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 which is a non sponsored PTA with sufficient funds whose fund purpose will allow research expenses to be charged in the event that an award does not materialize.
An Early PTA can be requested in SeRA once a PDRF has been submitted and approved by the IO. 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 a non-sponsored 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 a non-sponsored 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.