Common Award Management Questions

Who is my Grant, Contract or Subcontract Officer?

The Unit Directory on our website allows you to search by department to find your contacts at OCG. In the directory you will find your Proposal Analyst, Grant Officer, Contract Officer and Subcontract Officer.

What is the difference between a grant, contract and subcontract?

Incoming Awards and Funds: Incoming funds can be defined as any number of items, including a grant, contract, or subcontract. Regardless of its definition, these specifically address when a sponsor awards CU Boulder funding to perform a specific project. All incoming awards should be routed to ocg@colorado.edu and the award will be assigned to a Grant or Contract Officer for review and negotiation.

Outgoing Awards and Funds: CU Boulder generally issues outgoing subcontracts (awarding and funding) to collaborators outside of CU Boulder in order to further specific research goals.

Who has signature authority?

Signature authority delegations at CU Boulder are designed to protect academic freedoms, including a faculty member’s right to publish and CU Boulder's intellectual property. The Regents of the University of Colorado delegates signature authority to President Kennedy, whom then grants signature authority to named individuals within the CU Boulder.

The Office of Contracts and Grants (OCG) holds the delegation of signature authority for CU Boulder grants, research and service contracts, as well as unfunded contracts related to research such as non-disclosure agreements, material transfer agreements, and data transfer and use agreements. OCG is also the authorized representative for official sponsored project correspondence over the life of an award (e.g., requests to the sponsor for no-cost extensions, budget deviations, prior approval authorizations and other modifications to the terms of an award).

View the Signature Authority Delegations fact sheet for more information.

What is the difference between fixed-price and cost-reimbursable contracts?

Fixed-price contracts are invoiced or paid by a set dollar amount or fixed-price, regardless of how much is expended. If funds remain after completion of the project and fulfillment of the deliverable, the remaining funds are administered in accordance with CU Boulder policy (the remaining funds become residuals). In fixed-price contracts, if the budget is exceeded before the project is completed, CU Boulder takes on the liability of carrying out the project until the project's conclusion.

In cost-reimbursable contracts, CU Boulder can only be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred during the project and the risk of project completion falls upon the sponsor.

How do I get a No-Cost Extension?

To request a No-Cost Extension, please complete the online No-Cost Extension Form for the appropriate sponsor. You will need the following information to complete the form:

  • Award number
  • Project Title
  • Current Period of Performance
  • Requested Extension End Date
  • Amount of funds expected to be available on the current end date
  • Brief technical or scientific reason for the extension
  • Brief summary of work to be accomplished during the extension period

Please note that some sponsors may require additional information. The request will be submitted in accordance with the procedures of the sponsoring agency. Some sponsors use online systems for No-Cost Extension reqeuests, such as Research.gov, NSSC, or eRA Commons, while other sponsors require that No-Cost Extension requests be submitted via email to the sponsor's authorized official. Deadlines for submitting No-Cost Extension requests vary according to sponsor requirements.

Who manages student projects and how?

Student projects, such as Senior Design courses and their affiliated funding, are negotiated and executed by the OCG Contracts Team.

Contract Officers assist CU Boulder in creating a standard template contract for sponsors funding both undergrad and graduate projects. A Statement of Work (SOW), project title, and sponsor contact are needed for the OCG Contracts Team to initiate contract negotiations with sponsors. The OCG Contracts Team negotiates and follows-up with sponsors in order for the agreements to be finalized.

Who manages Data Transfer and Use Agreements (DTUAs), Non-disclosure Agreements (NDAs)and Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)?

 Data Transfer and Use Agreements (DTUAs), Non-disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are negotiated and executed by the OCG Contracts Team.

Contract Administrators assist CU Boulder in facilitating the sharing and receipt of intellectual property through these unfunded contractual vehicles. To initiate a new contract, please submit your request via the NDA and MTA Online Request Form or email your department’s Contract Administrator.

SpeedType Questions

How do I access my money?

Each sponsored research award will be assigned a SpeedType and project number. The SpeedType is a number assigned by the finance system and is the number to which charges on sponsored projects will be posted.

When will I get my SpeedType?

