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Negotiate and Set Up Awards & Subawards

Once SRA has an award in hand, SRA will send a copy to the PI for programmatic review and approval. SRA also reviews the award document for any problematic legal language. If the PI or SRA determines there are issues, SRA will enter into negotiations with the sponsor to remove or mitigate the issue. Once the agreement has been fully executed (which means it has all appropriate signatures), SRA will set up the project account in RAMP and OMNI. Please remember - PIs should not begin working on a project until a fully executed agreement is in hand or an advance request is approved.

See the options below for more information regarding negotiating and setting up awards.

More information on subawards coming soon!

Don't see what you're looking for? Please feel free to contact us.

The terms "grant," "cooperative agreement," and "contract" are often used interchangeably. Though they are all used to award funding, they each have specific meanings.

Federal Grants

Grants are awarded by the federal government as a means of public financial assistance. A federal grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used when the government does not expect substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient. For federal grants, administrative requirements and cost principles are governed by OMB Circulars (before December 2014) or 2 CFR 200, "Uniform Guidance" (after December 2014).

Federal Cooperative Agreements

Similar to a grant, a federal cooperative agreement is used for public financial assistance. Unlike with a grant, the federal government will award a cooperative agreement when it DOES expect substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient. For federal cooperative agreements, the administrative requirements and cost principles that apply to grants also apply to cooperative agreements (OMB Circulars before December 2014 or 2 CFR 200, "Uniform Guidance," after December 2014).

Federal Contracts

Contracts are used by the government to procure a product of service for its own use (not public financial assistance). Generally, the scope of work is specified by the sponsor in the solicitation and there are greater performance expectations placed on work done under a contract. Administrative requirements and cost principles for federal contracts are governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Federal contracts often include more unfavorable terms than other types of awards. While FSU receives few direct federal contract, it receives many subcontracts in which funding originates from a federal contract. Many of the terms and conditions from the prime contract are flowed-down to FSU and require negotiation. See below for more information on SRA's process for handling negotiation of awards and unfavorable terms.

Other Types of Awards

SRA receives many other types of awards from sponsors (including federal, state, and local governments) such as Purchase Orders (POs), Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), Letters of Agreement (LOAs), etc from state governments, local governments, and private organizations with public funding. Regardless of the name used to describe the award document, if it is publicly funded, it should be routed to SRA for review and account set up.

Please contact us for additional information.

Problematic Terms

If the award arrives with no programmatic or legal issues, it can be signed and set up in OMNI fairly quickly. Frequently, however, problematic language can delay this process. Common problematic language can include (but is not limited to) the following -

  • Indemnification (restoring an injured party to its uninjured state) - per state law, FSU cannot indemnify another party
  • Intellectual property (including patents and copyrights) - if the contract does not allow FSU to retain patent and copyright rights, SRA will attempt to negotiate so that FSU can retain these rights
  • Damages/reprocurement costs, which are too costly for FSU to agree to accept
  • Publication restrictions, which could bar graduate students from publishing theses and dissertations
  • Laws of or venue in another state, which can make legal dispute very expensive

Unfavorable Terms Memorandum

Sometimes, the sponsor is unable to remove problematic language from agreements. In certain cases, SRA can draft an Unfavorable Terms Memorandum (UFT). The UFT is generally used when there are financial implications from problematic language in the contract that the sponsor refuses to remove. By signing a UFT, the PI's department agrees to be responsible for any costs associated with the problematic language. UFTs are also used as an avenue for the PI to document his or her willingness to accept contractual language which FSU as a whole could not accept (e.g., following data security measures, warn graduate students about lost publication rights, etc.). 

Award Execution

Once the problematic language is removed or covered with a UFT, FSU can sign the award. Some awards are unilateral, meaning only the sponsor signs the award. Others require signature from both parties. Only FSU's authorized organizational representative (AOR) (a.k.a. authorized official - AO, etc.) can sign awards on behalf of FSU. FSU's President has given this authority to the Vice President for Research who, in turn, has given this authority to a few individuals in SRA. PIs, chairs, and deans should not sign agreements as they do not have the authority to contractually bind the university.

Once the award is fully executed, meaning it has all required signatures, SRA will set up a project account in OMNI and project activities and spending can begin.

PIs should not begin work or start spending on a project until a fully executed award is in hand. If the PI needs to begin work before we have a fully executed award, the PI may request an advance. The following criteria must be met in order to set up an advance account:

a. The University must have received written assurance from the sponsor that a program or activity has been recommended for funding, with a recommended start date, end date, amount of obligation of funds, project budget (if different from the proposal), and the anticipated receipt date of an award document. For advances on existing awards, the University also needs to know if the upcoming increment of funding will be awarded with the same award number or a different one.

b. Any delay in initiating or continuing critical program requirements beyond the approved budget period or amount may adversely impact the program or significantly increase the cost. Critical program requirements include but are not limited to:

(1) The continuation of essential program employees to avoid losing experienced or uniquely qualified personnel under intermittent funding conditions;
(2) Urgent expense requirements (purchasing, travel, etc.) of the program which require immediate action.

c. The department shall assume the risk by providing financial backing of only the direct cost amount to be advanced during the approved advance time period (not the associated indirect costs). The department is advised to limit its exposure to risk by limiting the amount of advance and/or the period of the advance. 

See FSU's Policy on Advances for Externally Funded Projects for more information.


Coming soon!

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