Award Management

  • "Grant" vs. "Contract"

    Sponsored program funding may be awarded to the institution through one of several mechanisms. The most common are grants and contracts.

     A grant is an "assistance" mechanism. A grant is generally awarded in response to a proposal that was developed by a faculty member and submitted to the sponsor by the institution. A grant supports a specific project but without the expectation of the delivery of a specific product or service other periodic progress and financial reports. Grant funds are awarded through the issuance of a "notice of award" (NOA) to the institution (the "grantee"). The NOA spells out the general terms and conditions of the award including the project period and reporting requirements. It may or may not require an institutional signature to accept the award. Grants typically support basic research, fellowships, and training.

    A contract is a "procurement" mechanism. It is generally awarded in response to a technical proposal developed by a faculty member and submitted by the institution in response to a detailed request for proposal (RFP) from the sponsor. A contract also supports a specific project or set of tasks ("scope of work") but for the direct benefit of the sponsor, not necessarily the institution. The terms and conditions of the funding are generally presented in greater detail in a formal written agreement. It is not uncommon for these agreements to include terms and conditions that are prohibited by either the State of Tennessee or the Tennessee Board of Regents and require negotiation with the sponsor. Once accepted by all parties, the terms and conditions are secured by the signature of an authorized official for each party and are enforceable by law. Under a contract, the university the contractor is given much less latitude to modify the scope of work or the budget without prior approval from the sponsor. Contracts typically support applied research and service activities.

     A subaward is a grant awarded to the university under a larger grant award issued by the originating sponsor to another organization (the "prime recipient") for the performance of a portion of the scope of work. Subawards are typically subject to the terms and conditions of the prime award.

     Both a direct contract to the university from the originating sponsor and a subaward agreement issued to MU by the prime recipient of a grant are examples of what we collectively refer to as "sponsored agreements".

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  • Receipt of Award

    All sponsored program awards must be processed by the OGSPR for review and approval prior to the acceptance of the award. All award documentation, including an official Notice of Award should be forwarded to the OGSPR immediately upon receipt.

     All contracts between MU and outside entities, including sponsored agreements, must be reviewed and approved internally before they are executed by an authorized official of the university. Sponsored Agreements must be routed by the Principal Investigator (PI) along with a completed Internal Routing Form to his or her Department Chair or Unit Head and College or Division Dean for review and approval signatures.

     Once the agreement has been reviewed and approved at the department and college levels, it should be routed to the OGSPR for final review and approval by the Vice President of Finance & Administration. 

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  • Account Management

    When OGSPR receives a Notice of Grant Award (NGA) or fully-executed agreement (FE), the official account set-up process begins. OGSPR reviews the award document for variances from the proposal document. After the budget and statement of work have been approved, the official account set-up paperwork is completed and forwarded to Accounting; a copy is also provided to the PI, the department and the college.

     After receiving the paperwork, Grant Accounting will assign a cost center and communicate that information to the PI, department and college.


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  • Post-Award Account Management

    The account department prepares, submits and receives all invoices associated with a sponsored program and is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all charges to a sponsored program meet the criteria for allowability, allocability, and reasonableness set forth by the sponsor and the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

     The PI is responsible for both the programmatic and financial management of the sponsored program. All documents pertaining to this index number should have the PI's signature as the responsible person. All charges to this index must be allowable, allocable, and reasonable.

     We strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with all BI forms and tools. Contact the budgets department for assistance at

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  • Personnel Management

    Personnel costs on MU sponsored projects will be budgeted and charged to the sponsored project commensurate with the individual's committed MU effort on the project and at their established institutional base rate of pay. Under no circumstances will personnel charges to sponsored projects exceed the proportionate share of the base salary for that period. Personnel charges on sponsored projects replace, not supplement, the existing pay source.

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  • Subawards and Subrecipient Monitoring

     The University has the responsibility throughout the lifetime of the subaward agreement to monitor the activities of subrecipients in accordance with the terms and conditions of the prime sponsored award. The PI is responsible for the management and administration of the subaward in accordance with the sponsored award, federal regulations and University policy.


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  • Cost Transfers

    Any costs allocable to a particular sponsored agreement may NOT be shifted to other sponsored agreements (or other funds) in order to meet deficiencies caused by overruns or other fund considerations, to avoid restrictions imposed by law or by terms of the sponsored agreement, or for other reasons of convenience. Any costs allocable to activities sponsored by industry, foreign governments or other sponsors may not be shifted to federally-sponsored agreements. A PI should contact Grant Accounting upon identifying an incorrect charge to a sponsored program to initiate a cost transfer.

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  • Re-budget Requests on Sponsored Projects

    The terms and conditions of an award generally determine the allowability and/or procedure for rebudgeting sponsored project funds. Rebudgeting of sponsored projects will only be allowed when the request to rebudget falls within the guidelines of the sponsor and is reviewed and approved by OGSPR. Requests to rebudget sponsored project funds that represent a change in project scope and/or key personnel may need additional approvals.

    The PI initiates any request to rebudget sponsored project funds by completing a Rebudget Request Form, obtaining the required signatures, and submitting it to OGSPR for review and approval. Additional information to substantiate the rebudget may be requested.

    Upon obtaining all necessary approvals, OGSPR will forward the approved request to Grant Accounting for implementation.

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