The University of Memphis

Sponsored Programs, Grants, Contracts and Agreements


Issued:  February 14, 2017
Responsible Official:  Vice President for Research
Responsible Office:  Office of Sponsored Programs

Policy Statement

Policy Statement

Only the President, and those other individuals specifically authorized in writing by the President through published policies, procedures or other authorizing documents, have the authority to enter into Sponsored Program grants, contracts and agreements as agents of the university.

Delegation of authority to enter into Sponsored Program contracts and agreements is covered in university policy  "Contracts and Signatory Authority."

Authority to approve applications for Grants is delegated to the Office of Sponsored Programs provided that where matching funds or services in lieu of funds are required, no application shall be made unless the operating budget provides the funds and/or resources necessary for the project.

Authority to submit sponsored program proposals is delegated to the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Where no signature is required, authority to accept the award of a Grant is delegated to full time permanent employees of the Office of Sponsored Programs

The Vice President for Research shall be responsible for the development and administration of guidelines to ensure compliance with this policy.



To define Sponsored Programs and to delegate the President's authority to enter into Sponsored Programs grants, contracts and agreements.




Sponsored Programs

Externally funded activities that have defined objectives or scope of work that provides a basis for sponsor expectations within a defined period of time.


A legal instrument for financial assistance not classified as a gift. Refer to university policy for further guidance, "Delineation of Gifts or Grants for Research or other Sponsored Programs."

A grant reflects a relationship between sponsor and university whose principal purpose of the relationship is to transfer a thing of value to the university in order to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by sponsor instead of acquiring (by purchase, lease, or barter) property or services for the direct benefit or use of the sponsor (adapted from title 31 United States Code section 6304).

A cooperative agreement for financial assistance is the same as a grant, except substantial involvement is expected between the sponsor and university when carrying out the activity contemplated in the agreement (from title 31 United States Code section 6305). 

Contracts and Agreements

For purposes of delegating the President's authority, Contracts and Agreements include all Sponsored Programs legal instruments that do not meet the definition of gift or grant.


Specifically, an application for a grant that is a legal agreement committing the university to a Sponsored Program.

Generally, any unfunded Sponsored Program consisting of a program description and a budget; it may be a simple letter or a complex set of documents adhering strictly to sponsor guidelines and forms.


Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD) is the individual responsible for the proper conduct of a Sponsored Program.

Responsibilities for proper conduct include achieving the goals of the Sponsored Program, authorizing expenditures and budget changes, managing personnel, complying with sponsor and university rules, and submitting sponsor and university reports.

Instead of individual faculty or staff, PI/PD responsibilities may be assigned to a position such as internship coordinator, chair, dean, or director of a center, institute, or bureau. Assigning responsibilities to a position is appropriate for Sponsored Programs (e.g. Governor's School for International Studies) that will not be transferred to a PI/PD's new institution.


Internal Reviews and Approvals

The Vice President for Research is responsible for the development and administration of guidelines to ensure compliance with this policy. There shall be forms and instructions to document the following internal approvals prior to entering into Sponsored Programs grants, contracts, and agreements: PI/PD and key personnel, chair and dean (or equivalent positions for non-academic units,) and other special reviews and approvals such as for research with human subjects, animals, or biohazards.

Internal review and approvals signify the following:

1.   The PI/PD accepts responsibility for the proper conduct of the Sponsored Program.

2.   The PI/PD and key personnel have disclosed any conflict of interest related to the Sponsored Program. Refer to university policy, "Research Misconduct."

3.  The PI/PD and key personnel have disclosed any conflicts of funding where commitments of effort exceed 100%.

4.   All reasonably identifiable costs are budgeted.

5.   Costs not expected to be borne by the sponsor have an operating budget that will provide the cost share (match) funding. 

6.   Justification exists for including Facilities and Administration (F&A formerly known as indirect) costs at less than the current federal negotiated rate.

7.   Space and personnel are available and adequate to carry out the Sponsored Program (unless documented to the contrary.)

8.   The Sponsored Program is properly classified as instruction, research, public service, or other activity.

9.   The Sponsored Program is appropriate to and consistent with departmental, college, and University goals and policies.  

Grants Requiring No Signature

Many sponsors (National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and others) the Office of Sponsored Programs notices of award that require no signature because the proposal contains the certifications and assurances necessary to award the grant. In order to expedite setting up the Sponsored Program fund, any full time permanent employee of the Office of Sponsored Programs may accept the grant and initiate the award process in accordance with guidelines approved by the Vice President for Research.

Advance Funding

Situations arise in which work under a Sponsored Program needs to begin before the grant, contract, or agreement has been received. Creating a Sponsored Program fund in advance of receipt of an award allows timely allocation of costs to the Sponsored Program and avoids retroactive salary and expense transfers. Authority to approve advance funding derives from the chair and dean committing university operating budget to provide 100% cost share in the event that the award fails or expenditures fall outside the Sponsored Program's allowable period of time.

To minimize the risk of loss, the Office of Sponsored Porgrams should take the following precautions:

1.   Confirm the sponsor's intention to fund the Sponsored Program;

2.   Confirm the begin date that the sponsor will consider costs to be allowable and therefore reimbursable. 

Non-Monetary Agreements

If the President's signature is not specifically required, "Contracts and Signatory Authority " delegates authority to the Vice President for Research to approve agreements up to a defined dollar amount; therefore, non-monetary agreements associated with Sponsored Programs may be approved by the Vice President for Research. Examples of such non-monetary agreements include material transfer agreements (MTA), non-disclosure agreements (NDA), memoranda of understanding (MOU), teaming agreements, consortium agreements, etc.


Delineation of Gifts or Grants for Research or Other Sponsored Research

Ethics in Research and Sponsored Programs

Office of Research Support Services (RSS)

Contracts and Signatory Authority

Title 31 United States Code

Revision Dates

  UM1450 -- revised February 14, 2017
UM1450 -- issued March 4, 2011

Subject Areas:

Academic Finance General Human Resources Information Technology Research Student Affairs
  XX            XX