Principal Investigator Roles and Responsibilities
Key pre-award responsibilities of the principal investigator include:
- Notify department of intent to submit a proposal well in advance of the sponsor’s published deadline. Allow ample time for proposal development and delivery to SOM dean’s office for school-level review prior to Office of Sponsored Programs review.
- Develop technical content of the proposal and provide information to department to aid in translating the technical needs of the project into a budget.
- Identify key personnel and their level of involvement.
- Inform department of any subcontracts or subawards and assist in collecting required proposal documents from subawardees.
- Complete and keep updated Conflict of Interest disclosure statement in the AIRS system.
- Ensure the following upon submitting proposal to SOM dean’s office for school-level review:
- The RAMS-SPOT Funding Proposal is complete.
- PI has coordinated financial conflict of interest reporting by all designated COI investigators.
- PI has completed any required training for system submission and/or requested user ID if required by sponsor.
- A signed subrecipient commitment form has been completed and is uploaded to RAMS-SPOT for all proposed subawardees.
- Internal subaccounts have been indicated in RAMS-SPOT as applicable/agreed upon by participating departments and schools.
- The proposal has been prepared in accordance with sponsor application terms and conditions as well as sponsoring agencies rules and regulations.
- The entire proposal meets the administrative requirements outlined in the application instructions.
- A current, fully executed MOU exists for faculty members conducting sponsored research that have a joint appointment with a veteran’s affairs medical center. See SOM Guidance for Joint Appointment MOUs. Investigators and administrators are encouraged to utilize the VA MOU Template.
The principal investigator, or PI, has primary responsibility for technical execution of the project and compliance with both the institution and the sponsor's financial and administrative policies, and regulations associated with the management of the award. PIs typically rely on administrative staff to assist them with the day-to-day management of project funds; however, the primary responsibility for the management of the sponsored research award rests with the PI.
Key post-award responsibilities of the principal investigator include:
- Executing the project as approved in the sponsor award, directing all project staff activities and ensuring adherence to VCU’s policy on the Responsible Conduct in Research and Scholarship.
- Ensuring all appropriate regulatory approvals are current, accurately reflect the work performed and are on file with the IRB or IACUC, as applicable.
- Work with department administration to ensure the project’s financial expenditures are in line with the approved funded proposal budget and reflect the work performed. Request prior approval for budget changes according to institutional and sponsor policies and procedures (see PI role in monthly reconciliation of expenses section below).
- Report project progress to the sponsor as outlined in the terms of the award.
- Maintain both project technical and administrative/financial records including data, lab notebooks and an accurate record of project-related expenses.
- Communicate regularly with project technical staff on project progress and changes in duties assigned as applicable.
- Communicate regularly with department administration to ensure expense allocations and personnel assignments for a project are accurate. Provide justification for changes when necessary.
- Comply with all applicable sponsor rules, regulations and/or terms and conditions of the award.
Please refer to VCU’s Office of Sponsored Programs’ Roles and Responsibility Matrix for a comprehensive list of PI responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of support staff, department administration and institutional offices as it pertains to the compliant administration and execution of an award.
PI role in monthly reconciliation of expenses
VCU institutional policy requires that all financial accounts be reconciled on a monthly basis. The reconciliation process includes the review of expenses incurred to ensure they are appropriate as well as reviewing source documentation for the charges and maintaining a file of those records. For non-sponsored accounts this duty is typically performed by administrative staff.
For Sponsored Programs, the responsibility for reconciliation rests with both administrative staff and the PI. PIs are expected to review monthly expense reports to ensure the expenses incurred are appropriate for the project. PIs should work with department administration to request and review back-up documentation for expenses requiring additional review. If erroneous charges are found, PIs should work with department administrators to document the corrective action needed to fix the errors.
In the School of Medicine there is an electronic process for PI’s to certify they have reviewed their monthly expense reports for all active sponsored accounts. PI’s will receive an email each month directing them to the PI Dashboard to review the expenses on their sponsored accounts for the previous month.
Instructions for viewing and certifying review of monthly expense reports:
- Once you are logged in to the VCU Reporting Center, navigate to the PI Dashboard tab at the top of the page.
- In the Alerts and Notifications portlet, click on the link “Reports Available for Review.”
- Click on “View Report” to download the “Monthly Expense Report” for each award index.
- After you have reviewed the report, click on “Certify Review.”
Additional instructions and information about monthly expense reports and the review process can be found here.
Please contact your department research administrator if you have specific questions about your monthly expense report.
If you have any questions about the PI Dashboard or the monthly review certification process itself, please contact SOMRESADMIN@vcu.edu.