UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research
UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research
Frequently Asked Questions
(Updated October 2019)
College-level review is required before proposal submission to the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP). The College-level review is begun in the UF/IFAS Research Dean's Office, and then DSP is responsible for confirming institutional support for proposal applications verifying the accuracy and validity of all administrative, fiscal, and programmatic information; and also ensuring that the proposal is compliant with university and sponsor policies and other submission requirements.
Many of these proposals are in response to solicitations with specific deadlines. Please review these FAQs for guidance related to the timely and successful submission of sponsored programs. Also review these responses to questions and comments solicited through the Faculty Assembly.
A. Solicitations Published at Least 30 Days from the Due Date
A1. Why does IFAS need three days ahead of DSP’s deadline to complete the review process?
Some proposals are simple and require little effort to review, but most are more complex or unique. The three business-day deadline represents the maximum amount of time allotted for College-level review which allows time to review the budget, verify indirect cost, and identify errors; it also allows faculty and staff adequate opportunity to correct inconsistencies for all proposals. Faculty should submit proposals to the IFAS Proposals office one week before the sponsor’s deadline.
A2. Why does IFAS need additional time to accommodate heavy workloads?
IFAS faculty submit more proposals (in volume and in diversity) than many other UF Colleges. Departmental grants and fiscal staff are tasked with a significant portion of the review process. Twice per year, we may request up to five business days ahead of DSP’s deadline to manage the heavier workload. Requesting additional time for increases in workload is our current practice during the winter holiday season to accommodate the reduced availability of faculty and staff across IFAS departments and RECs, and to respond to UF/Federal office closures. We’ve noticed an increase in proposal activity during the spring semester due to changes in sponsor deadlines and submission procedures (e.g. USDA programs, USDA NIFA proposals, NSF proposals and State contracts); we anticipate a need for additional processing time in late February/early March.
B. For All Submissions
(Includes solicitations published less than or more than 30 days from the due date, rolling submissions and funding opportunities with no official, published deadlines)
B1. Why has IFAS switched to a first-come, first-served approach to College-level approval?
IFAS faculty are involved an array of sponsored program activity—from competitive projects to faculty service accounts with industry sponsors. A first come, first served approach in IFAS will ensure that all proposals receive adequate, timely attention.
Note that proposals with “urgent deadlines” will be accepted but not prioritized, so we ask that faculty submit urgent proposals as early as possible so that they can be fully reviewed by IFAS and DSP. Routing for review and approval close to the deadline increases the risk of a proposal failing to meet the criteria for approval.
B2. What does ‘complete’ mean? Why must proposals be complete?
In addition to certain DSP requirements, ‘complete’ means that proposals are in their final form, the PI has certified the proposal, and the proposal has been reviewed and approved by the PI, unit leader and any additional entities (e.g. County Operations). A description of the work to be performed (i.e. scope of work or project narrative), budget, budget narrative and the guidelines (e.g. RFP, sponsor policies) have been uploaded as submission and/or internal documents.
UFIRST allows for beginning the approval process before all submission and/or the necessary internal documents have been uploaded, and for the ‘return’ of proposals to complete a submission. This function is meant to allow the department flexibility in creating the record, attaching necessary documents and reviewing/approving submissions internally before a proposal is routed for approval. However, when submission reach the College level in UFIRST, this practice is not always helpful, because IFAS nor DSP can perform its mandated responsibilities without final versions of proposal documents. We risk missing critical information if we review working drafts.
Changing proposal documents may change budgets, timelines, and other critical elements that must be correct. Certain changes (e.g. changes to the budget or UFIRST Smartform) require that proposals be officially returned in UFIRST, but this takes time. Even correcting a typographical error may require returning the proposal to the department and updating all submitted documents and electronic forms at the departmental level; however, even after the review documents and forms are uploaded, documents must be reviewed to ensure that nothing was changed that affected any other parts of the proposal. At the very least, this adds time and effort for a proposal that has already been reviewed —and reduces the time and effort available to move other proposals forward.
