Office of Research SPO FAQs - Office of Research



  1. How do I know which campus office I should submit a specific proposal and/or agreement to for review and approval/signature? View the UC Davis Contracting Offices document.
  2. What are my responsibilities as a Principal Investigator (PI)?  The Principal Investigator is responsible for the scientific integrity and management of the project; financial management of project funds (including recovery of full indirect costs) and  adherence to all University policies and to externally-imposed sponsor terms and conditions including reporting and record keeping requirements contained in the award document. The award document is the funding agency’s official obligation of funds for a project. Many awards cover a multi-year project period made up of several shorter (usually 12-month) budget periods. Funds often are awarded in budget period installments. View details on the specific responsibilities at the proposal and award phase.
  3. How do I submit a request to change a primary administrative contact? Follow the instructions for changing a primary administrative contact on the Other Processes webpage.
  4. What reporting and disclosure requirements are required by federal sponsors/agencies regarding international involvement and activities? The Office of Research has developed guidance to ensure that research and educational activities at UC Davis are compliant with federal regulation, state law, university policy, and research sponsor requirements – specifically relating to disclosing foreign relationships and activities.
  5. Is a Cayuse SP Internal Processing Form (IPF) required for the proposal, post-proposal or award action? Review the Actions and Proposal Types table to determine how to submit a specific action.


  1. Do letters of intent (LOIs), preliminary proposal (pre-proposals), white papers and other similar materials need to be submitted to Sponsored Programs for review before they are submitted to the sponsoring/funding agency? LOIs, pre-proposals and other similar materials must be submitted to Sponsored Programs for review and approval if the sponsor requires a budget amount, agreement to terms and conditions at that phase or institutional approval, endorsement or signature. Submit the materials in Cayuse SP as a Proposal/Internal Processing Form (IPF) and select the Proposal Type of LOI/Preliminary Proposal. List only the Lead Principal Investigator on the Investigators/Research Team tab. If the Lead Principal Investigator does not have Principal Investigator status, Sponsored Programs recommend requesting “Exception to Policy on Eligibility to Undertake Sponsored Research/Other Sponsored Activity” at this stage. However, it is not required. Detailed instructions may be found in the Handbook for Department Contract & Grant Staff, Principal Investigators and Approvers.
  2. What documents are needed when submitting a proposal with cost sharing? See the Guidance for submitting proposals/IPFs that involve cost sharing.
  3. How to do I submit a proposal/application to Sponsored Programs for review? See the Proposal Preparation webpage.
  4. Why do PIs need to certify proposal requests? By certifying a proposal request in Cayuse, the PI is affirming that they understand the responsibilities and requirements associated with proposal administration.  Because it is a vital piece of the proposal request, we are unable to assign any proposal for review until the certification has been provided. View details on the specific responsibilities at the proposal and award phase.
  5. What needs to be submitted with my proposal request? All proposal requests should include a scope of work, a detailed budget, and a budget justification. Additional documents may be necessary if required in the specific call.
  6. I am required to submit a form to the sponsor as part of my proposal. Will SPO complete and sign the form?  Proposals does not complete and/or sign forms unless it is a certification related directly to the submittal of a proposal.  Forms should be completed and signed by the university official with appropriate signature authority; responsibility for facilitating completion and signature is with the campus department.
  7. What are Submission Notes and Why should I use them? Submission notes are important for the PI, Department and SPO, as this is where additional and helpful information can be noted related to the proposal action that is being submitted for review.
  8. When completing the Internal Processing Form (IPF) what is the difference between Sponsor and Prime Funding Agency? The Sponsor is the direct or lead organization that will issue the award to UC Davis.  The Prime Funding Agency is where the funds for that award are originated from.  For example: University of Arizona (Sponsor) will issue an award to UC Davis, in which they have received funding from NIH (Prime Funding Agency).
  9. What is an After-the-Fact (ATF) proposal? ATF proposals are proposals routed after submission to the sponsor because either the proposal was (1) not required by the sponsor, or (2) was not reviewed by SPO prior to submission. Do NOT submit an ATF to SPO unless action is needed from SPO in order to receive an award, or a notice of award or award agreement is uploaded.
  10. How do I submit a proposal to SPO for review after the proposal was submitted to the sponsor? Follow the instructions for submitting an After-the-Fact (ATF) proposal on the Proposal Preparation webpage.
  11. I received a notice from the sponsor that I need to provide additional information before they can make a final award. Who can help with this? This is called a Just-In-Time (or JIT) request. Forward this immediately to your Sponsored Programs proposal analyst. If you do not know who this is, check in the Cayuse SP proposal on the Proposal Routing Status screen, under “Specialists” in the top section. If there are two names, it’s the name on the left.
