Timely Proposal Submission Protocol

Summary

8 Business Days Alert: Notify your College Research Office of your intent to submit a proposal and provide limited details. Begin your PINS record so that it is ready to submit to the College.

5 Business Days Submit: Be prepared to submit your final proposal and be available to correct errors reported back from the sponsor.  Ensure that your proposal and associated PINS record is available to the College for final action (some colleges may have different final submit criteria to be communicated to you separately).

Protocol

The University is experiencing tremendous growth in our sponsored project activity, with even faster growth due to the American Recovery and Restoration Act of 2009. This presents three concerns that require your careful attention:

  1. Most faculty will be working even harder than before to prepare competitive proposals – a painstaking and exhaustive effort that must not be compromised by administrative hurdles.
  2. Further stress on departmental staff and College Research Offices’ proposal and awards management personnel.
  3. A disproportionate increase in the number of GRANTS.gov and NSF Fastlane Submissions.

With these concerns in mind, the University and your College Research Office must prioritize proposals in order to ensure on-time and error-free submission. Although every effort has always been and will continue to be made to ensure compliant proposal submission regardless of when you provide final packages to the College Research Offices, it is now, more than ever, critical that you provide your College Research Offices with an RFP, draft budget and budget justification at least 8 business days prior to submission and ensure that they are prepared to submit no less than 5 business days prior to the due date of the proposal. College offices may require additional processing elements such as a draft PINS record to properly prioritize and plan for your proposal submission. Three points you should be aware of that are beyond the control of the University and that have prompted this cautionary note:

  1. Grants.gov has a stated processing time of 2 – 4 days with no tolerance if errors exist and cannot be corrected before the deadline.
  2. Federal agency servers routinely crash during peak demand times that occur when hundreds of institutions submit proposals at the same time. No tolerance is given for server errors to last-minute proposal submitters by any of the federal sponsors.
  3. The Whitehouse has directed federal agencies to employ alternative proposal submission protocols (other than Grants.gov) that will add tremendous complexity to proposal submission and require unprecedented agility in institutional processes.

It is important then, that as we move forward through these unprecedented times that you:

  1. 8 Business Days Alert Provide your college a minimum of 8 business days notice of your intent to submit a proposal and be prepared to provide sketch information including a budget and budget justification. Check with your college office to learn if they have other needs at this juncture such as a shell PINS record.
  2. 5 Business Days Submit: Ensure that the College has at least 5 business days (or otherwise noted by your College) to submit a proposal so as to avoid problems that our colleagues around the country, officers within Federal agencies and our own experiences know will occur due to overwhelming agency systems.

Environmental Scan – Select Institutional Policies on Proposal Submission:

  • Penn State University (Page 9 – “In order to be sure that proposals can be submitted in time, it is extremely important that completed proposals be delivered for final review at least five (5) days prior to the sponsor deadline.”)
  • University of Washington

Seven (7) Business Days in Advance

An approved eGC-1 and the proposal containing all final business elements should be received by OSP at least seven (7) working days prior to the sponsor deadline. Final business-related elements of the proposal include but are not limited to the budget, budget justification, cost share commitments, identification of required resources, subcontracts and significant financial interest disclosures. These elements should be in their final form, though the description of the “Scope of Work” (“SOW”) may still be in a draft form. Note, however, that the SOW must be far enough along to allow for the accurate identification of any potential compliance issues vis-a-vis export controls or the use of humans or animals in the research. The SOW submitted must be the SOW affiliated with the business proposal. Proposals received seven days or more in advance of the sponsor’s deadline will receive a detailed review by OSP to provide greater assurance that the proposal can be submitted error-free.

Three (3) Business Days in Advance

OSP must receive the final application, in complete form and ready for submission to the sponsor (i.e. “Ready to Submit”) three business days prior to the sponsor deadline. “Ready to Submit” means a full and complete application in final format that is ready for submission to the Sponsor.

Proposals received by 5:00 pm, three (3) business days in advance of the sponsor deadline (e.g. Monday by 5:00 pm for a sponsor deadline on Thursday) that have all elements completed (business and science) will be reviewed by OSP staff for accuracy, completion and compliance with sponsor, university and federal and state requirements, and submitted to Sponsor.

All proposals, both paper and electronic, received by OSP after 5:00 pm, three (3) business days prior to the sponsor deadline will be returned to the PI and department contact and will not be submitted to the Sponsor unless a waiver to the deadline is granted by the Assistant Vice Provost for Research.

Government-anticipated Proposal Submission Problems

  1. USDA e-Mail message – “As you know CSREES is experiencing increasing issueswith GovGrants. We anticipate that those problems could get worse as the federal government loads more programs on the system. Folks are well advised to submit applications to us well in advance of the deadlines. We will be posting this [advice] on many CSREES media.”
  2. OMB: Stimulus grant applications may overwhelm portal
  3. Whitehouse OMB Office Not Comfortable with Grants.gov