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Proposal Submission Assistance

The following steps are taken to process a proposal and submit it to a sponsor:

  • Obtain the appropriate compliance committee approvals.
  • Confirm the sponsor's deadline.
  • Obtain and complete the Proposal Review and Approval Form (PRA).
  • Review proposal checklist at the end of this section.
  • Prepare the necessary copies.
  • Route the PRA.
  • Deliver to ORSP in time to meet deadline.
  • Undergo ORSP reviews.
  • ORSP submits the proposal to the sponsor.
  • What to do after the proposal has been submitted.

Common problems:
The PI fails to submit a request for funding (proposal) through proper channels and must therefore submit the Proposal Review and Approval Form with an award. (These proposals generally do not receive advance institutional review and thus do not conform to standard University practices.)


Before the proposal has progressed to the processing stage, the PI should have obtained and submitted the appropriate forms and protocols for projects involving the following issues. The PI must get these approvals before any research begins. Human Subject and Animal Care review committee meeting dates and deadlines are available at Research Compliance. Note that the IRB and IACUC are expected to verify that applications for review and approval "match" the grant application submitted to the funding agency. Therefore full grant applications must be provided with the IRB or IACUC initial application form.

Sponsor deadline
Contact the sponsor to confirm the deadline-it may change or pass unannounced.

Determine whether the deadline is a:

  • Receipt date: The proposal has to be received by the sponsor before the close of business on the day specified. (The most common type of deadline).
  • Postmark date (sometimes referred to as the closing date): The proposal must have a dated postmark from the U.S. Postal Service on the date specified; or, if a private carrier such as Federal Express is used, the proposal must be in the carrier's hands on the date.

The sponsor may sometimes grant an extension to the deadline. If permission is granted by phone, write a brief cover letter accompanying the proposal which indicates the name of the staff person who authorized the extension and the date of the telephone conversation

The Proposal Review and Approval Form
The Proposal Review and Approval Form (PRA) is used by the University for the internal proposal review and it is never transmitted to a sponsor.. Both the electronic and paper forms must be submitted with the correct number of copies and signatures.

The form has several purposes:

  • To provide basic information regarding the project for the department head, dean, and central administrator.
  • To act as a checklist to ensure that all compliance obligations have been considered and met, or are pending.

A PRA is required for the following types of proposals:

  • new proposals
  • continuations
  • renewals
  • supplements
  • preliminary proposals (if institutional endorsement is required)
  • revisions submitted to the sponsor for any changes that require institutional endorsement including changes in budget, workscope, personnel and space.

Information from any subcontractors, e.g., budget, scope of work, authorizations..

Justification for F&A (Indirect) cost waivers.

For NIH proposals: If the PI desires the project to be reviewed by a specific study section, the participants should be listed in an attached cover letter.

Routing the PRA

The PRA form, along with the completed proposal, should be reviewed first by the budget officer. These staff members should be well informed about University and sponsor regulations and can often point out possible errors before the proposal is reviewed by ORSP. 

Multiple departments or colleges
Since involvement in a sponsored project requires personnel time and departmental space and resources, all department heads and deans of any individual who will contribute in a substantive way to the project, whether paid or not, must review and sign the PRA.

The local review and approval process for the PRA

1. The principal investigator. The PI is required to sign the PRA. Through this signature the PI certifies:

  • the accuracy of the information on the PRA,
  • that the PI assumes responsibility for the proposal's technical content,
  • that the PI agrees to project commitments within the specified time and budget,
  • the accuracy of the budget and use of correct rates, and
  • compliance with sponsor, government, and University regulations.

2. The responsible department head. This person certifies that:

  • the applicant is eligible to be a principal investigator,
  • the categorical budget is adequate relative to project scope and its justification is appropriate,
  • on-campus space is available or off-campus space is available if necessary,
  • cost sharing is appropriate or matching is available, and
  • conflict on interest issues have been addressed.

3. The responsible dean or director. This official reviews and approves the Proposal Review and Approval form when:

  • departments from other colleges are involved,
  • off-campus space is requested,
  • there is a request to modify on-campus space,
  • there is a request to the dean's office to provide matching funds or additional resources,
  • the PI is a unit head or other individual reporting directly to the dean,
  • it is deemed necessary and prudent by the dean's office.

Delivery to ORSP
Proposals should be hand delivered or submitted via email to ORSP. Since there is no guarantee of timely delivery, ORSP does not recommend use of campus mail for proposals, especially those with urgent deadlines.

