Five-Day Proposal Submission Procedure

Version 1, February 2, 2010

Issued by the Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement (VCRE).

Late proposals are at high risk for submission failure, while faculty and staff highly value the maximum time for refining the proposal content. Timely and successful proposal submissions have been complicated by the advent of more widespread mandatory use of as a vehicle for Federal funding agencies. For this reason the VCRE is refining the mandatory five day proposal submission procedure (effective February 2, 2010) that is managed by the Office of Pre-Award Services (OPAS).

To ensure that these mandatory procedures meet the needs of the UMass academic community, the VCRE has approved the following enhancements:

  1. Proposals submitted to OPAS with a draft technical section on or before the five business day deadline will be considered “on time” if the proposal is complete in all other respects (including all sponsor forms and electronic form sets). This enhancement is designed to give PIs additional time to refine the technical component and thereby improve the proposal’s chances for success.
  2. If a proposal cannot be submitted “on time,” even with the use of a draft technical section, the PI must obtain the VCRE’s approval to submit a late proposal.


Submitting an “On-Time” Proposal

To be considered “on time” and in compliance with the mandatory lead time the complete proposal must be submitted to OPAS five working days before the proposal deadline.

An “on-time” proposal must include:

  • Completed and fully approved electronically-routed Internal Processing Form (IPF)
  • Statement of work or technical section (in either final or draft form)
  • Budget with complete justification (Note: if the budget format required by the sponsor is not sufficiently detailed or explanatory, then a detailed budget should be included for OPAS review). Indirect costs must be calculated with either the federal negotiated rate or the rate specified by the sponsor in a published written policy or in program guideline documents that are applicable to all institutions. Any indirect cost (IC) variance must be approved by your department Chair/Head/Director, relevant Dean and the VCRE two weeks in advance. Documentation of that approval must be shared with OPAS when submitting the proposal.  See the Procedure for requesting an Indirect Cost Waiver/Reduction.
  • For subawards, documentation of the approval of the authorized representative of the subcontractor along with the statement of work, budget and budget justification for all proposed subawardees
  • Letters of support from named consultants and/or collaborators
  • Properly documented cost sharing/matching

Submitting a Draft Technical Section

A draft of the technical section of a proposal should not be a “placeholder” and should be clearly marked “Draft.”  It should address all required elements specified in the sponsor’s application guidelines and should be written in sufficient detail to allow the proposal to be reviewed even if only the draft statement of work or technical section were to be submitted. The PI should keep in mind that any changes made to the statement of work or to the technical section should not affect any of the following administrative elements:

  • Budget or budget justification
  • Cost-sharing, matching
  • F&A (indirect) costs requested
  • Effort of key project personnel
  • Named consultants and/or subcontractors

If a draft statement of work or technical section is submitted, the final version of the technical must be complete and submitted to OPAS via email to two full business days prior to the deadline. No other sections of the proposal are to be revised unless requested by OPAS’s review.  (See OPAS Proposal Staff.)

Submission of proposals that must be submitted electronically requires that the completed electronic form set/file be received by OPAS by the mandatory five-day deadline. and other proposals in electronic format should be submitted to OPAS by the mandatory deadline via email, the GAMS system, or on compact disk.  For NSF proposals that use Fastlane, OPAS must be allowed access to the full complete proposal on FastLane by the five-day deadline.  

Late Proposal Exceptions

If a proposal cannot be submitted on time, even with a draft technical section, the PI must request an exception to the VCRE’s mandatory proposal submission procedures. These are the steps for requesting VCRE approval for the submission of a late proposal to OPAS at

  1. Complete the VCRE Late Proposal Approval Request Form.
  2. Submit the completed “VCRE Late Proposal Approval Request Form” to the relevant Department Chair/Head/Director for review/approval.
  3. Ask the Chair/Head/Director to forward the completed “VCRE Late Proposal Approval Request” to and to send an informational copy to the relevant Dean. Please note that the VCRE must receive request forms from the Chair/Head’s or designee’s email address. Incomplete request forms will be returned without review.

VCRE-approved requests will be returned to the PI and the Chair/Head with a revised date and time for submission to OPAS. Submission of late proposals that must be submitted electronically requires the completed electronic forms and files for the proposal be received by OPAS by the revised internal deadline.   Proposals must be appended to the electronic IPF submission using GAMS “Prop XLS” mechanism.

Please note: Late proposals that are not submitted to OPAS by the VCRE’s approved revised deadline will be processed by OPAS only after all other “on time” proposals have been submitted. Depending on the volume of proposals at peak times, PIs submitting late proposals may be required to underwrite the cost of additional staff help in an effort to improve the chances for successful submission.

Frequently Asked Questions

IPF Approval

What happens if my Department Chair/Head or Dean is not available to approve my IPF?

Each approver should have officially identified an alternate approver and had them profiled in SmartGrant by OPAS staff.  GAMS is a web based product and can be accessed anywhere an internet connection is available.  Each profiled approver will receive an email that the proposal has been sent to them for approval.  Each department shall set their own policies as to how and when their authority shall go to the alternate approver.

Draft Technical Sections

What happens if the final version of the technical section is not submitted by the “two full business days” deadline?
The PI will be offered the option of having OPAS submit the draft technical section if the new “two full business days” deadline is not met. If the PI does not choose this option and also is unable to submit by the “two full business days” deadline, OPAS will accept the late proposal when it arrives but will process the proposal in the normal queue only after other “on-time” proposals are submitted. Such late proposals are at high risk of not being submitted by the agency deadline.

What happens if the revisions to the technical section alter the administrative component of the proposal?
At the time of the submission of the final statement of work or technical section, the PI should either highlight the changes that have been made or inform OPAS that only editorial changes were made. If the changes made in the final statement of work or technical section are inconsistent with what the PI submitted in the administrative section, OPAS will return the proposal to the PI so that the PI can make sure that the administrative and technical sections are consistent. This will result in the proposal being processed by OPAS only after all other “on-time” proposals have been submitted. Such late proposals are at high risk of not being submitted by the agency deadline.

Late Proposals

What happens if I receive approval from the VCRE to submit a late proposal but fail to meet the VCRE’s revised deadline?
OPAS will accept the late proposal when it arrives but will process the proposal in the normal queue only after other on-time proposals are submitted. Such late proposals are at high risk of not being submitted by the agency deadline.

Can the PI submit the late proposal exemption request form directly to the VCRE?
No. Only the Department Chair/Head/Director or relevant Dean can submit the late proposal exemption request to the VCRE because submission is considered administrative approval.

If I have approval for a late submission does that guarantee my proposal will be submitted on time?
Every effort will be made to meet the sponsor deadline; however, proposals are still reviewed in the order in which they are received. A proposal submitted “on time” will take precedence. It is unfair to expect that a proposal submitted “on time” should be delayed or not get the review it deserves because another PI’s proposal was late.

Where should we send the late proposal, to OPAS or VCRE’s Office?
The late proposal in final form can only be submitted once approval is received from the VCRE for late submission.  The proposal shall then be routed electronically with the complete proposal attached using the GAMS “Prop. XLS” method or GAMS FASTGRANT.

What if OPAS has questions about a late proposal and the PI is not available?
The PI should make arrangements for someone to be available to answer questions and make any necessary changes to the proposal.

Are pre-proposals covered by the mandatory procedures?
Any pre-proposal, white paper, letter of intent, etc., which requires OPAS endorsement is subject to the five day requirement.


This procedure is adapted from a similar process used by the University of California, Berkeley.