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. How do I submit a post-proposal action, such as Just-in-Time (JIT) requests from the sponsor? Follow the instructions for submitting post-proposal actions on the Proposal Preparation webpage.


  1. How do I submit a Progress Report to the sponsor? Guidance on submitting progress reports on the Awards webpage.
  2. When is prior approval from a federal sponsor on an award action needed? According to Uniform Guidance, the following actions require prior written approval from the funding entity, when the funding entity is federal:
    • Cost Sharing or Matching – Voluntary cost sharing is not permitted on any federal proposal. Using the 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, calls for agency prior approval. If this is included in proposal budgets, it must be specifically requested via the budget justification section.
    • Program Income – If a project generates program income, and the PI wishes to retain it to carry out the purpose of the award, prior approval must be secured. Otherwise, program income must be used to offset sponsor expenses on the award.
    • Revision of Budget and Program Plans – A reduction in PI’s effort of 25% or more requires prior approval. Rebudgeting of funds earmarked for participant support costs requires prior approval. Prior approval is required for re-budgeting cost share. (Specifically, cost share must be delivered for the purpose for which it was promised.)
    • Fixed-amount Subawards — Agency prior approval required to 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 — Prior approval is required. In instances where these costs are contemplated, in order to expedite matters in the event of an award, 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
    • Incidental activities – Incidental activities for which supplemental compensation is allowable under written institutional policy (at a rate not to exceed institutional base salary) must either be specifically provided for in the federal award budget or receive prior written approval by the federal awarding agency. 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 and requires prior approval if not included in the award budget.
    • Entertainment costs – Where possible and when necessary for the project, these costs will need to be included in the application to the funding agency or be the subject of a prior approval request after the award has been made.
    • Exchange Rates — PIs/departmental administrators, should notify Sponsored Projects offices 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 are allowable with prior approval by the federal awarding agency or pass-through entity.
    • Participant Support Costs – Inclusion of this direct cost requires prior approval. 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 and only with the written approval of the federal awarding agency.
    • 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.
  3. Is this a Gift or Grant? Determination can only reliably be made after review of the award documents. Your Sponsored Programs award analyst is able to assist you with this determination. Regardless of whether an award is designated as a gift or 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 The Office of Development (
    • In general, gifts have the following characteristics:
      • Donor does not impose contractual requirements.
      • Funds are awarded irrevocably, (no obligation to return unspent funds).
      • No obligation or agreement to share data/research results with donor; donor willing to sign 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.
  4. How do I submit an award modification to Sponsored Programs? Follow the instructions for submitting an award modification on the Awards webpage.
  5. How do I submit a proposal to SPO for review after receiving a draft award agreement from the sponsor when no proposal was submitted to SPO before receiving an award agreement? Follow the instructions for submitting an After-the-Fact (ATF) proposal on the Awards webpage.
  6. How do I submit a change in Principal Investigator request? Follow the instructions for submitting an award modification on the Awards webpage.
  7. I received an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and must provide information regarding the UC Davis policy or code-of-conduct regarding sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault, and that includes clear and accessible means of reporting violations of the policy or code-of-conduct. Where can I find the code-of-conduct or policy? Please see the NSF Code-of-Conduct Policy page on our website for the appropriate language.
  8. 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.


  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.