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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 non funded 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).


Requesting Pre-award Spending

When requesting pre-award spending, please complete the Pre-Award Spending Form with written confirmation of the upcoming award from the sponsor directly and submit to the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO). SPO will analyze the request to verify all administrative requirements have been met.

SPO will then approve the pre-award spending and forward it to Contract and Grant Administration/Project Portfolio Financial Management for account/fund number assignment.

Some federal sponsors allow pre-award costs up to 90 days prior to the effective date of the award. A list of federal sponsors that allow pre-award spending under Expanded Authority can be found here



Amendment to Existing Awards

A modification or amendment is an award document that changes any aspect of an existing award. Amendment 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 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 

All requests for modification or amendment should be made to the Contract & Grant Administration (CGA) by emailing them at



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, a Principal Investigator (PI) or their research administrator must complete and submit a Subaward Request Form to SPO.

  1. A completed Subaward Request Form
  2. Subrecipient’s Scope of Work
  3. Subrecipient’s Budget
  4. Subrecipient’s Budget Justification

SPO reviews the Subaward Request Package for completeness and reviews against the prime agreement to ensure compliance. SPO will collect and review a copy of 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 begin to 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 to subawards should follow the same procedure, but reference to the existing subaward should be made in the Subaward Request Form.


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 PI’s 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


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 terms and conditions that are problematic and pose 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.