Guide to Research Funding
This booklet has been prepared by the staff of the Office of Grant and Contract Services (GCS) at The University of Texas at Arlington. It is a guide for preparing and submitting proposals and provides a reference for how to handle problems encountered in the administration of awards. The material is relevant to any kind of project and funding agency.
A sponsored project is defined by any or all of the following criteria: the proposed project binds the University to a specific scope of work as evidenced by required progress, technical or final reports, or other deliverables; the project has a specified performance period or completion date; and/or a report of expenditures or billing is required. OGCS aids University faculty and staff throughout the campus in the development of proposals for sponsored projects in all areas such as research, education, training, curriculum development, equipment acquisition, public service and, occasionally, institutional and departmental activities.
There are two basic types of proposals and four categories of awards encountered by principal investigators (PI) in search of sponsored funding for projects.
- Pre-Proposals and Letters of Intent: These are requested by the sponsor to be submitted by a deadline date. They follow a relatively loose format, but usually include the project summary and estimated budget. A full proposal or additional information is typically requested by the sponsor.
- Solicited Proposals: Solicitations, or requests for proposals (RFP), are issued by agencies or private funding sources who make requests for a specific research project. An RFP is generally subject to open bidding by any qualified researcher, and the budget is already specified by the solicitor. Deadlines are indicated in the announcement and must be followed.
- Unsolicited Proposals: Unsolicited proposals are submitted to an agency that generally funds research of the type being proposed. Most large agencies have deadlines for submittal of unsolicited proposals every year, and funding decisions are made once all proposals received in that time period have been reviewed.
Gifts: Unrestricted funds provided to the University usually by foundations without any terms, conditions, or other obligations may be made in the form of a gift or donation. The Office of Development and OGCS work together to determine whether the external support constitutes an unrestricted gift or a sponsored project.
Grants: These are fiscal instruments that provide the researcher with significant flexibility to determine spending categories and research direction. Grants are usually made in support of basic research.
Contracts: In a contract, one party is buying a service or product from the other party. Contracts assume the production and delivery of a product, which can be an instrument, device, or technical report. Consequently, contract requirements are more specific and less flexible than grants and agency personnel tend to maintain more rigid control of the project. All contracts are negotiated by OGCS.
Cooperative Agreements: A cooperative agreement is an arrangement that involves the sponsor in the project. Cooperative agreements generally stipulate the responsibilities of both parties. The difference between a grant and cooperative agreement is usually the substantial level of involvement of the sponsoring agency in the cooperative agreement.
FUNCTION OF OGCS
There are two stages to a sponsored project: pre-award and post-award. OGCS is organized to correspond to these stages:
Pre-award: In this stage OGCS works closely with the faculty and staff to help them identify funding opportunities and develop proposals. OGCS reviews final proposals prior to submission to make certain they conform to the current regulations of the University, the State, and the potential sponsor before they are signed by an authorized representative of the University.
Post-award: Upon receipt of an award from a funding agency, OGCS initiates the internal paperwork to establish a University account. OGCS works with the principal investigators, the University administrative offices, and the sponsor to ensure that the project is carried out in compliance with the conditions of the award, and monitors the project until it is completed and the final technical and fiscal reports are submitted.
Grant and Contract Accounting: This unit is responsible for monitoring the expenditures and for the transfer/receipt of funds from the sponsor to the University as well as financial reporting. The Office of Grant Accounting within the Office of Accounting & Business Services handles this function.
OGCS staff take an active role in proposal preparation and sponsored program administration. We work with the faculty and staff to help them with this complex process. We hope this brief guide will be a useful tool and we welcome the opportunity to provide additional assistance.
This guide is designed to assist the applicant in all phases of the project, from the generation of an idea through the actual award of funds and administration of the grant or contract.
The proposal process begins with an idea for a project or activity for which external funds are either required or desired. For those new to sponsored research, a review of current projects funded by a sponsor may offer some insight into the types of projects a sponsor will support in the future.
