Provost area/campus schools award transfer process

Award transfers are handled by the GC&C Associate Director in the Office of Research Support, Susan Lasley. Because they can be complicated and time consuming, it is helpful to contact ORS as soon as possible once a decision to transfer has been made.

The process of transferring awards from one institution to another is not a simple matter and requires negotiation between the sponsor, the old institution and the new institution. The negotiations are carried on by the two sponsored projects offices in consultation with the PI. Matters of concern are

  1. the form of transfer,
  2. determining the unobligated balance,
  3. differences in F&A rates
  4. project period end dates,
  5. and the funding gap created by the time required to closeout and re-award the grant.

Depending on the complexity of the project, the amount of time involved in completing the transfer can be several months.

Identifying Funds Available for Transfer

When Duke relinquishes an award to the new institution, it is important that the PI and the department work closely with OSP to accurately calculate the unobligated dollar amount to be transferred. If Duke relinquishes too much money, because, for example, an outstanding commitment wasn't made known, it is very difficult to get that money back. Likewise, if Duke underestimates the funds to be relinquished, there is no mechanism for moving excess funds at a later date.

Identifying Equipment to be Transferred

Title to equipment never rests with an individual faculty member. Award documents will state whether title is vested in the sponsor or the university. If title vests with the University, written permission must be secured from the appropriate chair and the Provost before the equipment can be released. If the sponsor or another government entity owns the equipment, written permission must be secured from the agency before the equipment can be sent to the PI's new institution.

Depending on the type of project the equipment supports, Duke may have an interest in keeping the equipment on campus. For instance, an NSF equipment grant requires a large number of faculty participants to support the need for a specific capability. If one of those faculty members leaves Duke, the rest of them still need to have access to that particular piece of equipment, it is less likely to be transferred. However, if the faculty member is the only one using the equipment and will need to purchase another one at this new institution of complete the proposed scope, Duke is more likely to transfer it.

See Chapter 9 of the Research Policy Manual for details of the Equipment Transfer Guidelines

PI Coming to Duke

New Faculty Transferring Awards to Duke

To transfer awards received at another institution to Duke, a new faculty member must prepare a new proposal for each sponsored project. These proposals usually consist of:

  • A revised budget showing Duke salaries, FB, and F&A costs.
  • A budget justification.
  • A project description that usually consists of a progress report and a description of the work that remains to be done on the project at Duke.

The transfer can take several forms:

  1. New award to Duke - When an award is to be transferred in its entirety to Duke, the PI's previous employer must formally relinquish the award and state the unobligated balance, and a new, Duke, proposal must be submitted to the sponsor. The sponsor then awards the grant to Duke.
  2. Subcontract to Duke - When only a portion of the work is to be transferred, a new PI is named at the former institution (with the concurrence of the sponsor) and a proposal is submitted to the PI's former institution which will then issue a subcontract to Duke.
  3. New award to Duke with a subcontract back - When the majority of the work will take place at Duke but some remains at the old institution, a PI at the old institution submits a proposal to Duke which is then incorporated into the proposal Duke submits to the sponsor. When the award arrives at Duke, a subcontract is written to the old institution.

F&A Rate Issues

Transfers can be costly to the project both technically and monetarily. Sponsors tend not to grant more funding to meet any changes in F&A rates. ORS tries to minimize the negative impact from a budgetary perspective in a couple of ways.

If the project is being transferred to Duke and Duke's F&A rate is significantly higher than that of the PI's previous employer, Duke will honor the lowered rate for the remainder of the project period. When a competing renewal is submitted, Duke expects the budget to shift to the negotiated rate.

If the project is remaining at Duke and a new subcontract is being added to the budget for the new institution, Duke will consider waiving the F&A on the first $25,000.

PI Leaving Duke

Faculty Transferring Awards to a New Institution

Depending upon the type of award, the sponsor's policies, the relationship of the project to Duke, and the expectations of the PI's new institution, there are several options for the disposition of active awards when the PI leaves the University.

1.  Award Remains at Duke - Awards may remain at Duke in their entirety when the project is tied closely to the University. For example:

  • The purpose of the award is to develop a new course designed to fill a niche in Duke's offerings.
  • The grant is for equipment.
  • The primary purpose of the grant is to fund students. For example, a training grant may have a group of students at Duke in various stages of training.

2.  Awards Transfer Entirely - In some circumstances the award may be transferred entirely to the PI's new employer. This is the most likely outcome when the project is identified exclusively with the PI and does not fund graduate students or other personnel.

3.  Award Remains and Adds Subcontract - The project may remain at Duke, and a portion of the project may be transferred to the PI's new institution through a subcontract.

4.  Award Transfers and Adds Subcontract - Conversely, the award may be moved with its original PI, and a subcontract may be issued to Duke for the work remaining here.

PIs should discuss the status of their awards and their plans for the future with their sponsors. ORS will discuss the transfer with the sponsor's administrative staff to find out how the sponsor would like to proceed.

Identifying the Appropriate Scenarios

There are basically four standard approaches to transfer, but it is import to remember that every transfer offers its own unique set of circumstances and issues.
If the entire project, with a new PI, stays at Duke and Duke continues to receive funding directly from the sponsor:
  • A new Duke PI must be identified and approved, in writing, by the sponsor.
If the entire award, relinquished by Duke, is transferred to the PI's new institution:
  • Funds available for transfer - the unobligated balance - must be identified.
  • ORS, representing Duke, must formally relinquish, in writing, the project. (NSF and NIH have forms for this process.)
  • The project will be closed at Duke in accordance with Duke and sponsor policies.
  • Upon receipt of a proposal from the investigator at his or her new institution, the sponsor will re-issue the award to the new institution.
If a project stays at Duke and Duke continues to receive funding directly from the sponsor but a portion of the work is transferred to the PI's new institution using a subcontract:
  • The sponsor must approve a new Duke PI.
  • The Duke budget must be revised to include a subcontract and F&A cost issues must be negotiated by ORS.
  • Using the figure provided by Duke, a subcontract proposal must be prepared by the departing PI's new institution and submitted to Duke.
  • The subcontract and new budget must be approved by the sponsor.
  • When approval is secured, ORS will issue the subcontract.
If the project is transferred to the PI's new institution and the new institution will receive funding directly from the sponsor but with a subcontract back to Duke:
  • Funds available for transfer - the unobligated balance - must be identified.
  • ORS, representing Duke, must formally relinquish the project. (NSF and NIH have forms for this process.)
  • Duke must identify an appropriate PI and submit a subcontract proposal to the departing PI's new institution, based on figures provided by the new institution.
  • Any F&A cost issues must be negotiated by ORS.
  • The sponsor will re-issue the award to the new institution which will then issue a subcontract to Duke.