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New Deadlines for Proposal Submissions Frequently Asked Questions VP for Research
12/1/06 Memo
Effective January 30, 2007 Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) will require principal investigators (PIs) to deliver all proposals to SPA at least five (5) working days prior to the sponsor's official published submission deadline. PIs must deliver NIH R01 Research Project Grant proposals to SPA by 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, January 30, 2007 to meet the February 5, 2007 deadline. To calculate SPA's deadline based on the sponsor's deadline, go to the 5-Day Deadline Calculator.

All completed proposals must be submitted to SPA at least one (1) full working day prior to the sponsor's deadline. For example, if a proposal is due to the sponsor by 12 p.m., it must be submitted to SPA no later than 12 p.m. the previous working day. A proposal due at 5 p.m. is due to SPA no later than 5 p.m. the previous working day.

Why is SPA instituting a five day deadline for submissions?

With the federal requirements to submit electronic proposals through, more time will be needed to process these proposals in order to meet sponsor deadlines and allow for error checking at both and the federal agencies. SPA will not be using the entire five day lead time to process proposals but must process them such that there is time to allow for repeated submissions of the same proposal due to proposal errors or system delays and still meet the sponsor's deadline.

By law, the federal government must move all of its grant applications to electronic processes by fall 2007. While will be the receipting mechanism, each federal agency will have its own unique mechanism to review for errors and allow time to correct the final proposal prior to the deadline. On-time submission of applications is dependent on the receipt of "clean" proposals at by the federal agency deadline. "Clean" proposals are those which are considered error-free according to and agency validation rules. All of these processes will require additional time to complete. In addition, SPA cannot continue fulfilling its fiduciary and regulatory obligations to review these proposals on behalf of the University, submit them with adequate time to allow for sponsor system delays and correction of errors before the required submission deadline. Last minute submissions to SPA jeopardize the University's ability to submit proposals on time.

Beginning January 30, 2007, proposals must be delivered to SPA at least five working days prior to the sponsor's deadline.

Example of a sponsor submission deadline:

If your sponsor requires an electronically submitted proposal by 5 p.m. on Friday, you will need to submit the proposal to SPA by 9 a.m. on the preceding Monday. If you have questions about your sponsor's receipt requirement, please contact SPA. Please also check with your department about internal proposal processing deadlines. Go to the 5-Day Deadline Calculator.

Does the enforcement of the five day deadline apply only to submissions?

Yes, for, the SPA deadline is five days in advance of the agency submission date. For all other proposals, it is at least one (1) full working day before the proposal must be submitted-either electronically or by mail.

What documents must be delivered by the new deadline?

SPA must receive a fully signed Proposal Routing Form (PRF), all required sponsor forms and scientific/programmatic narrative, budgets, justifications, and subaward documents, including letters of intent.

Effective December 1, 2006, fully electronic proposals can be sent to SPA at For more information about electronic routing of proposals to SPA at: or see the announcement in the November 10, 2006 issue of the Research News Online at

Why does SPA need more time to process proposals? Doesn't SPA just sign off on them?

No, SPA has a fiduciary responsibility to review all proposals on behalf of the Board of Regents. SPA's review confirms that all administrative and financial elements are accurate and in accordance with sponsor guidelines. Specifically, SPA is required to:

  • Review the budget;
  • Review matching and cost sharing requirements and commitments;
  • Ensure proper indirect costs calculations;
  • Check the accuracy of administrative and institutional information;
  • Ensure that all regulatory requirements have been satisfied;
  • Make certain that proposed contract award language conforms with University policies;
  • Check that any potential conflicts of interest have been managed or eliminated;
  • Evaluate potential export control issues; and
  • Guarantee that all required representations and certifications are included.

Given the volume of proposals processed for each application deadline, SPA cannot continue to fulfill it obligations on behalf of the University with limited time to process the proposals.

In addition, many of the sponsors with electronic proposal processing allow time prior to the deadline to review the proposal once it has been received and to correct errors for a limited period of time. This means that added time will be needed in order to take advantage of the error clearing process.

What constitutes an on-time proposal delivery to SPA?

On-time proposal delivery is different for proposals requiring electronic submission as opposed to other proposals that must be mailed or submitted to the funding agency. The following identify the requirements for each type of submission:

  • Electronic submissions to Starting January 30, 2007, to be considered on-time, proposals requiring electronic submissions must be delivered to SPA at least 5 working days before the proposal must be submitted to See the How to Apply page on the SPA Web site for details on how to get your proposal to SPA. For example, if your NIH grant is due to NIH on Thursday, it is due to SPA by 9 a.m. on the Friday the week before.
  • Other electronic submissions: To be considered on-time, proposals requiring electronic submissions must be delivered to SPA at least one (1) full working day before the proposal must be submitted to the funding agency. See the How to Apply page on the SPA Web site for details on how to get your electronic proposal to SPA. For example, if your NSF grant is due to NSF in Fastlane on Thursday 5 p.m., it is due to SPA by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
  • Courier or mail submissions: To be considered on-time, proposals requiring mailing must be delivered to SPA by 24 hours before the proposal must be mailed. For example, if the proposal is due to the sponsor on Friday, SPA needs to receive it by 5 p.m. on the previous Wednesday, to ship it by Thursday.