After the initial generation of an idea, it is important for the applicant to discuss the goals, objectives and general ramifications of the project with colleagues as well as the department chair to insure institutional cooperation and coordination. A concept paper or written presentation may facilitate the development of the idea and aid in discussions with the department chair and dean concerning support and potential funding sources for the project.
A concept paper will usually contain the following:
- A statement of the problem;
- A statement of the objectives of the proposed project;
- A description of the methodology to be used (including the roles of the project staff);
- A summary statement highlighting the benefits of the proposed project and qualifications of the applicant, the department and the university; and
- An outline of estimated costs.
As an applicant develops the idea into a potential project, he or she should keep in mind the characteristics of successful proposals:
The project is innovative and unique;
The project is relevant to a specific problem or issue;
The applicant has demonstrated competence and shows enthusiasm for the project;
The project is feasible and can be completed within the proposed timeframe;
The applicant is knowledgeable about the field of interest; and
The proposal is well-organized and the language is simple and straight-forward.
Funding Search Engines
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Federal Search Engines
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Foundations Search Engines
Private Search Engines
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UTA Funding Opportunities:
Selection of a suitable funding source is one of the most important factors in a successful proposal. Basic information about sponsors and programs can usually be obtained from on-line searches and the sponsor’s Web site. In selecting the proper funding source, one should keep in mind the following:
Areas of Interest or Objectives: The sponsor usually describes the type of research they intend to support and/or have supported in the past, or the problem they wish to address by funding specific projects. The applicant should determine if his or her idea is consistent with the basic philosophy and goals of the sponsor.
Review Criteria and Funding Priorities: The sponsor will often indicate a preference for certain types of applicants and/or projects as well as the criteria by which proposals will be evaluated. The applicant should decide if he or she and/or project idea would be considered a priority by the sponsor.
Funding Limit and Duration: The sponsor will indicate the dollar limit and number of years they intend to fund the project. They may also restrict whether project renewals will be funded. The applicant should practically and realistically evaluate whether the project could be completed within the specified period of time and for the amount of money the sponsor has indicated. This may require that the applicant prepare a timetable and preliminary budget.
Applicant Restrictions: Some sponsors, especially federal agencies, restrict applicants to U.S. residents or citizens. Programs will usually indicate whether the institution must be a non-profit organization, a state agency or a college or university. There are also special programs directed toward funding minorities or women or individuals with special needs. The applicant must meet the restrictions dictated by the sponsor.
Budgetary Requirements and Restrictions: In addition to the total dollar limit for the project, the sponsor will usually indicate if there are restrictions in specific budget categories (such as salaries, travel and equipment) as well as the level of facilities and administrative (F&A or indirect) costs they will cover. Some sponsors also require cost share or matching funds and may indicate the kind or source of funds that would be acceptable. Cost share or matching funds are provided by the University and/or outside agencies and cover a portion of the total cost of the project. If an applicant is considering a program that includes mandatory cost share, he or she must first determine if the funds are available. This frequently requires coordination with the pre-award section of OGCS and approval from the Director or Vice President for Research.
Deadlines: Most sponsors will indicate a deadline date by which proposals must be received. In some cases the sponsor will request a letter of intent or a pre-proposal by a certain date. In any case, the applicant must determine if the information the sponsor has requested can be prepared and reviewed in time to meet the deadline.
An applicant who sends a proposal to a sponsor without first consulting the agency staff is often at a competitive disadvantage when the application is reviewed. Important information can be obtained regarding the suitability of the applicant’s project for a specific program as well as format and presentation of the proposal. The applicant can also obtain information as to the level of funds available for new projects, as opposed to continuation of existing projects. However, the applicant should keep in mind that submission of the formal proposal as well as any negotiations related to contract terms and conditions must be handled by GCS.
