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A sponsored project is defined as any externally funded research or scholarly activity that has a defined scope of work or set of objectives, which provides a basis for sponsor expectations. This more specifically involves research, demonstration, professional development, instruction, training, curriculum development, community and public service, or other scholarly activity involving funds, materials, other forms of compensation, or exchanges of in-kind efforts under awards or agreements. The presence of any one of the following conditions normally identifies the activity as a sponsored project:

  • The proposal is submitted in response to an RFP (request for proposals) or similar solicitation.
  • The proposal commits the University to a specific line of scholarly or scientific inquiry typically documented in a statement of work to be performed.
  • The proposal includes a set of objectives which provides a basis for sponsor expectations.
  • The proposal commits University resources, such as the level of personnel effort or use of equipment, facilities, or other resources.
  • The proposal includes a detailed budget.
  • The proposed project involves the use of human subjects, laboratory animals, radioactive or hazardous materials, recombinant DNA, carcinogens, pathogens, or proprietary materials.
  • There is a specified period of performance, typically defined by “start” and “end” dates.
  • The sponsor requires deliverables stated in an agreement, such as reports, financial accounting, or intellectual property ownership.
  • The award restricts or monitors publications or use of results or requires protection of confidential information.
  • The award provides for the disposition of tangible or intangible propertythat may result from the project such as equipment, records, formal activity reports, theses and dissertations, rights in data, software, copyrights, inventions or research-related materials.
  • The award specifies fiduciary responsibilities such as adherence to a line item budget, project audit, payment contingencies, and the return of any unexpended funds at the end of the project.
  • The sponsor is involved in making decisions regarding project performance or stands to derive benefit from the work performed.

Sponsored awards are made to the University on behalf of the principal investigator (PI), who is primarily responsible for carrying out the requirements of the award. The PI may also be referred to as the project director. The few exceptions are certain awards that may be made to individuals, such as some faculty fellowships. Please see Principal Investigator Guidelines for who may serve as a PI.

In developing a proposal and administering an award, the PI represents the University and is responsible for upholding the high standards expected of University projects. The PI also serves as fiscal officer of the project, with all the attendant responsibilities of project fiscal management.

Sponsored projects are subject to facilities and administrative costs (F&A) at the University’s rate applicable to the type of project being conducted. If the sponsor has a published federally negotiated policy, uniformly applied, prohibiting or restricting the payment of F&A costs, the University will accept the reduced F&A rate in accordance with the sponsor’s policy. This policy does not apply to for-profit sponsors that are expected to provide full F&A recovery.