Local courier submissions are sent out by 10 a.m. to local sponsors meaning that the proposal is due at SPA by 10 a.m. the day before.

What happens to proposals delivered after the five day deadline or other proposals delivered with less than 24 hours time?

All proposals that meet the deadline will be processed first. Those that come in late due to extenuating circumstances with a written explanation will receive priority after those that meet the deadline. All other late submissions will be processed last. SPA staff will do its best to submit tardy proposals but will make no guarantees if there are subsequent errors or system delays.

What if there is an emergency situation beyond the control of the principal investigator (PI) that delays a timely submission of a proposal to SPA? Will SPA submit my proposal if I miss the deadline?

SPA must be notified in writing of the circumstances as soon as possible and the staff will do everything it can to process your proposal on time.

I met the first proposal deadline, but my sponsor wants revised budgets. Is there a deadline for this situation?

No, unless the sponsor gives a specific deadline. If so, the revised budget must be delivered to SPA 24 hours before the SPA needs to submit the revised budget to the funding agency. If the revised budget must be delivered to the sponsor on Friday, it must reach SPA by 5 p.m. on the preceding Wednesday for shipment on Thursday. A PRF will be required if the revised budget differs from the original budget by 25% or more.

What about proposal documents when the University will issue a subaward? My sponsor does not require any formal letter of intent or face page, just the budgets. What does SPA require to be part of the final package?

At minimum, SPA will require either a letter of intent signed by an authorized organizational representative of the subawardee institution or in some cases a face page or signed budget documents. It is the University's responsibility to ensure that the collaborating institution is fully aware of the proposal.

What is the process at the time of proposal when the University will be a subrecipient (subcontractor) on another institution's grant?

A fully signed PRF, a budget, a budget justification, statement of work, and any other forms required by the prime sponsor should be submitted to SPA. These documents are due at SPA following the same deadlines as described above.

I am submitting a preproposal but the sponsor requires a cover letter or signature from SPA (no budgets at this time). Do I have to meet the deadline for this?

Yes. If SPA is required to provide signatures, the preproposal and a "zero dollar" fully signed PRF is required and must meet the new deadlines.

I am submitting an electronic proposal directly to a sponsor. The sponsor does not require University endorsement. Does the proposal still need to be sent to SPA?

By Regents' policy, all proposals to external sponsors must be submitted by SPA. In addition, these proposals must be reviewed by your department and college prior to their submission to SPA. We follow this process to comply with Regents' policy to and to minimize risk to the institution and ensure that the necessary resources are available to conduct these proposed projects.

What if I want to mail the proposal myself?

It is more convenient to have SPA transmit/ship all proposals. However, if you want to mail your proposal, you may pick it up for mailing after SPA has signed it. You need to ensure that all other submission requirements are met.

How does SPA process an application with a "target date"?

Applications with a "target date" will be processed within two or three business days unless there are problems or there is a large sponsor deadline.

The sponsor I am applying to has an electronic system that allows or requires the PI to "push the button." What is the process and deadline for this situation?

Regardless of the submission mechanism, proposals requiring electronic submission must follow the same processing rules as paper proposals; i.e., they must be routed through the appropriate department/unit chair and dean's office, and approved by SPA prior to submission to the sponsoring agency.

PIs should complete their electronic proposal and route the PRF to SPA no later than 24 hours prior to scheduled deadline to ensure adequate review by SPA and to avoid technical delays not under SPA's control. Upon review and acceptance, SPA will contact the PI by e-mail with approval to submit unless other arrangements have been made. Earlier submission of other electronic proposals to SPA is encouraged in order to avoid unforeseen delays.

Please note that some sponsors set deadlines using Eastern Standard Time (EST).

I am an hour away from meeting the SPA deadline and my PRF is "hung up" in the dean's office and no one can help move it along. What do I do now?

SPA recommends that faculty and staff coordinate with individuals on the routing chain to be available or to have an assigned delegate to meet the published deadline. On the rare occasions that this may happen, contact SPA.

What happens if there are system delays at

Most federal agencies will not penalize you for system issues at that are beyond their control. NIH has stated specifically that PIs will not be penalized for a or eRA Commons system problem.

For more information about research policies, procedures, and guidelines: Proposal Deadlines at Other Research Institutions:

Thank you for your understanding, patience, and cooperation as we work to improve services related to proposal submissions. Please contact Pamela Webb, associate vice president for research, at with any questions or concerns.

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