About Contracts and Grants

Management Basics

Receiving grant funding means managing grant funding. Effective grants management is essential, it encompasses the management of policies, procedures and processes pertinent to the administration of a sponsored program. The grant process follows a lifecycle that includes the entire process of a grant—from planning, to opportunity, to implementation, to closeout.

The specific actions along the lifecycle are grouped into three main phases:

Project DevelopmentAward AcceptanceAward Set Up
Identify FundingAward Management
Proposal PreparationAward Closeout
Proposal Submission

Sponsored Project Office - Pre-Award and Award Phase - The role of the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) / Pre-Award is reviewing, approving, negotiating, and advising Principal Investigators, Faculty & Staff members who seek external funding from federal, state, local, and business entities. SPO processes No-cost extension requests, early termination requests, amendments, supplements, non-monetary prior approval requests, and all communications with the sponsor on behalf of the UNM.  Please reach out to your Sponsored Project Officers for any of your Pre-Award needs.

Contract and Grant Accounting Office - Post Award –Post-award administration is the term used for all grants management activities after an award is received. The post award phase comprises a significant amount of work over the duration of the award dates. Administrative responsibilities include but are not limited to, award and account set up, managing modification changes, financial compliance, monitoring expenses, billing and invoicing, accounts receivable review, financial reporting, and completing the closeout requirements. Please reach out to your Fiscal Monitor for any of your Post Award needs.

Regulatory Environment

To ensure effectiveness and efficiency of operations, as well as proper stewardship of federal funding, various regulatory environments are reviewed in order to provide reasonable assurance that awards are being managed in compliance with Federal statutes, State statues, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the award have been met.

  • Institutional Policies
  • Award Terms and Conditions
  • Sponsor Terms and Conditions
  • Uniform Guidance & FAR's

Distinguishing where the funding is coming from and what type of award you are managing

Contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements are the three most commonly used instruments through which the University accepts sponsored funding. Sponsored projects can be funded through a wide variety of sources. Understanding the type if award is crucial to your compliance and management efforts. It’s important to understand the differences between various award types.


GrantsContractsCooperative Agreement
Basic PurposeA flexible instrument designed to provide funding assistance to support a public purpose. Project Aims FulfillmentA legally binding agreement between a buyer and a seller to provide goods or services in return for consideration (usually monetary). Procures goods or services.A flexible instrument designed to provide money to support a public purpose. Designed to establish a relationship between parties.
Terms & ConditionsGoverned by the terms of the grant agreement.Governed by Federal

Acquisition Regulations (FAR)
Governed by the terms of the cooperative agreement.
ScopeFlexible in defining scope of work, budget and changes, and outcomes.

Conceived by PI.
Very specific in defining scope of work and outcomes. Conceived by sponsor. Relatively inflexible as to the budget, and other changesFlexible in defining scope of work, budget and changes, and outcomes

Conceived by PI.
EffortDiligent efforts are used in completing research and the delivery of resultsSignificant emphasis placed on delivery of results, product, or performanceDiligent efforts are used in completing research and the delivery of results
Sponsor InvolvementIncorporates the sponsor's guidelines but allows the awardee significant flexibility in carrying out the project with little to no oversight from the sponsor.Monitors activity and progress, expects resultsSubstantial agency involvement
PaymentPayment awarded usually in annual lump sum or a “drawdown” systemPayment based on deliverables and milestonesPayment awarded in annual lump sum unless otherwise specified in the cooperative agreement
RebudgetingFlexible within sponsor defined restrictionsMore restrictive, generally requires pre-approval from the sponsorFlexible within sponsor defined restrictions
ReportingMore flexibility in use of funds and reporting requirements are generally annual reporting requirementsMore fiscal requirements – frequent reporting as outlined in the terms of the contract. Failure to perform can results in possible legal action and fiscal consequences.Reporting requirements determined by the cooperative agreement
FlexibilityPrincipal Investigator has more freedom to adapt the project and the grant is flexible to change in scope of work, budget and other project features.High level of responsibility to the sponsor for the conduct of the project and production of results. Not flexible and must adhere to stated scope of work, budget, etc.Substantial involvement is expected between the executive agency and the State, local government, or other recipient when carrying out the activity contemplated in the agreement.
Final DeliverablesTechnical, Programmatic & Financial ReportingTechnical, Programmatic & Financial ReportingDeliverable as per agreement

Why is Grant Compliance So Important?

The process of ensuring your grant money is properly used and reported to the government is called grant compliance. Each type of program has its own standards, including rules and regulations that cover the handling of documentation, data reporting, impact, and progress. Whether or not you can meet the grant compliance requirements impact your ability to obtain funding in the future.

Successful grant compliance involves the practice of:

  • Understanding the award requirements based on the type of award
  • Understanding the activities allowed or unallowed
  • Understanding the allowable costs based on cost principles
  • Understanding the billing terms
  • Understanding the reporting requirements

Cost Principles

  • Reasonable - Goods or services acquired and amount involved reflect an action a prudent person would have taken.
  • Allocable - Benefits the project or award that was charged.
  • Allowable - Items not restricted by federal regulations or specific grant/contract terms.
  • Treated Consistently - like costs are treated in the same manner under like circumstances

Unallowable Expenses can be considered either activities or transactions due to regulations by the federal government or the sponsor.  Unallowable costs may also be identified in the specific terms and conditions of the award.

Reach out to your contract and grants fiscal monitor with any post award question regarding interpretation of policies, allowability of costs, or any questions related to compliance on grants management.