    • Once the JIT request is completed, the PI should give access to submit to the Sponsored Programs proposal analyst and notify the Sponsored Programs proposal analyst that the JIT is ready and access has been granted to complete a final review.
    • If the JIT is amenable for submission, the proposal analyst will then submit on behalf of the investigator and the institution.


  1. I received a notice of award, is my award active? How can I tell? In most cases, the sponsor will send SPO a copy of the notice of award (NOA). SPO will assign the NOA to an Awards analyst and contact you if any items are needed. If a sponsor sends the PI a copy of the NOA directly, please forward the NOA to so that SPO can assign an Awards analyst to initiate the award review. Include the:
    • Principal Investigator’s name
    • Sponsor name
    • Associated Cayuse SP Proposal and/or Project number
  2. To check the status of your award, please check Cayuse SP. The Cayuse award status will either show “Pending,” which means it is still in process, or “Active,” which means the award agreement has been finalized and funds are confirmed.
  1. I received a draft award agreement from a sponsor though no proposal was previously submitted to SPO. How do I now submit a proposal? Follow the instructions for submitting an After-the-Fact (ATF) proposal on the Awards and Award Modifications
  2. I received an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and must provide information regarding UC Davis policy or code-of-conduct regarding sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault. Where can I find this? Please see SPO’s NSF Code-of-Conduct Policy page for the appropriate language.
  3. What costs/expenses require prior written approval by the sponsor/funding agency? Read all of the sponsor and program guidelines to identify their requirements for prior approval specific to your award. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 200.407 provides guidance for federal awards.
  4. When is prior approval from a federal sponsor needed on an award action? According to Uniform Guidance, the following actions require prior written approval from federal funding entities:
    Actions that require prior written approval
    • Cost Sharing or Matching – Use of unrecovered indirect costs (when solicitation limits recovery of indirect costs to less than the full negotiated rate) to offset a cost-share component in proposals that require mandatory cost-sharing.
      • If this is included in proposal budgets, it must be specifically requested via the budget justification section.
      • Proposers are strongly discouraged from including voluntary cost sharing if not required by the sponsor.
    • Program Income – If a project generates program income and the PI wishes to retain it to carry out the purpose of the award.
      • Otherwise, program income must be used to offset sponsor expenses on the award.
    • Revision of Budget and Program Plans
      • A reduction in PI, Co-PI or Senior Personnel effort of 25% or more.
      • Rebudgeting of funds earmarked for participant support costs.
      • Re-budgeting cost share. (Cost share must be delivered for the purpose for which it was promised.)
    • Fixed-Amount Subawards — Enter into a fixed-amount subaward rather than a cost-reimbursement subaward, and the total value of each fixed-amount subaward may not exceed $150,000.
      • To expedite agency approval and subsequent issuance of the subaward, PIs/departments should add a new justification statement to proposals contemplating a fixed-amount subaward.
    • Administrative or Clerical Costs —In instances where these costs are contemplated, it is recommended that prior approval be sought at the proposal phase (i.e., include in the budget and fully justify and request via the budget justification).
    • Compensation – Personal Services. Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200 (200.430) states: “Compensation for personal services includes all remuneration, paid currently or accrued, for services of employees rendered during the period of performance under the Federal award, including but not limited to wages and salaries.
    • Incidental Activities – If not specifically provided for in the federal award budget, incidental activities for which supplemental compensation is allowable under written institutional policy (at a rate not to exceed institutional base salary).
      • Also if not included in the award budget, charges of a faculty member’s salary to a federal award must not exceed the proportionate share of the Institutional Base Salary (IBS) for the period during which the faculty member worked on the award .
    • Entertainment Costs – If not included in the application to the funding agency. Must be necessary to the project.
    • Exchange Rates — PIs/departmental administrators should notify the Sponsored Projects Office ASAP if they feel their project qualifies for additional funding as a result of fluctuation in exchange rates (e.g., foreign subs, etc.).
    • Memberships, Subscriptions and Professional Activity Costs — Costs of membership in any civic or community organization.
    • Participant Support Costs – For expediency in the approval process, include and fully justify in proposal applications when necessary to carry out the project.
    • Pre-Award Costs – Such costs are allowable only to the extent that they would have been allowable if incurred after the date of the federal award.
    • Travel Costs – Dependent care travel costs cannot be included in proposal budgets until UC establishes a policy. PIs need to understand that this new allowance of dependent care costs is NOT to pay for the travel expenses of their dependents accompanying them on their travel, but rather to pay for temporary expenses that are above and beyond normal care and that are a direct result of the employee’s travel.
