The University of Iowa

Post-Award Project Changes

During the course of a sponsored project, it may be necessary to make changes to the project as originally proposed to the sponsor. These changes may relate to project finances, personnel, or location; reflect the project timing and completion; and/or involve other project components. Generally, a sponsor will impose restrictions on certain types of changes, requiring the project director and the University to obtain approval in advance of the change.  In every case, it is necessary for the principal investigator, departmental administrator, Division of Sponsored Programs, and Grant Accounting Office to carefully review, retain, and refer to the requirements particular to any given award, should the project require a post-award change.

The following sections describe the UI procedure for some of the most common post-award changes. Additional information is available on the  DSP Postaward Administration website. For all other changes, please refer to the terms and conditions associated with the particular award and consult with the grant accountant and sponsored programs contact assigned the award.

Post-award changes for federal awards must follow the Uniform Guidance (Subpart D - Post Federal Award Requirements).

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Adjusting the Budget

Sponsors establish their own guidelines to indicate whether the PI is allowed flexibility in spending -- to, for instance, transfer funds between approved categories; such guidelines are generally defined in the terms and conditions attached to the award. Some sponsors allow absolutely no changes without prior approval, while others allow considerable flexibility.

Federal awards must comply with the requirements contained in the Uniform Guidance (200.308 - Revision of Budget and Program Plans).  Specifically,  Uniform Guidance (200.308(c)) outlines the standard, minimum "prior approval" requirements attached to every federal award. In any given case, a federal agency may elect to impose additional requirements in addition to the minimum. 

Private-sector awards generally carry a set of sponsor- or award-specific requirements, as specified in the terms and conditions accompanying the award. It is critical to know and follow the award-specific guidelines, as, in accepting the award, the PI and institution have agreed to abide by all associated terms and conditions. Failure to comply can result in penalties and/or loss of the award.

Note also that University of Iowa procedures may also apply. Any budget revisions including changes in personnel  effort/salary, involving institutional cost-sharing contributions, or requiring an institutional signature must be  routed through the usual UI channels for review and approval before submitting to the sponsor.

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Changing the Project Director

If the original Project Director intends to relinquish primary direction of a project, written notice must be sent immediately to the sponsor, the departmental executive officer, the collegiate dean, and the Division of Sponsored Programs. If appropriate, the University may seek the sponsor’s permission to continue the project under the leadership of an equally qualified Project Director, generally within the same department. In such cases, a new Project Director should be recommended at the departmental level and approved by the appropriate collegiate officers and the Vice President for Research. 

Steps for obtaining approval: 

  1. The original Project Director should, in cooperation with the departmental office, compose a letter to the sponsor, explaining the need for the change in Project Director and outlining the background and qualifications of the proposed new Project Director.
  2.  The letter should be signed by the original Project Director, the proposed new Project Director; the departmental executive officer of the original host department, and, if different, the departmental executive officer of the new host department.
  3. The signed letter should be routed through the usual UI channels, accompanied by a completed UI Routing Form under the proposed new Project Director. The DEO and Dean signatures on the UI Routing Form will indicate departmental and collegiate concurrence with the proposed new director, and their commitment to provide the new director with the same support and resources provided the original director.
  4. Once the Division of Sponsored Programs receives the routed letter and the sponsor’s approval in response, the DSP can process the change in project director.

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Requesting a No-Cost Extension

Although there is no guarantee, sponsors are generally receptive to a maximum one-time 12-month no-cost extension, allowing some additional time, without the allocation of additional funds, to complete the funded project. A second or third no-cost-extension is generally harder to justify and therefore less common, but could be considered.

Those anticipating the need for a no-cost extension should consult the terms and conditions document attached to the award and follow any guidelines therein. In general, sponsors will require the Principal Investigator to formally request a no-cost extension in writing, stating the requested extension and new project end date; the reason(s) the project will not be completed as originally planned; the amount of funding, if any, expected to remain as of the original project end date; and the work to be completed during the extension period. Requests must generally be submitted within a specified timeframe during the final year of the project, allowing the sponsor sufficient time to consider the request and render a decision.

Investigators submitting a written request for a no-cost extension should be sure the Division of Sponsored Programs is copied on the request and receives a copy of the sponsor's written response. Provided the sponsor approves the request, the DSP will adjust the project records accordingly, to reflect the new project end date.

