500.00 Proposal Review, Processing and Approval

All MSU proposals submitted to external funding agencies must be transmitted by OSP. Regardless of any sponsor requirements, proposals must be reviewed and have University approval Section 400.00 prior to being submitted to the sponsor. See also Faculty Handbook Section 1132.08.

510.00 Proposal Clearance Form and Approvals.   OSP has developed the Electronic Proposal Clearance Form which must be used when submitting proposals to OSP for review and approval. The form summarizes key administrative and fiscal information about the proposal that is helpful to the MSU reviewer. The proposal will not be authorized or transmitted to the sponsor until the completed ePcf and the accompanying documents, such as Grants.gov packages have been received by OSP. The link and instructions for the ePcf are available on the main OSP website page.

The ePcf and all attachments must be submitted to OSP for review no later than 48 hours prior to the submission deadline. PROPOSALS RECEIVED LESS THAN 48 HOURS PRIOR TO THE SUBMISSION DUE DATE WILL BE SUBMITTED ONLY IF THE ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH (OR DESIGNEE) DETERMINES THAT THERE IS ADEQUATE TIME FOR A COMPLETE REVIEW OF THE PROPOSAL MATERIALS. In certain instances a proposal may be submitted to the sponsor but later withdrawn or declined if issues arise due to the lack of time to properly review proposal materials. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PI TO ENSURE THAT THE PROPOSAL IS SUBMITTED TO OSP 48 HOURS PRIOR TO THE DEADLINE.

511.00 Materials Required for Review.  A draft of the abstract or proposal summary, budget justification, other support information, and cover/signature pages, must be submitted with the PCF to OSP. 

512.00 Required Review and Signatures.  No proposal may be submitted to any external sponsor without the prior approval of the University. The signature of the Institution's authorized official (in most cases, the Assistant Vice President for Research) is necessary.  In many cases, this authorization certifies compliance with federal regulations.  In other cases, the authorization represents pre-acceptance of terms and conditions of the award. OSP will not sign a proposal until the review process, which can take several days, is complete. PIs are encouraged to submit proposals well in advance of sponsor deadlines to allow for review and internal processing.  It is recommended that proposals be submitted one to two weeks before the deadline, but in no event may proposals be submitted less than 48 hours before the submission deadline.

520.00 PI Proposal Review and Approval Responsibilities 

PIs are responsible for the following:

  • Ensuring the accuracy of the information provided in the proposal, including the scientific and intellectual direction of the project
  • Maintaining compliance with all University and sponsor requirements for the design and scheduling of the proposed project
  • Obtaining agreement to participate from all proposed collaborators and consultants
  • Completing materials in a timely fashion to allow for review, processing, and transmittal to the sponsor by the deadline

530.00  Departmental Business Manager/Accountant Review and Approval Responsibilities.  Although responsibilities vary by department, business managers or department administrators are typically responsible for the following functions:

  • Assisting in budget preparation by providing accurate estimates for salary and other budget items for PI approval
  • Preparing current and pending support information for PI approval
  • Assisting the PI in coordinating documentation for subcontracts and/or consultants
  • Assisting the PI in preparing required proposal documents

540.00 Department Head/Dean Review and Approval Responsibilities.  The PI’s department head or dean should review the proposal for the following:

  • Appropriateness of the project being proposed by the PI given the resources of the department and its overall objectives
  • Commitment to allow the PI to conduct the project
  • Commitment to provide sufficient space for the proposed work
  • Commitment of time by department investigators to conduct the project
  • Cost sharing commitments in accordance with MSU cost sharing policy

The department head or dean’s signature on the Proposal Clearance Form certifies review and approval of the proposal.


550.00 OSP Review and Approval Responsibilities.  OSP is charged with performing the following functions:

  • Review proposals for compliance with University and sponsor requirements
  • Alert PIs and/or departments to potential problems with the funding source (i.e., onerous reporting requirements, problematic intellectual property policies, etc.)
  • Ensure that information provided related to any required assurances is accurate and complete (i.e., use of human subjects or animals, lobbying, etc.)
  • Obtain approval for any unusual sponsor requirements, such as waiver of indirect costs or restrictions on dissemination of results
  • Verify cost-share commitments and/or matching funds
  • Verify documentation for subcontractors and/or consultants
  • Review proposal routing form for appropriate signatures and PI compliance with relevant special reviews
  • Verify F&A accounting cost return rates
  • Review proposed budgets

560.00 Submitting the Proposal

561.00 Mail or Courier Submission.  The PI should note the number of copies of the proposal required by the sponsor and the deadline for submission of proposals. One complete copy of the proposal must be provided to OSP for the files.  The PI is responsible for ensuring that the correct number of copies of the proposal is delivered to the sponsor.

562.00 Electronic Submission of Proposals.  Many sponsors require or allow electronic submission of proposals and, as with any proposal, contact your OSP Fiscal Manager when preparing an electronic proposal.  Electronic submission must be submitted to OSP for approval in the same manner as all proposals and must be submitted to OSP for review and approval at least 48 hours prior to the submission deadline.  For more information on electronic submissions, contact your OSP Fiscal Manager or the OSP Pre-Award Office. 

563.00 Deadlines.  Sponsor requirements vary widely as to what is considered an "on-time" application.  A receipt deadline is the date by which the sponsor must receive the proposal.  A postmark deadline means that the proposal must be postmarked by the date, not received by the sponsor.  In most cases, a proposal will not be considered if it misses the agency deadline.  Electronic proposal submissions have specific requirements concerning deadlines which should be consulted.  Pay attention to time zone differences.  If you have any questions about the deadline requirements for your application, please contact OSP for assistance.


570.00 Pre-Award Audit/Additional Information

571.00 Additional Supporting Materials.  Sponsors may require additional proof or supporting materials to document a proposed budget prior to award.  PIs should maintain a file of all supporting materials used in the development of a project budget—e.g., copies of price quotes for equipment, documentation of travel costs, documentation of animal care costs, etc.  Easy access to documents supporting your costs can prevent delays in processing and reductions in funding.

A sponsor may wish to support a proposed project, but at a reduced level of funding. If requested, a revised budget should be submitted to OSP for review.  Reductions in proposed budgets should be evaluated to determine whether there is a change in the PI’s level of effort or to the scope of work.  OSP is responsible for negotiations of any changes to the proposal at this stage and when notified of such negotiations, PIs must refer sponsor to OSP.

572.00 Site Visits.  For large proposals, sponsors may wish to visit the University to meet with those who will be responsible for the conduct and administration of the proposed project.  The visits can vary from brief meetings to discuss the specifics of the science to multi-day reviews by a team of outside experts who will evaluate all aspects of the proposed work and the University environment available to support it.

OSP must be notified of any proposed site visit. OSP staff can assist in preparing for these visits and will be available to meet with members of the site visit team.  In order to save on their travel budgets, some sponsors hold “reverse” site visits where the PI and other key personnel are invited to meet agency representatives at the sponsor’s headquarters.

580.00 Protection of Confidential or Sensitive Proposal Information.  When preparing proposals, PIs should be aware that federally funded proposals must be made available as stipulated by governmental regulations for audit and review.  Therefore, PIs should be cautious about including sensitive information, such as personal, scientific, or proprietary information that the PI may not want publicly distributed.

If the federal agency receives a request for access to the proposal under the "Freedom of Information Act" (FOIA), the agency will notify the PI to provide an opportunity to review the application for any information that may be withheld under applicable law. Notices of FOIA requests for information contained in MSU proposals should be reviewed with the Office of Legal Counsel before responding.