Pre-Award Management

Before an award is set up, there are a few items that principal investigators at Northwestern University may have to address:

Conflict of Interest (COI) Management

For some federal awards and for industry contracts, investigators must disclose in the eDisclosure system if there will be any significant financial conflict of interest. Conflicts are managed by the NU COI Office and the University. Investigators can disclose COI information and update their COI disclosure.

For more information, please visit the NU COI Office website.

Up-to-Date IRB and IACUC Protocols

For projects that involve human subjects and/or animal subjects, an up-to-date protocol must be prior to award set up or outyear expenditures.

Please make sure that your research administrator and Sponsored Research always have a copy of your most up-to-date protocols.

Revised Budgets

A sponsor may request a revised budget prior to awarding funds. Additionally, a sponsor may fund a project at a different amount than originally proposed. If a revised budget is required, PIs should work with their Research Administrator on revising their budget and submitting it to Sponsored Research for their official review and approval.


A "prespend" is a mechanism provided internally to begin posting expenditures before the award is fully-executed. "Prespends" can be helpful to ensure that faculty are able to pay personnel and begin research prior to receiving sponsored funds.

A Principal Investigator can request a prespending account if he or she foresees delays in the setup of the award (due to contract negotiations or funding allocation delays for example). This prespending request must be supported by a guarantee chartstring (the professor’s discretionary account) to cover for these costs until they have been officially awarded or in case the award itself never comes in.

Please contact your Research Administrator to discuss whether a prespend is allowed and appropriate for the situation and to discuss the prespend establishment process.

information for requesting a prespending account

  • A brief justification for the request.
  • Budget items / account codes need to be opened
  • Guarantee chart string (the professor’s discretionary account)
  • Review the McCormick Prespend Policy