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Transferring a Grant or Contract to or from UI

Because grants and contracts are awarded to institutions, rather than directly to Principal Investigators, certain institutional procedures are required when a PI wishes to transfer funded work to a different institution. Generally, the original institution must formally relinquish the award; the new institution must formally accept the award and associated terms and conditions; and the funding agency must approve the transfer to new institution.

T​ransfers to the UI

Principal Investigators relocating to The University of Iowa may seek approval to transfer their externally funded projects here as well. In such cases, PIs must notify the current institution and sponsoring agency as soon as possible, allowing time to complete institutional and agency-specific requirements in relation to the transfer request. The University of Iowa must be notified in a timely manner as well – at least ninety (90) days in advance of the desired transfer date whenever possible – and will work with the original institution and sponsoring agency to put approvals and arrangements in place. Specifically, investigators wishing to transfer awards to the UI must:

  • Submit a transfer request to the funding agency and complete any sponsor-specific requirements. 
  • Notify the current institution and complete any institution-specific requirements for transferring the award and associated equipment. 
  • Complete any required final reports to close the project at the original institution. 
  • Contact the UI departmental research administrator for assistance with the process for approving the transfer and activating the award at UI:
    • Notify the department of any UI documentation or other materials required by the sponsor. 
    • Provide contact information at the original institution and sponsoring agency. Ensure the original institution and sponsoring agency are provided UI contacts as well. 
    • Complete the  University of Iowa Routing Form and Procedure, channeling the project application for departmental and collegiate approvals and forwarding the Form and appropriate attachments to the Division of Sponsored Programs, 2 GILH.
      • Be sure the Routing Form describes any needs for additional space, personnel, or other institutional resources, and any requirements to fulfill cost-sharing commitments.  
      • Include a copy of the award notice and corresponding terms and conditions, seeking UI’s formal agreement to accept and oversee the award. 
    • Initiate any required approvals for work involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, and any other compliance requirements. 

Once institutional and sponsor approvals are formally in place, the UI will process the award and establish an account.

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Transfe​rs from the UI

Principal Investigators (PIs) leaving The University of Iowa may, in some instances, transfer externally funded projects to the new institution. PIs are largely responsible for the award-transfer process, and must: 

  • Initiate the process in a timely manner, submitting a transfer request to the funding agency and completing any sponsor-specific requirements.
  • Notify their departments and the Division of Sponsored Programs at least ninety days (90) in advance of the transfer to facilitate a smooth transition.
  • Complete the PI Departure, Request for Grant Transfer, or Request for Approval of Adjunct, Visiting, Emeritus or Retired Faculty as PI form; obtain concurring signatures; and forward the Form and appropriate attachments to the Division of Sponsored Programs, 2 GILH.  
  •  Arrange to subcontract a portion of the funded work, if desired and appropriate, to The University of Iowa. 
  • Address the issue of continued support of any UI graduate students and postdoctoral fellows supported under the work. 
  • Request transfer of associated equipment, if any, purchased under the award, completing the  Title Transfer of University Equipment on the Capital Assests Management website. Final approval regarding equipment transfers will rest with the Business Office.
  • Arrange for the new institution to assume any cost-sharing obligations. 
  • Complete final reports to close the project at UI, including patent/invention reports, technical reports, and any other non-financial final reports required by the UI or sponsor. Note that the UI Grant Accounting Office will see to the financial reporting. 
  • Ensure the transfer is completed in accordance with all applicable federal, university, and sponsor regulations. 

UI Departmental Administrators are responsible for concluding transactions and making any necessary adjustments to award accounts for departing PIs.

The UI Grant Accounting Office conducts the final accounting and financial reporting and arranges the return or transfer of remaining funds in accordance with specific sponsor guidelines.

The UI Division of Sponsored Programs  reviews and endorses the non-financial paperwork involved with each grant/contract transfer.

If you are planning a transfer from UI, please  review and follow the full procedure for transferring grants and contracts from The University of Iowa. Please also be aware that each case is unique, so that additional information or procedures may sometimes be required. We recommend you work closely with the  DSP staff member assigned to the grant or contract, to ensure all requirements are met.

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