11.20 – Responsibilities and Accountability for Sponsored Project Awards

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Scope: NMSU System

Source: ARP Chapter 11 | Research and Intellectual Property

Rule Administrator:

Last Updated: 03/14/2011



Revision History:

2017 Recompilation, formerly Rule 5.94.40
03/14/2011 Amendments approved by Board of Regents

A. Administrative Responsibility

  1. Principal Investigator Defined: The principal investigator is the individual responsible for the intellectual direction of a research project and the training of graduate students.  This responsibility includes the conduct of the project, fiscal and administrative accountability, and adherence to the requirements of all relevant laws, regulations, policies, procedures and agreements.  If a project has multiple investigators (lead principal investigator and co-principal investigators), they shall share the responsibility and accountability for leading and directing the project, both intellectually and logistically.
  2. Eligibility to Serve as a Principal Investigator: Eligibility to serve as a principal investigator on an externally sponsored award is generally limited to those regular employees of the university including: (a) those with faculty rank, including college faculty and research faculty as well as administrators with faculty rank such as (but not limited to) the president, executive vice president and provost, vice presidents, deans, and associate deans, and (b) research and development technical staff.  There may be instances when it is in the best interest of the university to have other persons serve as principal investigators, such as temporary employees, affiliated faculty or emeritus faculty.  Exceptions to the requirements that a principal investigator must have both (a) regular employee status and (b) either faculty rank or employment as research and development technical staff may be made with written approval of both the relevant dean or director, and the vice president for research.  A student may serve as a co-principal investigator, but may not serve as the lead principal investigator on a project.


B. Sponsored Project Proposal Process

  1. Proposal Preparation: Proposal preparation is the responsibility of principal investigators and their units, working in cooperation with Research Administration Services (RAS).  The Proposal/Award Form or a similar automated system, as designated by the vice president for research, will be used by all principal investigators and project directors seeking externally sponsored project funding. This form will be processed in the early stages of proposal development.  This is a mandatory form, and no research proposal will be signed or sent out from the university unless this form is signed by the appropriate administrative officers or designated representatives.  Responsibility for proposal preparation includes developing budgets consistent with relevant cost accounting standards and obtaining appropriate certifications, permits (g., for drug use), and permissions (e.g., use of humans and animals in research).
  2. Proposal Submission: Proposal submission is the sole responsibility of the Office of the Vice President for Research.  Principal investigators should timely submit funding proposals through their unit to Research Administration Services, with sufficient advance notice to allow for their proper review, approval and submission to funding agencies.


C. Acceptance of Sponsored Project Award

Award documents are received by Research Administration Services for final review, negotiation and formal acceptance.  Only the vice president for research (or designee) has the authority to accept an award, negotiate and to sign award agreements related to sponsored programs, including amendments, modifications, budget changes, principal investigator changes, and extensions to existing agreements.


D. Maintenance of Sponsored Project Records

Records of sponsored project awards and related certifications, permits and permissions, as well as of non-financial deliverable reports to sponsors, are maintained by the Office of the Vice President for Research through Research Administration Services.  This includes coordinating the production, submission and retention of reports and records generated in the closeout of sponsored award agreements.  Financial records of sponsored awards and related reports, invoices and financial reports, are maintained by the Office of Administration and Finance, primarily through the Sponsored Projects Accounting Office.


E. Accountability for Sponsored Award Transactions

Transactions on sponsored project awards shall be approved by the principal investigator and the dean, director, or designee of the college or other unit.  The Sponsored Projects Accounting Office, in cooperation with the principal investigators and their respective units, fiscally monitors sponsored awards, reviews and prepares financial reports, and receives and disburses funds.


F. Accountability for Property Acquired through a Sponsored Project Award

The principal investigator, department head, dean or director, and university property administrator shall be accountable for acquisitions and dispositions of equipment and other property acquired through sponsored project awards.  Any such property will be recorded on the university’s inventory at a minimum, for property to which the university does not acquire title, until the expiration of the award period.  A determination as to whether title to property acquired under sponsored awards vests with the sponsor or with the university at the end of the award period should be included in the award agreement, rather than negotiated at award termination.  The university property administrator will be kept informed of any amendment to the initial determination regarding property ownership, so that the university’s inventory may be updated and the necessary final property reports prepared.