PTA Initiation and Setup

The SeRA System

All sponsored Projects account setup is initiated via the  Stanford Electronic Research Administration (SeRA system). Account setup transactions are triggered by an award being accepted and processed by a Stanford Institutional Representative in OSR, RMG or ICO. 

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Post Award User Guides

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PTA Setup for New Awards

Once the AAN (Award Approval Notification) is generated by the SeRA system, a parallel transaction for setting up the account is created. The account is also be known as a PTA (Project Task Award).

Steps to set up a New PTA

  1. The new PTA Setup transaction is then routed to an OSR accountant who will review the agreement, budget details and configuration detail information provided by the department administrator. If the information is complete and accurate, OSR will submit and baseline the budget in Oracle to complete the process.
  2. The NOA (Notice of Award) will be sent out via the SeRA system once the New PTA Setup Transaction has been completed. The NOA content is similar to the AAN, however it will now include PTA details.
  3. For new projects, a New PTA Setup transaction is automatically generated by the SeRA system and assigned to a department administrator to fill out departmental information. Based on the award terms and conditions entered in SeRA, PTA Manager configures the appropriate Project(s), Task(s) and Award(s) accordingly. The department administrator has the opportunity to create the PTA architecture that will best help facilitate the management of their project. At this stage, the department administrator should review the AAN, Agreement and budget details. Any questions should be directed to the IO noted on the AAN, who processed the award.
  4. Some elements of the award process and attributes from the AAN will drive automatic configurations in the PTA Setup transaction (e.g. inclusion of cost sharing or subawards.)
  5. The department administrator will have the opportunity to add additional Tasks or request additional Project or Award that will best help facilitate the management of their project.
  6. The budget entered in SeRA will be set as the default budget in PTA Manager. The department administrator can re-allocate the budget among tasks/categories accordingly. The budget allocations should align with the budget as approved by the sponsor.
  7. The department administrator completes the required attributes and routes to OSR (Office of Sponsored Research) for completing the PTA setup.
  8. The new PTA Setup transaction is then routed to the OSR Account Setup Intake. The OSR accountant claims the PTA transaction from the Account Setup Intake and reviews the agreement, budget details, PTA configuration recommended by PTA Manager, and detail information provided by the department administrator. If the PTA configuration or attributes are incomplete or if there is a discrepancy, the OSR accountant will return the PTA Setup transaction to IO or department administrator for correction. Once the information is complete and accurate, OSR accountant will submit and baseline the budget in Oracle to complete the process.

  9. An NOA (Notice of Award) will be sent out via the SeRA system once the New PTA Setup Transaction has been completed. The NOA will look similar to the AAN, however it will now include PTA details

  10. OSR strives to complete the PTA setup transaction within five business days of receiving the desired award configuration and detailed budget allocation for a particular award.

                    Subsequent updates are made via the SeRA Central Office Request

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PTA Setup Cost Sharing Accounts

If cost sharing is committed, that is, proposed by Stanford and accepted by the sponsor, then it must be accounted for as cost sharing. As part of the New PTA (Project Task Award) Setup or PTA Setup Amendment transactions, the SeRA (Stanford Electronic Research Administration) system will automatically create unique cost sharing PTAs as needed. 

Cost sharing tasks are given the designation of the 700 task series with budget and expense tied to the sponsored project period. In many instances, when the cost sharing funding source is coming from different schools/departments, or if there are multiple investigators whose cost sharing commitment needs to be tracked separately, multiple tasks can be set up to accommodate this complexity.  Cost sharing PTAs will be listed on the SeRA Notice of Award along with the other PTAs set up in support of a particular sponsored project.

For the purpose of identifying federal vs. non-federal and mandatory vs. voluntary cost sharing, four (4) Oracle Award Purpose codes are used: 


Cost sharing PTAs are budgeted with the committed cost sharing appearing in the Expense Control column of the Monthly Expenditure Statement.

Overdraft Cost Sharing

If the department administrator becomes aware of cost overruns after the sponsored project end date, contact your OSR (Office of Sponsored Research) accountant to request a cost sharing PTA be set up for overdraft purposes.

