In general, the principal investigator may make changes in the methodology, approach, or other aspects of the project objectives. However, certain circumstances require approval from the sponsor, and typically this approval must come before any changes
are made. This is known as prior approval, and it is required when there is a change in the direction, or type of research or training, that is significantly different from the awarded aims, objectives or purpose of the project. It is required
when there is a significant change/reduction in the effort of key personnel as well. The difference that would qualify as significant will be identified in the Notice of Award.
Other examples of when prior approval might be required are:
- Unrecovered F&A as cost sharing
- Fixed price sub-awards
- Charging administrative salaries
- Participant support costs on research awards
- Unusual cost items
- Transfer of previous year’s unobligated funds
- Change in Scope
Prior Approval Matrix
Most agencies have a grants policy statement that will outline the standard thresholds and requirements for prior approval. Anything unique to each award will be further outlined in the Notice of Award. Sometimes, the agencies will reference the Federal Demonstration Partnership Prior Approval Matrix, which outlines what a set of funding agencies and universities agreed to as standards prior approval requirements. UTMB is part of the FDP and uses
this decision matrix.