Principal Investigator Responsibilities

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director is responsible for the programmatic management of the grant or contract and conducts the project activities to meet project goals and objectives while adhering to sponsor guidelines and University of South Alabama policies and procedures.

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director is responsible for the financial management of the grant or contract and signs budget expenditure requests or sponsor forms which request the “Principal Investigator/Project Director” signature.

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director ensures all project expenditures are directly related to the project and necessary to meet the project goals and objectives.

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director has the responsibility to be aware of any requirements for cost sharing that were committed in the budget approved by the sponsor and to ensure these obligations are met.

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director has the responsibility to be aware of requirements to certify the effort of personnel on the grant or contract. The Principal Investigator/Project Director ensures that personnel paid from grant or contract funds have performed at the level of effort reported and certifies this on a semester basis.

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director should have no financial conflict of interest which would affect the conduct of the project.  The Office of Research Compliance has a guidance document to help those involved determine whether a potential conflict of interest is related to PHS funded research, and if so, if it is deemed to be an actual financial conflict of interest such that the conflict could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting of the research.  The Conflict of Interest Certification form is our method to attest by the required individuals that Conflict of Interest Disclosure forms are on file at the time of proposal submission.  CFOI forms can be found at:

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director has the responsibility to ensure that Sponsor Compliance policies and University of South Alabama Compliance policies for human subjects in research, animal use, Conflict of Interest, etc., are followed, if applicable to the project.

  • The Principal Investigator/Project Director has the responsibility to submit all reports required by the grant or contract on a timely basis.

Budget Categories

Expenditures billed to the grant project should be in accordance with the budget approved by the awarding sponsor.

Advanced approval by the funding sponsor may be required for significant deviations from the approved budget. This includes using grant funds for expenditures which were not identified in the approved budget. Some expenses, such as advertising or publicity, may not be allowable expenditures and may require the explicit approval from the funding sponsor before costs are incurred.

Certifying Personnel Effort

The activity of personnel assigned to the project must be certified by an individual with knowledge of all of the employee’s activities. The Principal Investigator should sign after-the-fact activity reports which certify the level of effort of each person assigned to work on the project regardless of whether or not the person is compensated from the grant funds (i.e., the activity of personnel who contribute time to the project as a form of cost sharing must be documented). Amounts of activity charged to the grant budget should be consistent with the certified effort on the project. Personnel activity reports should be certified by the Principal Investigator on a semester basis.

Cost Sharing

Matching or cost sharing contributions indicated on the approved budget must be documented by Grants and Contracts Accounting and reported to the funding sponsor on regular expenditure reports. The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for obtaining documentation of third-party cost sharing from project partners. The PI will be asked to certify that payments made from cash sources are for project-related expenditures. Contributions of in-kind goods or services must be documented in accordance with federal regulations and certified by the PI as related to the project.


The definition of permanent equipment is tangible property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per item.

Project Records

Project records are to be retained by the PI for no less than seven (7) years beyond the project end date.

Project Start and End Dates

Expenditures for the project must occur in the current budget funding period. Invoices and other forms authorizing payment must reflect dates that fall within this period. The account must be cleared and closed out within 90 days of the end of the funding period. A request for a “no-cost extension” of the project end date must be approved by the granting sponsor prior to the end date of the funding period.

Report Requirements

Completion and timely submission of required reports are the responsibility of the Principal Investigator.

Preliminary Accounts 

There are instances when Principal Investigators (PIs) have a need to incur expenditures before USA has officially accepted an award.  Rather than charging these expenditures to non-sponsored accounts and having to process cost transfers after the award is officially accepted, pre-award and preliminary accounts provide the investigators with a sponsored account to enable them to efficiently begin the sponsored project.  In requesting and accepting a pre-award or preliminary account on behalf of a PI, the department 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.  All preliminary account requests must be completed in the Electronic Proposal System (Cayuse).

Signature Authority

The signature of the PI must be on all budgetary or reporting actions, including reports of personnel effort on the project. Grant proposals or certifications requesting the signature of the “Authorized Organizational Representative” generally require the signature of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Contracts, subcontracts, cooperative agreements, or other funding documents require the signature of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Special Restrictions

Entertainment, food, alcoholic beverages and gratuities are generally not allowable costs.

2 CFR Part 200 (for projects funded after December 26, 2014)  Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

OMB Circulars (for projects funded prior to December 26, 2014)

OMB Circular A-21    Cost Principles For Educational Institutions HTML or PDF
OMB Circular A-110  Uniform Administrative Requirements

OMB Circular A-133  Audits of Institutions of Higher Education