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Office of Research & Sponsored Programs

the grant lifecycle, mount evans observatory

Closing Out an Award

Award Audit

Retain records

Under the legal terms of awards to the University, auditors have the right of access to all official University records associated with a project. The University is obligated to make such records are readily available for examination.

Because auditors may visit departments to review supporting documentation and interview personnel who have certified effort on projects, departments must maintain complete records. In addition, individuals who have completed their effort certification must be able to confirm that the effort, as certified, is accurate.

The PI must retain:

  • Scientific Records and Data
  • Animal and Human Subjects Materials

The department must retain:

  • Financial and Personnel Records

ORSP will retain:

  • Pending proposals for two years after the fiscal year in which they were submitted.
  • Awarded proposals and award files for four years after the project closeout.


What items are usually audited?
  • Cost transfers
  • Payroll charges and effort certifications
  • General purpose equipment purchased at the end of the project
    • To an auditor, a cost transfer means that something happened that should not have occurred. They will look at the transfer documents to see if they are appropriate and timely.
    • Auditors question whether the equipment was needed or just purchased to use up funds. They will select a number of equipment items purchased on the project, review the transaction date in comparison with the grant end date, and discuss with the PIs all those purchases within 60 days of the end date.
Types of audits
  • General Financial Audit
  • Uniform Guidance
  • Sponsor Requested Audit
  • University’s Department of Audits
    • An audit that is part of the annual general financial audit of University financial statements.
    • A sponsored-project specific audit of financial systems and expenditures in accordance with Uniform Guidance. The University is required to provide these audits to the federal government.
    • The sponsor can request that an individual award be audited. These audits can be financial or programmatic.
    • All University funds are subject to inspection and audit by the University's Department of Audits.
Auditors usually review these records:
  • Central Records from offices such as ORSP, Purchasing, and Payroll
  • Departmental Files
  • Laboratory Records

The sponsor or auditors should contact ORSP before beginning an audit. ORSP will then notify the department. If the PI or department is contacted by the auditor directly, refer them to ORSP before scheduling any visits or releasing any documents.

Financial liability for audit disallowances, other than for those which result from deficiencies in the University's policies and procedures, rests with the department, school or center having primary responsibility for the project on which costs are questioned.