Sponsored Project Proposal Submission Requirements and Procedures


This page clarifies and updates campus procedures for proposal preparation and submission in support of sponsored projects to conform to Board of Trustee Policy DOC. T94-034. This includes new procedures developed in consultation with the deans to reduce duplication of administrative steps between department or college/school offices and the central Office of Pre-Award Services (OPAS).

Effective Date: January 1, 2023

Table of Contents

Pre-Award Requirements and Procedures Prior to Submission to OPAS

  • Every proposal must be approved by at least two higher organizational authorities regarding the appropriate university goals and resources. In the case of academic departments, the programmatic aspects of proposals must be approved first by the appropriate department head or chair and then by the dean of the school or college or their designee. This review should ensure that the proposal is consistent with the goals and objectives of the department, school or college, and the campus and should assess the impact of the project upon future resources and any changes in the level of institutional support which may result from the acceptance of an award.
  • Prior to signing, the head or chair or the dean must confirm the availability of space, major technical resources and equipment, institutional support personnel, and must endorse commitments for cost sharing, matching funds, or any proposed retention of project-supported personnel after the expiration of the award. If such confirmations and endorsements cannot be made, the dean should consult with the Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement.
  • Programmatic and budgetary review of proposals generated by institutes, centers, and programs shall be performed by the administrator(s) to whom the institute or center director reports after review by the responsible department head(s) or chair(s) and dean(s) whose personnel, programs, or resources are impacted by the proposed program.
  • In the preparation and submission of proposals, the following provisions shall apply:
  • Transmission of all project proposals and acceptance of all awards from any sponsor must have the signature of an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR). Generally, it is the director of OPAS or their designee who shall approve proposals prior to their submission to the sponsor by the university.
  • Legal review, when requested by OPAS, shall be performed by the Office of General Counsel.
  • Proposals must conform with the policies of the Board of Trustees, the university, and the campus.
  • A questionnaire in the Kuali Research electronic research administration system shall accompany all proposals through the campus review and approval process. The questionnaire shall summarize pertinent data from the proposal. The Kuali Research system provides an electronic signature function for reviewers to document their approval.

Proposal Submission Roles and Responsibilities - Five Day Deadline

  • The preparation of proposals is the shared responsibility of the originating unit and OPAS. The originating unit for academic programs consists of the principal investigator(s), supported by administrative staff in the department and/or school or college. To ensure efficiency in proposal preparation, the roles and responsibilities are divided as detailed below to minimize duplication. Deans will further define these within school or colleges as appropriate to their administrative structure.
  • Proposals are required to arrive at OPAS five full business days prior to the due date. The proposal package should include a final budget and budget justification, finished personnel and sponsor required documents, and drafts of each of the technical sections of the proposal. Reviewers will need enough information to evaluate the budget in terms of the scope of the project. OPAS strives to submit proposals at least one business day prior to the due date to avoid potential disruptions and delays that may affect a successful submission. Accordingly, final versions of the technical sections and responses to reviewer comments must be delivered to the assigned OPAS reviewer two full business days prior to the due date. To meet the OPAS internal deadlines, routing of the proposal one full business day prior to the deadline is recommended. Timing should be adjusted to accommodate campus holidays.
Example 1           
Thursday, October 27, 5 p.m. Sponsor Deadline
Wednesday, October 26, 9 a.m. Required at OPAS: Final technical sections
Friday, October 21, 9 a.m. Required at OPAS: Final Budget, budget justification, finished personnel and sponsor-required documents, DRAFT technical sections
Thursday, October 20, 9 a.m. Recommended start of routing in Kuali Research
Example 2  
Thursday, October 27, noon Sponsor Deadline
Tuesday, October 25,  noon Required at OPAS: Final technical sections
Thursday, October 20, noon Required at OPAS: Final Budget, budget justification, finished personnel and sponsor-required documents, DRAFT technical sections
Wednesday, October 19, noon Recommended start of routing in Kuali Research

Important notes on deadlines:

  • Cost-sharing or indirect cost variance must be approved at least 10 days in advance of the initial OPAS deadline with more time required for larger requests.
  • Proposals involving subcontracts are always more complex to review and it is strongly recommended to target earlier deadlines for such proposals.
  • Opportunities with unusual requirements such as non-standard terms and conditions, representations, certifications, e.g., involving publication restrictions, export control, participation of non-US institutions, etc. require more time for review. Please consult OPAS as far in advance as possible for those opportunities.
  • Note that the information systems used by many federal agencies may prevent the submission of proposals that do not conform to the agency requirements. Corrections of any flaws in the proposal in a timely manner to meet sponsor deadlines shall be made according to the responsibilities described below.

