The PI is the primary individual in charge of a research grant, cooperative agreement, training or public service project, contract or other sponsored project for which the university is the grantee or the contractor.
The University is, ultimately, legally and financially responsible and accountable to the sponsor for the performance of the project and the proper use of funds but without the full cooperation and vigilance of the PI, the university would fail in its stewardship role.
If your project involves multiple PI's or Co-PI's, each PI is responsible and accountable to the grantee organization, or, as appropriate, to a collaborating organization, for the proper conduct of the project or program, including the preparation and submission of required reports and ensuring that expenditures are made consistent with the planned budget. All PI's should be fully engaged in any decisions to change budget priorities and personnel.
Good grants management has many elements, including:
- Ensuring that charges are allowable, allocable, and reasonable;
- Spending funds in accordance with the budget;
- Paying researchers and staff correctly and on time;
- Certifying effort of faculty and researchers on federally-funded projects;
- Adhering to University procurement and travel policies;
- Keeping track of equipment bought with grant funds;
- Monitoring subrecipients;
- Tracking cost sharing, if any;
- Filing interim and final progress reports; and
- Closing out awards in a timely fashion.
Sponsors often require PI's to request prior approval for significant changes.
Although many sponsors allow flexibility in areas such as re-budgeting, carry-forward 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.
Under expanded authorities, many federal agencies have chosen to waive the normally-required sponsor prior approval for specific actions. The PI should refer to the sponsored award terms to determine the authorizations that apply to each award.