Frequently Asked Questions

Who can assist me with my award?

The Office of Faculty Research and Sponsored Programs (OFRSP) is available to assist you with the fiscal and administrative management of your award. OFRSP may also be able to point you in the right direction with other questions you may have. Contact OFRSP at ofrsp@sonoma.edu.

How do I hire and pay people for my award?

SSU Human Resources and SSU Payroll and Benefits oversee the administration and payroll processing for all SSU employees, including Sponsored Programs’ employees. This includes recruiting and hiring, classification review, and payroll-related issues.

For Human Resources administration issues, you should contact Erin Taylor, Human Resources Coordinator for Sponsored Programs. You will be provided guidance and support to develop job descriptions, recruit potential employees, hire new employees, and manage and supervise employees.

Contact Xiaodon Zhu at xiaodong.zhu@sonoma.edu or (707)664-2913.

For payroll related issues, you should contact the Payroll & Benefits department. Contact the Payroll & Benefits department at payroll@sonoma.edu or (707) 664-2793.

For faculty-related (and graduate student) appointments, you should contact Faculty Affairs. Also note that your Project Administrator is available to provide you with additional assistance with employee and payroll issues.

How do I buy stuff I need for my award?

Once the PI has worked with their Project Administrator to set up a budget for their award, the PI can usually begin spending funds. All expenditures on a project must correspond to an approved spending category in the budget approved by the funding agency.

Initiating an expenditure of funds depends on two things: what is being purchased and what method is the best for making the purchase. For low-dollar purchases of products, the SSU-issued Procurement Card (“Pro Card”) should be used (Consult your Administrative Manager to identify your department’s Pro Card holder). For contractual services or larger-dollar, complex purchases of products, the SSU Procurement Office may need to be involved. Contact your Project Administrator for guidance.

How do I know how much money I have left to spend for my award?

Financial reports are prepared every month and may be prepared during the month upon request. Your project administrator is available to review the reports with you and/or assist you in projecting your available spending for the life of the project.

You are also able to access the Common Financial System Data Warehouse. Using your award project number (e.g. QA123), you are able to see the financial status of your award at any time. The Data Warehouse is updated nightly.

How do I make a change in my current award?

Post-award modifications usually require sponsor approval. You are responsible for obtaining sponsor approval. Your project administrator is available to assist you in obtaining your sponsor’s approval.

SSU approval is also required. A Post Award Modification form should be completed and circulated for approvals based on the magnitude of the modification. Your project administrator is available to assist you in completing this form and circulating for approval.

What do I do if I receive notification from my sponsor that I have received an award?

Contact your project administrator who will request that you forward award notification documents to Sponsored Programs. Sponsored Programs will initiate the award set up so that you are able to begin spending your funds.

Who signs the contract that my sponsor has sent to me as an award notification?

Contracts between Sonoma State University and any other party must be authorized by SSU Procurement Office. Only individuals specifically authorized by the President may sign contracts on behalf of the University. Your project administrator will assist you in routing the contract for appropriate signatures.

Can I spend award funds before I receive official notification or a contract from my sponsor?

Some sponsors do allow pre-award spending. However, SSU requires a letter of commitment from the sponsor before spending is allowed. Pre-award spending is approved on a case by case basis.

If, for some reason, you do not receive the award, all pre-award spending must be reimbursed by your department. Contact your project administrator to initiate pre-award spending.

How do I correct an error that I have found in my financial reports?

If you have noticed that an expense has been charged to your award that should not have been or that a charge is missing, please contact your project administrator who will research the discrepancy and initiate the necessary action to correct the error.

No charges will be made to your award without your (or your designee’s) approval.

Am I responsible for submitting all reports to my sponsor for my award?

You are only responsible for submitting technical/programmatic reports or progress reports. Financial information may only be released to sponsors by Sponsored Programs Administration. However, in cases, where the reports must be issued together, Sponsored Programs Administration will prepare and/or authorize financial information to be released.

A copy of all technical/progress reports should be forwarded to Sponsored Programs Administration to comply with record retention requirements imposed by most sponsors.

My award is nearing its end date, is there anything I need to do?

You will receive a 60-day and 30-day notice from Sponsored Programs Administration as your award nears its end date. Your project administrator will also receive this notice and review your award’s financial position to determine what actions are necessary from a financial perspective.

If a time extension is appropriate your project administrator is available to assist you in obtaining sponsor and SSU approval. While some time extensions do not require sponsor approval, most do require sponsor notification.

You are responsible for completing any technical or final programmatic reports required by your sponsor. A copy of these reports should be forwarded to Sponsored Programs Administration.

What regulations and policies govern my award?

Awards administered by Sonoma State University are subject to all federal, state, and local laws. Awards are also subject to California State University and Sonoma State University policies and procedures.

Your sponsor may have additional regulations and policies that may or may not be part of the award agreement received from your sponsor. Contract terms and conditions may also dictate how your award is administered and conducted.

In some cases, it is necessary for SSU Procurement to negotiate contractual terms and conditions that comply with State, CSU, and SSU procurement regulations and policies. Although necessary and sometimes time-consuming for both parties, these negotiations rarely, if ever, prevent a contract from being executed.

Am I responsible for complying with all of the laws, regulations, and policies governing my award?

Compliance with laws, regulations, and policies is a shared responsibility between the Principal Investigator, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (Pre-award Compliance), and Sponsored Programs Administration (Post-Award Compliance).

Sponsored Programs Administration works to insure that all administrative and financial compliance requirements are met and are not an additional burden on the Principal Investigator. Principal Investigators are responsible for insuring that all technical/programmatic requirements and objects are met and for making sure that only expenses authorized by your sponsor are charged to your award.

Principal Investigators are required to sign a Confirmation of Understanding which explains applicable regulations and policies and formalizes the Principal Investigator’s acceptance of the responsibility to comply with them.