ensure that programs are being charged with appropriate amounts
- determining the accuracy of the financial reports and records
Documentation of expenditures that includes original receipts is a requirement for the audit process. The Office of the Controller coordinates all activities with sponsors' auditors. Principal Investigators are required to be available during the audit process.
Any request for an audit or site visit should be discussed with your OSP staff member immediately upon receipt of the request and before agreeing to meetings with the external entity. This ensures that OSP can verify the identity of the person making the request and can coordinate with all relevant offices who need to provide information for the audit or site visit. Generally, the visiting entity will want to meet not only with the PI but also with administrative departments on campus.