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unobligatedbalances

Guidance for NIH Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR) on SNAP awards  (02-10-14)

Beginning on May 15, 2013 and as part of the non-competing continuation process, NIH began requiring an annual Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) in place of the annual eSNAP report.

The guidance contained in this document is intended to assist with the unobligated balance portions of the RPPR. For comprehensive RPPR instructions, please visit the NIH RPPR website.

With the adoption of the RPPR, NIH has changed the way in which Principal Investigators must report unobligated grant funds. Previously, NIH asked a simple “yes/no” question to determine if greater than 25% of funds were projected to be unobligated at the end of the project year.  

Now, if a Principal Investigator answers “yes” to that same question, he/she must also enter a projected dollar amount for the unobligated balance. 

NIH may then compare the estimated and actual unobligated balances and ask for explanations of the discrepancies.

Projecting and reporting an accurate unobligated balance is critical.


Simple Standardized Tool

To assist you with this process, SPA has developed a simple and standardized tool that can be used to calculate project expenses and the unobligated balance.


We hope that this will be very helpful to you and/or your department administrator to obtain the unobligated balance as you prepare your progress report. 

If the unobligated balance is greater than 25%, a detailed explanation is required per the NIH RPPR instructions.  Your research administrator will review the progress report narrative to ensure that the following points are addressed in the explanation of the unobligated balance and the plans for its use, including:

  1. The reason for the high unobligated balance (delays, preliminary results, etc.)

  2. Steps to be taken to ensure ongoing delays in spending do not occur

  3. Your plan for the use of the unobligated funds in addition to the anticipated next year’s full funding.  This question is especially critical, as NIH may reduce future year awards if you have not demonstrated an ongoing need for the funds.

  4. If your plan contains figures, they should add up to the unobligated balance being reported.

We strongly encourage you to ensure that the explanation for the greater 25% unobligated balance includes the answers to the above questions.  Comprehensive and accurate reporting is not only a requirement of accepting NIH funding, but facilitates faster processing of your next year’s award and precludes further questions and action items for the Principal Investigator and the University.

Please contact your SPA research administrator or financial analyst with questions at any point in the process.

Last modified February 10 2014 12:10 PM

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