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Negotiating the Award

Award negotiations, as defined in this section, means the scope of activities between proposal submission and the acceptance of an award by the University. During this period, the award mechanism (grant, cooperative agreement, or contract) and the sponsor will largely determine the length and complexity of the negotiation process. The end result of award negotiations is a mutually agreeable set of terms under which the University will conduct the proposed project.

The authority to negotiate and accept an award on behalf of the University has been delegated from the Regents to the Chancellor and the Chancellor has redelegated this authority to Sponsored Projects (SPO). Sponsored Projects works in conjunction with the Principal Investigator to negotiate an award that is acceptable to the University, Principal Investigator, and sponsor. If you receive an award, please route it to the Sponsored Projects Office in the Office of Research for approval.

Changes to the Scope of Work and/or Budget

Any time a sponsor requests or requires a change in the originally proposed budget or scope of work, the Principal Investigator should always notify and coordinate a response through SPO before submitting a revised budget or scope of work to the sponsor.

Types of Awards

Grants and cooperative agreements usually contain references to a sponsor's established grants management policies or in the case of government grants, government-wide regulations, laws, or directives.

Agreements with private sponsors cover many activities including basic, applied, or developmental research, collaborative research, and various types of testing.

As a public, non-profit educational institution, the University is bound by certain policies and regulations regarding what it can and cannot accept in an agreement. These policies are designed to foster the University's basic mission of teaching, research, and public service and to ensure the academic freedom of our faculty. The UC Contract and Grant Manual provides additional guidance on policies for the solicitation, acceptance or execution, and administration of awards from extramural sponsors.

Industry Agreements

Awards from industry or for-profit sponsors, including funds that flow to the University through an industry sponsor, are negotiated by the Industry Contracts unit within the UCSB Office of Technology & Industry Alliances (TIA). To learn more, go to

Government Agreements

Contract negotiations with a government agency primarily focus on budget and scope of work issues. The terms and conditions of the award are usually fixed by law or regulation. However, it is important to make sure that the terms and conditions imposed by the agency are appropriate for the work proposed and applicable to the University. See the Federal & State of California Research Project Guidance and Policies webpage for links to common sets of terms and conditions.


Contract negotiations with a federal government agency primarily focus on budget and scope of work issues. The terms and conditions of the award are usually fixed by law or regulation. However, differences in the interpretation of law and regulation can result in the negotiation of certain clauses, especially in the areas of export controls, restrictions based on citizenship status, contractual requirements to provide protected private information in the absence of any regulations, options to classify the project as secret, publication approval and other publication restrictions or editorial controls. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the terms and conditions imposed by the agency are appropriate for the work proposed and applicable to the University.

State of California

Contract negotiations with state agencies primarily focus on budget and scope of work issues, payment terms, use of UC travel rates, reporting requirements, requirements for documenting invoices, audit, ownership of research records, termination, and penalty clauses for breach of contract. The University of California, Cal State University system and State of California have negotiated standard proposal elements and award terms and conditions.

Other Items Addressed Prior to Start of Award

Compliance Committee Approvals

Most sponsors do not require proof of compliance approvals until the award stage. Any award which requires approval from one or more of the compliance committees must have approval prior to the release of funding. Principal Investigators (PI) should submit their protocol applications to the appropriate committee as soon as an award appears to be forthcoming. For additional information, see the Research Integrity and Conflict of Interest webpages.


If the awarded budget is less than the proposed budget then the PI or departmental administrator must create a budget allocation. This is required before SPO can process the award send it to Extramural Funds Accounting. In some cases where the funding has been cut significantly the scope of work will also need to be reduced.

Once Negotiations are Complete

Sponsored Projects will officially process the award in ORBiT, the campus contract and grant data base. Extramural Funds Accounting will receive a notification that there is an award pending set up. Extramural Funds Accounting will set up the account and fund number for the project and send out an email notification to the PI, the departmental administrator and any other required individuals. This email will contain the synopsis which is a summary of the important award information from ORBiT and the account and fund number. At the point the accounting notification is sent, spending on the project can begin.


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Updated: September 23, 2013.