Award recipients can submit two types of reporting: financial reporting and programmatic reporting. These reports are submitted regularly, and are helpful to the funding agency as they provide information about the overall financial status and program performance of the grant project. Reporting time periods and requirements are outlined in the grant agreement.
Progress reports document recipient accomplishments and compliance with the terms of award throughout its lifespan. Information is collected on scientific progress, to identify significant changes, report on personnel, and describe plans for the subsequent budget period or year.
Invention Reporting: Most funding sources require that inventions be reported by the Principal Investigator both to the University and funding agency.
Financial reporting can be completed on an annual basis on the organization’s method of choice. Financial or expenditure reports document expense-related data and outlines budgeted expenses, actual expenses and the expenses allocated to a particular funding source. ProposalCentral or email are common methods of submitting financial reports. In August 2019, HRA members shared templates and examples of financial reports here.
Special situations can arise where the grantee and the organization must work together to address these circumstances. This best guides practice will not go over these cases, but the Grants Administration Community encourages members to communicate with each other through the listserv.
Requests for Change(s) to Award
Change of Personnel
A change in key personnel is the replacement or change in status (such as an absence for any continuous period of 3 months or more, or reduction of time devoted to the project by 25 percent or more from the level in the approved application) of the Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD).
Change of Institution
In the event where the grantee intends to transfer to a new institution and requests to transfer their funding with them, there are protocols between the funder, the grantee, and the institutions that must be agreed upon. Documentation with an institutional letterhead from the investigator to the funders to explain the details and the impacts that this transfer will have on the project. The new institution’s administrative information should be provided to include the Grants and Contracts office information. This can also include Payee, Contracts Official, mailing address for checks, and the institutions Tax ID number. A revised budget may possibly be required.
If the grantee is a trainee, letters of support from the current and the new mentor must be written in addition to a letter of support from the new institution. This is to ensure that the support and the career development is at least equal to the support of the former institution.
The intellectual property policies as well as policies outlined in the terms and conditions must be agreed upon with the new institution.
An updated IRB/IACUC approval may also be required if applicable.
These types of requests, while not uncommon, must be reviewed by the organization or their scientific advisors. Upon approval, expenditure reports through the last day at the old institution must be provided and the remaining funds from the funded project must be returned to the organization. New award paperwork will be completed for the remainder of the funds towards the new institutions. This process can take some time depending on the institutions and the efficiency of their administrative staff in completing the paperwork and the transfer of the funds.
Change of Scope
Any proposed change in the specific aims of the project as stated in the proposal or approved modifications, and/or any proposed change in the protocol, requires approval from the funding agency.
After a grant or contract has been awarded, the Principal Investigator may determine that the approved budget allocations are not consistent with actual project needs. They may request the formal reallocation of funds from one spending category to another spending category that better reflects the project requirements. This process is called Rebudgeting or Budget Revision.
Many funding agencies allow rebudgeting without prior approval while others require approval when rebudgeting into or out of a spending category exceeds a specified percentage of the award amount or if the rebudget includes a restricted category. If prior approval is not required then formal rebudgeting is not necessary.
If prior approval from the funding agency is required, the revision should include a justification which clearly identifies what budget items are being adjusted, why funds are not needed in the line item being reduced, and why they are needed in the line item being increased. The justification should include an overall statement as to how this revision will benefit or address the needs of the project.
No Cost Extensions (NCEs)
The award agreement issued by the funding agency establishes a project timeline, creates a schedule for the submission of reports and other deliverables, and states a project end-date. If a project will not be completed by the end-date indicated on the agreement, then an extension request must be completed by the Principal Investigator.
A no-cost extension may be requested by the Principal Investigator when all of the following conditions are met:
- The end of the project period is approaching.
- There is a justifiable programmatic need to continue the research.
- There are sufficient funds remaining to cover the extended effort.
Every request for a no-cost extension must be submitted prior to the termination date of the award and must provide the following information:
- Summary of progress-to-date regarding the work of the project
- Summary of the work to be completed during the extension period
- Justification for the extension, including a description of why the project could not be finished in the planned amount of time
- An estimate of the funds remaining in the project (both direct and F&A)
- A description regarding the manner in which those funds will be spent during the extension
Closing the Award
The grant close-out is the process by which the funding agency determines that all applicable administrative and programmatic requirements in accordance with the award terms and conditions have been completed/met. This is done at the termination of the award. Certain administrative actions are required to ensure an orderly and formal closing of a grant award.
Questions to Consider for the Grant Close-Out Process
- When to close?
- What is the process for closing an award?
- Who is authorized to close an award?
- What documentation is retained in closed grant files?
If a foundation plans to require closeout activities, they should be specific in the agreement to list exactly what they expect in order to release final payment to the institution, including:
- Final technical/narrative reports
- Proof of any requirements around data sets being posted to repositories
- Discussion of returned funds (if applicable)
- Final financial reports
- Other reporting requirements, such as IP reports
It is ideal to have all reports be due at the same time for simplicity for all parties
Most federal funding agencies require all reports be submitted within 90-120 days of the end of the project period. This timeline allows for institutions that are working with subrecipients to request and receive final reports and invoices, as applicable.