As grant administrators we’ve likely heard more excuses than high school teachers when it comes to late grant submissions. Here are a few of the best I’ve heard over the years:
“I accidentally ran over my laptop with my car and it had the only saved copy of my grant.”
“But the agency due date is tomorrow, so my application isn’t late.”
“My dog ate my submission”
Okay, so I haven’t heard the last one…yet. While these excuses may be humorous, in the moment there is nothing funny about late grant submissions. The rushed timeframe for submission is passed from the Principal Investigator onto every person responsible for a part in the process. This shortened time period leads to:
- Rushed budget preparations
- Lack of critique by an internal review committee
- Little to no time to correct warnings and errors on electronic submissions
- Working long hours
- Increased stress levels
When the budget process is completed too quickly, important items can be left out, agency-specific guidelines may not be followed and calculations may not be accurate. The results can be devastating: not enough funds to complete the grant objectives, further delays caused by last-minute budget revisions and compliance problems due to guidelines not being followed.
Submissions through electronic systems add another layer of complexity, due to issues that could occur with computer glitches, system outages, and errors or warnings that may result from validation. When a submission is rushed, there may be little to no time to fix warnings that are issued as a result of potentially incorrect information. While it is not required to fix warnings, these errors may look bad in the eyes of the reviewer. However, the larger issue that results from an error occurring at the last minute is not having enough time to correct it before the submission is due. Any errors in a submission will not allow it to be processed.
In addition, late grant submissions result in lower quality applications than those submitted by the designated internal deadlines. Most institutions or departments have an internal review process for grant submissions, but if proposals are processed late they often miss this important step. Skipping this review can result in lower quality applications that are less likely to receive funding. A late submission that is not funded further aggravates the situation as then individuals involved feel as though the effort contributed to the proposal submission was wasted.
Also, let’s not forget about the increased stress levels triggered by the hurried work and long hours needed to complete late grant submissions. The stress can take a toll on your body leading to an increased risk of many ailments including:
- High Blood Pressure
- Susceptibility to Infection
- Gastrointestinal Problems
- Depression and Anxiety
Our health and our relationships suffer when we are placed under undue stress. Consistently stressed-out employees have higher rates of turnover, which leads to significant business costs for recruiting, retraining and lost work.
What can be done to avoid late grant submissions?
Through the use of Grant Management Software, key dates in the proposal submission process can be tracked to indicate what date a grant application was submitted internally in comparison to the date it was due to the agency. When a funding decision is eventually made, the proposal can then be tracked to determine the length of time between internal submission versus the agency due date in comparison to funding decision. These results can be presented in faculty training to show the unproductive consequences of late grant submissions.
Another result that can be produced using Grant Management Software is a report identifying Principal Investigators that most often submit late grant submissions. These few Principal Investigators can cause an undue strain on a department or school. When there is data to show which Principal Investigators are the ones causing this strain, it can be addressed by their superiors.
Grant Management Software gives grants administrators the tools to identify problems associated with late grant submissions and can assist in the process of reducing the frequency of late submissions over time. Examples of grant management software solutions frequently used in research intensive institutions include the Department Manager, College Administrator, and Research Administrator products provided by IT Works. For more information regarding these products, contact the IT Works team.