Managing an Award

External awards in the form of grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are made to NDSU in support of research and other sponsored activities.  The Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) unit administers a number of post-award processes including award review, negotiation, and signature; requests for no-cost extensions, budget changes, PI changes, pre-award spending approvals; and development, negotiation, and signature of subawards.


Notification of Award

Sponsors will send awards or notice of intent to provide funding to SPA.  If a PI receives an award it should be forwarded to SPA. SPA and/or Innovation and Economic Development staff will review each award document for terms and conditions and compare the award amount with the original proposal budget.  The PI will be contacted to discuss any differences between the proposal and award amounts - an updated budget or other supporting documents may be requested.  If sponsor does not have an award template, an NDSU agreement template can be provided by SPA.

PI Responsibilities

  • Execute the project as outlined in the funded proposal and the terms and conditions of the award.
  • Authorize only those expenditures that are reasonable and necessary to accomplish the project goals and that are consistent with the sponsor’s terms and conditions.
  • Spend no more than the amount authorized by the sponsor for the project period.
  • Carry out the project’s financial plan as presented in the funded proposal.
  • Notify SPA of any proposed changes in the scope of work, the PI or other key research personnel, the budget, or the period of performance.
  • Follow all applicable University policies and procedures such as travel, purchasing, employment, contracted services, and compensation policies.
  • Assure that cost-sharing or matching commitments are fulfilled and reported to Grant and Contract Accounting in a timely manner.
  • Assure that effort reporting (Personal Activity Confirmations) are accurately, completely, and timely reported by the department.
  • Oversee the care and maintenance of property procured with project funds in accordance with sponsor guidelines.
  • Report any intellectual property development which relates to the project to Innovation and Economic Development in accordance with policies.
  • Report project progress, including final reports as required by the terms of the award.
  • Review project expenditures regularly and in a timely fashion to assure they are correct and appropriate.
  • Comply with all sponsor rules, regulations, and terms and conditions of the award.

Revised Proposal Budget

If a sponsor agency determines that it intends to fund a proposal but at an amount less than what was requested in the budget, the agency may request a revised budget. If a PI is asked by a grant agency to revise a proposed budget, a new proposal transmittal form is not required. The following steps should be completed before submission of a revised budget to a sponsor agency:

  • Make a copy of the original signed proposal transmittal form (PTF)
  • Write REVISED at the top of the PTF copy in large letters
  • Attach it to the revised budget pages
  • Bring all to Sponsored Programs for re-review and final approval and signature
  • Once signed the revised budget should be submitted to the sponsor agency.

 If you have questions, please contact the Budget & Program Officer, phone 231.5259 or email

Compliance Verification

During the award acceptance process, SPA will check with Research Integrity and Compliance staff to ensure that all compliance items have been completed as required for the awarding sponsor and NDSU policy.  Compliance items may include IRB, IACUC, IBC, COI, Export Controls, and PHS FCOI.  Sponsors typically require pending compliance matters to be completed prior to finalization of an award.

Review of Terms and Conditions

All sponsored project awards contain terms and conditions; SPA and/or the Innovation and Economic Development staff complete a comprehensive review of all of the terms and conditions of the award.  Terms and conditions often contain prior approval requirements, for example for foreign travel, food, or equipment.  They may also contain requirements for budget expenditures and unallowable costs.  Additional requirements may be included for the submission of technical reports that need to be submitted by the PI.  Some terms may require negotiating changes with a sponsor.


SPA/Business Development are responsible for conducting all negotiations with sponsors to obtain mutually-acceptable terms and conditions that will allow NDSU to accept the award in accordance with federal regulations, sponsor policies, North Dakota law and NDSU policies and practices.  Award terms that generally require negotiation include:

  • publication rights
  • intellectual property
  • indemnification
  • governing law/jurisdiction
  • confidentiality
  • insurance
  • payment/invoicing terms
  • termination
  • citizenship restrictions


The Vice President for Research and Creative Activity is the designated university representative to sign all award documents.  Signature authority has been delegated to SPA and Innovation and Economic Development for externally funded award agreements.  In the event PI or other administrative signature is required, SPA or Innovation and Economic Development will facilitate the additional signatures. SPA will notify the PI and department administrator once the award agreement has been accepted; it is essential that the PI read, understand and follow the award terms and conditions.  Prior to sending the award to Grant and Contract Accounting for set-up in PeopleSoft, Research Integrity and Compliance staff will confirm completion of any outstanding IRB, IACUC, IBC, FCOI, COI, and Export Control matters.  After compliance verification, SPA sends the fully signed award to Grant and Contract Accounting along with all proposal documents.

Grant and Contract Accounting Setup

Grant and Contract Accounting (GCA) will review the award terms and conditions to determine the appropriate budget restrictions and invoicing requirements before setting up the approved budget in PeopleSoft.  Any cost share requirements will be reviewed and setup to collect documentation of matching cost share expenditures.  Upon completion of budget, invoicing and cost share setup the GCA officer will send an email with the Award Information form to the PI and associated department administrators.  The Award Info sheet will contain a snapshot of pertinent budget information and guidance to follow.

Subawards to External Entities

Within an award, the sponsor approved budget for NDSU may include a subaward to an external entity.  After award setup by Grant and Contract Accounting (GCA), a request to initiate the subaward agreement will be sent to Innovation and Economic Development by GCA.  Innovation and Economic Development will draft the subaward document and carryout any negotiations with the subaward entity in consultation with the NDSU PI as necessary.

Advanced Spending

The need to establish advanced spending may arise when:

  • NDSU has received an award but spending is necessary prior to the official start date of the project so expenses will fall outside the period of performance of an award.
  • Spending is necessary prior to the internal set-up of an award but expenses will fall within the anticipated period of performance of an award.
  • Award is already in place but NDSU is waiting on receipt of an incremental funding award notice (e.g. additional year funding).
  • A no-cost extension has been requested and NDSU is waiting on sponsor approval.

