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Award Set-Up

Establishing Sponsored Project Chart Strings

Once a unilateral or fully executed award agreement has been received by Sponsored Research, it is matched with a proposal, logged into the award information management system, and through a series of business processes will be assigned a chart string in the University’s financial system. SR appropriates the award funding in accordance with the approved budget.  For awards with conventional Research Terms and Conditions (RTC), Sponsored Research will open a standard set of NUFinancials budgetary accounts.  Information related to RTC and Agency Specific RTCs can be reviewed at: http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/rtc.jsp.

Project Account Summary (PAS)

The PI and department research administration contact(s) will be sent a copy of the Project Account Summary (PAS) once a chart string has been established.  The PI and department are responsible for assuring proper use of funds and that all expenditures meet cost accounting principles and are compliant with sponsor and university policies. Questions about properly classifying expenditures should be directed to Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs (ASRSP). 

Budget Revision and Budget Modification Guidance

All budgets submitted to a sponsor require institutional review and endorsement prior to submission. A budget revision is an increase or decrease to the total amount of the award. A budget modification move budget authority (expenditure, revenue or both) between allocations in accounts, account codes or any combination of these. The net effect of any budget modification to move allocations in a given account is to increase budget authority in one accounting location while decreasing it in another. A budget modification makes changes to an existing budgeted amount. It does not increase or decrease the total budget, therefore, the total of all changes must equal zero. The current method to submit these requests to Sponsored Research is via a Change Request (CR) in InfoEd. Budget revisions and budget modifications are permitted at the pre- and post- award stage when institutional endorsement and/or sponsor approval is required for the requested changes. Budget revisions or modification are not for revision of an awarded allocation to move funds for purposes of internal budget reconciliation.

Pre-Award Budget Revisions

Pre-award budget revisions are sponsor requested budget revisions typically due to a reduction in funding prior to award issuance. The sponsor may also request a more detailed budget breakdown and supporting materials that would require institutional review and submission. When Northwestern is a subrecipient, a revised Letter of Intent (LOI) will be needed.

Required documentation to be provided in the CR:

  • Sponsor communication
  • Detailed budget
  • Budget justification
  • Amended scope of work, as applicable
  • Rationale for the request

Post-Award Budget Revisions

Post-award budget revisions may occur for several reasons, including sponsor budget reduction in out years, rebudgeting restrictions in an award that would require sponsor approval and/or a change in scope that also requires a budget revision (e.g., adding a subaward, large equipment purchase, etc.).

Required documentation to be provided in the CR:

  • Sponsor communication, if prior approval is required
  • Sponsor threshold for making budget revisions, where applicable
  • Detailed budget/Reallocation
  • Budget justification
  • Amended scope of work, as applicable
  • Rationale for the request

All proposed changes to an award budget must meet the cost accounting principles of a sponsored project (allowable, allocable, reasonable, and consistent treatment) and must conform to Northwestern University cost allowability policies, sponsor policies, and individual solicitation and award terms and conditions.