1. Signature of Grant Awards
Acceptance of an award entails an obligation on both the Principal Investigator (PI) and AUB to conduct the research and use of the funds for the purposes and objectives expressed in the application. AUB also assumes responsibility for fiscal and administrative management of the project. Contracts to be awarded to the university should be reviewed and approved by the Comptroller prior to the final acceptance of the grant. This review and approval will assist in assuring that all financial procedures are in place before the start of the project. The PI, as designated project director, is responsible and held accountable for the appropriate conduct of the project, including the scientific performance and the submission of required technical reports. Once a grant award is signed, AUB is legally responsible and accountable to the funding agency for the financial aspects of the supported activity and relies on the PI to spend in accordance with the approved budget.
Award documents take many forms depending upon the type of sponsor and project. These documents require review and official institutional signature. Grant awards to AUB are received by the Office of Grants and Contracts (OGC). If, however, the PI receives an original copy of an award or grant notice, he/she should forward it to OGC for review and award document processing.
Notification of approval of funding a submitted proposal should be followed be an official “Letter of Award" or an Agreement/Contract between Funding Agency/Sponsor and AUB. Such Agreements/Contracts should be forwarded to OGC Director or Associate Director who will review the terms and conditions of the grant. OGC will coordinate with legal counsel whenever needed and if necessary, negotiate alternate terms with the Funding Agency/Sponsor in accordance with AUB's policies until the Agreement is acceptable to both Parties. OGC will secure the Institutional Authorized Signatures on the Award Agreements/Contracts, as per the Authority to Sign Policy. Principal investigators (PIs) are not authorized to enter the University into any agreement. PI may be required to sign on the Agreement/Contract only to certify that they have read the terms and understand their responsibilities in implementing the terms of the Agreement/Contract.
Notification for an amendment/ modification to the “Letter of Award" or an Agreement/Contract between Funding Agency/Sponsor and AUB, may be sent to the PI/ AUB. Such Agreements/Contracts should be forwarded to OGC Director or Associate Director who will review the terms and conditions of the grant. OGC will coordinate with legal counsel whenever needed and if necessary, negotiate alternate terms with the Funding Agency/Sponsor in accordance with AUB's policies until the amendment/modification is acceptable to both Parties. OGC will secure the Institutional Authorized Signatures on the amendments/modifications, as per the Authority to Sign Policy. Principal investigators (PIs) are not authorized to enter the University into any agreement. PI may be required to sign on the Agreement/Contract amended terms only to certify that they have read the terms and understand their responsibilities in implementing. The same authorized signatory who certified and accepted the initial agreement (OGC/Provost/President) shall sign any amendments/ modifications.
The Principal Investigator and the Dean of the faculty, or the Provost in case of an institutional grant are notified of each new award and its terms and conditions, and are expected, once the award is accepted to comply with all award requirements.
Please Note that OGC will refrain from activating an award if:
- Internal review of proposal is not complete, for more information please see University Review of Proposals
- Projects do not have the approval of the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) required if projects entail the use of human subjects. For more information please see section on: Proposals Requiring Special Review
- Projects do not have the approval of the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) required if projects entail the use of animal subjects. For more information please see section on: Proposals Requiring Special Review.
2. Assignment of University Cost Center
When the award or agreement is signed by both parties (AUB and Sponsor agency) OGC forwards the award document and the approved budget to the PI, the Comptroller's Office, and to the Purchasing Department (if needed). Upon OGC's request, the Comptroller's Office sets up the grant budget as determined on the award document, assigns a cost center to the grant and communicates it to the PI and OGC. The Deans are always notified on the opening of a cost center. The principal investigator may start spending on the start date of the project, and can start sending requests for disbursement (salary, purchase orders, travel requests, etc) using the provided cost center number. From then on, and during the lifetime of the grant period, the Office of the Comptroller will send both OGC and the Deans monthly financial statements showing monthly expenditures.
The PI is required to monitor grant expenditures and remaining balance.
3. Award/Grant Terms and Conditions - Responsibilities of the PI and OGC
The terms and conditions of a grant define the relationship between the sponsor/funding agency and the University, and its purpose is to describe and clarify each party's obligations and commitments. Most award agreements include but are not limited to the following:
- Project Name/Title
- Name of the Principal Investigator: This individual is responsible for conducting the project in accordance with University policies and sponsor requirements.
- Period of Performance: Project duration (start and end date)
- Total awarded budget, and budget breakdown
- Future Commitments per Year. These funds are dependent on their availability and on satisfactory progress on the project.
- Cost Sharing: If the sponsor requires the University to contribute its own resources to the project, these requirements are specified in the agreement. University accounting and reporting on these costs is a requirement.
- Schedule of Reimbursements: Award agreements specify how the University will be funded or reimbursed by the sponsor.
- Key responsible personnel: Include administrative staff for both parties, the University and the sponsor.
- Project Description or Statement of Work
- Deliverables: Under some contracts, the University must deliver specific work products to the sponsor.
- Reporting requirements: Almost all awards require technical and financial reports.
- Special Terms and Conditions: The award agreement may have additional terms and conditions which may specify such things as, programmatic and budgetary changes, limitations on availability or use of funds, need for prior approvals. It is critical to understand these restrictions before incurring costs. Both the PI and OGC must pay attention to these requirements in addition to reading all referenced documents within the award agreement.
- Ownership of intellectual property
- Publication rights
The number and complexity of terms in an award agreement vary depending on the sponsor and type of the award. As mentioned above, since the contract is made between the University and the sponsor agency, it is important that the terms and conditions of an award comply with AUB's policies. Thus it is the responsibility of OGC to review the award terms and conditions and, if necessary, negotiate changes to ensure compliance. Once the agreement is signed and cost center is established for the project, it is the responsibility of the PI to read and understand the conditions and terms of the grant, and if needed seek the help of OGC for their interpretation. It is the responsibility of the PI to administer the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the grant, and OGC is responsible for ensuring compliance with sponsor's regulations and policies as well as those of the AUB.
The PI is responsible for implementing the project within any administrative limitations obligated by the sponsor and the University. The PI is considered the director of the project and is responsible for the technical aspects of the project and he/she is the one who authorizes expenditures on it (including but not limited to the purchase of equipment, supplies and services), subject to approval if necessary by the Dean and OGC or the funding agency. It is also important for the PI to meet with the Grants' Manager at OGC at the start of the project and during the lifetime of the project to ensure proper financial management of the grant.
There are times after an award has been made, when the principal investigator finds that certain aspects of the project needs to be changed or the approved budget needs to be adjusted or revised. In this context there are two questions that the PI has to ask:
A. Who should provide the approval for any change, the sponsor or the University?, and
B. Does the funding agency require that the change be approved in writing?
Usually the terms and conditions part of the agreement will address such questions, but principal investigators are encouraged to request OGC's assistance on such administrative matters. If the change must be approved by the sponsor, the OGC is the Unit responsible for drafting a letter of request in coordination and upon the request of the PI. When the request is approved by the sponsor, OGC will send copies of the approval notification to the principal investigator and to any other departments involved.
4. Grant Reporting Requirements
The PI must read the conditions and terms of the grant and pay special attention to the reporting requirements and deadlines. It is the responsibility of the PI to ensure that all the required technical and narrative reports are completed for the timely submission of the report by OGC to the funding agency. The preparation of the required financial reports however is the responsibility of the Comptroller's Office whose role is to prepare and forward to OGC for formal submission to the sponsoring agency. The PI is also required to review the financial report before it is officially submitted to the funding agency.