Sponsored Project award notices and all accompanying materials should be directed to the Division of Sponsored Programs, 2 Gilmore Hall, for review, negotiation, acceptance, and processing. DSP will match the award notice to the routed application already on file and initiate the award process, working with the UI Principal Investigator/Department and project sponsor to complete the award activation.
Each sponsored project award comes with a unique set of terms and conditions, which may range from entirely flexible to quite restrictive. The Division of Sponsored Programs is responsible for reviewing the award documents and, if need be, negotiating the terms and conditions attached to an award. The goals in negotiation are to protect the investigator's publication and intellectual property rights; to protect the institution against harmful or unmanageable stipulations; and to ensure any agreement is in keeping with state and federal regulations as well as University requirements.
While private sponsors, such as foundations and corporations, are free to develop unique, individual sets of terms and conditions, federal agency awards are universally subject to the following:
The Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, has developed the Uniform Guidance to consolidate instructions and other information that applies to all federal government agencies. The purpose of the Uniform Guidance is to foster consistency in federal award requirements. The University of Iowa followed the Uniform Guidance effective December 26, 2014. (For more information about the Uniform Guidance replacing OMB circulars A-21, A-110, A-133, see THIS LINK.)
- Uniform Guidance - Subpart E- Cost Principles -Special Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education -- The Uniform Guidance establishes principles for determining which types of costs are allowable and allocable in relation to research and development, training, and other sponsored work performed by colleges and universities under grants, contracts, and other agreements with the Federal government. It also guides colleges and universities in their efforts to identify and assign the facilities and administrative (F&A) costs -- i.e., overhead and other institutional expenses -- associated with sponsored projects, and to determine and apply appropriate F&A cost rates.
- Uniform Guidance - Subpart B - General Provisions - The Uniform Guidance establishes standards to ensure administrative consistency and uniformity among federal agencies administering sponsored projects with institutions of higher education. The Uniform Guidance also addresses pre-award and post-award requirements for managing grants and cooperative agreements, guiding financial and program management, property and procurement standards, reports and records, and termination and enforcement regulations.
- Agency-Specific Regulations and Policy Statements
In addition to the general requirements of the Uniform Guidance, individual Federal agencies may develop agency-specific award guidelines in the form of policy statements. Examples include the NIH Grants Policy Statement and the NSF Award and Administration Guide. Agency-specific guidelines may be more, but not less, restrictive than Uniform Guidance principles and, when referenced in award documents, agency-specific guidelines take precedence over the general principles.
- Award-Specific Requirements
In addition to the general requirements of the Uniform Guidance, and any agency-specific regulations, granting agencies may attach award-specific guidelines and restrictions in relation to any given project. Each award notice and associated documents should be carefully reviewed so that the PI and administrative staff are aware of any award-specific requirements.
The FAR is the primary document guiding the federal procurement contracting system, outlining the policies and procedures that govern federal acquisition activity. The FAR comprises a set of uniform contract clauses that may be selectively incorporated into federal government contracts as appropriate, on a case-by-case basis.
Expenses cannot be charged against sponsored agreements prior to the start date of the agreement unless specifically authorized in writing by the sponsor. Many federal agencies allow expanded authorities -- a set of federal regulations allowing pre-award spending 90 days in advance of the award's formal start as well as other specific leniencies. When it is certain that an award is allowed expanded authorities, and known that an award will be made effective on a specified date, the Principal Investigator may request an Advance MFK -- an early account, opened before the award paperwork has been officially processed -- by submitting the Advance Master File Key Request form designed for that purpose. In authorizing the form as it travels through UI channels for review and approval, the PI's department is agreeing to accept full responsibility for any pre-award expenditures if, for whatever reason, the project is not funded as expected or pre-award expenses are deemed unallowable.
At the time of award, the Division of Sponsored Programs requires a copy of the sponsor-approved budget to include with the award activation materials. The Grant Accounting Office (GAO) will use this budget to guide and monitor spending, forming the basis for its Financial Management Summary (FMS) report on monthly expenditures. Generally, the approved budget would have been prepared and submitted at the time of application, and is simply copied from the project file in DSP. If, though, the award amount does not match the original request, or if some other adjustment must be made, the awardee must complete a revised budget in accordance with the sponsor guidelines. If the revised budget involves changes in personnel effort or salary and/or other institutional resources, it must be routed through UI channels as described in Section 3d: UI Routing Policy and Procedure.
Once DSP receives, reviews, and approves all the necessary award paperwork and accepts an award on the UI's behalf, it prepares the Award Authorization and Account Notice (AAAN), uploading the AAAN information and corresponding award materials to the Grant Accounting Office system. From there, the GAO assigns a project-specific accountant, who establishes a project-specific account known as the Grant Program Number (G/P No.). The G/P No. is one piece of the full account to be charged, which includes, in addition to the G/P No., the departmental codes and other necessary information; this is known as the Master File Key (MFK). The AAAN is updated to include the assigned accountant and full account information.
Note that accountants and account numbers are assigned according to the information provided on the Grant Accounting Contact List. A complete description of the components that form an MFK is found in the University of Iowa Accounting Code Manual.