Process to request advanced spending:

  1. Principal Investigator (PI) initiates advanced spending by sending an email to supervisor (chair/head/director/dean) that includes the following:  proposal number, any restrictions on dollar amount and/or time restrictions, and documentation of sponsor's intent to fund the project.
  2. If supervisor approves the request, they should include an acknowledgement that the department/college assumes responsibility for any expenses not reimbursed by the sponsor.  This approval and documentation should then be forwarded to SPA at
  3. SPA will review the request and forward approved requests to Grant and Contract Accounting.  Approval is contingent on the above criteria as well as satisfactory completion of applicable compliance requirements (IACUC, IRB, IBC, FCOI, and COI).


During the performance of an award, the PI may find it necessary to move funds from one budget category to another (i.e. “re-budget”) to complete the sponsor approved scope of work.  If a re-budget is necessary, PI’s should complete the Re-budget Request Form and contact their Grant and Contract Accounting Officer for review and determination whether the request can be approved internally or whether sponsor approval is needed.  Grant and Contract Accounting will forward to Sponsored Programs all re-budget requests that require sponsor approval.  Sponsored Programs will work with the PI to gather information and send a formal re-budget request to the sponsor.

No-Cost Time Extensions

A no-cost extension is an extension of the period of performance without receipt of additional funds.  Funding agencies will generally allow no-cost time extensions on projects.  Depending on its policy, an agency may allow NDSU to approve a time extension, or the granting agency itself may need to approve the time extension. Some agencies also require that extension requests be submitted a specified amount of time in advance of the award expiration date. Consult your grant agreement or grant agency policy to verify eligibility of a project for an extension and for additional instructions.  Requests for no-cost extensions should be routed to Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA).  SPA will make the formal request for the extension to the sponsor.

To request a no-cost time extension on an award, complete and e-mail a No-Cost Time Extension Request Form located on the Forms page to SPA will review and request agency approval when necessary.

There are some variations to the above procedure:

1. The National Science Foundation (NSF) uses an electronic submission process called All extension requests for NSF grants should be initiated on this system and are required to be submitted 45 days prior to the grant end date. Once initiated, the extension will be sent electronically to SPA for review and submission to the NSF.  

2. If the grant is from USDA/NIFA, submit the requested information to Ona Vig in the NDSU Ag Administration Budget Office. (This variation is only for PI’s located under the College of Food Systems and Natural Resources, the Ag Experiment Station or Extension.) 

3. The Agricultural Products Utilization Commission (APUC) requires requests to be submitted by the PI. In order to maintain compliance with NDSU policy that requires SPA to submit all requests for extensions to sponsors, the PI should submit a letter to SPA identifying the need for an extension of their APUC project.  SPA will put the letter on SPA letterhead and route for signatures.  Once fully signed, the letter will be submitted to APUC with a copy to the PI.  The letter request should include all pertinent details such as the APUC grant number, NDSU award number, title of the project, current and new end dates, and reason/justification for the extension.  The letter should be e-mailed to  Requests may only be for 6 months and should be submitted near the end of the project or when the reminder for the final report is received.

 4. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture requires requests for an extension to be submitted on its Extension of Grant Agreement form.  This form should be completed and e-mailed to  SPA will review the request and submit it to the sponsor.  Contact Shelly Sandstrom to request a copy of this form.

As a general guideline, requests for a no-cost extension should be submitted at least 30 days prior to an award's end date, unless the sponsor, such as NSF, requires an earlier submission.  Justification for the request should reference the remaining work to be completed in accordance with the approved work plan, and provide sufficient detail to support the need for additional time to complete the work.  Having funds remaining at the end of the expiration date is not an acceptable justification.  Questions regarding no-cost time extensions on awards should be directed to Shelly Sandstrom, phone 231.7258.

Institution Transfers and PI/Key Personnel Changes

When a PI or key personnel on an award will be transferring departments, leaving NDSU, or will no longer be involved in the activities under the award, appropriate steps need to be taken in terms of award disposition.  There is a Disposition of Grants form on SPA’s Forms website that will need to be completed.  It is important that this form be completed as soon as possible after notification that a PI or key personnel will be transferring departments or leaving NDSU or the project, as the responsibility for continuation, management and/or transfer/relinquishment of the award rests on NDSU as the named recipient.  NDSU also has the responsibility to work with a sponsor to obtain any necessary approvals for changes to an award necessitated by the departure of a PI and/or transfer of an award. 

Depending on the circumstances, the most common disposition results include:

  • The award stays at NDSU and a replacement PI or key personnel is/are named
  • The award is transferred to a new NDSU Department
  • The award is transferred to a new institution

Often awards need to remain at NDSU due to sponsor limitations, or the timing of the PI leaving NDSU.  If, for instance, a PI leaves NDSU in the final 12 months of a project, it may be more practical to leave the award at NDSU and issue a subaward to the former PI at their new institution.  This eliminates the long delays that are often experienced when NDSU has to relinquish an award and the sponsor has to reissue it to a new institution.  It is often less burdensome on a sponsor to simply approve a replacement PI at NDSU and to approve a subaward to the new institution.  Also, it is possible to have a different outcome for multiple awards to the same PI.  That is, one award may be transferred in its entirety, one may be transferred but have a subaward back to NDSU, one may stay at NDSU under a replacement PI with a subaward to the former PI, and one may simply stay in full under a replacement PI.
Please contact SPA at with any questions, or to discuss specifics of award disposition.

Other Changes

Any post-award change request that is not addressed above should be directed to Sponsored Programs staff.

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