How To

Spend prior to receiving the official notice of award.

Sometimes it is necessary to request that a PTA be setup in advance of the award being finalized. 

If award acceptance is imminent, but there are known delays that may occur in award finalization, requesting an early PTA may be appropriate and can save you time and trouble in the long run.

Pre-award costs are made at the PI’s risk.  If the award does not materialize or the start date is not what you expected, the PI is responsible for all costs incurred. As part of the Early PTA request, the PI and department must provide the following.

  • A guarantee PTA with unrestricted funds must be identified to cover the costs in the event that the award does not materialize,
  • Certification that any applicable human, animal or stem cell protocols have been filed for review and that no expenses involving those activities will be incurred until the final protocol approval is granted.

Once the award is received, an Early PTA will become the project PTA and there is no need to transfer expenses.  It is strongly recommended that project expenses are NOT charged to an unrestricted PTA while waiting for an award to materialize.  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.  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. 

Sponsor Approval

Make sure the expected award terms and conditions allow preaward spending. Certain agencies or programs, especially contracts, have specific rules governing pre-award expenses. Some sponsors may limit the dollar value of such charges, or may set time limits for their expenditure; read your award document.

For most Federal Grants, grantees may incur allowable pre-award costs within the 90 day period immediately preceding the effective date of the expected grant providing:

a) the approval of pre-award spending is made and documented in accordance with Stanford’s procedures; and

b) the advanced funding is necessary for the effective and economical conduct of the project.

Early PTA Setup Procedure

Early PTAs can be requested in the SeRA system.  Search for the desired project for which you’d like to request the Early PTA. From that project’s Project Summary Page under Start a Transaction select Early/Extended PTA Request.

For detailed instructions see the Sponsored PTA Manager - Dept User Guide and the Sponsored PTA Manager - Early/Extend - Post Award User Guide  here


For more information, please contact:

OSR Pre-Award Assignments

Office of Sponsored Research

Research Managment Group

School of Medicine

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