The assignment of SpeedTypes is initiated by the Campus Controller's Office (CCO). After the OCG Grant or Contract Officer has completed the review and processing of an incoming award, the file is routed electronically to CCO to be input into the financial system, which then generates a SpeedType.

If CCO has no questions or issues with the award processing or documentation the SpeedType is usually assigned within two days after being received by CCO. If there are issues, the file will be routed back to OCG to resolve, which may delay the SpeedType. 

How can I get my SpeedType faster?

Principal Investigators can help facilitate quick assignment of SpeedTypes by ensuring:

  • DEPAs are current
  • IRB and IACUC approvals are current and have been obtained 

OCG must have a proposal on file for all incoming awards before the awards can be processed. Work with your Proposal Analyst to create a proposal prior to receiving an award.

How do costs post to a Fund 30 SpeedType?

Funds must post by the end date of the project to be considered allowable expenses. If an expense is pending or encumbered, it must clear by the project end date to be an allowable expense.

Federal sponsors typically give us 90 days to invoice for our final payment.

Industry sponsors and other contract terms do not usually allow this extra invoicing time. Industry sponsors have hard stop dates for projects. No-Cost Extensions with industry sponsors are not guaranteed. When working with industry sponsors, as much of the funds as possible should be spent before the end date.

Why do some projects need a new SpeedType for every year?

When awards are received that have more than one year of funding, and the funding agency requires prior approval to carry forward funds from one year to the next, a new SpeedType for each year's funding must be requested. New SpeedTypes for each year helps to create a cut off for the prior budget period so that the department and/or Principal Investigator cannot post to the previous SpeedType.

Funds cannot be commingled without sponsor approval.

When do separate SpeedTypes need to be set up for a project?

There are a variety of reasons why separate SpeedTypes might be needed for one award.

If an award has an outgoing subcontract included in the budget, the subcontract account must be split out into a separate project number and SpeedType.

If an award includes Participant Support Costs, a separate project number and SpeedType must be set up because Participant Support Costs usually do not have IDC associated with them. In some cases, the award terms require that the Participant Support costs be tracked separately from the main project.

Supplements that are awarded with a different IDC rate than that of the original award need to have a new project number and SpeedType. If the supplement is received with the same IDC rate, it may be able to remain in the main project number and SpeedType.

Anytime there are multiple IDC rates associated with an award, each different IDC rate would need to have a separate project number and SpeedType.

Separate SpeedTypes may be requested by a department for a variety of reasons, such as when there are multiple departments, programs and/or Principal Investigators associated with the award and each department would like to account for their portion separately.

How can I get a Pre-Award account before I have a SpeedType?

A fully executed award contract is needed in order to set up a SpeedType. If a Principal Investigator (PI) would like a SpeedType prior to the award being fully executed, the PI has the option of making an At-Risk Project request. After completing the At-Risk Project Request Form, send it to your Grant or Contract Officer for review.

The at-risk award process will vary somewhat depending upon whether the award is issued as a federal grant or under another funding mechanism. Some examples include:

  • Federal grant: Under 2 CFR 200 Part 458 (Uniform Guidance), the recipient is allowed 90 day pre-award spending unless disallowed or restricted by the funding agency. An At-Risk Project Request Form will be required for pre-award spending.
  • Contracts, federal grant flow-down, or non-federal grants: Approval from the funding institution is needed to ensure costs prior to the performance start date will be allowed. Complete an At-Risk Project Request Form and contact your Grant or Contract Officer to request approval.

Pre-award costs are limited to 25% of the anticipated award amount for a period of 90 days. A non-Fund 30 Department SpeedType is required to determine which charges can be transferred in the event that the award is not issued.

Without an at-risk award account, the PI will have to wait for the contract to be reviewed, accepted, signed and sent through the system between OCG and CCO to have a SpeedType set up.

The other option is to communicate this with your Contract Officer, who will request pre-award authorization. The sponsor may or may not approve the request, but if approved, it will be noted in the contract.

Budget Questions

How do I know if I can revise my budget?

Review your award document to see if there are restrictions regarding budget revisions. If there are restrictions, contact your Grant or Contract Officer to have them work with the sponsor to request a revised budget. 

