9.01 Grants, Contracts, and Sponsored Agreements


The purpose of this policy is to ensure appropriate institutional review, approval, and administration of all externally sponsored project proposals and awards. 


Sponsored projects further the University of Northern Iowa’s (UNI’s) mission by facilitating research, creative activity, community engagement and outreach, and other endeavors that support our faculty, staff, and students and serve our community. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) serves this mission by providing assistance, support, and compliance oversight for externally funded projects. 

Policy Statement

RSP is the university's authoritative agent and liaison with external funding agencies, with the exceptions defined in Policy 9.02, Grants and Gifts. Signatory authority has been delegated to RSP for approving sponsored project proposal submissions, as well as negotiating and executing grants, contracts, and fee for service agreements in support of research, creative activity, public service, instruction, and other activities.  Faculty and staff should contact RSP for guidance and assistance as early as possible when developing external funding proposals and agreements. RSP review and approval is required prior to submission for all proposals, applications, contracts, and subcontracts, hereinafter referred to collectively as “proposals,” that request funds and/or commit University resources. For those programs where a limited number of submissions are allowed by the sponsor, RSP is authorized to determine the process for selecting which applications will move forward. 

This policy applies regardless of – (1) whether UNI is the lead organization submitting directly to a funder, or will be a subcontractor or collaborator under another organization’s submission; (2) whether the sponsor is public or private; and (3) the method of proposal transmission to the sponsor. Proposals that do not require an institutional signature must still be approved by RSP prior to submission. This also includes all pre-proposals or letters upon which a grantor may base a decision to fund, and scholarship and fellowship applications, which if awarded will be paid to the university (not directly to the individual). Any exceptions to this policy will be based on a risk assessment conducted by the Director of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Responsibility for evaluating the suitability of the work to be proposed and ensuring proper management and compliance of each funded project resides with the principal investigator / project director, the department head, the academic college dean, and university administrative officers. Acceptance and discharge of this responsibility is indicated by approving the Proposal Routing and Approval Form (PRAF) prior to RSP final approval and submission of each sponsored project proposal. When a project is funded, RSP will negotiate and sign the sponsored agreement, in consultation with the project director as needed, and thereafter advise and assist the project director, department head, and dean in their respective roles and responsibilities related to overseeing and managing expenditures, paying personnel, monitoring report schedules and other sponsor requirements, requesting extensions and budget modifications, and at the end of the project, closing out the account and agreement. RSP is also responsible for developing and issuing subawards and subcontracts under sponsored agreements.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, commonly known as indirect costs, are real costs incurred by the university that support sponsored activities but cannot be directly identified with any one project. F&A costs include the costs of operating and maintaining buildings and grounds, equipment, and libraries, as well as administrative costs at the institutional, collegiate, and departmental levels. These costs are to be included at UNI’s full federally negotiated rate in all sponsored project proposals unless the sponsor's written policy prohibits or limits such reimbursement. The University recognizes that there may be exceptional circumstances that merit a reduction or waiver of F&A. RSP maintains an F&A Guidance document on the RSP website that contains further details about F&A and the process for which an F&A reduction or waiver may be requested.

Cost share funds, also called “matching funds”, are occasionally requested of applicants by external funders or project partners when a proposal is being submitted. Cost share means that UNI is contributing university or third-party financial resources to implement an externally funded project. Once cost share is committed by UNI in a proposal, that cost share becomes an institutional obligation. All proposals, including letters of intent or inquiry, that include cost share must be approved by RSP during the preaward planning process and as indicated on the PRAF prior to submission. 

A comprehensive pre-submission review of all proposals is required to ensure that proposals are complete, accurate, and in compliance with sponsor requirements, university policies, and federal regulations. Guidelines and procedures for proposal development, approval, submission, and award management are maintained on the RSP website at https://rsp.uni.edu. It is the responsibility of the principal investigator / project director to follow current procedures, including internal deadlines for submission of the PRAF and other proposal materials for review. When a proposal is complete and all approvals have been secured, RSP provides institutional endorsement of the proposal and either submits the proposal or authorizes the principal investigator / project director to submit the proposal to the sponsor.

RELATED POLICIES:   9.02 Grants and Gifts

    10.02 Contracting Authority

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, approved December 3, 2019 
University Council, approved January 27, 2020
President and President’s Cabinet, approved February 3, 2020