Award Closeout (completed 3/1/2011)

Business Owner: Research and Sponsored Programs

Project start date: 4/10/2010

Project closing date: 3/1/2011

Previously, there were often substantial delays submitting financial reports and in closing an award after the award end date. While there were a number of reasons for the delays, all too often they were due to project overdrafts or unallowable expenditures that must be transferred to another source of funding. When financial reports are delayed, it creates problems for researchers, who may not be able to access the next year’s funding from the sponsor. In addition, sponsors regard delays as an institutional failure to meet the responsibilities of managing grants. Furthermore, when expired awards are not properly closed out in a timely manner, additional expenditures may inadvertently be charged to them, thus causing or further worsening overdrafts. The results are a large number of so-called “zombie awards,” or awards that are more than one year past their end date but that have not yet been properly closed. Thus, a slow and cumbersome award closeout process has negative repercussions both externally and internally.

This team identified 34 solutions that included policy change, changes in work processes at the Research and Sponsored Programs Office, and IT changes.Of these 34, the following six were the high-profile solutions that affected multiple units throughout the university: 

  1. Create suspense accounts for unresolved expenditures for every division.
  2. Increase the current $100 Facilities and Administration adjustment limit to $1,000.
  3. Provide incentives for cleaning up overspent awards (i.e., provide an amnesty for all overspent awards of $5,000 or less only if overspent awards over $5,000 are resolved).
  4. Standardize award closeout procedures, including timelines and automatic notifications.
  5. Provide quarterly reports about every division’s expired awards and negative balances.
  6. Utilize an electronic workflow to track the status of award closeout communication between the Research and Sponsored Programs Office, the department, and the division.
This project began its work in January 2010 and presented solutions to its sponsors in June 2010. The delivery of solutions began in fall 2010.



Key Performance Metrics

  1. Percentage of sponsor obligations met on time
  2. Time to deactivate an award
  3. Expired projects updated from "open" to "ended"
  4. Automated emails for awards pending end dates
  5. Division-based suspense accounts designated
  6. Expired awards identified for amnesty

Baseline at Implementation

Not measured prior to implementation

Most Current Measurement

Through April 2016:

  1. 58%
  2. Not available
  3. Not available

Historical Measurement


  1. 68%
  2. Not available
  3. Not available


  1. 65%
  2. 84.4 days
  3. 3,750
  4. Not applicable
  5. Not applicable
  6. Not applicable
  1. 60%
  2. 119.9 days; meets stretch goal of 90 days + one month
  3. 4,268
  4. 4,290
  5. Not applicable; measured differently
  6. Amnesty program completed in 2012


  1. 53%; an improvement of 83%
  2. 4 months; an improvement of 2 months
  3. 2,053
  4. 2,879
  5. 59
  6. 258

Following implementation:

  1. 29%
  2. 6 months
  3. Other metrics not previously measured