When is a revised budget required?

Please see Procedural Statement for additional information.

Can I request a deviation in the two month salary support on an NSF grant?

As a general policy, NSF limits the salary compensation requested in the proposal budget for senior personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year. CU Boulder considers our fiscal year as the one year period. This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants. If anticipated, any compensation in excess of the two months can be requested from NSF in the proposal with the required documentation and justification.  NSF also provides CU Boulder rebudgeting authority to internally approve changes to personnel salary support, even if that results in support that exceeds two months.

If you want to propose and/or expense more than two months direct NSF salary support in any 12 month period, you should include the following applicable criteria to assist you in developing your justification, either at proposal or for a budget deviation after the award has been funded.

  • The additional salary support is necessary to fulfill the research objective of the project
  • The project will be negatively impacted by not supporting additional Principal Investigator paid effort
  • How the costs are reasonable, directly benefit the project, and represent prudent use of the sponsor’s funds
  • An explanation for other budgeted costs that will be reduced in order to compensate for the additional unbudgeted salary support

Award Status & Change Questions

How do I change the PI on my award?

Changing the Principal Investigator (PI) on an award will require sponsor approval. Send a request to your Grant or Contract Officer with the following information:

  • Names of both the current PI and the new PI (NSF ID numbers if an NSF award)
  • Project number(s) affected
  • Why the current PI is leaving the award
  • Why the new PI was chosen
  • Current CV and Current and Pending Support for the new PI
  • Impact of this change on the project

Your Grant or Contract Officer will submit the request to the sponsor for approval.

How do I change the department contact in the infoEd record?

You must complete the Project Manager Change Form found on the Campus Controller's Office (CCO) website. Follow the instructions on the form for returning the form to CCO. CCO will validate the new personnel and update PeopleSoft. Once PeopleSoft is updated, the change is forwarded to ocg@colorado.edu to be updated in infoEd.

How do I change the home department and organization code in the infoEd record?

You must complete the Reorg Request Form found on the Campus Controller's Office (CCO) website. Follow the instructions on the form for returning the form to CCO. CCO will update PeopleSoft. Once PeopleSoft is updated, the change is forwarded to ocg@colorado.edu to be updated in infoEd.

How can I transfer funds from one account to another?

Email your Area Accountant in the Campus Controller's Office. 

Can I move funds from one category of expense to another?

The answer depends upon the following:

  • The award sponsor and their terms and conditions. The terms and conditions may restrict re-budgeting without prior approval, and/or may impose a dollar amount limitation on reallocations.
  • The categories of expenses that you are trying to move to/from; for example, funding cannot be moved from participant support to another category without prior approval from the sponsor

It is best to check with your Grant or Contract Officer so they can advise you on how to proceed in your individual situation. 

Who notifies the sponsor when spending reaches a certain amount or percentage?

The Principal Investigator (PI) and the department monitor all spending. Once the threshold has been reached, it is the PI's responsibility to notify the sponsor. Contact your Grant or Contract Officer for assistance or questions related to these notifications.

How do I transfer my award to another institution?

There are multiple steps and approvals required in order to transfer an existing award to another institution when a Principal Investigator (PI) is leaving CU Boulder and wishes to transfer active awards.

How the transfer request is initiated with the sponsor depends on the sponsor. Some agencies such as NSF and NIH have an online process. In other cases, the transfer may be handled through email correspondence with the sponsor.

Typically, a transfer will involve relinquishing the unexpended balance on an award back to the sponsor, who will then reissue it to the new institution.

Required supporting documentation typically includes a budget, budget justification, and statement of work. There may be additional requirements depending on the sponsor. The PI and/or Department Administrator will need to work with the Grant Accountant to ensure there are no outstanding encumbrances and to determine the final transfer amount.

Your OCG Grant or Contract Officer will submit the transfer request. Prior to doing so, OCG will need an Award Relinquishment Letter stating that the Department does not wish to nominate a substitute PI for the award, the effective date of the transfer, the transfer amount, whether there is equipment on the award, and that the Department agrees to be responsible for any overexpenditures. The letter must be signed by the Department Chair or Director and the PI.

