Once the Principal Investigator (PI) has completed the proposal package and is ready to submit to the sponsor, the PI must forward it to his/her pre-award administrator.  The pre-award administrator will be responsible for submitting the proposal on behalf of the university.  The PI is responsible for providing the pre-award administrator a copy of the completed proposal and associated internal forms no less than 2 days before submission deadline.

 

Roles and Responsibilities in the Submission Process

PI Responsibility OSP Responsibility
  • Complete and obtain signatures for the Proposal Approval Form
  • Complete and obtain signatures for any additional required internal forms (Form A, Form B, Form C)
  • Complete sponsor application and forms
  • Send Pre-Award Administrator completed proposal package, including all internal forms and sponsor application, no less than 2 days before submission
  • Be available by email or phone during the submission process in case questions or errors arise
  • Make any necessary corrections to errors as they arise

Pre-Award

  • Review all internal approval forms
  • Review completed application and check for errors
  • Work with PI to correct errors before submission
  • Submit to sponsor if electronic submission (i.e., Cayuse, Grants.gov, NSF Fastlane, etc)
  • Submit to processor if hard copies or email submission is required
  • Work with PI if errors arise after submission

Processor

Submit to sponsor hardcopy or email submissions

Complete and Obtain Signatures for The Proposal Approval Form (sometimes called the SPAF—Sponsored Programs Approval Form)

Every Virginia Tech proposal requesting external support for research, instruction, or outreach is required to have a completed and signed Proposal Approval Form prior to submission to the sponsor. This form is Virginia Tech’s central collection mechanism for detailing the demographics of each proposal. From this form, the Office of Sponsored Programs determines who the investigators are, the summary budget, the overhead rate requested, cost sharing proposed, percentage of credit allocated to each investigator, and the sorts of compliance issues that may be involved in performing the project, if funded. The PI is responsible for completing and routing the proposal approval form as well as any needed supplemental forms A, B, or C for signature by his/her dean or director. Many university colleges and departments now use an electronic signature routing system to complete the Proposal Approval Form. For information regarding electronic routing, please see your college or department grants specialist or business manager. (The Office of Sponsored Programs does not administer these systems so we cannot directly assist you.) The Proposal Approval Form and instructions for filling it out are included at the link below. 

Your departmental business manager or college grants specialist may also be able to help.

  • Complete and Obtain Signatures for Internal Forms A, B, and C
  • Internal Forms
FORM NAME FORM REQUIRED FOR SIGNATURES REQUIRED

Internal Approval Form

ALL proposals

PI and Dean

Cover Sheet

Non-federal sponsors who do not have a specifically required cover sheet. THIS IS AN OPTIONAL FORM

PI and Dean
Co-PIs and Deans

Form A

Any cost share
(MAKE SURE SOURCE OF FUNDS IS DOCUMENTED)

PI and Dean of all departments committing to Cost Share

Form B

Any direct costs that are normally listed as indirect
(MAKE SURE JUSTIFICATION IS SPECIFIC AND THOROUGH)

PI and  Dean

Form C

Special indirect distribution between departments

Dean

FORM A. Cost Sharing Request Form

If a budget contains cost sharing, the PI must fill out the FORM A Cost Sharing Request.  A signature is required from the PI and his/her Department Head/Director and Dean as well as the Department Head/Director and Dean of all departments contributing to the cost share.   The university will make a cost-sharing commitment only when required by the sponsor or by the competitive nature of the award and then only to the extent necessary to meet the specific requirements of the sponsored project.  The PI must submit the completed FORM A to their pre-award administrator along with the signed Proposal Approval Form at least 2 days before submission.  For further information on how to fill out the Form A, see the instructions with the form, consult with your department’s grants administrator or business manager, or view the Form A Training.

FORM B. Cost Accounting Exemption Request

If the budget contains items that are considered to be general facilities and administrative type costs, the PI must complete the FORM B Cost Accounting Exemption Request.  These costs include items such as postage, shipping, office supplies and administrative support. The Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21 disallows direct charging of facilities and administrative costs on federal grants.  However there are certain exceptions to this rule allowing for direct charging of these costs in the event the University can justify the charges.  Your pre-award administrator, grants specialist, or business manager can help you determine whether a Form B is needed. The PI must submit FORM B Cost Accounting Exemption Request to their pre-award administrator along with the signed Proposal Approval Form at least 2 days before submission. Instructions for filling out Form B are available at the link.

FORM C. Returned Overhead Distribution

Overhead (sometimes called indirect or F&A costs) refers to the administrative costs of performing as a research university and includes such costs as electricity, equipment maintenance, and salaries and benefits of departmental, college, and university administrative personnel. Overhead costs are distributed to various organizations within Virginia Tech in the following manner:

Earned Overhead Distribution  
Organization Percentage
Research Division 8.57%
Central Capital Account 11.14%
State of Virginia 30%
College/Department 40.29%
Capital 2 10%

This distribution gives the receiving college/department discretionary funds to offset costs related to the conduct and enhancement of research and research-related requirements.  The FORM C is needed when the overhead distribution for the responsible department, college, or institute on a project (each OSP fund) differs from the above default distribution.

