Managing Your Sponsored Research

Award Negotiation & Acceptance

Awards are received by the University of Maryland on behalf of the Principal Investigator (PI). While the PI assumes the responsibility for financial oversight and completion of the work, the University remains legally responsible for the award. Therefore, all awards must conform to University policy and procedure.

Acceptance of an award requires a number of steps:

  • ORA receives award notification from the sponsor.
  • ORA reviews the terms & conditions. (For some Request for Proposals (RFP's), the process may begin before an award is made).
  • Sponsor initiated pre-award negotiations require ORA to verify budget details and confirm all rates quoted in the proposal.
  • ORA enters into formal negotiations with the sponsor, including reviewing and negotiating the terms and clauses such as copyrights, patents, indemnification, default and termination clauses, deliverable schedule, invoicing, data rights, etc.
  • After all parties agree upon the award's content, the University accepts the award.
  • Once all terms are negotiated, and mutually acceptable, signatures are obtained from the sponsor and UMD, and then an account can be created by the Sponsored Programs Accounting & Compliance (SPAC).
  • The Principal Investigator will receive an Award Notice generated by Kuali Research containing pertinent award information and the account number established for this project.

Start Date

The University is not authorized to spend funds prior to the official start date. This date is predicated upon acceptance of all terms of the award by both parties (see below for possible exceptions). Effective dates for grants and cooperative agreements are usually set by the sponsor in the award. Faculty members have access to the funds as soon as the account number is issued. Contracts are not as predictable; in some cases the start date is specific and in others it is determined by the final signature date. The final signatory may be the University or the sponsor, depending on the contract.

Expenditures and Financial Records

Sponsored Programs Accounting & Compliance (SPAC) prepares and submits standard financial reports to the sponsor as required.  Financial records are maintained in the Kuali Financial System (KFS).   The Principal Investigator is responsible for assuring that all approved expenses in support of a project are properly charged to it. The Principal Investigator is expected to keep sufficient internal records to control expenditures, particularly those budgetary lines which may not be exceeded without special approval. For more information on maintaining financial records and generating reports, go to UMD’s Kuali Financial System.

Some federal sponsors have granted universities expanded authorities e.g. DOE, EPA, NIH, NASA, NSF, USDA. In these cases, the PI can request pre-award costs, travel costs, and no-cost extensions and ORA can approve these requests. Advanced Account Number Authorization (AANA) for pre-award costs may be granted prior to an award’s acceptance when there is a solid commitment from the sponsor. The PI’s department assumes all risk in covering expenditures in advance of receipt of the award.

General Responsibilities

Individual departments manage award funds and initiate and monitor all expenditures. The University assumes legal responsibility for funded projects.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • The PI is responsible for the management and conduct of research activities, including technical reporting activities.
  • All technical reports and project deliverables are the full responsibility of the PI.
  • The PI must also initiate correspondence with the sponsor's administrative or program manager to request programmatic or budgetary changes.
  • All requests for programmatic and budgetary changes must be sent through ORA for counter signature before submission to the sponsor.
  • The PI must initiate requests to issue subawards for collaborations with external entities using the ORA subaward forms.


Personnel assigned to sponsored projects, like all other personnel, must be appointed and compensated in keeping with State and University personnel rules.  The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires that the University maintain records that will substantiate the effort of each individual charged to a sponsored project. Therefore, time records must be carefully maintained. For faculty, staff, and graduate assistants, effort is recorded on the Effort Report form distributed to each faculty investigator by SPAC's, Cost Accounting office two times a year. 


In order to issue a subaward, the Principal Investigator/Department must first submit the Subaward Request Form along with the proposed statement of work, detailed budget and budget justification and other relevant supporting documentation.  ORA will prepare, negotiate and issue the subaward. Once the subaward has been signed by both the University and the subrecipient, the subaward amount is encumbered in the project KFS account.  For more information on subcontracting, go to Subawards page.

In order for vendors to be paid, invoices from the subrecipient must be reviewed and approved by the PI/Department first, and then forwarded to the Accounts Payable Office for payment.

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