Once a proposal is submitted to a sponsor, the review process may take from six to nine months before the University receives formal notification about its status. While Principal Investigators (PI) may receive preliminary or informal advice from the sponsor, this advice may precede official notification by several months. Because scientific or program approval does not always guarantee funding, no work may be initiated or costs incurred until the sponsor’s official written notification is received and accepted by the University. When this notification comes directly to the investigator, the award document and any attachments should immediately be forwarded to the OSP for formal acceptance.
Award negotiations mean the period of time and the scope of activities between proposal submission and prior to the official acceptance of an award by the University.
During this time the award may require further negotiations between the sponsor and the University regarding the scope of work, budget, or the terms and conditions under which an award will be made. The end result of award negotiations is a mutually agreeable set of terms under which the University will conduct the proposed project.
Who Negotiates the Award?
It is the responsibility of the OSP to negotiate the terms of an award with the sponsor. OSP works in conjunction with the Principal Investigator to negotiate an award that is acceptable to the University, the PI, and the sponsor.
Changes to the Scope of Work and/or Budget:
Any time a sponsor requires or requests a change in the originally proposed budget or scope of work, the PI should always notify and coordinate a response through OSP before submitting a revised budget or scope of work to the sponsor.
Types of Awards:
The length of time to conduct award negotiations may vary depending on the type of award:
- Grants and cooperative agreements usually contain references to a sponsor’s established grants management policy or for government grants, government-wide regulations, laws, or directives.
- Agreements with private sponsors may cover a variety of activities including basic, applied, developmental research, collaborative research, and various types of testing.
- Federal/State Contracts: contract negotiations with a government agency typically focus on budget and scope of work issues.
The terms and conditions of the award are usually fixed by law or regulation. However, it is important to ensure that the terms and conditions imposed by the agency are appropriate for the work proposed and applicable to the University.
- Industry agreements: As a public, non-profit educational institution, the University is bound by certain policies and regulations regarding what it can and cannot accept in an agreement. Because for-profit private sponsors are motivated by different forces than the University, they sometimes do not understand the ideals and principles behind our policies. Consequently, negotiations can take additional time while OSP works with the sponsor to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.
- Whenever possible, the University tries to negotiate an agreement using the appropriate standard University contract language for the activity proposed. These standard agreements address key concepts required by University policy. When a private sponsor prepares an agreement or insists on controlling the preparation of an agreement, these concepts may or may not be addressed and can lead to protracted negotiations.
- Contract negotiations with private sponsors can be difficult and complex because the agreements must address a large number of issues such as budget, scope of work, intellectual property rights, publication rights, indemnification, termination and confidentiality.
- Principal Investigators should discuss all aspects of the proposed project with their Grants Specialist in OSP prior to the start of negotiations. In particular, OSP needs to know whether graduate students will be involved in the project, and whether existing University or sponsored-owned intellectual property will be used in conducting the project.
- Office of the University Counsel – In instances where the OSP and the sponsor are unable to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement, the OSP will contact the Office of the University Counsel to work directly with the sponsor.