The Principal Investigator Responsibilities

The Principal Investigator has primary responsibility for achieving the technical success of the project, while also complying with the financial and administrative policies and regulations associated with the award. Although Principal Investigators may have administrative staff to assist them with the management of project funds, the ultimate responsibility for the management of the sponsored project award rests with the Principal Investigator. These fundamental responsibilities of the Principal Investigator during the post-award phase of a sponsored project award include:

  • Execute the project as outlined in the funded proposal, using sound management techniques,
  • Carry out the project’s financial plan as presented in the funded proposal, or make changes to the plan following a prescribed set of policies and procedures,
  • Report project progress to the sponsor as outlined in the terms of award,
  • Maintain an accurate record of project related expenses,
  • Comply with all MSU Denver and funding agency policies and procedures related to project management and personnel practices,
  • Comply with all applicable sponsor rules, regulations and/or terms and conditions of the award.

The Principal Investigator’s responsibilities may be divided into two related but distinctly different sets of activities: those activities involving the management of the work of the project, and responsible spending of project funds. While the work of the project should drive the financial activities, sound management practices in both arenas are required. The financial stewardship of sponsored project funds is a shared responsibility with other areas of the University, among them the OSRP.

Once a project has been funded, there is the expectation by both the Sponsoring Agency and OSRP that the Principal Investigator will responsibly spend the award. Sound fiscal management of sponsored project funds requires knowledge of and adherence to a prescribed set of federal and locally developed financial guidelines. Over the life of a sponsored project award, a researcher may initiate changes to a project that impact on the management of these awarded funds. A Principal Investigator must have a good understanding of the procedures associated with initiating financial transactions or changes to a sponsored project award’s financial plan.

To facilitate Principal Investigators’ fulfillment of these responsibilities, the OSRP is committed to assisting Principal Investigators in the administration of research and other sponsored activities. In addition to offering workshops and training sessions, the OSRP has prepared a number of training and procedural documents aimed at acquainting a Principal Investigator with the policies and procedures that affect the management of a sponsored project award.

Funds for sponsored projects are awarded to the University, though managed by the Principal Investigator, Sponsored Projects Grants and Compliance Office, and staff in the Office of Sponsored Research and Projects. Without written approval by the sponsor, the funds are to be spent only for the purpose and at the level designated in the final approved proposal budget. The Principal Investigator is responsible for implementing the sponsored project award in accordance with sponsor guidelines, hiring staff, expending sponsored project funds, and conducting the research described in the proposal and agreed to with the acceptance of the award. In many areas of the University, the financial management of a sponsored project award is delegated to a Grant Compliance Accountant and the Post Award Manager. While the award then becomes a shared responsibility among the Principal Investigator, the Grant Compliance Accountant, and the Post Award Manager. The Principal Investigator is ultimately responsible for the overall success of the project, including adherence to sponsor’s guidelines. While these statements may seem redundant, they are presented to emphasize the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to both the sponsor and MSU Denver. The Office of Sponsored Research and Programs, and the Sponsored Awards and Compliance Office are a Principal Investigator’s best source of information and guidance on the financial aspects of sponsored project management.


Office of Sponsored Research and Programs

Supporting faculty and staff fundraising goals

Phone: 303-605-5297

Email: [email protected]

Office Location:
Jordan Student Success Building (JSSB)
890 Auraria Parkway
3rd Floor – #350


Mailing Address:
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Office of Sponsored Research and Programs (OSRP)
Campus Box 4
P.O. Box 173362
Denver, CO 80217-3362