800.00 Proposal Review, Processing, and Approval

All MSU proposals submitted to external funding agencies must be transmitted by OSP. Regardless of sponsor requirements, proposals must be reviewed and have University approval per Section 470.00. OSP has developed the Electronic Proposal Clearance Form (ePCF) 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 needed by the MSU reviewer in order to grant approval to proceed. The PI must review and approve the ePCF and the form is then routed via email to those responsible for certifying the proposal as sound and in compliance with MSU and agency guidelines. This may include the PI’s department head, dean, departmental accountants or other administrative contacts, the Human Subjects/Institutional Review Board Chair, and the Vice President for Research. The proposal will not be authorized or transmitted to the sponsor until the completed ePCF and 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.

810.00 Electronic Proposal Clearance Form (ePCF) and Approvals

PIs are cautioned that the ePCF and all attachments must be submitted to OSP for review no later than 72 hours prior to the submission deadline. In order to ensure that proposals are submitted in a timely, complete and accurate manner, all proposals and required documents will be submitted to the sponsor/agency no later than 72 hours (3 business days) prior to the posted deadline. OSP personnel will typically have the ability to recall submitted materials should you decide that changes need to be made after the initial submission, however it is the PI’s responsibility to plan ahead and determine the appropriate amount of time required in order to adhere to this policy. It is recommended that you submit your proposal materials to the OSP with sufficient lead time to allow for processing and review your proposal.

Proposals received less than 72 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 In certain instances, a proposal may be submitted to the sponsor but later withdrawn or declined if issues arise due to the lack of time to properly review proposal materials.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 at least 72 hours prior to the deadline. Please see the “Proposal Timeline and Responsibility Chart,” Appendix C to review OSP’s standard approved proposal submission timeline.

820.00 Materials Required for Review (ePCF)

An end-stage draft of the abstract or proposal summary, budget and budget justification, and any other requested documents must be attached to the ePCF for the review and approval process. Limited submission opportunities list any required documents for the internal review and approval process and must also be attached.

830.00 Required Review and Signatures

Proposals may not be submitted to external sponsors without prior approval of the University. The signature, electronic or written, of the institutional authorized official (in most cases the Assistant Vice President for Research) is required. In many cases, this authorization certifies compliance with Federal regulations and pre-acceptance of terms and conditions of the award. OSP will not sign a proposal until the review process that occurs via ePCF is complete. This process can take up to a week and PI’s are encouraged to submit proposals well in advance of sponsor deadlines to allow for review and internal processing. It is recommended that proposals are submitted one to two weeks before the deadline, and under no circumstances may they be submitted less than 48 hours before the submission deadline.

840.00 Proposal Review and Approval Responsibilities

The Proposal Timeline and Responsibility Chart, Appendix C, provides a detailed timeline by which particular proposal tasks need to be completed to ensure sufficient time for internal review and processing.
PI Proposal Review and Approval Responsibilities consist of the following:

  • Read RFA carefully and discuss project with research team;
  • Contact program officer to determine if project is a fit (provide summary and CV beforehand);
  • Notify (choose applicable) Departmental Accountant, Pre-Award/Proposal Services, and Fiscal Manager of impending submission;
  • Provide link of RFA to the above personnel with list of personnel on the project and their role;
  • Contact any needed personnel such as consultants, subcontractors, evaluators, etc. to collect required documents;
  • Draft project narrative and provide to team and personnel assisting with submissions;
  • Access any document templates provided by Pre-Award/Proposal Services or the Fiscal Manager and begin adding content;
  • Send any prepared documents to Pre-Award/Proposal Services for review, edit, and upload to online submission systems. If it is within the 72-hour period, all documents must be submitted to the Fiscal Manager for review and upload via the ePCF;
  • Review and make any final edits to documents prepared by Pre-Award/Proposal services if within the appropriate timeframe;
  • Provide final package for review and submission to the Fiscal Manager via ePCF via “Transfer Agency Files” at least 72 hours before the deadline;
  • The final responsibility rests upon the PI to ensure scientific/technical accuracy of the contents of the proposal and compliance with all University and sponsor requirements;

Departmental Business Manager/Accountant Review and Approval Responsibilities consist of the following:

  • Ensure appropriateness of the project proposed by the PI given the resources of the department and its objectives;
  • Provide PI with any needed information for budgetary documents such as current rates for salary, fringe benefits, etc.;
  • In coordination with Pre-Award/Proposal Services, assist PI with any forms such as Federal SF-424 documents, cover sheets, etc.); 