While IFAS expects that some corrections to a complete proposal might be needed, incomplete proposals cannot be fully reviewed. Some changes to submission after the College review may have a negative effect upon the award; the IFAS Deans or Senior VP will not share the responsibility for consequences associated with proposals revised after review.
C. IFAS Guidance Based on DSP’s Proposal Deadline FAQs
C1. Are solicitations with rolling or continuous open submission windows subject to the internal deadline policy?
“The internal deadline applies only to solicitations with specific deadlines from the sponsor. DSP will do everything in its power to submit to a target or rolling deadline, however, DSP will perform a complete review and if there are other proposals received on time for published deadlines, these will take priority.”
IFAS will review proposals on a first- come, first -served basis; proposals responding to solicitations published by the sponsor at least 30 days from the due date will be reviewed first. This is so that proposals subject to DSP’s deadline policy (i.e. proposals that DSP will not submit if they arrive after their internal two day deadline) are not penalized.
C2. What if UF is a sub-recipient to an organization that has its own internal deadline for submission of all proposal materials? (i.e. UF is a sub to the University of XXX that has an internal deadline policy)?
“When UF is a sub-recipient on a proposal, all materials must be submitted to DSP at 9 AM one business day prior to the date that all materials are due from UF to the lead institution.”
IFAS’s will consider the lead institution’s deadline as official. For proposal solicitations published by the sponsor at least 30 days from the due date, proposals are due to IFAS three business days from lead institution’s deadline, not that of the sponsor. For other proposal solicitations, including proposals with deadlines less than 30 days from the official due date, the review process will be on a first- come, first- served basis.
C3. What about “rapid” submissions or short turnaround requirements (i.e. the State needs a response within 10 days)?
“Any proposal with less than thirty (30) days turnaround from the date of notice or publication of the solicitation will be exempt from DSP’s deadline policy.”
Proposals in this category are also exempt from IFAS’s three (3) day deadline policy; however, note that these proposals will be reviewed on a first come, first-served basis. Urgent proposals will not be prioritized.
C4. In the event that the solicitation of funding opportunity is made public in less than 30 calendar days, how will the PI or unit communicate this to DSP?
“If documented notification of the funding opportunity was made less than thirty (30) days prior to the deadline, the unit will need to load this information into the UFIRST internal proposal documents and call it out on page 1.0 of the proposal SmartForm.”
IFAS will review the solicitation (i.e. RFP, guidelines, etc.) and the information noted on page 1.0 of the SmartForm for all proposals to organize proposals for review.
C5. What will DSP do if the proposal is received after the deadline?
“Absent of extenuating circumstances, proposals that do not meet the deadline requirements will not be submitted.”
This policy applies to any proposal whose solicitation is published by the sponsor at least 30 calendar days prior to the sponsor’s due date. For submissions not in this category, we recommend that proposals be submitted as soon as possible as IFAS reviews on a first- come, first- served basis. Proposals with short turnaround times will not be prioritized.
C6. The policy states that, under extenuating circumstances, late submissions will be accepted. What qualifies as an extenuating circumstance?
“Extenuating circumstances include unanticipated closure of the university; serious illness for PI or Co-PI; death of a family member; documented sponsor complications or sponsor system technical issues experienced prior to the deadline. In the event of an extenuating circumstance, the PI or unit should contact DSP immediately.”
Please contact the appropriate IFAS Dean’s office should questions arise about extenuating circumstances. Note that DSP is ultimately responsible for determining if a circumstance is “extenuating”.
C7. What does ‘submit-ready’ proposal mean?
“A submit-ready proposal is a submission to DSP that is ready for immediate review and submission to the sponsor, with all approvals and permissions provided.
a) For sponsors that require Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) disclosure prior to submission, the disclosure form must be loaded into UFIRST;
b) UFIRST routing has been completed and landed in a state of “Core Office Review” including all cost share and department and chair approvals;
c) The proposal is complete and ready for submission to the sponsor indicated by:
- If submitted through the sponsor’s electronic portal: The PI has given DSP access to submit the proposal in the sponsor system (e.g., Fastlane SRO submit, proposalCentral, ASSIST, NSPIRES locked & linked, etc.) and the proposal includes all required sponsor forms, components, sections, and attachments, per sponsor program announcement and policy.