If there are cost overruns at the end of an award and a cost sharing PTA has not yet been established for this purpose, the OSR accountant will contact the department administrator to discuss setting up a cost sharing PTA as part of the closeout process. OSR will notify the department when cost sharing PTAs are setup in Oracle. The Oracle Award Purpose code for overdrafts is INR OVERDRAFTS.

An overdraft does not represent cost sharing, but it must be charged to a cost sharing account in order for it to be properly reflected in the calculation of the Indirect Cost (F&A) (Facilities & Administrative) cost rate.

Timing of Funding the Cost Share PTA

The best practice is to fund the cost sharing account at the inception of the PTA. At minimum, the cost sharing PTA(s) must be funded by the end of each fiscal year and at the end of each award period. Cost sharing PTAs cannot be in overdraft at the end of the University's fiscal year.  Department administrators must provide the funding source when providing the cost sharing PTA attributes.  The funding source can be from one or more of the following sources:

  • Gift fund
  • Endowment income fund
  • Designated/special fund
  • Operating budget (not allowed in SoM - School of Medicine)

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Early PTA Setup

An early PTA (Project Task Award) 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. 

An Early PTA can be requested in SeRA once a PDRF has been submitted and approved by the IO. When an early PTA is requested, the PI must identify a guarantee PTA with unrestricted funds to cover the costs in the event that the award does not materialize. If human, animal subjects or stem cells are involved, certification is required that protocols have been filed for review and that no expenses involving those activities can incur until the final protocol approval is granted.

Once the fully executed agreement is received, an early PTA becomes the project PTA since it is already setup in Oracle.

What Not to Do

Do not charge early expenses to an unrestricted PTA when spending in advance of a fully executed award because it is very difficult to separate costs that benefit a sponsored project from other costs in an unrestricted PTA.

You would have to transfer the early expenses to the proper PTA once the award is executed and provide careful documentation of how they benefit the project. Additionally, depending on how the expenses are incurred, the costs could be considered unallowable. The CAS (Cost Accounting Standards) 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. 

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Forms to Setup or Modify PTAs

PTA  System/Form/Procedure

New, Extended, Amend, Early Account

Sponsored PTA Manager Early Account Request Guide

Sponsored PTA Manager New Account Guide

Sponsored PTA Manager Amendments Guide

Sponsored PTA Manager Extended Account Request Guide

Sponsored PTA Setup Matrix

Budget Reallocation Budget Reallocation
Create an New Task for an Existing PTA New Task
New Fabrication of Capitol Equipment  Project and Task New Fabrication Project - Task
Sponsored Research Project PTA Attribute Changes  Modify PTA Attribute
New Cost Sharing Award and Task New Cost Share Project Task
New Program Income New Program Income Award
OSR Overdraft Cost Sharing Request

SeRA Central Office Request - New Overdraft Cost Sharing Award

Request for Expenditure Allocation PTA 

Request for Expenditure Allocation PTA form

SeRA Central Office Request forms  

SeRA Central Office Request Overview













Pre Award Central Office Requests - you need to tell/ask the sponsor something  
  Check Next Funding Increment Status
  No Cost Extension Request
  Sponsor Approval for Carry Forward
  Sponsor Approval for Changing PI
  Sponsor Approval for Equipment Purchase
  Sponsor Approval for Key Personnel Change
  Sponsor Approval for New Subaward
  Sponsor Approval for PI Effort Change
  Sponsor Approval for Rebudgeting
  Sponsor Approval for SOW Change
  Sponsor Approval for Travel
Non Sponsored PTA  System/Form/Procedure
 PTA Set-up Request for non-sponsored PTAs

Quick Steps: Request New PTA

Capital Accounting and Fund Accounting

Service Center PTA Request Form 

Changes to ROLE-related attributes for Principal Owner

Mass changes to PTAs

 PTA Manager

Changes to Org Codes Contact your school accountant  


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University Research PTA Set Up

Departments receiving a University Research award must start and submit a SeRA Proposal Development Routing Form (PDRF) to the Office of Sponsored Research to issue an Award Approval   Notification (AAN) and trigger the account (Oracle PTA) set-up process.  All University Research PDRFs and awards are processed by OSR.  Be sure to select the Office of Sponsored Research as the Institutional Organization and your assigned OSR Institutional Official from this assignment list.


