Advance or At-Risk Accounts
Advance or At-Risk Account Approval and Establishment Guidance
Northwestern Sponsored Research approves and establishes Advance Accounts (previously known as “prespend” accounts) in response to formal requests submitted by faculty and research staff to incur expenditures for necessary project activities prior to receipt of an award.
Northwestern Sponsored Research approves At-Risk Accounts in response to formal requests submitted by faculty and research staff to incur expenditures for necessary project activities on an existing award when the next budget period has not yet been formally authorized by the sponsor or pass-through entity.
Advance or At-Risk Accounts:
- Are established prior to the receipt or issuance of a sponsored award (pre-award).
- Are established with the understanding that risk is borne by the department in the event (1) the award is not received or (2) the sponsor disallows all or a percentage of costs incurred during the pre-award period.
- Require provision of a non-sponsored departmental account as guarantor.
- May be approved when a new award or award continuation is expected with reasonable assurance, as evidenced by:
- Receipt of Notification of intent to fund from the sponsor.
- Submission of required reporting or technical deliverable(s) for continuation funding.
- Submission of a proposals to transfer an incoming award from another institution or organization.
- May be approved for new awards in negotiation when:
- The negotiation process is expected to exceed 45 days.
- The anticipated award terms do not include indications of activities in which Northwestern does not or cannot engage: Classified or controlled activities, personnel restrictions, technological capabilities beyond university capacity or readiness.
- The proposal has been fully routed and all necessary compliance approvals are in place as necessary.
Duration of Advance or At-Risk Accounts
- Advance accounts for new awards are established for a period not to exceed 120 days, or the sponsor’s limit, whichever is shorter.
- At-risk end date extensions for continuation awards are established for a period not to exceed 12 months or the end of the next anticipated budget period, whichever is shorter.
- At-risk end date extensions for continuation awards from a pass-through entity are established for a period not to exceed 90 days at a time.
- At-risk accounts for incoming award transfers are established for a period not to exceed 6 months.
Financial Considerations for Advance or At-Risk Accounts
- A departmental guarantee account is required to support disallowed expenditures and any and all costs incurred in the event the award is not received.
- Expenses incurred during the Advance/At-Risk period should be continually assessed for necessity to minimize the financial impact on school or departmental budgets in the event the expected award is not received.