Chapter 2: Fiscal Responsibilities

2.6 Monitoring Project Spending

Before the Award

A well-planned and clearly defined budget lays the foundation for fiscally sound research. Subcontracts must be complete and any cost-sharing arrangements documented and approved during the submission process. Care taken at the outset prevents frustrating administrative delays once an award is received.

All applications to extramural sponsors must be reviewed by the institution prior to submission. It is the PIs responsibility to inform Sponsored Projects of a pending submission a minimum of 30 days before the submission date via eSPA, CHOP's electronic sponsored projects administration portal. The PI is expected to provide the final application at least eight days prior to the submission deadline. Additional guidelines and procedures for submitting proposals, subcontracts, and non-competing continuation applications are detailed in the Proposal Review and Submission Policy.

PIs who receive an award notice or are informed via eSPA that an award is pending must contact their SPO or RBM for assistance in on-boarding those funds. PIs are not authorized to accept awards; only an institutional official can accept an award.

Science doesn't always wait for the arrival of money. When a new award is assured but the funding is delayed, it may be appropriate to request an advanced account via eSPA. By opening an advanced account, PIs do not have to transfer expenses onto a new account when funds arrive, thus avoiding both administrative burden and audit exposure. It is not appropriate to charge these costs to other sponsored accounts, even if you intend to transfer them later. Charging these expenses to non-sponsored accounts and then transferring them later should also be avoided.

Costs incurred in a pre-award account must be allowable under the potential award and are incurred at the recipient's risk. The PI or the PI's division/department will have to absorb any costs if the award is not received, is less than anticipated, or if the costs are disallowed per the terms of the award. The guarantor account is included in the eSPA request. Additional conditions and procedures for requesting an advanced account are available from the RBM.

During the Award

The principal investigator authorizes all direct cost expenditures of project funds and is responsible for reviewing and approving all project-related expenditures and cost transfers. In addition to the PI, cognizant technicians, clinical coordinators, and others on the PI's team may initiate expenditures, but ultimately the PI must approve them. Regular review of the on-line financial reports is a valuable step in ensuring that all charges are appropriate. At least monthly (and ideally more frequently), PIs should check their on-line financial reports for accuracy and completeness and, when appropriate, initiate corrections no later than 90 days from the date of the transaction. Expenditure corrections, including salary allocations that occur after 90 days, require an additional explanation for the timeframe.

The key to reviewing and approving project expenditures is determining allocability. Allocability scenarios are available in the "more information" tab of this section.

Any income generated from a sponsored project must be identified and reported to Research Finance. Program income is income earned by Children's Hospital from activities directly generated by or earned as a result of activities supported by direct costs of an award. Examples and specific procedures are available by viewing the CHOP Research Institutes' Policy on Program Income.

PIs are also responsible for submitting reports and continuation applications per the terms of the award. The Sponsored Projects and Research Business Offices will alert PIs to timelines and due dates and can assist in the development and submission of these documents.

Ask the Experts

Sara Dubberly
Sponsored Projects and Research Business Office

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More Information

  • Allocability scenarios
    • Allocating Supplies
    • Purchases Late in Project Period
    • Effort for Proposal Preparation
    • Effort While Absent from Campus

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