An Advance account provides the Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD) with an opportunity to initiate sponsored research projects and begin incurring associated expenses prior to institutional acceptance of an award. Advance accounts allow PI/PD's and departments to record and track expenditures and eliminate the need to charge other unrelated accounts and perform cost transfers at a later time.
Requesting an Advance Account
The PI/PD initiates a request by submitting an Advance Account Request Form (AARF) to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) through his/her department or school. All requests must have a valid submitted proposal through OSP and a high expectation that the project will be awarded.
Advance Account Request Form (AARF)
The Advance Account Request Form (click here) is a fillable PDF which you can download to your computer. If your browser does not support fillable forms, download the form to your computer and use Adobe Acrobat open it in fillable format and enter your information.
Establishing an Advance Account and Possible Negotiation Issues and Risk
In the majority of cases, OSP will establish an advance account upon request because the University has an established history with the sponsor and the issues to be reviewed prior to executing the requisite agreement are routine. There are some cases, however, where significant negotiation of areas of concerns to the PI/PD, the department and/or school, and the University may be required. In these instances, prior to establishing the account, the Director of OSP will identify areas of concern and the associated financial and non-financial risks, to the extent these risks can be identified, to ensure the PI/PD and his/her department or school are aware of the risks they are accepting.
Examples of negotiation issues include, but are not limited to, control of scope of work and key personnel; subaward issues; publication restrictions and confidentiality requirements; lack of criteria for acceptable performance; intellectual property terms; termination and default clauses; and indemnification.
In requesting and accepting an advance account on behalf of a PI/PD, the department or school assumes the financial risk in the event the award is not made, not accepted, or if the terms of the award deem certain expenditures to be unallowable. The OSP will use its best efforts to finalize an award, but cannot guarantee a successful outcome of any award negotiation.
Ordinarily, an account may be in advance status no more than 120 days from the start date of the advance account budget period. Advance accounts that have not been converted to active status within 120 days of the start date of the budget period may be subject to closure and expenditures transferred to an appropriate unrestricted account.
Using Advance Accounts
Advance accounts should be used prudently. Only those costs that are incurred:
- Within the project period;
- In accordance with applicable regulations, e.g., OMB Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200, PHS Grants Policy Statement, sponsor specific regulations, and;
- Depending on the sponsor, have been included in the approved budget should be charged to the account.
As stated previously, any expenditure incurred while an account is in advance status is made at the department's or school's risk. At the time of initial account request, the department or school designee is required to agree in writing to cover any expenditure if the award is not made or if sponsor awarded conditions preclude reimbursement for expenses that precede the award start date or are otherwise deemed unallowable and to provide an account number should it be necessary to transfer expenses.
Pre-Award Spending and Advance Accounts
While PI/PD's may also use the AARF to request pre-award spending, i.e., approval for costs to be incurred prior to the starting date of the award, authorization of pre-award spending should not be confused with authorization of an advance account. The AARF can now be used to request simultaneous approval of pre-award spending, an allowable cost on many federal awards, and establishment of an advance account. Before incurring pre-award expenses, the PI/PD should consult with the Director of OSP to confirm whether pre-award expenses are permissible under the applicable sponsor regulations or terms.
Monitoring Advance Accounts
On a monthly basis OSP will provide each school with a report that lists all advance accounts and includes account number, PI, sponsor name, projected budget period, funding amount authorized for pre-award expenses, and cumulative expenditures. Based on these monthly reports, accounts in advance status beyond their effective dates will be identified for discussion with the PI and school or department to identify reasons for the delay and possible solutions. Throughout the advance account period it is the responsibility of the PI and department/school to keep each other apprised of developments regarding award notification, acceptance, and negotiation.
Removing an Account from Advance Status
Upon acceptance of the award by the University, the account will be removed from advance status by the Office of Sponsored Programs. The department/school is responsible for removing expenditures from the advance account if the award is not made, not accepted, or if the terms of the award deem expenditures to be unallowable. If expenditures are not removed from the advance account within 30 days of written request of their removal, Grants Accounting/Business & Finance will transfer the expenditures to the designated account provided by the department/school at the time the advance account was established.
Prior to submission to OSP, the following signatures are required on the AAFP:
- Principal Investigator or Project Director
- Department Chair or Designee
- College Dean or Designee
When required for internal department and/or college procedures:
- Lab Director
- Department or College Administrator