Occasionally an individual may be interested in contacting a private foundation regarding funding opportunities for which there is not a specific program or call for proposals. The UTA Development Office should be informed in advance of plans to submit an unsolicited proposal to a foundation. Since many foundations also have restrictions on the number of proposals they will consider from a University during a given period of time, GCS must be notified in advance of any intensions to submit proposals to a foundation as well.
There are several methods of making preliminary contact with the potential sponsoring agency:
This is the preferred method of initial contact. Program announcements from most large sponsors will usually include an e-mail and/or web address of the appropriate point of contact.
This method can be used to determine the compatibility of the proposed project with the program and priorities of the sponsor. Most program announcements include a telephone number and contact name.
Any visit should be preceded by either a telephone call and/or written communication to the appropriate program official. Adequate preparation should be made by the potential applicant to ensure that the personal visit will result in a productive and informative communication with the funding agency.
Some sponsors indicate in their program announcement that preliminary written communication either will not be considered or actually is required. This can take several forms that will be specified by the sponsor. The most frequently requested forms of initial written contact requested by the sponsor are preliminary proposals (or pre-proposals), letters of intent and abstracts.
The grant application process may be intimidating or even overwhelming for someone who has not had much experience in this area. There are many Web sites and publications available that provide useful information and guidance. Some of the Web sites are available through the GCS website and books on the topic are available for loan.
Most sponsors require the same basic information although the format and forms will vary. Most sponsors require online submissions as well. The information required is available in the sponsor’s guidelines. Although the format varies greatly from one sponsor to the next, the general information usually includes the following elements:
SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING COVER PAGE
The cover page is usually a form provided by the sponsor. It identifies the proposal and can require signatures by both the applicant and an official at the University who is authorized to sign for the institution. Whether an application form is provided or not, typically the same information is required:
- Project title
- Name and contact information of Prinicipal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD)
- Submission date
- Project/funding period
- Total funds requested
- OGCS contact information
- Name, title and contact information of individual authorized to sign for the University (NOTE: this is NOT the PI, PD, PI's chair or PI's Dean.)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This section is optional depending on the length and complexity of the proposal and the requirements of the sponsor. It provides an outline and assists a reviewer in finding his or her way through the proposal.
The abstract is usually a one page or less summary containing the essential information in the proposal. It should be clear and concise and emphasize:
- the timeliness, significance and need for the project
- the specific objectives
- the general procedures and methods proposed
- the anticipated impact and expected benefits
A well-written abstract is very important because some funding decision‑makers may only read this section and the reviewers’ comments. The applicant should also be aware that some sponsors request that the abstract be written in lay language and not use any jargon or scientific terminology.
This is sometimes referred to as the narrative section. It is the main body of the proposal and the section on which the decision is based. It is sometimes referred to as the narrative section. The applicant must use this section to present his or her argument as to why the project should be funded. The basic idea is expressed, the philosophy or underlying premise is explained, the methods are described, and the ultimate purpose of the data is stated and defended. In this section it is important for the applicant to demonstrate his or her enthusiasm for the project and knowledge of the field, and yet make it understandable to the least knowledgeable of anticipated reviewers. The project description contains these basic components:
Introduction This should be a brief summary of the problem (or need), proposed method of solution, and anticipated outcomes. It may contain information showing that the applicant is well acquainted with previous and current studies and literature in the field, and that the proposed project will advance or add to the present store of knowledge.
Problem Statement This is a statement of need and the significance of the project. It defines the project rationale including the overall purpose, need and justification for the project. It also explains the significance of the proposed idea as it relates to the sponsor’s area of interest.
Goals and Objectives These should be presented in a way that will logically justify the expenditure of funds for the project. Goals are generally statements that indicate the overall direction of the project and desired outcome. Objectives are specific statements of the expected accomplishments of the proposed. They usually include a description of the outcome in measurable terms and the criteria for measuring the acceptability of the outcome.
