Butler Library

Fiscal Responsibility


To support its research efforts, Columbia University receives millions of dollars in sponsored project awards each year. When researchers accept these funds for sponsored projects, they also accept responsibility to comply with the regulations and contractual requirements governing how the funds are spent and how expenditures are reported. Columbia researchers and administrators are expected to exercise the utmost responsibility in managing research funds provided to the University. Specifically, those who manage research dollars are expected to ensure that expenditures from their sponsored projects are:

  • Reasonable and necessary
  • Allowable under the terms and conditions of the award
  • Properly allocated to and among multiple awards and funding sources
  • Limited to the funds awarded for the project
  • In compliance with the regulations of the sponsor as well as the policies of the University

Responsibility for the proper administration of sponsored project awards rests primarily with the principal investigators. While the University recognizes that departmental administrators and others with grants management responsibilities play a significant role in managing and administering research funds, the principal investigator remains ultimately responsible for ensuring that grants are managed, funds are expended and effort is reported appropriately. Specific PI responsibilities are spelled out in the University policy, Principal Investigator Responsibilities for Financial Oversight of Grants & Contracts.

Personnel involved in sponsored projects administration are expected to consult the Sponsored Projects Handbook during the day-to-day administration of sponsored projects and apply the principles it descibes, as well as to stay abreast of updates. 

The Sponsored Projects Finance in the Office of the Controller and the Sponsored Projects Administration work with principal investigators and their delegates in ensuring that funds received from sponsors to carry out the important work of the University are utilized in accordance with the terms and conditions of those awards.