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 HHS OR 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.
Post-Award Services in Detail
Upon formal project funding, post-award staff acts 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, and it is important to work within the funding agency’s guidelines. The researcher and the HHS OR post-award staff collaborate to allocate the budget to various expense categories.
Advise on fiscal management policies and procedures
Fiscal project management involves a host of tasks that may be foreign to the researcher, including monitoring a budget, making personnel appointments, purchasing research supplies and materials, and processing travel reimbursements. This management and oversight responsibility falls to the researcher and his or her team; however, the post-award staff can provide advice and critical guidance regarding fiscal management policies and procedures.
Provide internal financial expenditure reports
Researchers have access to their grant budgets at any time through e-print reports and UNCGenie. The post-award staff can interpret these reports upon request so that researchers can make informed decisions about how to spend project funds. Post-award staff provides an internal financial report for the researcher ninety days prior to the grant budget year-end date.
Help prepare Assumption of Risk (AOR) request
Externally sponsored programs frequently have start dates that precede the receipt of formal award documents or agreements. Upon notification of the intent to fund, an AOR authorizes the establishment of a restricted fund that enables the researcher to start their project one to three months before the receipt of the formal award. The application for AOR funding requires a short-term budget. The HHS OR 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.
Process payroll for research salary support (Electronic Personnel Action Forms―EPAFs)
With the exception of student EPAFs, the HHS OR post-award staff processes all EPAFs for grant-funded personnel. The post-award staff works with the researcher, project manager, and/or departmental administrator to coordinate all grant–generated EPAFs.