Procedures and Methods This is a detailed description of the approach to be used in the proposed activity and may include step-by-step techniques and time estimates. Figures and tables are also frequently useful in clarifying the project. Proposals with a poorly defined and designed methodology are destined to fail. In general the procedures and methods section will answer the following:
- What is going to be accomplished?
- How is it going to be accomplished?
- What specific protocols or procedures will be followed?
- Why were these methods selected?
Evaluation This section presents the overall evaluation process. Project evaluation will demonstrate the following:
- progress to determine whether the project is being implemented as planned
- actual outcomes to determine the extent to which the objectives are achieved
- feedback necessary to assess whether modifications to the project are necessary
Dissemination Many sponsors, including federal agencies and private foundations, require a dissemination plan to be included in a proposal. This section emphasizes any reasonably anticipated outcomes or activities and the how they will be made available to a broad audience. Dissemination is designed to stimulate ideas, suggestions and constructive criticism from individuals or groups with similar interests.
References This section should be included only if literature has been cited in the proposal narrative. The number of references should be kept to a minimum.
The total amount requested in the budget is determined by the needs of the project and the limitations set by the sponsor. It should reflect the activities and associated actual or estimated costs of achieving the objectives stated in the proposal. In a very real sense, the budget is the culmination of the planning process undertaken in the preparation of the proposal. The budget format should follow the instructions of the sponsor and frequently is required on the sponsor’s form. For multi-year projects the budgets are usually broken down for each year, with a separate cumulative total. Since this is often the most confusing part of proposal preparation, applicants are urged to contact OGCS for assistance early in the process. The budget may include: direct costs; F&A costs; cost sharing/matching; and budget justification.
Direct Costs These fall into several categories and are costs that are incurred as a direct result of activities specified in the proposal.
Salaries/Wages: The applicant may request salaries for any personnel who will be working full- or part-time on the project. The amount of time an individual will spend on the project is expressed as a commitment of months and/or percentage of effort. The sponsor will usually indicate if there are any restrictions associated with the level of support that can be requested (such as a dollar amount or the number of summer months). Overtime compensation or salary supplementation is usually unallowable.
Fringe Benefits: Different fringe benefit rates apply to the different types of employment at the University. The rates are subject to change at the beginning of each fiscal year and cover costs such as health insurance, worker’s compensation and retirement contributions. Fringe benefits are direct costs related to the amount of salary that is requested. These are not to be confused with F&A costs (see below). The applicant should check the OGCS Web site for the current rate or contact his or her departmental administrative assistant or OGCS pre-award specialist for assistance.
Expendable Supplies: This category may also be referred to as consumables, materials, or M&O (materials and operations). It consists of items purchased for office, laboratory and/or instructional purposes that are directly related to the project activities. Applicants should be aware of the difference between “supplies” and “equipment” (see the Equipment section below for a definition). Items that do not meet the definition of Equipment must be purchased as supplies, regardless of how they will be used in the execution of the project.
Equipment: The University's definition of equipment is any stand-alone item that costs $5,000 or more and has a life expectancy of one year or more. Each equipment item the applicant intends to purchase, should the proposal be approved, must be listed in this section. Sponsors are reluctant to approve the purchase of equipment unless it is clearly indicated as essential to the performance of a specific task or activities set forth in the proposal. Sponsors may also restrict or prohibit equipment purchases. Under most circumstances, equipment cannot be purchased from a grant or contract unless the specific item was listed in the proposal budget.
Travel: The applicant may request funds for domestic and foreign travel if allowed by the sponsor. The type and extent of travel should be clearly related to specific objectives of the project, and details should be presented in the Budget Justification.
Publication Costs: Included in this category are the costs of preparing and publishing the results of the activities conducted under the sponsored project, including reports, reprints, page charges, necessary illustrations (art work, graphics, photography), etc.