ORSP deadline
Because processing time through departmental, collegiate, and ORSP offices varies considerably, it is the PI's responsibility to allow sufficient time for review. ORSP would like to receive the draft PRA form along with the administrative and budgetary components of the proposal at least five working days before the deadline -more if at all possible.  The final proposal submission package(including the scientific narrative, final budget and signed PRA form) must be received by ORSP by 8:00am, 3 business days prior to the submission deadline.  See Proposal Submission Policy.

Note that proposals being delivered outside the continental United States will take extra time. For example, Federal Express requires a minimum of two days to deliver proposals to Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe.

Meeting the deadline is important for several reasons:

It allows grant administrators enough time to do a thorough review to catch any errors that might be embarrassing to the PI or the University, or that might affect the proposal's success.

It gives ORSP enough time to mail the proposal to the sponsor before the sponsor's deadline.

For proposals submitted electronically (e.g., Fastlane), it gives an important cushion of time in case of technical problems.

What happens at ORSP
Upon receiving a proposal and PRA, ORSP staff review the proposal to ensure that:

  • correct signatures have been obtained,
  • the proposal agrees with the PRA in terms of space, animals, human subjects, or cost sharing/matching commitments,
  • the proposal generally conforms to University policies and sponsor requirements,
  • equipment conforms to University definitions, and
  • appropriate increases for future years have been included in the budget.

ORSP staff will not make programmatic judgments. Project administrators will try to resolve, through telephone contact with PIs or their designees, when questions which arise. If the proposal was submitted in time, staff members will try to make required changes in ORSP's office. If time does not permit changes before mailing, the proposal will be subject to withdrawal. Preparation of a proposal which meets sponsor requirements and is consistent with University policies is the PI's responsibility. In situations requiring major changes in a proposal or where time does not permit ORSP to make necessary changes, the task must fall upon the PI and department staff.

ORSP Submits the Proposal to the Sponsor

The proposal itself will be signed on behalf of the University of Denver by the appropriate authorized signatory, indicating that the proposal constitutes an official offer by the University to conduct the proposed project. When necessary, ORSP will prepare a more formal transmittal letter to accompany the proposal. In addition, if PIs wish to accompany a proposal with a personal cover letter, they are encouraged to do so.

Mailing the proposal
If the proposal arrives at ORSP by the deadline, ORSP will package, provide postage, and mail the proposal. ORSP cannot, of course, guarantee delivery to the sponsor. When PIs intend either to mail or deliver proposals themselves, ORSP should be informed at the time the proposals reach the ORSP office.

After the proposal has been submitted

Lead times for sponsors
Expect the review period to be six to twelve months.

Review time for private foundations, business, and industry may be somewhat shorter-three to six months.

If there has been no communication from the sponsor for a longer-than-expected period (normally if a proposal has not passed preliminary review there will be a notification), contact the appropriate ORSP project administrator to see if the sponsor should be contacted.

Sponsors commonly request programmatic or budgetary revisions during their review and approval process. Any revision must be submitted through ORSP.

If a proposal is rejected and notification is sent to ORSP, the PI will be notified immediately. If it is sent directly to the PI or department or if the PI withdraws the application, notify ORSP immediately so that University records may be kept current.

Proposal checklist

  • Pages are in correct order.
  • Document has been spell-checked.
  • Deadline verified.
  • All sections meet format restrictions.
  • Correct mailing address (no p.o. boxes).
  • Approved or pending vertebrate animals approval.
  • Correct start and end dates.
  • Complete budget in accordance with sponsor policies and the University's policies:
    • The numbers tally
    • The budget amounts in the narrative correspond to the numbers listed on the budget page
    • Salary does not exceed sponsor limits.
    • Salaries are proportional to the effort proposed on the project.
    • Administrative and clerical salaries follow sponsor policies.
    • Fringe benefit rates are correct.
    • If animals are used, species are identified.
    • Travel information includes duration, destination, meal cost rates, estimated airplane and hotel rates.
    • Postage costs are for specific needs only, e.g., mass mailings or express delivery services.
    • Consultant costs are within sponsor limits and contain fee/expense detail.
    • F&A (Indirect) cost rates are correct.
    • All other support for the project is listed, including University funds.
    • Any program income is considered, including symposia proceeds, equipment sales, and publication sales.
  • Necessary subcontract information.
  • All necessary signatures and approvals have been obtained.
  • Sponsor street address, due date (specify receipt date or postmark date), and required number of copies are included.
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