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 insuring 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 expenditures by subcontractors;
- Tracking cost sharing, if any;
- Filing interim and final progress reports; and
- Closing out awards in a timely fashion.
PI's have primary responsibility for monitoring subrecipients to ensure compliance with federal regulations and both prime and subrecipient award terms and conditions.
PI's are responsible for evaluating the quality of the work performed by subrecipients and ensuring that contractual agreements are met. Department administrators have responsibility for assisting PIs in discharging their monitoring responsibilities, for reviewing invoices from subrecipients and questioning expenditures if necessary, and for maintaining documentation of monitoring efforts.
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.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) (instructions)
- National Science Foundation (NSF) (instructions)
- Grants Management Essentials
- Project Management: Implementing the Award Process
- Principles of Contracts, Subcontracts and Subawards
- Purchasing and Procurement
- Fundamentals of Effort Reporting, Audits and Recharge Centers