With all the attention given to the pre and post award stages, the transition period between a grant proposal submission and notification of the funding decision is often overlooked. Once a proposal is submitted it can feel like all you do is wait, and wait some more. This blog explores the nature of the transitionary period, what to do when a decision is issued, and how best to navigate negotiations.
Grant Proposal Submission – Sponsor Review
The time required between a grant proposal submission and a sponsor’s decision can vary greatly. Sometimes a sponsor is expecting a proposal and is eager to get the funds “out the door”. In this case, the institution may only have to wait a few days. More often, though, it takes six to nine months to hear back. Every sponsor is different.
During the waiting period, the sponsor agency may reach out to the institution for revisions or additional information. For example, the sponsor may contact the sponsored programs office to discuss changes to the budget and scope of work. Perhaps a proposal may have requested $50,000, but the funding agency can only provide $35,000. It would not be feasible, or realistic, for the researchers to perform the same amount of work proposed for less than requested. Thus, the two parties will have to agree upon an adjusted set of goals and deliverables or determine what other resources can be used to support the work.
The sponsor may also contact the institution to request “Just in Time” information. These requests are aimed at collecting specific data, such as an update on the Principal Investigator’s other commitments/support. If the PI is overcommitted a delegation of responsibilities will need to be addressed. Additionally, a sponsor may be interested in the source of funding on their other projects, and how much these total.
Between the original grant proposal submission, revisions, and just in time conversations, the amount of information a sponsored programs office becomes responsible for is overwhelming. Administrators can track the proposal submission and these subsequent discussions with a grants management system. In using a software system one can update the status of the project and monitor the submissions of the just in time data through documents, email strings, and the files that were provided. It is important to invest in a system that is able to produce a communication history grid, especially one able to track time elapsed and upcoming deadlines. As revisions are finalized the institution will be able to complete the resubmission and update the grant record so that both versions are stored.
Grant Proposal Submission – Withdrawing a proposal
There are times a sponsored programs office may need to withdraw their grant proposal from sponsor consideration. This results from a variety of circumstances. The institution itself may come to the realization that it is no longer in their best interest to pursue the project. Perhaps the proposal was submitted at the last minute, requiring a rushed review, and it was only during this waiting period that the central office realized there were problems, such as cost share, in the proposal. Thus, the institution must contact the sponsor agency and withdraw the application from consideration.
Conversely, it may be the funding agency that realizes the grant proposal submission needs to be withdrawn. The sponsor lets the PI know that while it was a good proposal, it is better suited for a different division/institute at their agency or another funding agency altogether.
Grant Award & Negotiations
After a grant proposal submission has been reviewed, the institution will receive an award decision from the funding agency. Typically, these decisions are communicated via email correspondence. While an institution’s sponsored programs office submits the proposal, they are not always the first to hear back from the sponsor. The agency may choose to email the project’s PI directly. In this cases, no one else at the university realizes the research project has received funding until the PI alerts relevant staff and members of the central office.
Once a grant decision has been issued the university can begin award negotiations. The negotiations involve individuals from both the institution and the sponsor agency and cover items such as scope of work, budget, and terms and conditions. The two teams look at what was submitted in the proposal, what the award addresses, and if there are any discrepancies between the two. Working with a group in private industry involves further collaboration as there may be more complex areas, such as intellectual property which need addressed. Each institution has a pre-structured series of items that are allowable, and everyone in the sponsored programs office should be familiar with them. While the PI is involved in these discussions he or she can never sign the final agreement on behalf of the institution. Instead an authorized agent is needed. They are usually delegated by the institutions upper management, and reside within either the pre or post award office.
Once the central office finalizes the negotiations and accepts the award they must notify all relevant stakeholders, including the PI, any Co-PIs, chairs, the department manager, financial managers, and the accounting technician. Most often this is done electronically or through a university wide system. Communications should include a summary sheet that lays out the funding, period of performance, the allocation of costs across categories, and all those supported by the funds. To learn more about a grant management system that can handle all of these aspects, contact our IT Works team today.