An early PTA allows you to open up a PTA prior to receipt of an award or while an award is being negotiated. This allows you to begin charging expenses to the project at the PIs risk.
When you request an early PTA, the PI must identify a guarantee PTA with unrestricted funds to cover the costs in the event that the award does not materialize. Once the award is received, an early PTA becomes the project PTA. The project is already setup in SeRA.
If human, animal subjects or stem cells are involved, certification that protocols have been filed for review and that no expenses involving those activities will be incurred until the final protocol approval is granted.
An early PTAs can be requested in the SeRA system. For detailed instructions see the Sponsored PTA Manager - Dept. User Guide and the Sponsored PTA Manager - Early/Extend - Post Award User Guide here
What Not to Do
It is strongly recommended that spending in advance of a fully executed award is NOT charged to an unrestricted PTA because it is very difficult to separate costs that benefit a sponsored project from other costs in an unrestricted PTA.
Any time charges are transferred onto a sponsored project PTA, as they would be when you have to “clear” early expenses and transfer them onto the proper PTA, careful documentation is required as to the benefit to the new project. Additionally, depending on how the expenses are incurred, the costs could be considered unallowable. The CAS language states:
The costs of any work project not contractually authorized, whether or not related to performance of a proposed or existing contract, shall be accounted for, to the extent appropriate, in a manner which permits ready separation from the costs of authorized work projects.
Do not use another sponsored PTA to fund expenses that you intend to move later. The expenses would be considered both unallowable and unallocable.