OSP | FAQ | Proposal Approval & Submission

What does "Routing" mean?

Routing refers to the university approval process for proposals. After the technical components and proposal budget have been completed, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) will initiate routing to obtain institutional review and approval. A routing form must accompany each proposal and requires signature by the Institutional Signatory (OSP Director or Vice Provost for Research/Dean of Graduate Studies) after review. The signatures indicate agreement to the proposal and concurrence that the proposal can be sent to the sponsor. All signatures must be obtained before the proposal can be released.

Who needs to sign the Routing Form, and why do they need to sign it?

Signatures required vary with the type of project being proposed. When the principal investigator/project director (PI/PD) signs and approves the form, he or she is approving the entire proposal and assuming responsibility for:

  • the scope of scientific and technical effort,
  • preparation of required technical reports, and
  • management of the project within the budget and time constraints of the proposal in compliance with sponsor regulations and University policies.

The PI/PD may not delegate his or her authority to approve proposals.  

The PI/PD's department and college/school Dean's certify the academic soundness of the project, facility and space availability, cost sharing (other than any indirect cost waiver that is a documented sponsor policy), course release arrangements, and the compatibility of the project's goals with the teaching unit's objectives.

A proposed project/program involving faculty or staff from more than one unit must be routed through all units involved. OSP will draft a transmittal letter if required by the sponsor. The final submission represents an offer by the University to perform the activities specified in the proposal. The review and approval process ensures compliance with both sponsor and University policies.

How long does it take to get a proposal approved through the university?

It varies. The first step should be to discuss the proposal with your Dean or Department Chair to see what they will require to review your proposal. For proposals under $250,000 going to a U.S. address, you should allow a minimum of one week for the review and signing of the approval form. Proposals that have a cumulative total of $250,000 or more, and proposals of any amount going to an international address must have completed the University's pre-approval process. Allow three weeks prior to the sponsor's proposal submission deadline for proposals that require approval via the pre-approval process. OSP will try to accommodate compressed time frames for proposal submission but cannot guarantee that all University decision makers will be available for approval and signature.

Please see the OSP Process Memo for more information regarding deadlines for submitting proposals at the University.

How does OSP help with the submission of a proposal?

To ensure timely review, routing, and institutional approval, OSP requires PIs/PDs to complete all necessary technical sections of proposals at least two business days before the proposal submission deadline. Given a reasonable amount of time between proposal development and submission, you can expect that OSP will:  

  • Complete all proposal forms requiring institutional information, certifications and assurances
  • Reviews and advises the PI/PD of all relevant sponsor guidelines
  • Drafts required and requested proposal transmittal letters to the sponsor
  • Coordinates the University review process, securing necessary approvals and signatures
  • Ensures the proposal is prepared in accordance with sponsor requirements
  • Compiles complete proposal packages
  • Submits proposal to the sponsor and arranges for courier service to deliver proposals when needed
  • Retain proof of delivery 
  • Follow-up with sponsor when needed to monitor status of proposals
  • Coordinates budget revisions and re-submissions when necessary
  • Arranges for debriefings with prospective faculty, staff and sponsors as appropriate

If I submit electronically, can I work on the proposal up until the due date since OSP only has to push a button?

Due to the difficulties inherent in the electronic submission process, OSP cannot guarantee the timely submission of proposals that are sent less than 48 hours before the due date. Sometimes sponsor systems have difficulties or the platforms will not accept the documents as they are formatted. Proposals that do not meet the advance submission requirement of 48 hours will be accepted and OSP will attempt to send the proposal. Missing the advance submission requirement will mean that, should the sponsor system be having difficulty, OSP may not be able to make alternative arrangements with the sponsor in time for the legal due date.  

I submitted a proposal but just now realize it may need revisions. What do I do?

In the event revisions are needed after the proposal has been submitted to the sponsor, depending on the nature and scope of the revisions, it may require another internal review and approval. The ability to submit revisions is contingent upon whether the sponsor will allow it as well as if the revisions can be made before the sponsor's proposal deadline.

Please contact your assigned OSP staff member to confirm whether the revised proposal needs to be routed.

I will be joining AU and want to bring a sponsored award from my previous institution with me. What should I do?

A new AU faculty/staff member coming from another institution may wish to transfer his/her sponsored award to American University. Generally, such transfers require the approval of both the previous institution and the sponsoring agency. To initiate the transfer process, a new or revised proposal is prepared and sent through OSP's normal routing process. For additional information on the transferring of an award from another institution, the assigned OSP pre-award staff member should be notified.

What should I do if I am leaving AU and want to bring my sponsored award with me to another institution?

An AU PI/PD who is transferring out of the University may wish to continue his or her sponsored project at a new institution. A request to transfer the sponsored award to a new institution must proceed through OSP, with the consent of the PIs/PDs teaching unit head, the school/college Dean, and the approval of the sponsoring agency. Approved transfers occur only after a final accounting and release from Grants and Contracts Accounting (GCA), certifying the amount of funds remaining available to transfer.

If American University elects to retain the sponsored award, a new PI/PD will be nominated to replace the departing PI/PD, upon confirmation and approval of the teaching unit heads, school/college Dean and sponsoring agency.

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