Subcontracts: This category contains any contractual arrangements to be entered into by the University with another university or a company should the award be made. Evidence must be provided that the other entity is aware of the proposed subcontract. This is usually in the form of a letter of intent to subcontract, that includes a statement or scope of work budget and budget justification. The sponsor will indicate in their guidelines whether subcontracts are allowed and, if so, any additional documentation that is required to be included in the proposal.
Consultants: If the applicant plans to use a specific person as a consultant, that person should be named in the proposal. Consultant services should be justified and information should be furnished on the consultant's expertise, primary organizational affiliation, compensation rate, and number of days or percent of time expected to serve. Consultants are non-UTA employees.
Other Direct Costs: These may include payments to human subjects, STEM Tuition fees, service charges, and repair and maintenance contracts on major equipment. These items must be listed in the budget or budget justification.
F&A Costs F&A, or indirect costs (IDC),are probably the most difficult part of a proposal for applicants to understand. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact OGCS for assistance in preparing the budget, especially in calculating the indirect costs.
- Definition: F&A (Facilities and Administrative) costs (also referred to as indirect costs or overhead) are costs that are common to a number of activities and cannot be easily assigned to a specific project. They are real costs and include areas such as: administration (University and departmental); facilities maintenance and operation (utilities, janitorial services and repairs); and depreciation and use allowance. The rates that apply for the University are negotiated with the federal government, and are renegotiated approximately every 4 years. The OGCS Web site contains information on the current rates and a copy of the rate agreement.
- Calculation: The F&A costs for a project are calculated by applying a specific rate to a portion of the direct costs. If the full F&A rate is allowed by the sponsor, the University rate is applied to the modified total direct cost (MTDC). The MTDC is equal to the total direct costs minus equipment, tuition/stipends, and any subcontract amounts over $25,000. If the sponsor restricts the F&A cost rate, the sponsor rate is applied according to sponsor's published F&A policy. OGCS requires that sponsor guidelines indicating restricted or prohibited F&A cost rates be included with the proposal.
Cost-Sharing Some sponsors require that the grantee institution commit to share in the overall cost of the project. Any cost-share commitment must be approved by the applicant’s chair, dean and the OGCS Director or Vice President for Research. In addition, UTA account numbers must be provided and approved as indicated on the Cost-share Authorization Form. While the University will generally support mandatory cost-share if it is deemed overall to be beneficial to the University, voluntary cost-share is discouraged. The OGCS Web site contains the most current Cost Sharing Policy. Cost-share can be provided in a number of ways. Sponsors sometimes provide guidelines regarding aceeptable forms of cost-share.
- Contributed Effort: If salary has not been requested for an individual who will be working on the project, the amount of salary the University pays for that individual to spend that amount of effort on the project is considered contributed effort. This should include the appropriate fringes in addition to the salary. (Account number required.)
- In-Kind: This is support by the University or an outside entity in the form of facilities, supplies, and/or time. A dollar value is assigned to this contribution but an actual dollar amount is not donated.
- Matching Funds: These are actual funds that are set aside for the project and may be provided by the University and/or an external entity. (Account number required.)
- Unrecovered F&A Costs: This category can be used as cost-share if allowed by the sponsor. It is the difference between what the University would recover if the full indirect cost were allowed by the sponsor and what the sponsor actually allows. It consists of the indirect costs on the total modified direct cost of the project (i.e. the direct costs requested from the sponsor plus all the cost-share amounts less excluded amounts—see “F&A Cost Calculation”) less the F&A costs allowed by the sponsor.
Budget Justification This is the section in which all costs, especially any unusual costs, associated with the proposal must be presented and explained. Some sponsors will ask that specific categories or requests be detailed in the budget justification. The narrative should be straight-forward and show clearly how the budget item relates to the work described in the project.
The sponsor will often indicate the specific information they require about the applicant and other individuals listed on the proposal. The biographical sketch may include the standard background information (such as employment and education) but may also contain information about the applicant’s experiences in mentoring graduate students. The number of relevant publications listed in this section may also be restricted by the sponsor. It is important that the applicant follow the guidelines for this section carefully.
