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Set Up Award


Sponsored Project Office (SPO) is responsible for award negotiations on behalf of the Regents. SPO reviews incoming award agreements from private industry, non-profit organizations, local governments, state governments, the federal government, and foreign sponsors. A CGO negotiates the terms and conditions of the award documentation to be consistent with federal law, state law, University of California policies, and the needs of the researchers.

SPO reviews both funded and unfunded agreements that support research. Agreement types include contracts, data use agreements, subawards, Material Transfer Agreements (MTA), Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA), and grants and/or cooperative agreements with special terms and conditions. SPO also reviews and negotiates terms and conditions that correspond with a specific Request for Proposal (RFP) announcement.

The review period ensures the terms and conditions of the proposal or award agreement are in alignment with the laws and policies applicable to the University of California. Specifically, we seek to ensure that academic freedom is preserved, we protect rights in areas such as intellectual property, we maintain publication and data ownership. 

After negotiation of the agreement by SPO, an authorized official of the University will sign the agreement.


Award Setup

Upon receipt of a Notice of Award (NOA) or fully executed agreement, a Contract & Grant Officer will establish a Cayuse award record. The establishment of the record will be communicated via a formal email announcement to the Principal Investigator (PI), Contract & Grant Administration (CGA), Project Portfolio Financial Management (PPFM), and Post-Award Research Administrators (RA). The email announcement will include specific steps that need to be completed before spending on the project. The email announcement will also be accompanied by a Cayuse Award Summary (CAS) form, highlighting important information related to the award agreement.

Award Setup Award Setup in Cayuse Expenditure Account Setup Expenditure Account Appropriation (Budget Setup)
Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) X    
Project Portfolio Project Management   X  
Contract & Grant Administration (CGA) of Department Research Administrators (DRA)     X


Pre-Award Spending: Risks, Liabilities and Limitations

The risks, liabilities and limitations associated with pre-award spending must be carefully considered before requesting authorization to spend funds in advance of receiving the fully executed award.



Whenever the university authorizes pre-award spending, the university is risking monetary loss. The requesting PI must identify other funding that must be available to cover the risk of a delayed start date, costs disallowed by the sponsor or failure of the sponsor to make an award as anticipated.



Special care must be exercised in assessing the impact of pre-award spending on legal obligations of the university before requesting or approving pre-award spending. The university must consider the impact of not having a fully executed grant or contract agreement on its legal obligations regarding intellectual property rights, subject injury, indemnification, etc.

Limitations: A sponsor's policies, the terms and conditions of the anticipated award, campus policies and practices determine whether pre-award spending or pre-award activities are allowable. Restrictions differ depending on the funding agency and the type of award anticipated (i.e., grant, cooperative agreement or contract).



Amendment to Existing Awards

An award modification or amendment is an award document that changes any aspect of an existing award. Amendments to existing awards can be either initiated by the sponsor or by the university. All modifications or amendments will be processed by Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) in the same manner as the award process. 


Sponsor Initiated Amendment

If the sponsor initiates the modification or amendment, the sponsor will issue an official award amendment notice. A Contract & Grant Officer (CGO) in the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) matches the official amendment notice with Cayuse's existing award record. CGO reviews the changes of the award and will process the modified award accordingly. Changes are communicated to all appropriate parties via formal email announcement.


University Initiated Amendment Request

The PI can initiate a request for modification or amendment of the award for the following circumstances:

  • No-Cost Time Extensions (NCTE/NCE)
  • Change of PI
  • Carryover approvals
  • Incremental/continuation funding
  • Rebudgets 

If you would like to request a modification for an existing award, contact your assigned Postaward Research Administrator. Postaward Research Administrators should email award modification requests to SPO (



Subawards included in projects can be established when a Cayuse record and research expenditure account have been established by the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) and Project Portfolio Financial Management (PPFM), respectively. To establish a new subaward Postaward Research Administrators must email SPO ( requesting the establishment of a subaward. The following documents (Subaward Request Package) and information should be included in the email:

  1. Subrecipient’s Scope of Work
  2. Subrecipient’s Budget
  3. Subrecipient’s Budget Justification
  4. Subrecipient Commitment Form (MCA Commitment for UC campuses)
  5. Single Audit (or Mini-Audit Questionnaire, when applicable)
  6. Federally Negotiated Rate Agreement
  7. Subrecipient Contacts List - The names and emails of the Principal Investigator, Administrative Contact, Financial Contact, and Authorized Offical.

SPO reviews the Subaward Request Package for completeness and reviews against the prime agreement to ensure compliance. SPO will review the subrecipient’s Single Audit Report (SAR) to assess the risk to University. If a subrecipient does not have a SAR, a Mini-Audit Questionnaire will need to be completed by the subrecipient. SPO may request additional information from the department. International subawards must also be reviewed for export control issues.

If no issues are found with the Subaward Request Package, SPO will draft a subaward agreement. The PI and their research administrator may be asked to provide due dates for invoices, technical and financial reports, and other special terms and conditions.

A subaward agreement is sent to the subrecipient for review and signature. Once a subaward agreement has been fully executed, SPO will update the Cayuse record to include the fully executed subaward agreement. SPO will announce the PI and their research administrator via email, indicating the subcontractor has been awarded.

Amendments requests for subawards should also be emailed to SPO (


Award Administration & Fiscal Management

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for all aspects of day-to-day award administration. Research administrators in Contract & Grant Administration (CGA) assist PIs in carrying out administrative functions related to awards. If the PI has questions regarding award compliance, CGA should be contacted for policy interpretation and guidance at


To ensure final invoices can be submitted and the grant can be closed out to meet the sponsor’s deadline, and also, to avoid asking for PI’s un-restricted fund to cover the travel expenses, the following travel reimbursement requirement need to be reiterated and re-enforced:

Travel Reimbursement Requirement for Contracts & Grants

All travel reimbursements must be submitted and routed to Research Administrators for approval 30 days after the award’s end date. Reimbursements submitted after the deadline may need to be covered by PI’s alternative funding source.


Transferring an Award

If you are a new faculty member and would like to transfer your awards to UC Merced, or if you are an outgoing faculty member and would like to transfer your awards to your new institution, the transfer must be carefully coordinated between the relinquishing institution, the receiving institution, and sponsoring agency.

The relinquishing institution must initiate the process with the sponsor. Both relinquishing and receiving institutions must fulfill all sponsor requirements. Most federal sponsors have specific guidance on the transfer of awards, but non-federal sponsors' process is unique.

If you want to transfer an award to UC Merced or transfer your awards from UCM to another institution, please contact us at


Award FAQ

I submitted a proposal without routing through SPO and have been awarded. What do I do now?

This is considered an "after-the-fact" award. A Cayuse SP record will still need to be created before a project record and research expenditure account can be established. All documents normally collected at the proposal stage will need to be provided or created by the PI with a pre-award research administrator's assistance. If the "after-the-fact" award contains problematic terms and conditions and poses a legal or financial risk to the University, the award may be declined.

If you have been awarded an "after-the-fact" award, submit the proposal/award details through the Proposal Submission Request (PSR).


I am not sure if my award is a gift or sponsored project (grant/contract). How do I make a determination?

You can make a determination using the Grant vs. Gift table found on the Forms & Resources tab.