Contracts and Grants Accounting

AWARD STRUCTURE IN BFS

Contracts and Grants Accounting home Award Setup Managing Award Finances Award Closeout Deficit Clearing Process Effort Reporting Training

A New Structure to Facilitate Reporting

Two grants-specific BFS Chartfields facilitate sponsor-required invoicing and reporting by grouping Award transactions by “Project” -- a body of work -- and “Activity” -- a budget period. Each Award has one primary Project ID and at least one Activity ID.  

Basic Award StructureAward:  an executed agreement between the institution and a sponsor. The Award identifies all the transactions associated with an award, such as expenses against the fund#, cost sharing transactions, program income, as well as revenue.

Project: a body of work defined by the sponsor agreement. A Project ID groups transactions into the budgeted “work” of an award. Each Award has one primary Project associated with the lead PI named on the award.  Multiple Projects can be created if the sponsor has more complex reporting requirements.

Activity: the budget/reporting period required by the sponsor. An Activity ID identifies transactions within a funding period. If an award has only one funding period, then each Project has one Activity ID. Multiple Activity IDs can be created if the sponsor defines multiple funding periods.  

Project: a defined body of work

Award documentation defines the budgeted “body of work” to be done for the award. Most awards have only one body of work -- and therefore one Project ID -- because most awards do not require spending reports on distinct tasks within the total award amount. A Project ID identifies all the transactions associated with a body of work within an award to facilitate invoicing and reporting.

Some awards require multiple Project IDs to group transactions within an award. For example, an award might require reporting on research costs (Project 1) separate from reporting conference/results dissemination costs (Project 2).  Or a sponsor may want reporting on equipment fabrication (Project 1) separate from the research done with the equipment (Project 2).  An Award should have multiple Projects only if:

  • multiple PIs have budget allocated to them
  • the sponsor requires reporting on specific budgeted tasks (e.g. separate phases, specific deliverables)
  • specialized equipment will be fabricated to meet distinct reporting requirements
  • award activity will generate Program Income (e.g., conference fees)
  • there are separate F&A rates or bases.

Note: Projects are not expense categories or budget periods. While sponsors may require reporting on these variables as well, there are other chartfields that capture and track this type of budget information.

Activity: a budget/reporting period

An Activity is defined by sponsor-required interim funding or reporting periods. If no funding/reporting period is mandated, one Activity is set up covering the entire award period. A Project should have multiple Activities only if:

  • the sponsor requires interim financial reporting or invoicing by specific funding period
  • the award restricts carry-forward between funding periods.

Keep it simple

The award structure should be as simple as possible, with only as many Projects and Activities as necessary to meet sponsor-defined budget reporting requirements (not departmental or campus/internal reporting requirements).

Example of award structure