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To explain the difference between pre- and post-award research administration, let’s talk about the duties and responsibilities that each typically have.

Each organization might define “pre-award” and “post-award” differently. So in this post, for simplicity’s sake, let’s say pre-award is leading up to setting up an account to manage funding, and everything after that is post-award.

Pre-Award Research Administration

Here’s what duties are typically exclusively pre-award:

Finding funding

Locating funding via search engines such as Pivot,, Foundation Center, individual funding agency websites, or even Google.

Budget creation

Working with the principal investigator(s) to determine what their budgetary needs are, as well as incorporating and taking into consideration other factors such as organization and funding agency limitations or set rates (fringe benefits, indirect costs, etc.).

Filling out proposal forms

Completing forms, which depending on the funding agency, could be a simple cover page or something as involved, or more involved, than a package.

Submitting the proposal

Submitting the final, internally approved proposal to the funding agency for consideration.

Award negotiation and acceptance

Negotiating the corresponding award and its formal acceptance by your organization.

Compliance considerations

Making sure compliance requirements (funding agency and project specific) such as human subject, animal subject, responsible conduct of research, financial conflict of interest, etc. are satisfied. Typically this is completed by a research compliance office, but most pre-award offices still need to verify the appropriate documents are completed/approved prior to turning the project over to the post-award group.


Post-Award Research Administration

What does it mean to work in a post-award office? While this too can vary by organization, post-award processes include the following:

Award/account setup

Establishing a central general ledger number for the principal investigator(s) to charge project expenses to.


Managing any changes to the initial award which do not require a new proposal.  Examples are a no-cost extension, change in personnel, scope revision, budget reallocation, etc.

Financial compliance monitoring

Making sure expenses charged to the project meet standards set forth by your organization, the government, and the funding agency.

Monitoring, reporting, and billing

Generating invoices for use of research facilities or charge back centers, tracking those funds, monitoring and tracking space and equipment usage, preparing and submitting interim and final financial reports, invoicing or completing funding agency drawdowns, etc.

Project reporting

Submitting progress reports and deliverable reports as defined and required by the award document.

Project close-out

Filing all the paperwork, internal and external, to close out the project and address items such as unused funds, equipment disposition, intellectual property generation, etc. in accordance with the award document.


Solutions to Help with Pre- and Post-Award Administration

Whether your office manages pre-award, post-award, or both, software can make your job dramatically easier. Cayuse’s research administration software is innovative, easy to use, well-supported by a great implementation staff with research administration experience, and competitively priced.

Want to see what your colleagues are saying about us? Check out our customer case studies and other resources. If you’d like a demo or just some more info (no pressure!), get in touch today! We’d love to help figure out how you can save time and simplify your processes.

Free whitepaper:

4 Common Pre-Award Office Challenges and How to Solve Them