Project management can be daunting and involve many policy nuances. Although the research team is responsible for the overall operations of their project, the post-award staff provides essential advising and support that may be critical to the smooth operation of a research project. Researchers should discuss their needs with the post-award staff so that they have a clear understanding of what level of support the OOR can provide.
Researchers should be aware of the potential lag time between the notice of award from the funding agency and availability of funds. It is not uncommon for funding to be cut or delayed (or, in some cases, to “arrive” before it is expected). Whatever the circumstances, researchers should coordinate with post-award staff to develop a financial management plan to ensure that the financial operations (i.e., spending) of the project proceed in a timely fashion.
Assist researchers with award budget
With the receipt of formal project funding, the OOR post-award staff serves as the liaison between the researcher and the Office of Contracts & Grants (C&G) to facilitate the establishment of the project budget. In some cases, researchers need to re-evaluate and possibly revise the budget that was originally submitted. Some funding agencies require prior approval to revise the budget or may have other stipulations regarding changes to the budget, so it is important to work within the funding agency’s guidelines; the post-award staff can assist researchers with this task to ensure that these guidelines are followed. The researcher and the OOR post-award staff collaborate in order to allocate the budget into the appropriate expense categories in Banner.
Advise on fiscal management policies and procedures
Fiscal project management involves a host of tasks that may be unfamiliar to the researcher, including monitoring a budget, making personnel appointments, purchasing research supplies and materials and processing travel reimbursements. This fiscal project management and oversight falls to the researcher and his or her team; however, the OOR post-award staff can provide advice and critical guidance regarding fiscal management policies and procedures.
Provide budget interpretation and internal financial expenditure reports
Researchers have access to their grant budgets at any time through monthly e-Print Reports and through UNCGenie. The OOR post-award staff can interpret these reports upon request so that researchers can make informed decisions about project spending. The post-award staff can provide an internal financial report for the researcher ninety days prior to the grant budget year-end date and ninety days prior to close-out.
Help with preparation of Pre-Award Risk Assumption (PRA) (formerly known as an Assumption of Risk or AOR) requests
Externally sponsored programs frequently have start dates that precede the receipt of formal award documents or agreements. Upon notification of the intent to fund, a Pre-Award Risk Assumption request (formerly known as an Assumption of Risk) can be prepared to authorize the establishment of a restricted fund which enables the researcher to start their project one to three months before the receipt of the formal award. The application for PRA funding requires a short-term budget which is approved by the researcher and is submitted to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). The OOR post-award staff works with the researcher to develop this budget to support critical resources (personnel, equipment, travel, etc.) needed for efficient project startup.
Assist with No-Cost Extensions
The post-award staff assists with planning for and requesting a No-Cost Extension. Most sponsors allow extensions of the final grant period to provide maximum possible continuity in funding research and educational activities. Many federal sponsors allow grantee institutions to extend the final budget period one time for up to twelve months. Normally, no single extension may exceed twelve months and, only in exceptional cases, is more than one extension granted. The post-award staff will assist the researcher with the appropriate paperwork to request the No-Cost Extension which is submitted to OSP.
Process payroll documents for research salary support (Electronic Personnel Action Forms―EPAFs)
The OOR post-award staff processes all EPAFs for grant-funded HHS EPA faculty. The post-award staff works with the researcher, project manager, and/or departmental administrator to coordinate all of these EPAFs which are submitted through UNCGenie; the EPAFs are reviewed and approved by the grant’s Principal Investigator (PI), the Department Chair, the HHS Dean, C&G, Payroll, Human Resources and any other relevant personnel/offices/departments. It is the responsibility of the PI to thoroughly review and approve all EPAFs of personnel funded by their grant; therefore, the PI is the first approver listed in the EPAF approval queue, and the EPAF cannot be approved by anyone else until the PI approves it.
Assist with funding agency reports
The OOR offers guidance with the preparation of reports to funding agencies. Each funding agency has specific due dates for their required reports, and they have specific criteria for these reports; the OOR staff can work with the researcher in the preparation of the reports.