Post-Award Steps and Strategies
As the project director (often called the PI or principal investigator), you are responsible both for managing the day-to-day activities of your project and for addressing any requests that the funder may have established when they awarded the grant. Although you will be the ultimate expert on the project’s content, Bridget Wiffin in the CFR office can help you understand the requirements of the grant and connect you to the offices on campus with the right expertise to support the administrative aspects of your project.
First, consult with Bridget to share a copy of your award letter and determine what type of thank-you message should be sent to the funder to acknowledge your grant. For example, depending on the size, nature, and significance of your grant or the funder from which it was received, the thank you letter could be sent from the project director, from the CFR office, or from a member of the college’s senior staff.
Next, we suggest that you refer to your original proposal and budget to make sure that, as you proceed in your work, you are addressing the deliverables you established at the outset. Funders know that projects can evolve and change as your work progresses; however, many organizations want to be kept apprised of those changes. Sometimes, they even require formal approval before changes to project activities or project budgets can be made. Please refer to the funder’s guidelines and to your grant award letter to determine when and why you may have to consult with the funder. And if you do need to request changes, Bridget can assist you with this type of communication.
Furthermore, at the very beginning of the grant period, it can be helpful to carefully review the grant’s reporting requirements and to consider what types of information the report(s) might require you to collect throughout the course of the project. For example, does the funder want you to share comments from project participants? Describe challenges you encounter? Detail your research travel schedule? Submit quarterly financial updates? We recommend setting up systems for gathering the requested information as early as possible, and tracking it throughout the grant period in order to reduce the reporting effort at the end of the grant.
Project Expenses and Accounting
Upon receiving initial notification of your grant award, you should contact CFR office and/or the provost’s office, who will work with you to alert the college of the anticipated income and request that the controller’s office create a new account for the administration of the funds. Please be prepared to forward a copy of your award letter to all of the offices involved.
Remember: All grant awards are tracked through PeopleSoft. It is critical to monitor your expenditures regularly throughout the course of the grant to ensure that you are spending at an appropriate rate. In most cases, all of your expenses must be processed in PeopleSoft before the final day of the grant period in order to be covered by the grant funds. Please plan your project timeline and your final purchases accordingly.
Being under-budget can sometimes be just as problematic as being over-budget, especially if you have funds remaining as you approach the conclusion of the grant period. Many organizations are willing to discuss timeline grant extensions with their grantees; however, such conversations should be raised well before the final days of the grant period. Bridget Wiffin can help you to initiate this type of conversation with private sector funders. For federal funders, deadline extensions must be reviewed and approved by the provost’s office. For more information, please contact Associate Provost Chris Winters.
In some cases, you may need to provide the provost’s office and/or the human resources office with specific information about the grant account from which your salary should be paid, using the salary request form. This form is to be used by faculty on nine-month contracts who wish to draw a salary from a external funding source. It gives human resources the necessary information so that they can process the request, including the amount, timing, and source of the funds. Typically, a faculty member who wishes to draw “summer salary” from a grant award will need to complete the salary request form.
You should also review college policies such as the requirements for faculty spending and transfer of grant-funded equipment and federal requirements to ensure that you will be acting in compliance with all of the appropriate regulations as you undertake the activities of your grant.