Department Head and Dean Review and Approval Responsibilities consist of the following:

  • Ensure appropriateness of the project proposed by the PI given the resources of the department and its objectives;
  • Ensure commitment to the PI by allowing sufficient time and effort to conduct the project;
  • Ensure sufficient space and resources for the proposed work;
  • Meet cost sharing commitments in accordance with the Cost Sharing Policy, contained in Appendix B.
  • The Department Head and Dean’s approval of the ePCF certifies review and approval of the proposal;

OSP Pre-Award/Proposal Services Review and Approval Responsibilities consist of the following (if Pre-Award/Proposal Services are requested and there is sufficient time):

  • Establish secure working folders and share with the team, staff and research alike;
  • Provide PI with a checklist of required documents, the current guides and documents required for sub-awardees/collaborators;
  • Provide PI with current templates and examples (if available) and download current forms;
  • Advise PI to seek review from a senior colleague or expert for technical content;
  • Suggest additional staff needed for project and provide contact info (evaluators, experts, etc.);
  • Review budget against project to check for fit and appearance;
  • Review, edit, and make suggestions to all prepared documents and save under a new file name;
  • In consultation with Departmental Accountants (if needed), fill out any forms such as any forms such as Federal SF-424 documents, cover sheets, etc.);
  • Collect any institutional documents and/or signatures needed and ensure all subaward forms have been received, reviewed, and uploaded to package;
  • Work with PI to ensure Post Award/Fiscal Managers have all documents required for submission at least 72 hours before the agency deadline;

OSP Post-Award Review and Approval consist of the following:

  • Review proposals for compliance with University and sponsor requirements;
  • Assist PI’s with development and review of budgetary documents;
  • Notify PI’s and/or departments of potential problems with the funding source such as unusual reporting requirements or problematic intellectual property policies;
  • Ensure that documentation provided related to any required assurances such as human subjects, vertebrate animals, lobbying, or other requirement is accurate and complete;
  • Work with PI to obtain approval on modifications to indirect costs (F&A’s) or any restrictions on publications;
  • Verify cost sharing commitments and/or matching funds;
  • Review ePCF for appropriate signatures as well as PI compliance with the stipulations of the RFA;

850.00 Proposal Submission

Most sponsors require electronic submission of proposals through established submission portals such as Grants.gov, NSF Fastlane, or NIH ASSIST. In some cases, proposals are submitted in hard copy format via US Mail or FedEx. In both cases, PI’s are to ensure that the proposal is reviewed and approved via ePCF before submission. Grants.gov has replaced most if not all paper application submissions with an electronic submission process. Most agencies require submission through Grants.gov unless they have their own submission interface. MSU is already registered as an institution through Grants.gov and no additional registration is necessary. If the agency requires submission through Grants.gov, contact your OSP fiscal manager at least two weeks before the due date and they will submit your grant application on your behalf. PI’s may not submit direct to Grants.gov as signature of an Authorized Organizational Representative (OAR) is required. PI’s may work with Pre-Award/Proposal Services to have their proposals sent via US Mail or FedEx.

860.00 Pre-Award Audits and “Just-in-Time” Requests

Sponsors may require additional supporting documentation prior to review or award of a proposal. PI’s should maintain a file for all supporting materials used in the development of a project budget that may include copies of price quotes or documentation for equipment, travel costs, animal costs, or other costs. Preserving these documents and maintaining their accessibility may prevent delays in processing and reductions in funding in some cases. Sponsors may wish to support a project but at a reduced level of funding. If requested, a revised budget should be submitted to OSP for review before submitting to the sponsor. Reductions in proposed budgets should be evaluated to determine whether there is a significant change in the PI’s level of effort or scope of work. OSP is responsible for negotiations of any changes to the proposal at this stage and when notified of such negotiations, the PI must refer the sponsor to OSP, specifically, to the Fiscal Manager.

870.00 Sponsor 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 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 as these events usually involve coordinating with multiple offices on campus such as the President’s Office, Vice President for Research, and/or the Provost’s Office. OSP can assist in coordinating these visits and will be available to meet with members of the site visit team. In order to save on travel budgets, some sponsors hold site visits wherein the PI and other key personnel are invited to meet agency representatives at the sponsor’s headquarters. These visits also need to be coordinated through OSP or the Office of Research and Economic Development.