Routing a Proposal for Approval

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Routing a proposal for approval

All sponsored project proposals, awards, fellowships, and sub-contracts and contractual agreements linked to sponsored projects must be reviewed by OSPA to ensure institutional eligibility, conformity to sponsor guidelines, accuracy of budget, applicability of cost sharing, compliance approvals, etc. Proposals are reviewed to ensure that any commitments included are consistent with federal, state and university policies, as well as to ascertain approval of the proposal by department chairs and deans. It also serves to indemnify the faculty member should the agency dispute the quality or quantity of the award’s deliverables.

Routing a proposal for individual award

Proposals by Georgia State University faculty members that are submitted by the faculty member directly to external funding agencies should be routed through the department and college using the Individual Award Routing Form. These proposals (called individual awards) are those where the faculty member is the applicant and potential direct recipient of the award (e.g., Fulbright and NEH fellowships). Such proposals, and subsequent awards, need to be tracked for reporting purposes. For proposals that involve release from university obligations during the academic year, the routing and approval of the proposal represents a commitment on the part of the chair and dean to allow such release.

At the time of an award, faculty members also need to follow official college procedures to obtain a professional leave (paid or unpaid), when applicable. Award notices should also be sent to the college dean’s office so proposal success rate can be tracked.

Each college dean’s office will retain the approved routing form, with supporting documentation. The dean’s office will be responsible for maintaining records on both proposals and awards and send the information to Georgia State’s associate vice president for research for tracking purposes.

Routing a proposal for institutional award

To route a proposal for institutional approval, follow the instructions in the OSPA Quick Reference sheet complete and submit the Proposal Approval Form. The Proposal Approval Form must bear appropriate endorsement signatures before submission to OSPA. The Proposal Approval Form should note any compliance approvals (these can be pending or in preparation for submission) and should note that the PI is certified to adherence of Georgia State’s Conflict of Interest Policy, Intellectual Property Policy, and the Terms and Conditions of the Award. The form should be submitted to OSPA along with a detailed budget (or modular budget) and the other required items listed (budget justification, scope of work, program guidelines, letters of intent, certifications/assurances, F&A Waiver if applicable, etc.). Failure to route a proposal through OSPA within five working days before proposal submission deadline could result in failure to meet the funding agency’s submission deadline.

Time requirements for proposal routing at Georgia State

The time required for review of a proposal varies with its size, complexity, completeness, accuracy and care taken in its preparation and prior review. It also depends upon the amount of work already in OSPA and the staff available when it is received. To allow for necessary corrections and revisions and for greater assurance that sponsor deadlines will be met, allowAT LEAST FIVE FULL WORKING DAYS for the OSPA to review the proposal. This means the routing process begins with the unit head and dean prior to the five days in advance of the deadline. Proposals that contain unconventional or unique features including cost sharing commitments, numerous subcontracts or consultants, conditions that necessitate legal review, etc., may require additional lead-time.

Selecting project type

The project type selected for the proposal should reflect accurately the proposed work as basic research, applied research, instruction or other sponsored activities.

  • Basic research is directed toward an increase of knowledge; it is research in which the primary aim of the investigator is a fuller knowledge or understanding of the subject under study rather than a specific application thereof.
  • Applied research is conducted to gain the knowledge or understanding to meet a specific recognized need or application (eg. research training, equipment, facility, product or service, writing a book, etc.)
  • Instruction refers to teaching or training activities that support curriculum development and other types of teaching/training for non-research purposes.
  • Other sponsored activities include: Public Service (activities that provide non-instructional services to participants external to Georgia State); Academic Support (activities that provide support services to Georgia State’s general mission like libraries, museums, media, academic administration, etc.); Student Services (activities that contribute to the welfare of university students); Institutional Support (activities that support the general operation of the university).

Roles and responsibilities for proposal review

The people or offices involved in the internal review and processing are as follows:

The Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD) is responsible for the budget, technical content, quality and preparation of the proposal presenting his or her ideas for a project, as well as securing institutional approval for the use of human subjects, animals and/or biosafety. The PI/PD also signs the conflict of interest, intellectual property, technology, debarment and lobbying certification sections of the routing form. Moreover, the PI/PD ensures any co-investigators have signed and that the proposal has been approved by their respective deans/chairs as well.

The Department Chair or Unit Head is responsible for certifying to the academic validity of the project, the compatibility of the project with the PI’s other commitments, the availability of space, personnel, equipment and facilities, cost-sharing or matching commitments and assuring that the project adheres to department objectives.

The Dean is responsible for determining the appropriateness of the project within the college or school and that requested resources will be available. Further, the dean certifies compliance with university, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, state and federal laws, and regulations. The dean also approves the use of off-campus space and approves any requests for reduced or waived F&A, matching funds, cost-sharing, and/or additional resources.

The Office of Legal Affairs is responsible for ensuring that any proposed contractual agreement complies with applicable federal and state laws. This means that all contracts (or other type of binding agreement) must be reviewed by legal affairs, in addition to OSPA, before submitting to an agency.

The Office of Sponsored Proposals and Awards is responsible for ensuring that proposals comply with applicable funding source guidelines and regulations, and with federal, state and University policies, are sent for legal review as appropriate, include signatures for institutional assurances, have necessary approval of contractual terms, and contain accurate and reasonable budgets. OSPA ensures that the proposal is signed by the Authorizing Institutional Official.

Multi-unit proposals, contracts, hard-copy proposal submissions

In situations where a proposal involves faculty members or staff from different departments and/or colleges, it is necessary to secure signatures from the chairs/deans in each area.

Any sponsored project that is a contract must also be reviewed by legal affairs. OSPA will forward contracts to legal affairs for review.

OSPA must receive all copies of a proposal where the sponsor requires original signatures on each copy (for paper submissions).

Submitting the proposal to the agency

The Office of Sponsored Proposals and Awards (OSPA) must submit all proposals on behalf of the university with the exception of those proposal considered individual awards (e.g fellowships). Most funding agencies now require electronic submission by the central administration of the university (e.g., grants.gov). In these cases, the PI is responsible for forwarding any final changes to the proposal narrative along with the completed electronic proposal to their OSPA officer 48 hours prior to the agency submission deadline. For proposals that can be submitted directly to the agency by the PI, OSPA must still approve the proposal and obtain the required authorizing institutional official signature, after which it will be returned to the PI for submission.

Because procedures for electronic submission vary according to sponsoring agency, PIs need to consult the instructions available from the funding agency and work closely with his or her OSPA representative to ensure successful submission. Some commonly used information is included below:

  • NIH’s eRA Commons and NSF’s Fastlane require the submitter to be registered. PIs are responsible for making sure they are registered if they will be submitting a proposal through either of these electronic methods.
  • In eRA Commons, PIs must make sure that their bio information matches exactly what they include in their proposal and PIs should check the box that says “preferred employment.” Failure to do this could result in a proposal being returned as unacceptable.
  • Grants.gov requires a specific version of Adobe Reader in order to create the PDF for online submission of a proposal.
  • PI’s do not need to register in grants.gov, request a DUNS number, request a CCCR number, etc. OSPA manages and maintains all registrations for the University with federal agencies (NIH, NSF, DOD, etc.) and grants.gov. If you have any questions contact OSPA before taking any “registration” action for the university.

Most submissions must be done by OSPA. However, if the PI is responsible for submitting the final proposal, the PI must submit to OSPA a copy of the final proposal document that is submitted to the funding agency, in its entirety. Therefore, if any changes are made to the proposal that accompanied the Proposal Approval Form (or the narrative did not accompany this form), the PI must send a printed or electronic copy of the final proposal to OSPA at the time of submission.