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OSP Main > Policies > Project Changes

Project Changes and Prior Approval Requirements

Post-award changes resulting from circumstances not anticipated during the proposal stages of the project are sometimes necessary. These changes may be programmatic, contractual or financial in nature. While some changes may be authorized internally by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), others require the sponsor’s prior written approval. The level at which approval may be granted and the timing for submission of prior approval requests depends upon the type of sponsored research award and the sponsor’s specific policies for that type of award. Refer to the sponsor’s guidelines, award documents and contact your Grant and Contract Officer (Who is my GCO?).

The federal government, based on collaborative work with the research community, developed standard grant Research Terms and Conditions (RTC) now in use by several federal sponsoring agencies. Visit the federal-wide Research Terms and Conditions page on the National Science Foundation website for an explanation of each of the Research Terms and Conditions as well as a link to each participating federal agency’s specific RTC.

For federal agencies not utilizing RTCs, contracts, cooperative agreements and non-federal sponsored programs (e.g. industry, foundations, foreign government, non-profits), consult the terms of the agreement for guidance as requirements vary depending on the sponsor’s policies. If the award does not include specific requirements Principal Investigators (PI) should contact their Grant and Contract Officer.

An authorized official from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) must submit all prior approval requests to sponsors.


Prior approval is required in advance of the change. Requests should be in writing, addressed to the sponsor, and submitted to the sponsor by an authorized official from the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP). The request should be submitted to OSP as a Change Request via the Sponsored Portal.

Examples of programmatic and financial changes during the life of an award:

• Changes in the scope of work (SOW)
• Change of Principal Investigator or significant reduction (>= 25%) of effort
• Change in Key Personnel
• Changes/additions to collaborating institutions/subcontractors responsible for carrying out a portion of the SOW
• Re-budgeting beyond level permitted in award
• Carry-forward of funds from one budget period into the next within a project period unless previously authorized
• Supplemental Funding Request
• No cost extension of the budget or project period (extension of time without additional funds)

For additional information on managing the financial and reporting aspects of sponsored projects, please see Sponsored Financial Services guidance on Managing Awards.

OSP Main > Policies > Project Changes