Although it is the last step in a grant or contract’s life cycle, whether domestic or international, the project closeout starts the day you begin to think about your proposal. Manage the project closely during the award, not just during the 90 days after the end of the award, and keep faculty and staff informed of the rules.
The key feature to any close is timely submission of all technical, financial, and other reports as required to the sponsoring agency. Final payment on an award may be contingent on the receipt of non-financial reports.
For international projects it is especially important that this phase is done as thoughtfully as the rest of the project and with consideration of UC reputation. For international development-related projects, and some clinical trials, it is also very important to carefully consider project’s exit strategy when planning for the local capacity development and sustainability of the project’s impact beyond the duration of the project. That strategy will guide any additional steps in this process beyond the steps highlighted here.
Final Technical Report
The Project’s Principal Investigator is responsible for timely submission of the final technical reports. Specific sponsor requirements for the technical reports are usually defined in the award package.
Final Fiscal Report
The final fiscal reports are generally due within 60-90 days after the expiration date of the award and are usually prepared as a joint effort of the PIs and campus Contracts and Grants office.
Carryover of Unobligated Funds
Carryover of unobligated funds requires sponsor approval. The award package usually specifies the steps for dealing with unobligated funds.
Final Report of Inventions
Many sponsors require reports about inventions made during the conduct of research. The campus technology transfer (licensing) office will work with the PI on this.
Disposition of Equipment
Identify all materials and equipment acquired for this project and under this award, including property that was:
Provided by the sponsor
Acquired by your department
Purchased by a subcontractor
Dispose of the materials and equipment according to the project sponsor agreements. Equipment records must be kept in accordance with the UC Records Retention Policy.
Host-country employment laws often make terminating employees difficult, and termination often requires the payment of substantial severance. Any termination must be in accordance with host-country laws and with any employment contract and/or assignment agreement already in place. Employment laws in non-U.S. countries are often complex, and are typically designed to protect the employee, not the employer.
The top reasons for litigation on international projects is labor-related, therefore extreme care should be taken by universities when terminating employees outside the United States. Hiring professional legal experts who are well versed in employment laws of the host country is essential when hiring and terminating employees outside the United States. NACUBO International Resource Center provides excellent guidance on employee termination.
Records Management and Storage
File, data, and specimen storage are often required for a minimum number of years after a project ends. They can be paid in advance or liened for payout in future years.
Consult the local laws and institutional requirements (if you are partnering with an institution), as well as the UC records retention guidelines, and your project funder’s requirements.