Frequently Asked Questions


What does Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) do?

OSP is the coordinating office for external research (sponsored) funding. We assist faculty and departments in the submission of proposals for funding, negotiation and acceptance of awards and contracts, and assistance with post-award, non-financial management. The Director of OSP is an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) with Mississippi State University signature authority.

What are OSP’s business hours?

OSP's business hours are 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday with normal University holidays observed.

What is a sponsored project?

A sponsored project is a project that is funded by a Sponsor external to the university. Generally, the project is funded by means of an award agreement (contract, cooperative agreement, grant, or memorandum of agreement), and the award terms require some kind of deliverable (a technical report, a financial report, milestones, etc.).

Who is authorized to sign proposals, award agreements, and invoices/financial statements?

The authorization to sign proposals, awards, and other non-financial official documents related to sponsored projects has been delegated to the Director of OSP. Researchers should not sign any of these documents as the authorized organization representative (AOR), as they are not authorized to commit university resources. Invoices/financial statements should be reviewed by the department and Principal Investigator over the project. Sponsored Program Accounting reviews and processes invoices and financial statements.

Am I authorized to commit university resources?

Faculty members are not authorized to commit university resources in a contractual arrangement. As per university policy OP 70.01, commitment for a sponsored project must be approved by university officials and submitted to the sponsor through OSP.

When do I go through OSP, Foundation, or Procurement?

Revenue Generating Contracts are reviewed and negotiated by OSP. Purchasing Contracts are reviewed and negotiated by Procurement. For clarification please see these guidelines. The MSU Foundation should be contacted if the proposal will be seeking funding from another foundation. Your OSP Administrator or possibly your department foundation director will forward the proposal information to the MSU Foundation.

What is the difference between a gift and a grant?

The reference to ‘grant’ or ‘gift’ in the sponsor document does not necessarily mean the award can be classified as such. That determination will be made by representatives of either OSP or the MSU Foundation. With regard to a gift, the funder receives no value of benefit from the donation therefore; there are few requirements, if any. Policy 41.01

Where can I find information needed to complete the SF424 and/or required Institutional information for my proposal?

OSP has developed a Quick Facts sheet which includes much of the institutional information you'll need in order to complete these forms.

Who do I contact about Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)?

OSP and the Office of Technology Management (OTM) work together to review Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). Please see our Procedure Statement for further information.

What is a CFDA number?

The CFDA (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) provides a full listing of all Federal programs available to State and local governments, federally-recognized Indian tribal governments, territories (and possessions) of the US, domestic public, quasi-public, and private profit and non-profit organizations and institutions, specialized groups, and individuals. Reporting of federal funds is done using the CFDA number associated with the funding.

What is an authorized signatory?

A representative legally delegated the power to commit the authorizing organization to a binding agreement. The Director and Associate Directors of OSP are Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) with Mississippi State University signature authority.

What is debarment?

Debarment is when one is prevented by legal means from enjoying certain rights or practices. Debarment, relating to sponsored projects, is one of the most serious punishments the federal government imposes on an institution, as it makes the institution or entity ineligible to receive federal contracts, federally-approved subcontracts, or certain types of federal financial and non-financial assistance and benefits.

What is a DUNS number?

The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), developed and regulated by Dun & Bradstreet, assigns a unique numeric identifier to single entities. It was developed in 1963 and has common standards for the database worldwide. The Federal government requires that all applicants for Federal grants and cooperative agreements have a DUNS number. The Federal government uses the DUNS number to better identify related organizations that are receiving funding under grants and cooperative agreements and to provide consistent name and address data for electronic grant application systems.

What if an auditor calls me?

Notify the Assistant Controller in Sponsored Projects Accounting and your Sponsored Projects Administrator immediately. Once a date has been set for the audit, an entrance meeting will be established. Auditors will be provided a detailed list of your expenditures for the time period to be audited. Auditors typically select a sample to review from a particular project or sponsor.

What is a Prime Sponsor?

The original source of funds. For example: If Flamingo University is applying to NSF and wants MSU to be a subcontract, then the prime source of funds would be NSF. The direct Sponsor would be Flamingo University.

What is the definition of Equipment?

Equipment means tangible personal property* (including information technology systems) having a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost** which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the non-Federal entity for financial statement purposes, or $5,000.

Only items costing $5,000 (with exceptions, see Receiving & Property Control website) or more per unit should be listed as equipment. Cost estimates must include sales tax and shipping. Identify equipment with its corresponding cost.

*Personal property means property other than real property (land, including land improvements, structures). It may be tangible, having physical existence, or intangible.

**Acquisition cost means the cost of the asset including the cost to ready the asset for its intended use.

***Non-Federal entity means a state, local government, Indian tribe, institution of higher education (IHE), or nonprofit organization that carries out a Federal award as a recipient or subrecipient.

What is the OSP listserv and how do I sign up?

The listserv is used by OSP to disseminate pertinent information and updates in regards to the administration of sponsored projects at MSU.

To subscribe, send an email to and request to be added to the listserv.

When is Mississippi State University's fiscal year?

MSU's fiscal year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30.