The Responsibilities of the Principal Investigator(s), Department, and School/College

  • Project/Program Narrative. DRAFT versions of the technical sections (abstract, narrative, figures, tables, and references) are due at OPAS five full business days prior to the sponsor deadline; final versions are due at OPAS two full business days prior to the sponsor deadline.

The following should be final upon arrival at OPAS five full business days prior to the sponsor deadline:

  • Subcontractors. Obtain required subcontractor information. UMass subrecipient commitment form (SRCF) complete and signed by subcontractor’s Authorized Organizational Representative. Use the short form if the subcontractor is a participating member of the Federal Demonstration Project (Search the FDP).
  • Budget and Justification. Develop budget and justification using the applicable campus cost rates, the sponsor’s published policy, and information in the funding announcement. Revise budget, if necessary, after review by OPAS for compliance with university and/or sponsor guidelines.
  • Cost Sharing. Document approvals for indirect cost variance or other cost-sharing at least 10 full business days prior to the initial routing of the proposal.
  • Compliance. Complete any required protocols or disclosures, e.g., IRB, IACUC, Bio Safety, Conflict of Interest, Outside Activities.
  • Sponsor Requirements. Text format, references, page limit, diagrams, tables, URLs, etc. Note: These will no longer be checked by OPAS.
  • Biosketches. OPAS is responsible to check only for the presence of the materials, but not their content or format.
  • Current and Pending Support. Complete and correct information with full disclosure. Training on this point is strongly recommended since federal requirements are evolving; the Office of Research Compliance can provide more information. For instance, NSF, NIH and DOE  have recently updated requirements for disclosure of current and pending support including new requirements for activities involving non-US entities.
  • Attachments: Content, form, number, and length of attachments as specified by the sponsor. OPAS will check only for the presence of these documents and applicable compliance aspects.
  • Other disclosures, certifications, and assurances. Please complete or update all that are applicable prior to routing in Kuali Research. For grants with multiple investigators, include a Memorandum of Understanding with the information specified in Senate Document No. 09-032. If the proposal includes use of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC)/Unity Cluster, include IT Research Computing in the routing for approval (unit # A819300) or add an MOU documenting the approval by MGHPCC/Unity Cluster. To add a unit, follow the instructions for adding a Center or Institute: https://www.umass.edu/research/sites/default/files/quick_guide_-_tagging_centers_institutes_0.pdf
  • Note: Proposals must be routed and approved in Kuali Research to reach OPAS on or before the campus deadline. The start of routing one full business day prior to the OPAS deadline is recommended to allow time for review by approvers.
  • See Senate Document No. 09-032 for information on Roles and Responsibilities of Principal Investigators/Co-Investigators.

The Responsibilities of OPAS

  • Project/Program Narrative. Review for compliance and administrative matters only.
  • Budget and Justification. Verify compliance with Federal Uniform Guidance, sponsor guidelines, and UMass policies. Budgets may be adjusted without PI approval if de minimus changes (up to 2% variance) are necessary. Larger changes require approval from the PI or designee which may delay submission.
  • Cost Sharing. Verify and document commitments and approvals for compliance.
  • Subcontract Materials. Verify subrecipient System for Award Management (SAM.gov) registration only.
  • Additional Compliance (as applicable) – Review for export control, foreign sponsors, etc.
  • Current and Pending Support. Review for compliance only, e.g., outside activities, conflict of Interest, level of available effort.
  • Finalize. Check for presence of required components to enable successful submission.
  • Submission. To sponsor, confirming institutional approval.
  • Post-submission requests, e.g., Just-In-Time