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OSP Award Process Steps

The time ranges indicated below are based on the complexity level of an award/agreement. With many awards, the various steps run concurrently.  Please note that time associated with each step MAY go outside of these ranges  and are listed in BUSINESS days. Time frames presume that a Proposal Document (PD) was approved prior to award time.


Notification of award receipt is sent within two business days

There are a variety of funding mechanisms through which MSU receives funding, and each award requires careful review for acceptable terms and conditions. If a Principal Investigator (PI) or department administrator receives an award from a sponsor, THE AWARD SHOULD BE FORWARDED TO OSP ( for review and signature.

OSP will make every effort to communicate effectively and efficiently with the faculty and department administrators during the award review process.

What to expect of OSP:

Generally, OSP will notify the PI(s) and department administrators (pre and post award) by email within two (2) business days of the award receipt. After reviewing the award, OSP will:

  • Communicate any special terms and conditions to the PI and confirm they are acceptable to him/her. For federal contracts, a PI Assurance Letter will be sent to clarify the terms of the award. OSP will generate this letter for the PI’s review and signature. OSP will not sign the final agreement until the PI returns the signed letter acknowledging acceptance of the contract terms.
  • Request clarification from the PI or department administrator about the nature of the project, scope of work, participation of human subjects, anticipated development of intellectual property, or other topics (if applicable).

Time associated with review averages ~15 days

OSP Review

After OSP receives an award, the award terms and conditions must be reviewed to ensure compliance with MSU policies. Typically, an award will include a project period, a statement of work to be performed, and a budget that details the manner in which the funds are to be expended. It may also include complex legal and financial terms and conditions that need to be reviewed and approved by MSU. Negotiation of award terms can take as little as a few days to as much as a few months depending upon the complexity. To find out the average processing time from receipt to finalization of the award, please go to the Award Processing Times page.

Problematic Award Terms

To reduce the administrative burden for departments, the Office of Sponsored Programs will negotiate award terms that are found to be inconsistent with MSU policies. Some terms and conditions that are included in sponsored research awards might impose a great administrative burden on the faculty, or might not be acceptable for the proposed project.

Some of the most common terms that may be problematic and require negotiation, removal or a modified project fall into the following categories:

Compliance/Dept/College Offices

  • Intellectual Property (Copyrights, Inventions and Patents)
  • Participation Restrictions – Non-U.S. Citizens
  • Publication Restrictions
  • Confidential Information
  • Governing Law
  • Indemnification and/or Hold Harmless

Time associated with negotiation averages ~15 days

Sponsor Negotiation

Once OSP has reviewed the award that was received from the sponsor, OSP will communicate with the sponsor to negotiate any terms of the award that conflict with MSU policy. The terms that are most often negotiated are:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Participation Restrictions
  • Publication Language
  • Confidential Information
  • Governing Law
  • Indemnification

Time associated with getting approvals averages ~10 days

Compliance / Central Office Review

Each award requires review for regulatory requirements. The compliance requirements were defined at the time the proposal was submitted. If the PD indicated that the project involved any compliance or cost share issues, additional steps may be needed before an award is accepted and a request for account set up  completed. We highly recommend requesting the compliance approvals as early as possible!

As noted in the sections above, the award may include certain terms that conflict with MSU Board of Trustee policy or that may be outside our normal standards. If OSP is not able to have these terms negotiated appropriately, the terms would need to go to the respective MSU office for review and approval. Below are the terms or compliance issues most frequently addressed and the associated offices that help us resolve the issue.

Compliance/Dept/College Offices

  • Animal Use (IACUC)
  • Conflict of Interest (COI)
  • Cost Share (Dept/College)
  • DNA (EHS)
  • Human Subjects (IRB)

Central Administration Offices

  • Publication language (ECTS)
  • Intellectual property (MSUT/OGC)
  • Legal language review (Office of the General Counsel)
  • Insurance requirements (Risk Management)
  • Small Business Subcontracting Plan (Purchasing)
  • Faculty-Owned Companies (Board of Trustees)

Time associated with getting approvals averages ~12 days

PI / Dept / College Review

Often the PI/Dept/College will need to review and approve certain terms of the agreement. Generally, the review concerns the business terms (budget, cost share, reporting, etc...) of the award or the scope included in the award. In most cases, OSP will request this review and approval through email.


Total time from receipt to finalization averages ~35 days

Finalize - Overall

Once compliance approvals have been secured and the terms of the agreement are acceptable to both parties, OSP will send a partially-executed agreement to the sponsor. After the fully-executed award/agreement is returned by the sponsor, OSP will complete the award document in KR to transmit the award to CGA for account setup. When OSP transfers the project for account setup to CGA, an email is sent to the PI, copying the unit contacts, and CGA Awards Group.

To see the standard expectation for the full award by Sponsor, please go to Award Processing Times page.

OSP Signature Authority

After terms are successfully negotiated, an authorized signatory will execute the agreement. This signature authority has been delegated consistent with the Bylaws of the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University which is documented in a memo dated March 19, 2015. Several individuals within OSP have signature authority and they will ensure proper and timely execution.

Please note that faculty DO NOT have signature authority to execute agreements on behalf of MSU.


Issuance of Subawards


Subawards are drafted after the prime award/agreement has been finalized. If the award MSU received is a federal grant or cooperative agreement and is from a federal agency that participates with the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), CGA will draft the subaward(s) by using the FDP subaward templates. If the award MSU received is something other than this, OSP will process and complete the subaward(s). The subaward processing time varies based on subawardee; however, it generally takes 5-10 days to draft the subaward after all completed documents have been received by CGA/OSP.

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