Award Closeout

The last few weeks of a grant period are an important time in the life cycle of an award. Expenses must be reviewed for allowability, final charges must be posted, journal transfers must be made if the account is in deficit, recurring charges must be redirected to other accounts, and technical and financial reports must be filed. More detail on the process of closing out an award can be found on the OSP web site.


Arriving at a Final Figure

Prior to the end date of an award, all costs that were being charged to the grant automatically (i.e., salaries, blanket orders, stockroom charges, etc.) should be moved to other sources of funds, as appropriate. Until an account is “disabled”, the University does not have a system in place to prevent charges from being posted to that account, even if the grant is expired or overdrawn. Service providers (e.g., stockrooms, long distance charges, animal charges, and other service centers) that may be using an account number to place routine charges should be notified well before the end of the grant to avoid “surprise” charges that will have to be removed by journal transfer after the grant has expired.

The total amount of money spent on an award must be reported to the sponsor, usually within 90 days after the award has ended. Ideally, this “final figure” will equal the amount awarded, but it can also be less than the awarded amount. If there is a surplus of funds, other expenses may be identified that can be charged to the account legitimately. Only costs incurred before the end of the grant period may be charged to the account and, generally, payments for such costs should be processed within 60 days of the award end date. If significant aspects of the scope of work will not be complete at the end of the project period, and funds are projected to remain in the award, a no-cost extension should be requested through OSP prior to the award end date.


Final Cost Sharing Report

With the use of ‘companion accounts’ the procedure for reporting and tracking of cost shared expenditures should be straightforward. Upon closeout, departments should verify cost share information, confirm the cost sharing commitment has been met and coordinate with OSP Research Finance to resolve any cost sharing discrepancies as described in the Cost Sharing Policy. The deadline for submission of this report is ordinarily 90 days after the award end date. 

Final Financial Report

Once the account is settled to the department’s and OSP’s satisfaction, OSP can submit the final financial report, which is ordinarily due 90 days after the close of the grant. This report tells the sponsor exactly how much money was spent on the award and commits the University to return to the sponsor (or to the U.S. Treasury in the case of federal awards) any unspent balances.  External auditors look carefully at a sample of final financial reports each year, examining each for accuracy and timeliness. It is important that an accurate “final figure” be provided to OSP well before the 90-day deadline so that OSP can file the final report in a timely fashion, with no need to revise the final figure at a later date. OSP will include only those expenditures or corrections that have appeared in the General Ledger.


Final Technical and Patent Reports

Non-Financial reports are normally prepared and usually submitted by the PI.

Most sponsors require a final technical report, which is typically due 90 days after end date of the grant. The particular format required by the sponsor is set forth in the terms and conditions of the award.

In addition to a final technical report, most federal sponsors require a final patent report disclosing any patents or discoveries that came out of the research supported by the grant. The report is submitted to the sponsor by OSP after consultation with the PI and with OTD (where records of invention and discoveries are recorded and tracked).

The PI is responsible for obtaining a parallel set of reports from any subrecipients working on the award, well in advance of Harvard’s deadline for submitting the final report.

After the final technical report has been filed with the sponsor, OSP should be notified so that they can proceed with disabling the account.

Account Disabling

Once an account is “disabled,” the system will reject any attempts to post transactions to it. There are multiple stages of disabling, but OSP will not disable an account completely until all of the following criteria have been satisfied:

  • the account has expired, and no further expenditures are pending;
  • all reports (financial, technical, patent, and cost sharing) have been filed;
  • the “final figure” reported to the sponsor matches total expenditures; and
  • the income from the sponsor matches total expenditures.

Until an account is disabled, it will continue to appear in the suites of financial reports available.