From project inception to project close-out, successful sponsored project administration at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) involves collaboration among departmental faculty and staff and central administrative officials and offices. Most likely, the primary groups you will deal with in your work as a departmental research administrator (DRA) are faculty members and research scientists (usually referred to as Principal Investigators or PIs) and the professional staff in the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP).
Principal Investigators (PIs) are responsible for preparing project proposal applications for submission to external sponsors and, after funds are awarded, managing their research projects. OSP staff is responsible for reviewing proposal applications for compliance with federal, state and university regulations, accepting and negotiating awards on behalf of UT Austin, and providing administrative support in the financial management of project fund accounts.
Establishing healthy interpersonal relationships and communications with all of the people involved in sponsored project administration early on will make your job much easier. Learning your PI's preferred work style and methods of communication, as well as, the level of support they will require from you, will also allow you to manage your workload more effectively.
This handbook focuses on the university-wide administrative policies and procedures that affect the pre-award phase of sponsored project administration from the departmental research administrator's perspective. The pre-award phase of sponsored project administration at UT Austin begins with your principal investigator's (PI's) research idea and ends with a notice from the sponsor who decides to fund your PI's research project.
In addition to the university-wide administrative policies and procedures described in this handbook, you may find that your college, school or unit (CSU) has their own policies and procedures that must be followed for successful proposal application submission and sponsored project administration. Thus, it will be important for you to learn the individual college or departmental level policies and processes relevant to your department and whom to contact if you have questions about them. If possible, do so as early as you can. It is far better to know the routing chain, internal deadlines, etc., at least a few days before a grant application deadline. Nothing is as stressful as facing departmental hurdles the same day you are attempting to submit a proposal application by the sponsor's deadline.
Section 2 of the Pre-award Handbook begins with an overview of the UT Austin structure for getting started in sponsored project administration, including information on professional development opportunities for departmental research administrators. Sections 3 through 8 go on to provide information and tips on how you might assist your PI during the pre-award phase by:
OSP would like to acknowledge the efforts of Kathy Thatcher and thank her for her assistance in pulling this helpful resource together. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this handbook, please email OSP_RIS.