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Tips, Steps, and Institutional Roles and Responsibilities

Submitting a proposal requires the marshalling of many details required by the sponsor. Although a prospective principal investigator/program director (PI/PD) and their department administrator (DA) have many competing interests on their time, attention to thoroughness and early planning are crucial  to success.  Anticipating what to expect and how to plan ahead to meet the deadline with a superbly designed proposal is paramount.

Below we outline basics that apply across the proposal submission process. Please also consult the BMC proposal submission guide, proposal submission policy and the proposal development plan and timeline sample.

Tips for Efficient, Successful Proposal Development

  • Review carefully the sponsor's instructions, as detailed in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), request for proposals (RFP), or request for applications (RFA) as early as possible
    • Strict adherence to the instructions is expected
    • Many applications are rejected without full sponsor review for failure of adherence
    • The sponsor deadline is not your deadline; BMC's internal deadline ensures that the proposal elements are complete and meet compliance, protecting proposals from extra-scientific rejection
      • For standard proposals, the BMC deadline is a full five (5) business days prior to the sponsor deadline
      • For training proposals, an additional five business (5) days are needed
  • Develop a checklist based on sponsor requirements
    • Take the checklist further by making a template out of a specific one
    • Keep different checklist templates by sponsor and/or program type
    • Regularly consult the checklist as you develop your proposal
  • Assess time requirements for standard and special proposal elements
    • If you are new to proposal development or are branching out to a new sponsor, be generous in time provisions
    • If you already have some elements in hand from a former proposal, you need less time but don't forget the need to proofread cautiously to avoid leaving vestiges of the former proposal
    • Pad your timeline:
      • Expect unexpected delays
      • Be ready for complicated sponsor requests and/or unique elements
    • Conduct comprehensive budget analysis early although delaying budgeting is tempting when sponsors allow it, you may end up promising too much or requesting too little to meet your design's requirements
      • If your proposal involves clinical services, contact the Clinical Trial Office early to assess costs and adhere to federal billing requirements
    • Above all, avoid procrastination on drafting the program design
      • Every element is important, but compiling perfect auxiliary requirements won't matter if your plan doesn't shine
      • Early drafting, however preliminary, will spur your scientific creativity and permit the luxury of rethinking ideas and polishing descriptions
  • Initiate an InfoEd proposal record, and upload the sponsor’s instructions to the Internal Documents tab

Proposal Submission in Three Steps

1: Proposal Development*

  • The PI/PD/DA:
    • review the FOA/RFP/RFA to determine if the PI/PD and BMC meet the eligibility requirements 
    • seek department chair/section chief support for the proposal and research plan
  • The PI/PD: 
    • initiates the framework of a research or service program strategy that aligns with their focus, BMC strengths, and elements of the FOA
    • identifies individuals and organizations with expertise needed to support the project
    • provides scope of work to collaborators and confirms their availability and commitment to participate on the study team
  • The PI/PD/DA:
    • confirm that each individual is in good standing to receive federal financial assistance via
    • initiate the project's InfoEd record and submit the Initial Route to notify department leadership and SPA of intent to submit a proposal
    • review the FOA/RFP/RFA again and assign responsibilities for major elements*
  • The PI/PD begins to assemble scientific components
  • The PI/PD/DA begin to assemble administrative components, utilizing the BMC Institutional Fact Sheet
  • The PI/PD/DA develop the project budget, following sponsor guidance/policy, BMC internal budget templates, and BMC's Sponsored Programs Indirect Costs SOP for reference.

*SPA recommends that  the PI/PD and DA meet weekly to review changes to the funding announcement and review the progress on all scientific and administrative elements. See NIH guidance on revisiting FOAs within 30 days of the NIH due date.

2: Proposal Routing and Review Process**

  • The PI/PD/DA:
    • assemble all components into a final proposal, according to sponsor requirements
    • conduct a final review, complete final edits, and route final and submission-ready proposal to SPA for review at least five (5) business days prior to the sponsor’s published deadline in accordance with BMC’s proposal submission policy
  • SPA’s Grants and Contracts Administrator (GCA):
    • verifies that the proposal is final, complete, and compliant with BMC’s internal deadline policy
    • routes an incomplete or non-final proposal back to the PI/PD/DA for finalization
    • reviews the proposal and budget documents
    • performs final review for conformity with sponsor requirements and compliance with BMC policy, including a review of budget costs and application of indirect costs
    • ensures that BMC compliance requirements are fulfilled, including but not limited to conflict of interest disclosure and management and key personnel eligibility requirements

Best practice: Plan for and submit proposals early. Doing so allows time to revise/resubmit well before the deadline, if an application is rejected. It will also avoid server traffic issues due to increased load as one nears the published deadline. Because sponsor validations can take up to 48 hours, SPA recommends submission to SPA a full seven (7) business days prior to the sponsor deadline.

