Award negotiations, as defined in this section, means the scope of activities between proposal submission and the acceptance of an award by UNL. During this period, the award mechanism (grant, cooperative agreement or contract) and the sponsor will largely determine the length and complexity of the negotiation process. The end result of award negotiations is a mutually agreeable set of terms under which UNL will conduct the proposed project.
Who Can Negotiate the Award?
The authority to negotiate an award on behalf of UNL has been delegated from The Board of Regents to the Chancellor. The Chancellor has re-delegated this authority to the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) and the VCR has re-delegated the authority to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). OSP works in conjunction with the Principal Investigator and, when applicable, NUtech Ventures, to negotiate an award that is acceptable to UNL, Principal Investigator and sponsor.
Changes to the Scope of Work and/or Budget
Any time a sponsor requests or requires a change in the originally proposed budget or scope of work, the Principal Investigator should always notify and coordinate a response through the OSP before submitting a revised budget or scope of work to the sponsor.
Grants and Cooperative Agreements
Grants and cooperative agreements usually contain references to a sponsor’s established grants management policies or in the case of government grants, government-wide regulations, laws or directives.
Industry Research Contracts
Agreements with private sponsors cover many activities including basic, applied or developmental research, collaborative research, and various types of testing.
As a public, non-profit educational institution, UNL is bound by certain policies and regulations regarding what it can and cannot accept in an agreement. These policies are designed to foster UNL’s basic mission of teaching, research and public service and to ensure the academic freedom of our faculty. Because for-profit private sponsors are motivated by different forces, they sometimes do not understand the ideals and principles behind our policies. Consequently, negotiations can take additional time while OSP works with the sponsor to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.
Whenever possible, UNL tries to negotiate an agreement using the appropriate standard UNL contract language for the activity proposed. These standard agreements address key concepts required by UNL policy. When a private sponsor prepares an agreement or insists on controlling the preparation of an agreement, these concepts may or may not be addressed and can lead to protracted negotiations.
Contract negotiations with private sponsors can be difficult and complex because the agreements must address a large number of issues such as budget, scope of work, intellectual property rights, publication rights, indemnification, termination and confidentiality.
Principal Investigators should discuss all aspects of the proposed project with OSP prior to the start of negotiations. In particular, OSP needs to know whether graduate students will be involved in the project and whether existing UNL or sponsor-owned intellectual property will be used in conducting the project.
Material Transfer Agreements
OSP’s senior contract negotiator also can assist you with preparing or negotiating Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs). A MTA is required both in bringing in and sending out materials and/or data to another institution or entity. Materials may vary, but occur in wide variety of disciplines including but not limited to chemistry, biology, computer science, engineering, and life sciences. The MTA is used to define the terms and conditions for the exchange of materials and could allocate rights that result from their use, and thus could impact current or future research. Please see the document below from the Council on Government Relations for additional general information on MTA’s in an academic setting.
There is additional information available regarding MTAs from Environmental Health and Safety at the following link:
Please also see this link for additional information regarding sharing mouse resources:
Contract negotiations with a government agency primarily focus on budget and scope of work issues.
The terms and conditions of the award are usually fixed by law or regulation. However, it is important to make sure that the terms and conditions imposed by the agency are appropriate for the work proposed and applicable to UNL.
For all grant awards: Jeanne Wicks, Director of Sponsored Programs
For contracts up to $1,000,000: Jeanne Wicks
Contracts over $1,000,000: Business and Finance, University of Nebraska.
Please bring agreements to OSP. Telephone: 402-472-3171