After receiving the University Research award, complete a PDRF  (Proposal Development Routing Form) with the following attachments:

  • Award Letter and Cover Sheet
  • Approved Budget
  • Any required protocol approvals

Find detailed instructions on how to complete a PDRF for University Research awards.

OSR (Office of Sponsored Research) will initiate the PTA set-up process. The setup process for University Research awards follows the same path as all other sponsored projects through the SeRA (Stanford Electronic Research Administration) system.

The Setup Process

  1. After the PDRF for the University Research award is received and processed by an OSR Contract and Grant Associate (CGA), he/she will process the associated award transaction and issue an Award Approval Notification (AAN).
  2. The same processes of PTA Setup for New Awards are repeated for University Research Award.

To Begin Spending


Upon notification that the PTA has been set up, the department is to contact the awarding organization to create an iJournal Funds Transfer to transfer University funds to cover the amount of the award.

Not sure if your internal award is considered University Research? 

See Research Policy Handbook 13.2 Categories of Sponsored Projects for more information.


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Transaction Controls

Transaction controls are used as an internal control to block certain expenditure types from allowing certain expenditures to be charged to sponsored projects and cost sharing PTAs.


Many of the of expenditure types available for use on sponsored projects may not be appropriate for use on sponsored projects, or may be considered unallowable or only be appropriate in certain circumstances.


Blocking certain expenditure types that are inappropriate for use on sponsored projects will prevent unallowable expenses from charging to an award, reduce the number of cost transfers and other time-consuming adjustments administrators must make, and reduce any unnecessary costs the departments may have to cover.


During PTA Setup, OSR will select the appropriate project template to assign transaction controls at the project level (the “P” in P-T-A) based on the award terms and conditions of the award. The project templates will address these six areas:

  1. Unallowables – not chargeable on federal or state awards

  2. Administrative Charging on Federal Awards (unless the Administrative expense is considered integral to the project)

  3. Stipends on Research Awards (example NIH R01 awards)

  4. Expenditure types that would not be charged to any sponsored projects (example: ET 51610 LD Clearing Account, Cost of Goods Sold, COGEN , etc.)

  5. Expenditure types that are chargeable to federal/non-federal awards only  (example: animal care charges (VSC),  NSF participant costs)

  6. Capital Equipment and Fabrications  - The default is SU owned,  with the ability to change to non-SU or no capital equipment/fabrication

A list of available Oracle Project Templates can be found here.

To find out what Project Template was assigned to your sponsored Project and to view a listing of all Project Transaction Controls on the Oracle Award, run the Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI) Dashboard report titled "Reference Data and Inquiry > PTA Inquiry".


What Administrators Can Do

When an expenditure type cannot be charged on a sponsored project, make sure you understand why the expenditure type is not useable:

  • Review the job aid “Error Messages" for example the error message:  expenditure type cannot be used because of a project  transaction control  means the expenditure control functionality is making an expenditure type unavailable for charging to your PTA.

  • Run the OBI Dashboard report for "Reference Data and Inquiry > PTA Inquiry" to view a listing of all project transaction controls on the Oracle Award.

Once you have determined a project transaction control has prevented the expenditure type from being chargeable , do not pick another expenditure type just because it is chargeable. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I using the correct expenditure type?
  • Is this an expenditure type that is restricted to a specific award type (federal/non-federal)?
  • Am I charging administrative expenses to a federal award that is not Integral to the Project?
  • Is this a charge that is not allowable on any sponsored project?
  • Am I correctly charging the appropriate capital /fabrication expenditure type?
  • Am I incorrectly charging stipends instead of salary on a research award?

If you determine the expenditure type should be chargeable on the sponsored award, the department administrator can request to make the expenditure type chargeable by completing the SeRA Central Office Request - Update Expenditure Type . This form can also be used to make expenditure types non-chargeable as well if department wants to block a certain expenditure type from charging to the project.

  • On the Central Office Request form Request Details section, click on the blue "Expenditure Type Change Request Form" link to download the “Request to Make Expenditure Type(s) Chargeable/Non-Chargeable” form.  Complete and click on the blue Attach the form to the Central Office Request. Detailed instructions for further guidance can be found further down the form.
  • Expenditure types and their definitions can be found using the Expenditure Type Query Tool.

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