Establishing Awards

File Finder

Use the File Finder tool to locate documents related to awards management such as forms and official policies and procedures.

Establishing awards

Once an award has been made, responsibility for the administration of sponsored awards at Georgia State rests with several different individuals/offices, including the Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD), Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), department administrators and Office of Research Financial Services (RFS). OSP provides the post-award functions of award acceptance, award negotiations, obtaining sponsor’s prior approval when required, establishing subcontracts, transferring an award to another institution and assistance with closeout requirements. RFS provides the post-award functions dealing with the financial aspects of the award. Every PI is assigned an OSP and RFS staff member who can assist the PI in award management. It is the PI’s responsibility to work directly with these individuals to ensure the accurate and legal use of their award funds.

Award acceptance, negotiation and revisions

An award to the Georgia State University Research Foundation (GSURF) or Georgia State from a sponsoring agency serves as a legal document obligating the university to a contractual commitment. Awards may be in the form of a letter or check issued by an authorized agent of the sponsor, a grant notification of award, or may consist of a complete contractual document. In some cases acceptance by the grantee (and then by the agency) is required before the award is in force, and in other cases no formal acceptance is required.

When required, Georgia State’s or GSURF’s authorized institutional officials (the vice president for research or an associate vice president for research) are responsible for signing these documents and thereby legally binding the university to the terms and conditions of the grant or contractual document. PI/PDs, department chairs, and deans are not authorized to sign award documents on behalf of GSURF or the university. All original, official award documents, if received by the PI/PD, should be forwarded immediately to OSP for processing. OSP will consult with a PI/PD if the award differs from the submitted proposal so that the award may be accepted/modified through negotiation with the sponsor or rejected.

In some cases, an award may be issued by the agency after a series of negotiations that may involve revisions to the terms and conditions, scope of the project, period of performance and/or proposed budget. OSP, working with Georgia State’s Office of Legal Affairs, is the authorized agent for negotiating such revisions, but the PI/PD is always involved in the negotiation process and no changes to a project or a budget are authorized without the consent of the PI/PD.

PI/PDs are reminded that the acceptance of an award where the granting agency has revised the scope of work, period of performance or budget is a judgment that only they can make; it is not a judgment or condition that may be unilaterally imposed by the granting agency. If the agency requests/requires the submission of a revised work plan or budget, this must be prepared by the PI/PD and submitted to OSP for institutional endorsement and for forwarding to the agency. Revisions, either programmatic or budgetary, which represent substantial changes to the original proposal must be routed for approval just like a new proposal, along with a newly completed Proposal Approval Form to be reviewed and approved by OSP in the same manner as a new proposal.

Notice of award

Upon receipt of an official award, OSP staff assigned to the project will distribute a notice of award (green sheet) to the PI/PD, department chair, dean, and other appropriate administrative offices. The notice indicates the project account number established for the project and pertinent award information, including the RFS staff assigned to the project, the budget and any cost-sharing obligations. To protect the PI/PD and the university, expenditures should not be incurred against a sponsored project until OSP has received and processed the original award notification from the sponsor and a project account number has been assigned. If compliance issues (human subjects, animal use, biohazards, or radiation) are involved, OSP will not release funds until the appropriate review board has approved the protocol.

Terms and conditions of typical awards

Every award comes with terms and conditions that frequently accompany the notice of award (green sheet). All federal awards are governed by general federal rules and regulations. Some awards have terms and conditions that are specific to the sponsoring agency or grant mechanism. It is important for PIs to familiarize themselves with these terms and conditions so they know how to manage the award and comply with the rules and regulations governing that award. For example, the PI should know the regulations involving changes to the original proposal (e.g. re-budgeting, no-cost extensions, carrying funds from one year to the next, spending restrictions, etc.) and reporting requirements and procedures during the award period. OSP and RFS staff can assist the PI in determining the terms and conditions of their particular award. If the terms and conditions of an award are not acceptable to the PI/PD or to the university, negotiations with the awarding agency will need be managed by OSP.

Some changes can be done on awards without requiring prior approval from the sponsor called expanded authorities. These types of changes may include pre-award spending, no-cost extensions, equipment purchases, carryover of funds, domestic and foreign travel and re-budgeting. If an award has expanded authorities, these should be clearly defined with the award documentation. Questions about expanded authorities for a particular award can be addressed to your RFS representative.

Project account/ID and speedtype assignment

Upon receipt of an official award, OSP will request a project account or ID number from RFS. The issuance of the project ID number for the award is a form of credit against which the PI/PD may begin to charge obligations and expenditures. In reality, sponsoring agencies do not pay the university in the majority of cases until expenditures are incurred and invoices are submitted to the agency by RFS (cost-reimbursement grant).

Based on information in the budget approved by the sponsoring agency, RFS staff record critical award information into the financial accounting system to allow proper processing and tracking of project accounting data. In all, there are 35 characters in this chartfield information for each award, but the information includes a unique five-digit project number or speedtype (i.e. BLC05) that is easier to remember. Upon entering the speedtype, the system will translate and automatically fill in the predefined chartfields. Speed types and speed charts information can be found on the Finance and Administration webpages at Spectrum Chart of Accounts.

Pre-award or advance accounts

Pre-award spending from federally sponsored projects with expanded authority can begin 90 days before the project start date. An advance represents spending from another funding source in anticipation of the official Notice of Award, but before it is received. It is possible to obtain permission to initiate limited expenditures for a short time. In both cases, the department assumes financial responsibility if the sponsor fails to fund the award. For both purposes, an advance project number may be requested using the Request for Approval under Institutional Prior Approval (IPAS) Form. This form must be signed by the PI/PD, the department chair, and the dean of the college or school. Included on this form is a statement of assurance that commits the department to reimburse project accounts in the event that the expected sponsor authorization is not forthcoming. Because the financial risk for expenditures is on the department’s part, OSP will approve an application for an advance project number if the appropriate administrators agree to assume this responsibility. A completed and signed form must be sent to OSP to initiate action.

Budget categories

Award budgets in Spectrum+ are divided into budget categories based on the budget information in the proposal and including any budget modifications completed in the award negotiations. The budget categories are those used by Georgia State and are not necessarily the same as those required by the sponsored agency. The list below shows Georgia State budget categories and codes associated with each:

Faculty academic salary – PSF000

Faculty summer salary – PLS000

Staff salary – PSS000

Graduate assistantships – PLG000

Misc. lump sums – PLM000

Fringe benefits – FBB000

Travel – NTR000

Supplies and materials, postage, P-card transactions, registration fees, subscriptions, other operating expenses, human subjects payments, software, publications and printing – NSP000

Consultation and other professional fees – NCON00

Subcontract #1 – SUB001

Subcontract #X – SUBX01

Stipend fellow participant – NST000

Equipment – NEQ000