For example, if a PI from Electrical Engineering applied for a grant from The National Science Foundation the indirect rate applied to his/her budget would be 61% (the federally negotiated rate). If the direct costs of the proposal were 100,000, indirect costs would be charged at 61%, and the indirect cost of the project would be $61,000, for a total project cost of $161,000. Once the direct costs of the project are expended, each of the various organizations within Virginia Tech that are part of the indirect distribution chain would receive their share of the indirect costs of performing the funded work: OVPR would receive $5,228; the Central Capital Account would receive $6,795; the State of Virginia would receive $18,300; the college or department would receive $24,578; and Capital 2 would receive $6,100.   The PI should contact the departmental business manager or fiscal manager to determine if a FORM C is necessary. The PI must submit FORM C Cost Accounting Exemption Request to their Pre-Award Administrator along with the signed Proposal Approval Form at least 2 days before submission.   

Public Health Service (PHS) Institutional Compliance Form

When a proposal is submitted to the Public Health Service (PHS), the PHS Institutional Compliance Form must be completed.  This form must be signed by all Virginia Tech PI’s and Co-PIs on a PHS proposal.  PHS guidelines require that this form be kept on file for all proposal submissions.  The PI must submit the PHS Institutional Compliance Form to their pre-award administrator along with the signed Proposal Approval Form at least 2 days before submission.

Modes of Submission

Electronic

Most sponsors use some type of electronic system to receive and manage proposals and awards. The federal government uses systems such as Grants.gov, Fastlane, and FedConnect; universities, including Virginia Tech, often use the new web-based front-end software service called Cayuse to submit many types of federal awards; and other sponsors such as American Heart Association have their own specialized online system. For a more complete treatment of electronic proposal submission, please go here: (link to electronic submissions page).

The RFP should detail the submission method preferred by the sponsor. If submission is through an electronic system, it is the PIs responsibility to familiarize him/herself with the submission process; however, there are pre-award administrators with expertise in certain electronic systems who can offer various tips and warnings during the submission process.

Electronic systems usually require some sort of registration, and sometimes such registration may take several days or steps, so it is essential to begin that process immediately. Sometimes the PI is required to register and submit the proposal and sometimes it is the university or OSP administrator that must register in the system.  The PI must read the guidelines carefully to determine who should register and must remember to forward the guidelines to the Pre-Award Administrator as soon as possible.  When an electronic system requires the PI to submit the proposal, Virginia Tech still requires the usual internal budget and forms to be completed. 

HardCopy

Some sponsors require a hardcopy of the proposal to be submitted.  In these circumstances, the PI must mark on the proposal approval form that a hardcopy is required and indicate how many copies, in addition to the originals, must be sent.  If color copies are required, the PI must provide them to OSP.  The Pre-Award Administrator will work with the processors to prepare a transmittal letter to accompany the proposal and will obtain the necessary university signatures.  The processors will make copies (not in color) and send the proposal to the sponsor using UPS overnight service to the address provided by the PI on the proposal approval form.  PIs must have the completed proposal to OSP 2 business days before the proposal is due in order for it to be reviewed and sent to the sponsor by the deadline.

Sponsors commonly request an email copy of the proposal that is being sent hardcopy.  If this is the case, the PI must mark “hardcopy” and “digital” under “mailing instructions” on the proposal approval form.  There are two options for “digital” on the approval form.  One is “Digital (OSP PDF)” which means that OSP will scan the hardcopy documents provided and send them as a PDF.  The other option is “Digital PI” which means that the PI has emailed a digital version that should be forwarded directly to the sponsor.  This would be necessary if there were detailed graphics that should not be re-scanned.

E-mail

Sponsors may require only an email of the proposal to be sent.  In this case, the PI must mark “digital” under “mailing instructions” on the approval form.  There are two options for “digital” on the approval form.  One is “Digital (OSP PDF)” which means that OSP will scan the hardcopy documents provided and send them as a PDF.  The other option is “Digital PI” which means that the PI has emailed a digital version that should be forwarded directly to the sponsor.  This would be necessary if there were detailed graphics that should not be re-scanned.  The Pre-Award Administrator will work with the processors to prepare a transmittal letter to accompany the proposal and will obtain the necessary university signatures.  Once all necessary signatures and cover letters are obtained, the processor will email the proposal to the address provided by the PI on the proposal approval form.  PIs must have the completed proposal to OSP 2 business days before the proposal is due in order for it to be reviewed and sent to the sponsor by the deadline.

After Submission

A copy of the proposal will be kept on file in the Office of Sponsored Programs until the sponsor decides whether or not to fund the proposal.  If the proposal is declined, the proposal file will be returned to the PI when requested.  If the PI receives notification of a decline, the PI should advise the pre-award administrator.

Withdrawal

Occasionally circumstances require that a proposal be withdrawn after it has been submitted to a sponsor. Please advise the Pre-Award Administrator if this situation occurs to ensure that a formal written university withdrawal can be provided to the sponsor.