- If submitted by email or another method outside of an electronic portal: attached in UFIRST is the complete proposal in final format, ready for submission to the sponsor. This includes all required sponsor forms, components, sections, and attachments, per sponsor program announcement and policy.
- If UF is the lead institution on a multi-institutional proposal, all partner institution documentation is included in the “required sponsor forms, components, sections, and attachments, per sponsor program announcement and policy.”
In addition to DSP’s requirements, IFAS requires that the UFIRST Smartform be complete and all documentation associated with the submission (e.g. scope of work, budget, and budget narrative) be included as attachments.
Please note that the IFAS review process is focused on the budget and indirect cost. It is important the sponsor’s current, official indirect cost policy is also uploaded as an internal document. Remember to consult with IFAS as early as possible if there are questions about a sponsor’s indirect cost policy, or about the acceptance of a policy statement.
C8. How will DSP handle an oversight by the PI that leads to missing information?
“If the review by DSP reveals missing or incomplete materials, DSP will attempt to contact the unit and PI to secure the missing materials and complete submission. Similarly, if an error is discovered in the submission, DSP will attempt to correct the error, or contact the unit and PI for correction of the error.”
It is important that submissions be complete so that IFAS can conduct its review quickly. IFAS will work with the unit’s grants staff to correct any issues discovered during our review process. We believe requesting a complete proposal will minimize errors and shorten the time spent at DSP’s level.
C9. What if the PI or unit discover an error or missing document after submitting to DSP but before the sponsor deadline?
“The PI or unit should immediately contact DSP to determine if the correction can be made.”
Once a proposal moves to DSP for approval, IFAS is not usually involved in the review process. DSP will contact IFAS if changes to the proposal require a second review and/or additional approval. We recommend that proposals be complete and as error-free as possible before they arrive to IFAS and DSP; additional review, location of missing documents or information, and requesting additional approval may delay submission to the sponsor.
C10. What if an award or agreement arrives in DSP without having been submitted through DSP?
“It is University policy that all proposals and communications with sponsors of proposed work be reviewed by the appropriate institutional officials including the Chair (or designee), Dean (or designee), Director (or designee) and DSP prior to submission. This policy is in part to support the need for this to occur prior to receipt of agreements and awards to avoid conflicts between institutional policies for issues such as F&A rate application and PI eligibility.
a) If no published deadline was in place, DSP will perform the complete review at the time of receipt of the award or agreement. If there are any conflicts, budget discrepancies, or compliance issues identified, they must be resolved (even if this results in the need for additional funds requested from the sponsor or decrease in direct costs available to the project) before DSP will proceed with acceptance of the funds and allowing spending on the project.
b) If published deadline, DSP will perform the complete review at the time of receipt of the award or agreement. If there are any conflicts, budget discrepancies, or compliance issues identified, they must be resolved (even if this results in the need for additional funds requested from the sponsor or decrease in direct costs available to the project) before DSP will proceed with acceptance of the funds and allowing spending on the project. DSP will also notify the Chair, Director and Associate Dean of the issue to ensure appropriate communications with the PI. Repeated occurrences of this may result in additional discussions with the PI and the Office of Research.”
IFAS expects that all submissions from IFAS faculty be routed for review and approval before an award or agreement is issued. The PI/PI’s unit will be responsible for addressing discrepancies and errors, even if this results in the need for additional funds requested from the sponsor or a decrease in direct costs available to the project. Repeated circumventing of the proposal submission process is highly discouraged.
C11. What type of review is performed by DSP in the time between submission to DSP and submission by the university to the sponsor? What will be done during that time frame?
A complete outline of the proposal roles and responsibilities and a list of what a complete review entails is available here. Please see below for examples of IFAS and DSP deadlines.
Remember that IFAS requires three (3) business days for review; DSP needs two (2) business days; in effect, proposals should be submitted for institutional review (i.e. review at the College and DSP level) one week before the sponsor’s deadline. Please contact Benita Bannis (IFAS Proposals) for questions about deadlines.