  5. Is this a Gift or Grant? Determination can only reliably be made after review of award documents. Your Sponsored Programs award analyst can assist you with this determination. Regardless of whether an award is designated as a gift, a grant, or a contract, it will be subject to the research review process as well as to the administrative rules and procedures which apply to all University funds. The processing of gifts does not include the application of indirect costs but may include assessment of a campus gift fee. Processing of grants and contracts will include the application of indirect costs in accordance with University policy (see Rates). Gifts are processed by Development and Alumni Relations.
    Gifts vs. Grants
    • In general, gifts have the following characteristics:
      • Donor does not impose contractual requirements.
      • Funds are awarded irrevocably (i.e., no obligation to return unspent funds).
      • No obligation or agreement to share data/research results with donor. Donor is willing to sign a gift agreement relinquishing intellectual property and data rights to University. Donor may request progress reports.
      • Qualifies for tax treatment as charitable contribution by donor.
    • In general, grants have the following characteristics:
      • Provision for audits by or on behalf of the grantor.
      • The grantor is entitled to receive some consideration such as a detailed technical report of research results or a report of expenditures.
      • Testing or evaluating of proprietary products is involved.
      • The research is directed to satisfying specific grantor requirements (e.g., terms and conditions stating a precise scope of work to be done rather than a general area of research).
      • A specified period of performance is prescribed or termination is at the discretion of the grantor.
      • Funds unexpended at end of period shall be returned to the grantor.
      • Patent rights requested by grantor.
  6. How do I set up an advance account? When can I start spending? See ‘Request an Advance Account’ on SPO’s Other Processes at this link:
  7. The XX Office promised to provide matching support when I submitted my proposal. How do I get them to make good on that promise? A letter of commitment or other documentation should be signed by the person authorized to commit the funds and such documentation should be attached to the Internal Processing Form (IPF; aka the “proposal”) in Cayuse SP. See SPO’s Guidance on Proposals with Cost-Sharing.
  8. How can I rebudget my expenses? When is rebudgeting not allowed? Consult the award agreement, the Funding Opportunity Announcement, and/or sponsor guidelines to determine whether the sponsor allows the desired rebudgeting and if so, whether prior approval from the sponsor is required.
  9. How do I apply for a supplement on this grant (e.g., NSF REU or NIH Administrative supplement)? Follow sponsor guidelines. Some require submission of a new proposal, so route an IPF (Internal Processing Form) internally through Cayuse SP and then prepare the proposal for submission in the appropriate electronic Research Administration system (e.g., Cayuse 424). Here are some links for convenience:
  10. How do I submit an award prior approval request to Sponsored Programs? Follow the instructions for submitting an award modification request on the Awards and Award Modifications
  11. How do I ask for a no-cost extension? Can I get more than one? See the ‘Submit an Award Modification/Amendment Request to SPO’ box on the Awards and Award Modifications page for guidance. When you can request more than one depends on sponsor guidelines.
  12. How do I submit a request to change a Principal Investigator?What do I do if one of my key personnel leaves the project? You need to route a new Cayuse IPF for a new PI.  If a key personnel leaves the project, then please submit a request for prior approval to SPO.
  13. How do I submit a Progress Report to the sponsor? Guidance on submitting progress reports is on the Award and Award Modifications
  14. How do I hire the people that I’ve budgeted for in my proposal? What is the process for staff, post-docs, grad students, and undergrads? Such post-award questions are handled by Contracts & Grants Accounting. Information is available on their Establishing New Extramural-Funded Expense Accounts You may also pose questions to
  15. I budgeted to be paid for my summer salary (or academic year salary); when/how will I see that money? Such post-award questions are handled by Contracts & Grants Accounting. Information is available on their Establishing New Extramural-Funded Expense Accounts You may also pose questions to
  16. I budgeted for a course release; how do I go about getting that time? Such post-award questions are handled by Contracts & Grants Accounting. Information is available on their Establishing New Extramural-Funded Expense Accounts You may also pose questions to
  17. How do I keep track of my effort on my grant (both charged and cost-shared)? Such post-award questions are handled by Contracts & Grants Accounting. Information is available on their Effort Commitment System You may also pose questions to
  18. Is there an upper limit to the amount of effort I can devote to all of my extramural grants? Such post-award questions are handled by Contracts & Grants Accounting. Information is available on their Effort Commitment System You may also pose questions to
  19. How do I keep track of matching support for my project? Is it different for internal (UC Davis) versus external sources of matching funds? Such post-award questions are handled by Contracts & Grants Accounting. Information is available on their Cost Share Application You may also pose questions to
  20. How often do I need to submit reports to sponsors and how do I do that? The PI should review the award terms and conditions and make note of required reports and report deadlines in order to ensure timely completion as required by the Sponsor. See the ‘Submit a Progress Report’ box on SPO’s Awards and Award Modifications page for additional guidance.
