Award Process and Management

All awards for sponsored activity are reviewed, negotiated and signed by Office of Post-Award Management (OPAM) in accordance with University Trustee policy to ensure that the terms are acceptable to the University and in compliance with University policies and procedures. Only certain Amherst campus individuals are authorized to sign awards (grants, cooperative agreements or contracts) on behalf of the University (See Fact Sheet).

Process:   The following briefly describes the award process

  • Award receipt – Awards are received in a number of ways:  emailed as an attachment, posted on a sponsor’s website for access by OPAM, or sent in hard copy to OPAM or the PI directly. Original award documents or notices of pending funding should always be sent to OPAM - if you receive an original hard copy award, please forward to OPAM; emailed awards or notices of pending funding must be forwarded to  When forwarding award notices to OPAM please make sure to send the entire set of materials received.
  • Review of award terms– The grant and contract administrator will review the entire award, noting any terms that need negotiating or special review//approval by principal investigator (PI)* or other campus departments
  • Award Negotiation – The grant and contract administrator negotiates the award terms directly with the sponsor’s administrative authority,  coordinating as needed  input from PI/Co-PI, legal counsel, other compliance offices, risk management, Controller, etc.  OPAM should serve as the single point of contact for negotiations to avoid confusion on the sponsor’s end
  • Documenting PI’s concurrence*– The Principal Investigator will receive a copy of the award for review and approval simultaneously with OPAM’s review and negotiation.  The grant and contract administrator will work with the PI as needed to address any questions or concerns he/she has with the award terms and to  flag any additional materials or information needed to complete the award process (e.g., revised or incremental budget, background intellectual property identification, internal forms,  etc.)
  • Award Execution –An OPAM signatory will sign the award once all terms and conditions have been finalized and the PI has concurred formally.  Awards can either be “first ex” or “full ex” when signed – that is, UMass may sign first or second.  If the campus signs first, the document must then be returned to the sponsor for “full ex”.  It is only after an award is fully executed by both parties that it is legally binding and can be fully processed.
  • Expenditure Account Establishment – Once the above conditions have been met,  OPAM  prepares the award for accounting, uploading all relevant documents into the Smart Grant system ( the award, including approved budget, proposal, etc) setting the funding amount and period of performance  and obligates the funding in the system.  The Controller’s office pulls the award from SmartGrant into PeopleSoft and sets it up for spending.  The Controller assigns all grant account numbers and notifies the PI via email.
  • Subcontracts – If there is a subcontract (s) under an award, once the account is fully set up through the Controller’s office, the grant and contract administrator will prepare the subcontract to be issued to the subcontracting institution.   All documents for the sub should have been submitted to OPAM with the proposal, and if any are missing, they will have to be submitted prior to OPAM issuing the subcontract.  These include the scope of work, budget, contact information, etc.   The PI will be sent a copy of the subcontract that has been prepared for review and approval.  The form below will also be sent with an email to be completed and returned to OPAM:

    -  A PI Subcontractor approval sheet and Sole-source Justification if subcontractor is new to the project – used to confirm that the PI approves the subcontract terms and conditions and used to document why this particular subcontractor is solely and uniquely qualified to perform the sub scope of work.  

Award Forms for PI:

  • MOU - Memorandum of Understanding is now done through SmartGrant- This form is required when there is one or more Co-Pi’s on a project. It must be filled out by the PI and describes the roles of the various investigators, the percent credit split, the RTF split and defines other arrangements agreed to by the parties. See this MOU for an example but you must use the one loaded into the award record when an MOU is requested by OPAM. You will receive an email from OPAM directing you to a GIPID award record. Please follow the instructions in the OPAM email.
  • PIAA - Principal Investigator Award Agreement is now done through SmartGrant. The PI’s signature on this form confirms his/her agreement with the award terms and conditions. Here is an example of the PIAA though you must read and agree to the one loaded into SmartGrant. You will receive an email from OPAM indicating a GPID award record number. If ONLY a PIAA is needed, we will put the record into routin and you will also receive a SmartGrant Approval notification. Please follow the instructions in the OPAM email. For multi-PI NIH awards, all PIs must sign.
  • DFW - Drug Free Work Place - This certification is required only once when the PI receives his or her first award. Here is a sample DFW but the current form will be sent to you via email. Please sign, scan and reattach to an email and return to the originating address.
  • PAG - Participation Agreement This certification is required only once when the PI receives his or her first award.  Here is a sample PAG but the current form will be sent to you via email. Please sign, scan and reattach to an email and return to the originating address.