Departing Researcher Resources

What does it mean when OCG notifies me that my project has funds being deobligated?

When something is being deobligated, it means that the sponsor is removing funds from the project. This sometimes means that they are reducing the overall anticipated budget. Other times, it means that they are reducing the dollar amount on the project, and we have to send back funds that we may already have received. Work with your Grant or Contract Officer to determine the deobligation action and next steps.

How can I request a change in co-PI?

Send a request to your Grant or Contract Officer with the following information:

  • Names of new co-PI
  • Explanation detailing why the change is necessary and why the new co-PI is qualified
  • New co-PI's biosketch/CV
  • Effective date of the change
What happens if the PI goes on Sabbatical/Extended Leave and has active awards?

Sabbatical or extended leave may impact Federal or Federal flow-down sponsored projects that are still in progress when leave begins.

Recipients are required to notify OCG:

  • If there will be a reduction in personnel effort by the approved project director or Principal Investigator (PI) on an award, prior approval must be requested in advance for those budget deviations when there is disengagement from the project for more than three months, or a 25 percent reduction in time devoted to the project.
  • If a PI is going on sabbatical to work on a federally sponsored project.

Contact your Grant or Contract Officer in OCG for assistance with submitting these requests to the sponsor.

How do I add a subrecipient on an already existing proposal/award?

If a subrecipient was not identified as part of the proposal documentation, the sponsor usually requires prior approval to add them to the sponsored project. Work directly with your OCG Grant or Contract Officer to get sponsor prior approval for the subrecipient request.

Your OCG Grant or Contract officer will need the following documentation to submit to the sponsor: 

  • Description of work to be performed by the subrecipient for the prime award
  • Subrecipient Reallocation Form - Budget reflecting reallocation of funds for the subrecipient and a subrecipient budget, including justification
  • Justification for subrecipient

Your new subrecipient will be required to provide the following documentation to your Subcontracts Officer once approved by the sponsor (if not already submitted):

  • Detailed subrecipient budget
  • Subrecipient budget justification
  • Subrecipient statement of work
  • Subrecipient Commitment Form (if the new subrecipient is part of the Federal Demonstration Project (FDP) cohort, the form may not be necessary)
  • Indirect Cost Rate Agreement
  • Subrecipient Review Form

Budget Note: CU Boulder will charge Indirect Cost (IDC) on the first $25,000 of the subagreement according to our negotiated rate agreement. The existing budget will have to be revised to cover these costs.

NSF Salary Limit Questions

Can I request more than two months of salary on an individual proposal, or can I get paid more than two months of salary across all of my funded NSF projects?

Yes. The NSF policy is a general rule, meaning that exceptions can and will be made where the needs of the project warrant. You should request a salary amount from the project that is commensurate with the effort required to complete the research being proposed. If you ask for more than two months’ salary on a single proposal or if you are receiving more than two months’ salary across all of your funded proposals, you will need to provide additional justification for the amount(s) received.

Do I have to get NSF approval to make changes to the amount of salary I receive on a project that has already been awarded, if that change would exceed the two month salary limit?

Not necessarily.

  • If the change in effort does not entail a change to the overall scope or objectives of the project, prior NSF approval is not required. Notify your Grant Officer so the change and your documentation can be retained in OCG records; also alert your Proposal Analyst during your next NSF proposal submission to adjust your current and pending support information.
  • However, if the change in your effort does represent a change to the project’s overall scope or objectives, then work with your Grant Officer to notify NSF and get approval to make the change. Moreover, work with your Proposal Analyst during your next NSF proposal submission to adjust your records.
Does the NSF two-month rule apply to all salary funded by the grant?

Yes. NSF changed its policy in 2009.The policy now applies to any NSF salary support taken in summer and during the academic year during a CU fiscal year.

Does this policy apply to uncompensated effort on proposals?

No, the two-month rule only applies to NSF-funded salary that is paid to senior personnel.

Is this policy specific to the National Science Foundation, or do other federal agencies also have this restriction?

