Responsible Officer: Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

Responsible Unit: Office of Sponsored Research

Effective date: July 1, 2008

Last revised on: July 21, 2011

Policy Statement

Department Administrators (DAs) are responsible for assisting Principal Investigators (PIs) with the daily administrative tasks of grant and contract financial and reporting management in conjunction with the requirements provided by the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR).

In their role as liaison between the technical and administrative components of sponsored projects, DAs do not have the authority to enter into legal agreements involving grants, contracts and/or cooperative agreements on behalf of the University. These must be signed by a university representative with institutional signature authority.

While day-to-day operations of project finances may be delegated to staff members under the direction of the PI, the PI accepts ultimate responsibility and accountability for compliance to UNC-Chapel Hill policy and sponsor requirements.

Just as PIs are required to review their obligations to the University’s policies regarding integrity in research and stewardship of sponsored funds, DAs are governed by the same policies and expectations.

DAs are responsible for the financial and reporting management of sponsored projects in several capacities:

  • Proposal Preparation — Budgets, Application Requirements, etc.— to meet sponsoring agency and university requirements.
  • Prohibition of Award Acceptance
  • Daily Management of Project Expenditures
  • Coordination and Preparation of Proper Forms for Change Requests to Sponsored Accounts
  • Assistance with Reporting Requirements and Additional Requests Related to Sponsor Notifications and Prior Approvals
  • Project Closeout

I. Proposal Preparation

In proposing budgets for sponsored projects, the DA assures that projected budgets are represented as accurately as possible.

Proposed budgets must also adhere to specific requirements, including cost principles as defined by the federal government in Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-21, and consistency requirements as imposed by the federal Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Board. This is the case at the proposal stage, as well as when funds are expended.

II. Prohibition of Award Acceptance

DAs and PIs are prohibited from accepting or indicating acceptance of a sponsored award on behalf of the University, verbally or in writing. Only official designees in the presiding office — the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR), the Sponsored Programs Office (SPO), or the Office of Clinical Trials (OCT) — have the authority to accept an offer of award from a sponsoring agency.

However, DAs are responsible for reviewing the Pending Award information in RAMSeS to confirm the budget amounts before an award is expedited by OSR.

III. Daily Management of Project Expenditures

DAs are responsible for setting up the internal mechanisms to monitor and maintain accurate financial records of sponsored funds. This includes assuring that the PI reviews and authorizes direct charges in accordance with OMB Circular A-21 and applicable funding agency guidelines. DAs review project expenditures on a monthly basis to verify the expenses charged to the account/s are allowable to the project.

IV. Reporting Requirements and Additional Requests Related to Sponsor Notifications and Prior Approvals

DAs ensure that changes in project status (financial, personnel effort and additional reports as necessary) are properly reported to the sponsoring agency through the proper OSR channels and assist in monitoring and scheduling reporting requirements to the sponsor.

In all cases, required notifications or requests for prior approval of contract or grant status should be made in writing to both the administrative and technical officials in the sponsoring agency. Such notifications must be coordinated through the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR).

V. Project Closeout

DAs assist the PI in preparation and timely submission of final financial and technical reports. This includes the Notice of Termination Reply (NOTR) to OSR.

VI. Audit

Any auditing activity is required to be conducted in the presence of an OSR representative.

Communications and/or correspondence with auditors are conducted by OSR and also, OSR must review any materials requested by auditors prior to submission.

DAs are responsible for assisting PIs in the daily monitoring and management of budgets and expenditure accounts in accordance with the regulations provided in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-133. In addition to other auditing requests, this includes providing OSR any information and/or records requested by the auditing agency regarding:

  • Compliance and internal controls
  • Review of financial transactions, payroll, effort reporting
  • Monitoring research dollars and how costs have been allocated to sponsored projects

Reason for Policy

This policy establishes the overall responsibility of Departmental Administrators in monitoring sponsored research projects and related components of those projects.



Procedures and Related Policies

Procedures for daily administrative activities regarding sponsored research appear throughout the OSR Policy Manual according to the function in question. Specific procedures are located in the applicable policies and can also be viewed in the Table of Contents. Accounting Services also provides helpful resources for general accounting policies and procedures.

Related Policies include:

OSR Research Tool Kits

Proposal Development and Submission: Review Process


Questions and concerns can be submitted online at Ask OSR or by using the OSR staff directory. Within RAMSeS, the “Speak to Someone” option assists in locating the staff member best suited to address project-specific issues.


Research Administration Glossary at Carolina

1. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21, Principles for Determining Costs Applicable to Grants, Contracts, and Other Agreements with Educational Institutions.
2. OMB Circular A-110, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations, Subpart C-25, Post-Award Requirements.
3. OMB Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.

Revision History

The policies in the Office of Sponsored Research Policies & Procedures Manual supersede any OSR policies, procedures and appendices previously included in the University Business Manual, a publication of UNC Chapel Hill’s Division of Finance.