The Local Business Center (LBC) Grant Specialist will need to provide basic information to URA in order to establish all of the necessary accounts based on the parameters of the award (e.g. list of administrators, list of authorized signers, guarantee account, special budgeting requirements).
Before creating the account(s) for an award, URA waits for notification from the funding agency that the proposal has been awarded. Awards will require more than one account if the following apply:
- On and off-campus expenses or other spending categories that carry different indirect cost rates
- More than five outgoing subawards
- Multiple projects under the grant that each have their own budgeting requirements
Under certain circumstances an account can be established before the award has been formally issued or accepted by the University. This is called an “advance account.” These must be requested from URA. Any spending made before the award has been issued is done at the University’s risk. If the award is not formally issued or accepted, the funding agency will not reimburse the University for any pre-award costs incurred.
Notice of funding for an award is usually issued via the original award document and followed by additional amendments. The timing will vary according to the terms of the award. URA will budget the funds into the appropriate account(s) only after the notice of funding has been received by the University.
For Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) awards, balances can be carried over to the next project year without prior approval. For non-FDP awards, consult the award documents.
Funding for successive years can and most likely will be withheld by the funding agency until any required progress reports from the PI are filed. It is the PI’s responsibility to keep abreast of reporting deadlines.
The Principal Investigator (PI) is ultimately responsible for all expenses on an award. While the LBC Grant Specialist is responsible for ensuring that spending is conducted in accordance with University and agency guidelines, the PI must be able to justify every expense as appropriate and necessary for the award.
The budget approved by the funding agency should be followed as closely as possible. However, there are always contingencies that arise during a research project that could impact the nature and rate of spending. Many federal awards are part of the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), which means that the PI is allowed to make minor adjustments to the budget as needed to accomplish the original goals of the project; however, approval from the funding agency is required if the scope and aims of the project are changed or if a substantial amount of the budget is being diverted from its original purpose. With non-FDP awards, the PI should consult the program officer before making budget changes. The program officer should always be consulted before hiring people for positions not included in the approved project budget.
Pre-award spending is allowed up to 90 days before the start date of the award on FDP awards. Expenses can be charged to an award up to 30 days after the end date of the award only if those expenses were incurred before the award ended. For example, if an award ends on May 31, an invoice for an item purchased before May 31 can be paid from the award until June 30.
Verification Reporting Annual Effort Certification Statements – PVR
Every Autumn Quarter, the University generates annual effort certification statements detailing both monthly and bi-weekly employee effort charged to sponsored awards during the previous fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). Effort is calculated by the percentage of an individual’s total income that is charged to an account. The statements are received by the LBC and distributed to the PIs and/or department administrators depending on each department’s policy. PIs must certify the accuracy of the percentage of effort charged to their grants by signing these documents in a timely fashion or by indicating their review and approval of the documents via email. The Grant Specialist will communicate the deadlines.
The annual effort certification process is a critical part of the federal award process. Failure to complete the certifications in a timely fashion can trigger an audit finding during our annual internal audit, which can then trigger a series of additional audits from federal agencies.
Occasionally, expenses are charged to an incorrect account. The LBC Grant Specialists can correct these errors via expense transfers. Grant Specialists can often identify some of these problems themselves, but certain transactions (e.g. recharges, telecom bills) are difficult to identify as a problem. Thus, it is very important for PIs to periodically review their account activity and identify any unusual transactions so that errors can be spotted and corrected in a timely fashion. A transfer is considered late if any of the expenses are more than 90 days old. A late cost transfer form will need to accompany such transfers.
The PI should speak with their LBC Grant Specialist to establish a preferred method for account updates. The LBC Grant Specialist can produce a variety of reports regarding account balances, transaction histories, and payroll. These reports can be produced on-request or on a regular schedule.
To learn more about grant post award accounting, please contact your assigned Grant Specialist or the SSD Local Business Center at firstname.lastname@example.org and the LBC Grant Specialist assigned to your accounts will get in touch with you within two business days.
University Research Administration (URA) – https://ura.uchicago.edu/