Yes, this policy is specific to the National Science Foundation although some NSF programs have different limits, as do other funding agencies. Always be sure to check the guidelines for the specific competition you are applying to (or from which you have received funding), to ensure that you are following the correct policies.

When did these new NSF regulations about the two-month salary limit become effective?

NSF permitted exceptions to this limitation since the ruling became effective in 2009.  However, it is only since 12/26/2014 that allowable exceptions were incorporated into the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).  Therefore, only senior personnel salary earned on awards receiving new funding after 12/26/2014 is governed by CU Boulder’s procedural statement, NSF Two-Month Salary Rule for Project Senior Personnel.

Situational Questions

There is salary support on my project, how do I ensure we don’t over or underspend based on the budget?

If your project has salary posted to it, a sponsor will not usually give additional funding for increases in salary, fringe, or F&A costs after an award is made. It is up to the Department to adjust the percentage of salary distribution based on the approved budget.

There are m-Fin reports that will show you the actual fringe rate of each employee (m-Fin Compensation Summary) that will often get you as close to exact as possible for charging salaries over the course of the year without creating an overage. Doing this can prevent Payroll Expense Transfers (PETs) in the future.

Monthly or quarterly monitoring is suggested by departmental staff of Fund 30 Speedtypes for this reason. An adjustment might be required on each of your fund 30 Speedtypes in July to account for faculty and staff salary increases. PETs also create questions from sponsors and the potential for unallowable expenses later in the project period.

If I have a multi-year project that currently has 1 year of funding and a 1 year period of performance, can I book travel for year 2, in year 1?

With a period of performance that only extends a year, you should not be expensing or obligating funds beyond year two, even if we are paying for year two activities in year one. The reason for this is that there is no guarantee that the sponsor will award more funds than are currently awarded and obligated in year one.

I have an award where we are subcontracting to company A and also purchasing a piece of equipment from company A. Can I have a single Speedtype and action to capture these things with this Sponsor?

You will need two separate actions. The first action will be for the actual subcontracted dollars, which will be worked through with your Subcontract Officer. A second action will be with the procurement department, which will issue a Purchase Order (PO) for the piece of equipment. If you need assistance during this process, please work with your Grant or Contact Officer. 

I am interested in working with a foreign sponsor for a research project. What should I keep in mind when foreign currency is involved?

The strength of the U.S. dollar (USD) may ebb and flow through the period of performance on a contract. For example, an award amount valued today at 200,000 Euros (EUR) may be worth $400,000 if the exchange rate is 2 USD to 1 EUR; however, in three years, the exchange rate could change to 1 USD to 1 EUR. Essentially, that would mean receiving 200,000 USD to perform the same anticipated work. While an exaggerated example, the decrease in dollars received is a source of great fiscal risk for CU Boulder. Below are a few ways we can mitigate the risk:

  1. The best way to minimize the risk is to negotiate a fixed-price contract in dollars. Why? We receive a set amount of U.S. dollars no matter the actual cost to us, whether more or less than anticipated, and regardless of the fluctuation in the exchange rate. Of course, CU Boulder bears the risk of inflation in the U.S., but the foreign sponsor is legally bound to pay the bargained-for amount no matter how weak or strong its currency becomes as compared to USD. Therefore, if in the above example, the exchange rate becomes 2 EUR to 1 USD for a 400,000 USD award, the foreign sponsor will bear the risk of paying twice as many EUR as originally anticipated.
  2. Negotiating a fixed-price contract in USD could be an unrealistic goal for most foreign sponsors. If that is the case, negotiating a fixed-price contract in the foreign currency and requesting a lump sum payment upon execution is another viable option. Why? CU Boulder must only deal with the uncertainty of the currency conversion once, not each time an invoice (as in the case of a cost-reimbursable contract) is submitted. The department can then plan accordingly and adjust the budget as necessary based on any shortfalls or excess.

If obtaining a lump sum upon execution of a fixed-price contract in foreign currency is not possible, another option would be to obtain lump sums on an annual basis. Again, by minimizing the number of exchange conversions throughout the period of performance, CU Boulder can mitigate the deficits created by unknowingly overspending and then invoicing, only to find that the number of dollars received is less than anticipated.