CURRENT AND PENDING SUPPORT
The sponsor may request information on any existing awards or pending proposals on which any of the key personnel in the proposal have been listed. It is important for the applicant to realize the sponsor will look closely at the amount of time each person has committed to the current proposal relative to the amount of time that has already been committed for other projects.
The applicant should present in this section information regarding the environment, equipment and support services available for performance of the project. The applicant cannot commit to construction or renovation of specialized facilities or areas unless he or she has gone through the proper channels within the University to obtain official approval.
Some projects involve work that requires review and approval by designated committees. These approvals are necessary to comply with University and sponsor policies and may be required before the proposal is submitted or reviewed by the sponsor. The OGCS Web site contains more detailed information about the policies and procedures for approvals as well as application forms. Any project that involves the following requires special approval.
All research that involves human subjects must be approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). IRB approval is required for any project that involves human subjects, regardless of whether or not external funds have been requested for the project.
All research that involves vertebrate animals must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). As with human subjects, any project that involves vertebrate animals, regardless of whether or not external funds have been requested for the project, required IACUC approval.
Research that involves potentially hazardous materials, such as toxic chemicals, infectious organisms, and recombinant DNA, must be reviewed and approved by the University’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Any questions regarding the classification of hazardous materials and the procedures for obtaining approval should be directed to that office.
The use of radioactive materials in any project must be approved by the University’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety. This approval is separate from any approvals for the use of other hazardous materials.
Intellectual property is any invention, discovery, technology, creation, development, or other form of expression of an idea that arises from the activities of the researcher, whether or not the subject matter is protectable under the patent, trademark or copyright laws. The University of Texas System has an Intellectual Property Policy handbook that is available at Office of Technology Management. Under this policy, when intellectual property results from work performed on University time, using University facilities, or with any University support, any invention or discovery that the creator believes may be patentable must be submitted for consideration through the UTA Intellectual Property Committee. If the System does not desire to exploit its interest in the intellectual property, whether by seeking patent protection or otherwise, the creator is notified, and is thereafter free to deal with the intellectual property as he/she chooses. Additional information on this issue is available on the OTM website.
The applicant should contact the GCS pre-award specialist well in advance of the proposal submission deadline. It is the responsibility of GCS to review the proposal budget for accuracy and the overall proposal format for compliance with agency guidelines. GCS also requires the “Blue Routing Sheet” to accompany any proposals. This is an internal document that serves several purposes: it summarizes the key information in the proposal that would be required for submission and administration of the award; it certifies that the applicant meets certain criteria as a Principal Investigator and will take responsibility for compliance with the award terms and conditions; it alerts the applicant’s chair and dean to the proposal; and it shows approval by the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Additional forms or documents may be required depending on the nature of the proposal. If cost-share has been proposed, the PI must prepare and complete a cost-share authorization form and submit it with the proposal. Some sponsors, especially government agencies, require “certifications and representations” that provide assurance that the University is compliant with certain regulations. GCS provides this information in the format required by the sponsor.
OGCS BLUE ROUTING SHEET
This routing tool is completed online.
- Proposal Status Indicate whether this is a new proposal or is for a continuation, renewal or supplement. If it is for any of the latter three, indicate the existing account number as applicable.
- Sponsor Information Enter the information that is requested.
- Abstract Enter a brief (2-3 sentence) description of the project.
- Principal Investigator The applicant must conform to the University policy regarding qualifications to be a PI or co-PI (see the OGCS Web site for Policies and Procedures). The requested information should be completed for the PI and all co-PI’s.
- Safety and Protection Additional information as to how this section should be completed can be found in Section VI. Organizing and Writing the Proposal in this Guide.
- Facilities and Administrative Cost Indicate whether the standard rate is allowed by the sponsor or, if not, the basis for a different rate. If the sponsor’s guidelines dictate either a lower rate or no indirect costs, a copy of the sponsor’s statement must be included with the Blue Sheet.
