For those of us new to the world of grant administration and research proposal submissions, welcome! You have picked an exciting field that requires a commitment to not only keep up with sponsored research requirements governing grants administration, but the responsibility for guiding others through your institutional and sponsored research requirements. One of the many processes you will support is proposal submissions for grant funding; not a small feat when juggling your many other responsibilities and multiple deadlines. Let’s focus on a few of the basic research and grant proposal considerations for working with new faculty, proposals, or other stakeholders.
Make research proposal communication a priority
Communication is key; it is never too early to share the “Who, What, When, Where and How Much?” with those involved in the proposal process, the research, or the administration. Regardless of who finds the funding opportunity, the research administrator or the faculty member, the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), request for proposal (RFP) and funding information must be shared with all the interested stakeholders as soon as possible. At a minimum, the principal investigator, co-investigator and research administrator should have access to this information. Once the sponsor’s requirements, deadlines and guidelines have been reviewed, a timeline can be disseminated to identify and assign the various components required for the research proposal. One way to manage these components is to invest in a research administration software. This software will help you track who will be paid and who will contribute to the research and deliverables, along with compliance issues that should be monitored. In writing the proposal and documenting the process in your software, make sure to identify the: PI, co-I, graduate students, fiscal person, consultants, vendors, subrecipients, and the compliance components. If you are still looking for federal grant opportunities search by keyword on Grants.gov and on CFDA.gov.
Internal and external research proposal deadlines
Now that the key people are aware of the research proposal, it is time to establish the internal and external deadlines that will govern proposal responsibilities. Your institution likely requires an internal deadline well before the sponsor’s hard submission due date. The person coordinating the proposal components will likely have an earlier deadline than the institution. It is important to communicate the earliest internal due date to all of the stakeholders to avoid miscommunication or a delayed proposal submission.
Large or small, budgets matter
Devote some time to developing the budget, because making a mistake here can be costly. Most institutions have a federally negotiated rate agreement (FNRA) and sponsors have differing rules for how the budget is treated. Not including the FNRA when it is allowed will keep a research proposal from being accepted or submitted by the institution. This will seriously impact the scope of work as the budget will have to be rewritten.
There are many considerations when creating a budget. One such is the issue of overinflating costs that cannot be justified; every budget allocation should be able to stand up to scrutiny. Ask yourself, are the costs allowable or are they disallowed specifically by a sponsor, such as capital equipment, foreign travel, or graduate student tuition remission? Are the personnel committed overextended already? Are there services running through a cost center? If so, was that cost appropriately excluded from F&A? To determine if you can include certain costs in your research proposal read about the OmniCircular.
Evaluate and refine
There is variation in both a sponsor’s requirements and how they are treated once awarded. While the process of submission may change depending on the sponsor, effective communication and operations will always be necessary for a successful research proposal. As you go through the process you will learn from past submissions and refine your techniques to better meet future deadlines. Consider this a welcome to the challenging world of research and grants management!
Proposal Tracking Solutions for moving forward
Whether you need a better alternative to track a research proposal or a partner to help you manage your entire portfolio from pre award submissions through post award close out, IT Works has the grant management and accounting solution. Since 1987, IT Works has collaborated with central and department level administrators at research intensive institutions around the world. With a flexible and scalable solution for grant tracking and management, we provide not only software but implementation services, support, and a long term partnership. Contact IT Works today and let us help you move forward.