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 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 signing authority?

Signature authority delegations at CU Boulder are designed to protect academic freedoms, including a faculty member’s right to publish, and faculty’s intellectual property. Delegation originates with The Regents of the University of Colorado to President Benson then to named individuals within the University.

The Office of Contracts and Grants holds the delegation of signature authority for University research contracts and grants, and 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).

The University’s Technology Transfer Office holds the delegation of signature authority for University nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements.

View the Signature Authority Delegations fact sheet for more information.

What is the difference between fixed price and cost reimbursable?

Fixed price contracts will be invoiced or paid by a set dollar amount or fixed-price, regardless of how much is expended. If funds are remaining after completion of the project and fulfillment of the deliverable, remaining funds will be administered in accordance with University policy. The remaining funds become residuals. In fixed price agreements, if for some reason we exceed the budget, the University takes on the liability of completing the project regardless of additional funds necessary.

Cost reimbursable contracts can only be reimbursed for actual expenses to a project. In a cost reimbursable agreement, the risk of project completion falls upon the sponsor. The University completes as much work as possible within the budget we are awarded.

How do I get a No-Cost Extension?

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

  • Project number
  • Award number
  • 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

Some sponsors require additional information. The request will be submitted according to the procedures of the sponsoring agency. With some sponsors the request will be submitted through an online system, such as Fastlane, NSSC, or ERA Commons. In other situations a request will be submitted via email to the Sponsor's authorized signing official. Please note that there are deadlines for submitting these requests, which will vary according to sponsor requirements.

NOTE: NSF now has a 1200 character limit on no cost extension justifications. OCG does not edit your justifications; it is important to stay within the limit to ensure the sponsor receives all of the information. A brief paragraph for the description of work to be accomplished and the work to date is sufficient.

Who handles student projects and how?

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

Contract Officers assist departments in creating a standard template contract to sponsors funding both undergrad and graduate projects. A Statement of Work (SOW), project title, and sponsor contact are needed for OCG to initiate the contract with sponsors. We negotiate and follow up with sponsors in order for these agreements to be finalized.

Who handles Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements (CDAs), or Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)?

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements (CDAs), and Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are handled by OCG Contract Administrators. For assistance with any of these agreements, facilitating signatures, and agreement management, please email ocgcontracts@colorado.edu.

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.

If there are ICR splits, OCG needs documentation of the split approvals.

When an award amount is different from the proposal budget a revised budget will be required.

How do costs post to a Fund 30 SpeedType?

Funds must post by the end date of the project to be 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, we should have spent as much of the funds as possible 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, we must request a new SpeedType for each year's funding. 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 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 issued, 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 to begin review.

The at-risk award process will vary somewhat depending upon whether your award will be 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. You will need to complete an At-Risk Project Request form for pre-award spending.
  • Contracts, federal grant flow-down, or non-federal grants: Aapproval from the funding institution is needed to ensure costs prior to the performance start date will be allowed. Contact your Grant or Contract Officer to request approval. You will need to complete an At-Risk Project Request Form.

Pre-award costs are limited to 25% of the anticipated award amount and 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 preaward authorization. The Sponsor may or may not approve, 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?

A revised budget is required when there have been changes that will require a different allocation of expenditure than previously set up or proposed. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Amount of the award received is different than proposed
  • Addition of personnel
  • Changes in cost or pieces of equipment to be purchased
  • Change of personnel (ie. Principal Investigator changes)
  • New funding that was not included in the previous budget
  • Items required (such as travel) that were not previously included in the budget or approved by the sponsor
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 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 award record?

You must complete the Project Manager Change form found on the Campus Controller's Office (CCO) webpages. Follow the instructions on the form for returning 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 number in the award record?

You must complete the Reorg Request form found on the Campus Controller's Office (CCO) webpages. Follow the instructions on the form for returning to CCO. CCO will enter in 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?
Can I move funds from one category of expense to another?

The answer is dependent upon several things:

  • The award sponsor and their terms and conditions; the terms and conditions may restrict rebudgeting without prior approval, and/or they 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 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 and wishes to transfer active awards.

How the transfer request is initiated with the sponsor is dependent on the sponsor. Some agencies such as NSF and NIH have an online process. In other cases it 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 a letter signed by the Department Chair or Director and the PI stating that the Department does not wish to nominate a substitute PI for the award, and stating the effective date of the transfer and the transfer amount, whether there is equipment on the award, and agreeing that the Department will be responsible for any overexpenditures.

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. Sometimes this 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. 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 explanation of 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 sub for the prime award
  • Budget reflecting reallocation of funds for Subrecipient and a Subrecipient budget (Including Justification)
  • Justification for Subrecipient

Your new sub will be required to provide the following documentation to your OCG Proposal Analyst once approved by the sponsor (if not already submitted):

  • Detailed Sub Budget
  • Sub Budget Justification
  • Sub Statement of Work
  • Sub Commitment form (If the new sub is part of the Federal Demonstration Project (FDP) cohort, it is possible this form can be skipped)
  • Indirect Cost Rate Agreement
  • Sub Review Form

Budget Note: CU will charge Indirect Cost (IDC) on the first $25,000 of the sub 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 needed. Notify your grant officer so the change and your documentation can be retained in OCG records, and 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, and also 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 2-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 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 projects 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 be 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, issuing a 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 may ebb and flow through the period of performance on a contract. For example, an award amount valued today at 200,000 EU may be worth $400,000 if the exchange rate is $2 to 1 EU; yet in three years, the exchange rate could change to $1 to 1EU. Essentially, that would mean receiving $200,000 to perform the same anticipated work. While an exaggerated example, the decrease in dollars received is a source of great fiscal risk for the University. Here are a few ways we can mitigate the risk.

  1. The greatest 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 no matter the flux in exchange rate. Of course, the University bears the risk of inflation here in the U.S., but the foreign sponsor is legally obligated to pay the bargained-for amount no matter how weak or strong it’s currency becomes as compared to the U.S. dollar. So, if in the above example, the exchange rate comes 2 EU to $1 for a $400,000 award, the foreign sponsor will bear the risk of paying twice as many Euros as originally anticipated.
  2. Negotiating a fixed price contract in U.S. dollars 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? The University only must 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, the next best option would be obtaining lump sums on an annual basis. Again, by minimizing the number of exchange conversions throughout the period of performance, the University can mitigate the deficits created by unknowingly overspending and then invoicing, only to find that the number of dollars received is less than anticipated.