Last modified: Oct 19, 2017

Roles & Responsibilities

The Principal Investigator is the primary individual in charge of a research grant, cooperative agreement, training or public service project, contract, or other sponsored project. The Principal Investigator reports to a Chair, Unit Chief or Director (or other designated official) and is responsible for adequately communicating to his/her Department/Unit Head and Department Administrative Staff on all aspects of his/her sponsored programs portfolio.



The Principal Investigator:

  • Requests preaward spending accounts, if necessary, and submit to Dean/Department Head for authorization and approval. (Department Administrative Staff should be cognizant of the need/use for contingent accounts to minimize cost transfers and/or reallocations.)
  • Approves the project work scope and communicates to Grant Officer in ORAF any changes necessary to the scope of work; the Grant Officer/ORAF will communicate as appropriate with the sponsor
  • Modifies the project budget in line with the award budget provided by the sponsor in collaboration with College/Department Administrative Staff and the Office of Research Administration and Finance (ORAF)
  • Notifies ORAF about the changes in project scope and budget
  • Notifies the appropriate regulatory office if changes to project scope will affect approved protocols
  • Obtains approvals if cost sharing becomes necessary

Acceptance of Award

The Principal Investigator reviews the internal Notice of Award (NOA) that stipulates the approved budget and the terms and conditions of the award, and further delegates to Departmental Administrative Staff the review of the NOA for accuracy.



Principal Investigators:

  • Should reference the ORAF web site ( or contact their Grant Officer to obtain information about rules and requirements governing sponsored funding; or other appropriate university offices regarding applicable University rules and procedures.
  • Are responsible for knowing what actions require sponsor approval and for obtaining that approval with involvement from ORAF.

Conduct of the Research

The Principal Investigator is responsible for all actions required to manage and complete the scientific and programmatic aspects of the sponsored project.

  • Initiates programmatic changes to the project and seeks approval from the sponsor (through ORAF) when required.
  • Initiates the hiring or assignment process and approves the selection or appointment of individuals to the project, and is responsible for communicating staff changes to College/Departmental Administrative Staff.
  • Ensures the integrity and safeguarding of notebooks and scientific data.
  • Ensures the completion, accuracy and timeliness of interim programmatic (technical) reports.
  • Initiates and requests subrecipient agreements prepared by ORAF.
  • Ensures the quality, timeliness, and programmatic (technical) performance of subrecipients.
  • If using or providing biological materials to or from another source, initiates a materials transfer agreement with John Counts, Associate Director of Contracts in ORAF.

Budget Management

The Principal Investigator retains primary responsibility for financial accountability.

  • Initiates purchases and at the time expenditures are requested, determines the allowability and reasonableness of all expenditures, approves them, and provides scientific justification for the transaction, if necessary.
  • Initiates the process of documenting cost sharing and/or matching and for ensuring that cost sharing obligations are met, allowable and verifiable, including those by third party collaborators.
  • Initiates requests for rebudgeting as the sponsor requires.
  • Initiates cost transfer requests; when salary transfer requests are made these are based on reflected effort and not budget (per OMB Circular A-21).
  • Identifies and proposes a resolution of any account deficit.
  • Approves payments of subrecipient invoices and reviews invoices for appropriateness within progress of the work scope.
  • Uses ledger and/or departmentally-prepared reports for financial monitoring, identifies and resolves errors in the account in a timely manner, and certifies or documents a monthly review of ledgers. (contact Research Finance (ORAF) for assistance.)
  • If appropriate and required at budget period end, the Principal Investigator requests that remaining balances are carried forward.

Implementing a Small Business Plan (if required)

The Principal Investigator directs purchases that are consistent with the project budget and the approved Small Business Plan (if required).

  • Interacts with Procurement Services staff regarding progress toward achievement of Small Business Plan goals and reviews periodic reports about goals.
  • Provides an explanation when small business plan goals are not achieved.

Program Income

The Principal Investigator understands the definition of program income.

  • Identifies all program income and notifies ORAF when program is identified.
  • Initiates the processes and proposes the allocation of program income.
  • Monitors receipt of program income.
  • Reviews program income reported to the sponsor by Research Finance (ORAF).

Effort Reporting

The Principal Investigators sign and certify to all personnel action forms to ensure compliance with the effort reporting policy,


The Principal Investigator adheres to the principles and policies outlined in the University’s Intellectual Property Policy and the Faculty Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • Initiates the disclosure process and completes the Invention Disclosure Form in order to notify the Center for Research Innovation (CRI).
  • Assists in preparing patent applications.
  • Assists in the processing of copyright registration or other intellectual property protection.


Project Closure

The Principal Investigator prepares the final programmatic (technical) narrative report, which may include contributions by subrecipients or collaborators.

  • Reviews final financial statements or reports provided by ORAF or Departmental Administrative Staff in order for ORAF to submit financial status reports on a timely basis – see enclosed Close-Out Memo and Close-Out Procedures.
  • Provides information on other close out reports to ORAF (e.g. patents and equipment).
  • Retains the scientific data in accordance with the University’s Document Retention Policy.

Regulatory Compliance

The Principal Investigator is responsible for understanding and compliance with all institutional and sponsor policies, practices, and procedures.

  • If a potentially significant conflict of interest situation exists, prepares a conflict of interest management plan and submits it to his/her supervisor and Dean.
  • Is responsible for adhering to all educational and training requirements of the IRB and IACUC.
  • Adheres to research subjects’ protocols and policies, and notifies the IRB if changes are made to protocols.
  • Meets continuing IRB protocol review requirements and assists with inspections.
  • Adheres to chemical, biological, physical and radiation safety requirements, and notifies the appropriate office if accidents occur.
  • Adheres to the policies and procedures for using investigational new drugs and/or devices for clinical research.
  • Is responsible for cooperating in the audit process, whether internal or external audit staff is involved.
  • Is responsible for accounting of Patient Health Information (PHI) disclosures, as required by HIPAA.