Although many sponsored awards allow flexibility in areas such as rebudgeting, carryforward of unobligated balances from year to year, and pre-award costs, sponsors expect expenditures to be reasonably consistent with the proposed scope of work and budget. Many federal agencies have chosen to delegate authority to the University for rebudgeting, pre-award costs, single no-cost extensions, etc. The Department and PI should refer to the sponsored award terms to determine the authorizations that apply to each award.
Sponsors often require PIs to request prior approval for significant changes that affect the scope of work and budget. For most federal grant and cooperative agreement awards, advanced sponsor approval from the grants officer is required in certain circumstances. It is the responsibility of the PI and Department to forward a signed ORPA Prior Approval Request Form (OPAR) to ORPA that includes the project-specific justification and plan for the approval request. ORPA will forward this notification to the sponsor’s grants officer.
PI Transfer/Absence/Reduction of Effort
Advanced written sponsor approval is required when a PI intends to transfer to another institution, plans to be absent from the project for three months or more, or reduce his or her level of effort by 25% or more from the awarded level. The PI, working with the DA, is responsible for Key Personnel reductions in effort requiring the need for prior sponsor approval.
Rebudgeting of awarded costs may be considered significant when the change results in rebudgeting a single direct cost budget category by more than 25% of the total award. Depending on the terms of the award, the PI may be required to submit a revised budget to the sponsor explaining the need for significantly rebudgeting of project costs.
Scope of Work Change
Any change in the proposed scope of work requires sponsor approval. The PI should describe the scope change needed and the impact the change may have on the budget.
Certain sponsor awards may not allow automatic carryforward of unexpended funds for each budget period. The Department and PI must review the sponsored award terms closely to ensure whether the award requires advanced sponsor approval for carryforward of unexpended funds to the next budget period.
No-cost extensions are usually requested by the PI due to project delays, where additional time is needed to carry out the approved scope of work but no additional funding is required. The PI should describe the reason for the extension along with the spending plan for the unexpended balance. Expanded Authorities on most federal grants and cooperative agreements allow the University to approve a single no-cost extension.