5.0 POST-AWARD MANAGEMENT
Goals of post-award management are: (a) Guaranteed success of all phases of project implementation; (b) Ensure that research ethics and compliance regulations are strictly upheld; (c) Ensure that the research team and OAU are eligible for current and future renewals of funding for the ongoing project and other projects funded by the (same) granting agency.
In post-award grant management, attention is paid to the following: (a) Administrative support cost; (b) Staff fringe benefits; (c) Allowance costs; (d) Ineligible cost; (e) Cost sharing, (f) Student Research Assistantship, etc. Details of all these categories of costs are properly sorted out in line with the regulations governing finances at OAU, and the terms and conditions in the grant contract, prior to the commencement of the study.
5.2 Ethics and compliance
Ethics and compliance issues including (a) Use of human subjects in research, (b) Use of animals in research, (c) Conflict of interest, (d) Conflict of commitment, (e) Responsible conduct of research, (f) Biosafety, etc. Details are presented under the section on Ethics and Compliance.
5.3 Progress reports
Funding agencies occasionally requests for narratives of progress reports. These reports also enable OAU Bursary and the COR to keep track of the progress of all ongoing funded research in OAU. Goals of periodic (or annual) progress reports include: (a) Monitoring and evaluation purposes, (b) Early detection of specific challenges and constraints with respect to project implementation, (c) Assisting with institutional reporting to some granting agencies, (d) Reporting and disseminating research breakthroughs for institutional visibility, recognition and ranking, (e) Reports are key requirements for grant renewals, or project close-out
5.4 Post-Award Change Requests
During project implementation, some occurrences may necessitate request(s) for some changes in the course of project implementation. Some of the likely scenarios that could necessitate such changes are summarized below:
- De-obligations (or Award Reductions): These scenarios are typically initiated by the sponsor. Instances include a reduction in the previously specified funding for a particular phase of a project by a fraction of the total cost (e.g. a 15% reduction).
Likely implications of award reductions or de-obligations include (a) a revised budget specifying the financial implications of the award reduction; (b) a new Gantt chant specifying new timelines and phases of the projects, up to close out, (c) possible change in scope of the entire project, etc.
- Unspent Funds: This is a request for a carry forward of unspent funds. This is an official request to carry forward, all unspent funds during a particular phase of a project, or from one year to another. In all of these cases, the approval of the sponsoring agency is required.
- Cost Share Reduction: This represents an instance where the university requests for a reduction in the committed cost share for the grant implementation. The sponsor is consulted in order to clarify, and agree on the following: (a) If the cost sharing will affect the sponsor’s share of the total project cost; (b) If the reduction is applied proportionally to the total cost; (c) Assessment of the overall implications of the cost share reduction. In all these instances, the approval of the sponsoring agency is a critical requirement.
- “No cost” Extension: This is a request for an extension of the project end date to complete to all the required tasks, with no additional cost obligation to the sponsoring agency. This request like others, should be well justified, in line with the specific guidelines of each project and sponsor, as specified in the terms and conditions of the grant. Some terms and conditions of some projects may indicate 3-4 months of advanced notification before the project close out date.
- Inclusion of Foreign Components: This becomes a necessity under the following scenarios: (a) Where international travel is required for sampling or data collection; (b) Sourcing genetic materials from a foreign country through a Material Transfer Agreement; (c) Inter-university R&D collaboration requiring the use of facilities or labs etc.
In many instances, project terms and conditions would provide specific guidelines on how to handle this and other scenarios. In summary, adherence to the contents of the contract agreement as well as the terms and conditions of the project, are key contributions to the success of the project.
- Early Termination of the Project, with Transfer to a New Institution: This scenario happens when a project is terminated before the agreed end date, and the project is transferred or continued at another institution. Usually, this case of project relinquishment could be due to a change of institution of employment by the PI. For this request to be processed, the funder’s approval is sought, and the original terms and conditions of the project are strictly adhered to.
- Early Termination of a Project Without a Transfer to Another Institution: In some ways, this is similar to the scenario above. This circumstance could be due to any of the following: (a) a PI may be leaving the current employment, but the project is not transferable (to another institution); (b) The project cannot be transferred to a new PI, or (c) all funds have been expended by the research team and all deliverables have been met. Whichever scenario that occurred, the terms and conditions of the project have to be strictly followed.
- A Request for a Change in the Scope of the Study: This usually applies to a change in the research objective(s) of the study. Likely scenario that could lead to this request include: (a) A change in one or more of the strategic project objectives; (b) A change in the overall emphasis or coverage of the research, etc. Again, acceding to this request must be in total conformity with the terms & conditions of the project.
- Request for a Reduction in Effort for a PI or Key Person in the Project: Such a request could include a proportionate reduction in the time commitment to a project by the PI or principal personnel. Again, this request, like all others are subject to the ratification of the funding agency.
- Change of PI or Key Person: This could be due to a number of unforeseen circumstances. For instance, a PI could be indisposed, or moving to another institution. The sponsor’s approval is sought while adhering to the contract award agreement, as well as the terms and conditions of the project contract.
- Temporary Disengagement of a PI: This could be for some 90 days or more. Reasons could include (a) PI is on leave of absence or (b) On sabbatical. Some sponsoring agencies occasionally request for this.
- Request for Equipment that are not in the Approved Budget: This is a request for approval to buy equipment that are not in the approved budget. Compliance with the terms and conditions of the grant, as well as the express approval of the granting agency are key requirements in this regard.
- Retroactive Pre-award Costs: This is a request to spend project funds in advance of the commencement period of the project. This request may arise due to the following: (a) Long delivery time for some equipment needed at the commencement of the project, and (b) Advanced payment (early bird registration to save funds or costs) for workshops holding after the project start date. In any or all of these cases, the approval of the granting agency is a requirement.
- Request for Approval of Re-budgeting: This arises when a PI requests for a reallocation of funds from one budget category to another. Multiple scenarios of this include: (a) Sub-contracting a portion of the project work; (b) Shifting or transferring funds from one budgetary category (e.g. personnel) to another category (e.g. travels or consumables or equipment, etc.). Again, sponsor approval, with appropriate up-to-date documentation at the COR and Grants and Agency are key requirements.