**Proposal review does not commence until the proposal is complete.  SPA cannot guarantee a review or submission unless the proposal is complete at least five full (5) business days before the sponsor deadline.

3: Proposal Submission***

  • The GCA:
    • recommends proposal approval and submits it on behalf of BMC and the PI/PD in accordance with sponsor requirements
    • works through sponsor system and technical issues until proposal is validated
    • updates, finalizes, and closes proposal record in InfoEd

***Please review the recommendations above for early submission.  One's chances of proposal success increase in proportion to readiness for unexpected submission challenges.

Roles and Responsibilities


Effective proposal preparation requires a collaborative effort between scientists and administrators. Clearly defining roles and conducting regular reviews averts conflict and amplifies the potential success of a proposal.

The science is always led by the principal investigator/program director (PI/PD), who may designate administrative duties to a department administrator (DA) while retaining overall administrative accountability. Representing BMC, the awardee of every BMC sponsored program, the SPA team acts as the central administrator and thereby submits all BMC proposals

Below, we summarize the primary responsibilities and accountabilities for each of the major roles during proposal preparation, review, approval, and submission. Additional responsibilities may apply but the roles remain the same.  

Principal Investigator/Program Director (PI/PD)

  • Reviews funding opportunities; selects those aligned with their clinical specialty or research focus; commits to proposal preparation; and monitors program announcement for changes/new information
  • Leads the study team in writing a compelling research plan, supported by data and recent publications from high-impact journals
  • Keeps the department chair/section chief informed of progress and secures internal and external support
  • Reviews final, submission-ready proposal, and submits proposal documents to SPA by BMC’s internal deadline, employing a DA as applicable
  • Serves as BMC’s primary scientific/technical point of contact with the sponsor’s program officer; aligns research plan with sponsor objectives
  • Reports progress to the department chair or section chief through proposal preparation (and award management)
  • Adheres to BMC policy and departmental and sponsor requirements, and
  • Verifies or designates to the DA verification of, BMC as submitting organization, contacting the assigned SPA grants and contracts administrator (GCA).

Co-Investigators/Key Personnel

  • Contributes as a vital member of the study team, fulfilling a crucial supporting role under the direction of the PI/PD
  • Focuses, typically, on data analysis, interpretation, and advancing science in specialized areas, and
  • Is accountable for assignments and reports to the PI/PD.

Department Chair/Division Chief

  • Reviews project objectives
  • Assesses impact on patients and the practice, alignment with department goals, and special considerations
  • Reviews Other Support and confirms PI/PD time commitment, projected effort, and balance with clinical and other responsibilities
  • Verifies and ensures that staff, space, and resources may be allocated to the project if funded
  • Commits to mandatory cost sharing
  • Identifies funding source(s), and
  • Signs and authorizes proposal submissions.

Department Administrator and/or Foundation Relations and Government Grants Administrator (DA)

  • Serves as the project manager throughout the entire proposal process
  • Prepares administrative components, creating the proposal submission plan and timeline; identifying required components; and organizing the proposal structure
  • Reviews FOA/RFP/RFA in close collaboration with the PI/PD and monitors for changes
  • Initiates proposal record in InfoEd, uploads all proposal external and internal documents, and ensures the InfoEd routing of the final, submission-ready proposal to SPA
  • Works closely with the PI/PD and study team in costing resources to support the program
  • Develops a budget based on project needs, selecting the relevant format and including direct and indirect costs for all years.
  • Contacts the Clinical Trial Office early for assistance with any research plan that includes one or more prospective clinical services
  • Analyzes the project's need of BMC core and BMC/BUMC shared services and contacts the applicable office for applicable proposal support
  • Collects documents from sub-recipients, vendors, and consultants, as applicable
  • Prepares, seeks departmental approvals of, and submits all applicable internal forms
  • Seeks approvals from department chair/section chief for mandatory cost sharing, and
  • Ensures compliance with BMC's internal proposal submission deadline policy.

SPA Grants and Contracts Administrator

  • Serves as an advisor and facilitator throughout proposal development
    • Assists with understanding BMC policy and sponsor requirements, and facilitates means of satisfying all
    • Ensures BMC access to sponsor portal
    • Reviews and approves internal request and determination forms pertaining to the proposal submission
  • Upon institutional approval:
    • Submits proposal and troubleshoots error notifications
    • Verifies sponsor system validations and proposal acceptance, and
    • Closes proposal record in InfoEd, and
  • Facilitates submittal of official BMC requests and communications with sponsor, subrecipients, and other external parties.