  21. Can I switch a grad student to a post-doc (or vice versa)? While we can take any action with sponsor prior approval, in general it depends on what the position is. For key personnel, we need sponsor prior approval.  For an unnamed position, we just need a revised budget.
  22. What vendors am I allowed to use for purchasing X? What is the process for engaging a vendor? See Supply Chain Management’s How to: Buy page
  23. What happened to the indirect costs that were generated by this project? Will any of them be returned to me? Indirect costs support general UC Davis facilities and administrative (F&A) costs and are not provided to any one specific project or investigator. More information at Facilities and Administrative Cost Recovery.


  1. What is an outgoing Subaward? An outgoing subaward is an agreement with a third-party organization performing a portion of a UCD research project or program. The terms of the relationship (subgrant/subcontract) are influenced by the prime agreement, detailing the award to the University. A subrecipient works collaboratively with the prime award recipient to carry out a portion of the prime award’s scope of work. Just because another entity is involved in carrying out a sponsored project does not mean that a true subrecipient relationship exists. Since it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a subrecipient and a vendor, it may be easy to confuse the two.   This can lead to problems managing a sponsored project so it is important to ascertain if the work to be carried out meets the definition of a “subaward” at the proposal stage. If a vendor relationship is required remember that indirect costs will need to be charged on the entire amount of the transaction. Please see the helpful information included in SPO’s:
  2. May outgoing subaward funds be spent before the prime award fully executed/pre-award spending? A subaward will not be issued, nor payments to a Subrecipient authorized, prior to Sponsored Program’s receipt and acceptance of a funding commitment from the prime sponsor. A UC Davis PI or designee may not authorize a subrecipient to begin working without a fully executed subaward agreement in place. Proposed subrecipients who commence work without a fully signed subaward agreement from Sponsored Programs do so at their own risk and have no assurance of payment from UC Davis.
  3. Are there different instructions for working with international subrecipients and small organizations? Please note that many international subrecipients or small organizations may not be familiar with requirements under federal awards such as obtaining a DUNS number and registering in the federal System for Award Management (SAM). As such PIs who are expecting to receive federal funding and working with an international, and/ or a small organization subrecipient, should inform the subrecipient of the potential need to (a) obtain a DUNS and (b) register in the federal System for Award Management (SAM) at the time of proposal. UC Davis is prohibited by Federal law from releasing subaward funding until a DUNS number is provided. Further, many international and small organizations do not have a federally negotiated indirect cost rate. If the subrecipient does not have a current federally negotiated rate in place they have the options detailed on the Subawards webpage.
  4. How do I initiate Subaward that was not included in the original proposal? A PI may decide to engage the services of a Subrecipient after an award is made and the request was not included in the original to the prime sponsor. In this case, the PI must submit the required elements for a subaward to Sponsored Programs as described on the Subawards webpage. In most cases, sponsor prior approval will be required. PIs are responsible for initiating such requests for Sponsor approval by contacting their Sponsored Programs Award Analyst, and for obtaining the countersignature of their authorized institutional official as required. Subawards may not be issued until all necessary sponsor approvals are obtained.
  5. What do I do if one of my subawardees is not performing as expected? If a subawardee is not performing satisfactorily, there are several actions the PI can take. The most common are:
    • Ensure that invoiced costs and types of expenses are aligned with the scientific progress reported to date.
      • For example, if they’ve charged a lot of effort to the project but have provided little in the way of proof of that effort, this should be questioned. This should be done timely – i.e. within 30 days.  This is especially important for the next bullet point.
    • Keep detailed documentation of unsatisfactory performance so that updated requirements may be added in an amendment to a subaward.
      • For example, the UC Davis PI is asking for monthly reports but the subawardee is not providing them, and this requirement was not included in the initial contract agreement. UC Davis can issue an amendment requiring more frequent reporting, or whatever else the PI needs. This option allows the UCD PI to continue to work with the subawardee despite challenges. When such an issue occurs, the Sponsored Programs Office won’t know until informed.
    • Terminate the award.
      • SPO can terminate any award with (typically) 30 days notice.  A subaward request form to terminate the contract and deobligate the funding needs to be sent to If the subawardee PI is named in the award agreement, negotiations may need to occur regarding reduction of effort.

If needed, contact for additional guidance with subawardees.