Award Terms and Conditions
Reporting Requirements on Sponsored Projects
The end product or deliverable of almost every research project is, at a minimum, the final technical report. In addition, the sponsor may have other reporting requirements (such as monthly, quarterly, or annual reporting of technical progress, patent reports, fiscal reports, etc.) throughout the course of the project. Fiscal reporting is completed by the Office of Sponsored Programs Fiscal Services unit.
It is the principal investigator’s responsibility to ensure that required technical progress reports are submitted to the sponsor on time. Often, such reports are required before sponsors will release continuation funding. Sponsors have a wide range of formats in which they require technical reports to be submitted. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) require a non-competing continuation proposal that includes a progress report each year. The proposal must be submitted through the Office of Sponsored Programs and signed by an institutional official. The National Science Foundation (NSF), on the other hand, requires that the principal investigator submit progress reports directly through their electronic system, with no role for the Office of Sponsored Programs in the process.
Final technical reports are usually submitted by the principal investigator directly to the sponsor. However, a copy of the transmittal letter and the cover page of the report should be sent to the Fiscal Services unit at the Office of Sponsored Programs. With these items on file, the Office of Sponsored Programs will be better prepared to respond to sponsor inquiries.
Acknowledging Sponsor Support
The Stevens amendment requires that in journal articles, reports and presentations at scholarly meetings, investigators recognize the federal government for its support of research. However, whether required or not, it is a good practice to acknowledge sponsor support. Such support contributes to the university’s reputation as a research institution and may enhance the university’s position in receiving future research funds.
There may be occasions when sponsors specifically request that their names not be used, or be used only with their approval. Such restrictions would usually be part of the award document (generally a contract) and are noted in the Project Digest. Sponsored program officers can answer specific questions about sponsor acknowledgment.
Public Release of Project Information
The university encourages the public dissemination of research results, while also recognizing the sponsor’s rights with respect to certain kinds of project-related information. Public announcements about new programs, for example, are often released by the sponsor or simultaneously by the sponsor and the university. When the project results are newsworthy, most sponsors wish to be informed before any public announcement is made. Before submitting a manuscript for publication, or an abstract of a meeting presentation, principal investigators should review their Project Digest for sponsor requirements concerning release of project information.
Premature public disclosure of an invention or other potential intellectual property can compromise the university’s or the sponsor’s ability to obtain potentially valuable patents. All potential inventions should be disclosed to Technology Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer (TCO) as soon as possible. TCO should also be consulted prior to submission of a publication or abstract or before any other public disclosure of project intellectual property. TCO will not ask that any publication or presentation be delayed.
Modifications to Sponsored Agreements
Sometimes it is necessary for a sponsored project agreement to be modified. For instance, the principal investigator may need to rebudget funds from one category to another, require additional time to complete the project or change the scope of work. For federally funded projects, only grant or contracting officers can modify agreements. The sponsor’s program officials (i.e., technical contacts) are not authorized to approve any changes to agreements.
For most agreements, principal investigators should prepare a letter to the sponsor requesting the desired change and explaining why it is necessary. The letter is countersigned by the Office of Sponsored Programs sponsored program officer and submitted by the Office of Sponsored Programs to the appropriate sponsor representative. To ensure enough time for a response, requests should be made at least 30 days in advance of the desired effective date. In certain circumstances, the Office of Sponsored Programs is authorized to initiate changes without sponsor approval. The sponsor must still be informed, however, of the changes that have been made.