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OSP | FAQ | Award & Acceptance

My award contains problematic terms and conditions. What is the process for requesting changes to the award?

Upon receipt of an award, the assigned Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) staff member will inform the Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD) and the sponsor of any necessary and/or requested changes. The basic objective of almost all award negotiations is to ensure that the University and the PI/PD do not relinquish the right to make the ultimate decisions on the manner in which the project/program is to be conducted or on how the project/program results are to be disseminated. Specifically, OSP, on behalf of the University and the PI/PD, seeks to guarantee that the sponsor cannot unilaterally amend, suspend, or terminate the project; that there will be no prohibition on the publication of results; and that the ownerships or control of intellectual property resulting from the research not be relinquished. Other matters that may require negotiation concern the handling of confidential information, and/or conditions on the disclosure of some or all of the research findings. American University's policies on these matters are consistent with its peer institutions.

The assigned OSP staff member will keep the PI/PD and respective units in the loop of negotiation communication with sponsors when requested. OSP will consult with PIs/PDs prior to accepting sponsored awards when confirmation is needed on any of the following matters:

  • Payment schedule (to ensure the proposed payment schedule is satisfactory)
  • Technical reporting (to ensure the proposed technical reporting requirements and frequency are satisfactory)
  • Acknowledgement and understanding of award terms/conditions (when the sponsor requires such from PIs/PDs)
  • Scope of work (if changed after proposal submission)
  • Period of performance (if changed or inconsistent with the period in the proposal)
  • Intellectual property (when the sponsor proposes ownership or limits use of intellectual property development during the performance of the project/program)
  • Data sharing/security (IT)
  • Increase/decrease in funding (if modified after proposal submission)

OSP, on behalf of the University, reserves the right to determine the extent to which it will continue or terminate negotiations with any sponsor.

What is a project brief?  

After an award is accepted, OSP prepares and Grants and Contracts Accounting (GCA) distributes a Project Brief. The Project Brief will accompany the authorized award budget. The Project Brief summarizes the terms and conditions of the agreement, particularly those directly affecting the PI/PD. Each Project Brief indicates the name of the assigned OSP staff member and the GCA accountant. The Project Brief will also detail actions that require sponsors prior approval. OSP will prepare and revise the amended Project Brief for substantive changes and upon requested changes that require approval by the sponsor.

Who has authority to accept an award?

The OSP Director has signature authority to accept awards up to $100,000. Awards valued $100,000-$249,999 require signature of the Vice Provost for Research/Dean of Graduate Studies. Awards valued $250,000-$499,999 requires the signature of the Provost. Awards valued $500,000 or more require the signature of the President.

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