- Budget Information This section shows the total project period as well as the total dollar amount the applicant is requesting from the sponsor. Any cost share that is part of the proposal is to be entered on the Cost Share Authorization Form and not on the Blue Sheet (see below).
- Special Considerations This section pertains to unusual circumstances that may be associated with the proposal. These include potential conflict of interest, cost share commitments, University approval required for specific aspects of the project, sponsor restrictions, and subcontract agreements. The applicant must read and understand this section thoroughly before answering.
- Investigator’s Statement and
- Approvals The applicant must submit and/or approve as the PI and is responsible for obtaining the approvals of the co-PI(s). OGCS will route the Blue Sheet and proposal to the Director after the documents have been reviewed for completeness and accuracy.
COST SHARE AUTHORIZATION FORM
Voluntary cost-share is discouraged by the Administration. However, it is recognized that certain programs require a level of cost-share as an indication of the University’s commitment to the project. These programs are usually of a nature that will benefit the University beyond the actual project period. Since cost-share requirements and calculations are often complex and confusing, and approval from the Director of OGCS is required, the PI is strongly advised to consult OGCS early in the proposal preparation process. The PI is responsible for completing the Cost-Share Authorization Form and obtaining the account numbers and signatures required.
As an entity that receives federal funds, the University must often certify that it conducts its activities in a manner that complies with federal laws and regulations. These assurances, referred to as certifications and representations in grants and contracts, constitute "promises" on the part of the University that it understands the sum and substance of the regulations, and that it will do its best to comply with such regulations. The PI is not authorized to sign these documents on behalf of the University. It is the responsibility of OGCS to provide this information.
The PI and/or OGCS will be notified by the sponsor regarding the award status of the proposal.
Once OGCS receives notification that the project has been approved and will be funded, it reviews the notice for any additional conditions or revisions the sponsor may have indicated. The most common request is that the awardee revise the budget for final sponsor approval. This request is usually based on the limitation of funds the sponsor has available or restrictions that are levied by the sponsor. In this case the sponsor may indicate specific categories and dollar limits in the budget that require revisions. OGCS will work with the investigator to prepare the revised budget and any other revisions that may be requested, obtain approvals, and submit the revisions to the sponsor. If the award is in the form of a contract, OGCS may have to enter negotiations with the sponsor before the contract can be executed and the award finalized.
The proposal file is forwarded to the OGCS post-award specialist once final approval has been obtained. Post Award will then establish an account and notify the principal investigator (see section).
It is discouraging for the applicant to receive a notice of declination, but this does not necessarily mean that the project was ill-conceived or poorly presented. Sponsors receive far more proposals than they are capable of funding, and a declination may be based simply on the fact that there is not enough money to support the project. The applicant should, however, read the critique of the reviewer(s) and sponsor instructions carefully and objectively to determine the following:
- Was the project consistent with the stated objectives of the sponsor’s program?
- Were specific questions answered with respect to the sponsor’s review criteria?
- Was the proposal formatted according to the sponsor’s guidelines?
- Would this project have been better-received if it had been submitted to a different sponsor and/or program?
- Has the sponsor indicated that a revised proposal that answers specific questions would probably be reviewed more favorably?
If the reason for declination is still not clear, the applicant may obtain helpful information by contacting the program director. If there is an indication that the project idea would be of interest to the sponsor, but the proposal itself was poorly written or organized, the applicant may benefit from a course or program in grant-writing and grantsmanship. Information is available on the OGCS Web site and in the OGCS office.
If the applicant has submitted a proposal for the same work repeatedly to the same sponsor without success, he or she should either investigate alternative funding opportunities for the project, or make substantial changes in the fundamental project prior to resubmission.
The applicant should not be discouraged by declinations. A declination is merely an indication that the project and the sponsor’s program did not “match up”. OGCS can help the applicant identify the most appropriate course of action to take.