Office of Research, UC Riverside
Sponsored Programs Administration

Award Negotiations


Award negotiations is the period of time and the scope of activities between proposal submission and UCR's acceptance of an award. During this period, the award mechanism (grant, cooperative agreement or contract) and the sponsor will largely determine the length and complexity of the negotiation process. The end result of award negotiations is a mutually agreeable set of terms under which UCR will conduct the proposed project.

Who Can Negotiate the Award?

The authority to negotiate an award on behalf of the University has been delegated from The Regents to the Chancellor. The Chancellor has redelegated this authority to Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA). SPA works in conjunction with the Principal Investigator to negotiate an award that is acceptable to the University, Principal Investigator, and sponsor.

Changes to the Scope of Work and/or Budget

Any time a sponsor requests or requires a change in the originally proposed budget or scope of work, the Principal Investigator should always notify and coordinate a response through the Contract and Grant Officer assigned to their unit before submitting a revised budget or scope of work to the sponsor.

Grants and Cooperative Agreements

Grants and cooperative agreements usually contain references to a sponsor's established grants management policies or in the case of government grants, government-wide regulations, laws or directives. While most grants and cooperative agreements from federal sponsors do not require negotiation of terms and conditions, grants from private non-profit sponsors and other non-governmental sponsors may require negotiation of a variety of terms. These negotiations usually revolve around such issues as:

  • indemnification
  • intellectual property rights
  • allowability of costs

Industry Research Contracts

Agreements with for-profit sponsors cover many activities including basic, applied or developmental research, collaborative research, and various types of testing.

As a public, non-profit educational institution, the University is bound by certain policies and regulations regarding what it can and cannot accept in an agreement. These policies are designed to foster the University's basic mission of teaching, research and public service and to ensure the academic freedom of our faculty. Because for-profit sponsors are motivated by different forces, they sometimes do not understand the ideals and principles behind our policies. Consequently, negotiations can take additional time while SPA works with the sponsor to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.

Whenever possible, the University tries to negotiate an agreement using the appropriate standard University contract language for the activity proposed. These standard agreements address key concepts required by University policy. When a for-profit sponsor prepares an agreement or insists on controlling the preparation of an agreement, these concepts may or may not be addressed and can lead to protracted negotiations.

Contract negotiations with for-profit sponsors can be difficult and complex because the agreements must address a substantial number of issues in a variety of areas such as budget, payments, audit, scope of work, intellectual property rights, publication rights, indemnification, termination and confidentiality.

Before commencing negotiations, SPA attempts to discuss all aspects of the proposed project with the Principal Investigator. In particular, SPA needs to know whether graduate students will be involved in the project, if existing University or sponsored-owned intellectual property will be used in conducting the project, and if research materials that are not of UCR origin are needed to perform the work.

Federal/State Contracts


Contract negotiations with a federal government agency primarily focus on budget and scope of work issues. The terms and conditions of the award are usually fixed by law or regulation. However, differeinces in the interpretation of law and regulation can result in the negotiation of certain clauses, espeically in the areas of export controls, restrictions based on citizenship status, contractual requirements to provide protected private information in the absence of any regulations, options to classify the project as secret, publication apprroval and other publication restrictions or editorial controls. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the terms and conditions imposed by the agency are appropriate for the work proposed and applicable to the University.


Contract negotations with state agencies primarily focus on budget and scope of work issues, payment terms, use of UC travel rates, reporting requirements, requirements for documenting invoices, audit, ownership of research records, termination and penalty clauses for breach of contract.