FAQs: Award Negotiation & Acceptance

How do I know when an award requires MIT execution?

Some proposals result in unilateral awards; based on the proposal and through budget revisions, the sponsor issues an award document. In these cases, a formal acceptance of the award signature by MIT is not required because our expenditure of funds demonstrates our acceptance of the award terms and conditions. These are known as unilateral awards. NSF and NIH grant awards are examples of such unilateral awards.

When a sponsor requires that an MIT-authorized official sign to accept the award terms and conditions, the award is called a bilateral award. Typically, federal contracts and most foundation and industry awards are bilateral.

My NSF award references 42 US Code 1869a and 1869b; what does this law mean?

This code is most often found in awards with a major educational component, like the NSF CAREER awards. Under this law, the National Science Foundation must include special terms in any project that is anticipated to result in pre-college curriculum development. The terms require that the awardee (MIT) obtain prior written approval from the school board (or equivalent) prior to involving pre-college students in your project. Additionally, all instructional materials developed must be made available within the school district for inspection by parents and guardians of children involved. If your project includes any K-12 curriculum development, be sure to share copies of all school board written approvals with RAS

When must the Notice of Award be signed by the PI and administrator for the responsible DLC?

Notices of Award are produced in one of two ways: (1) negative confirmation—signature is not required; or (2) positive confirmation—signature is required.

When negative confirmation is acceptable, the “no signature needed” statement will be included with a reminder that the expenditure of funds signifies acceptance of the terms and conditions.

When positive confirmation is required, the “signature required” statement will be included on the Notice of Award. It signals both the investigator and the administrative officer to carefully review the terms and conditions of the award and to sign and return the Notice of Award to the RAS contract officer.

RAS contract administrators determine whether the acceptance of award terms and conditions requires positive or negative confirmation. Generally, unilateral assistance awards from the federal government with standard terms follow the negative confirmation process, while the introduction of non-standard terms in an award generally requires positive confirmation.