Preparing a Proposal

Preparing a proposal is a complex process that has many requirements and a lot of paperwork. We understand that the process can be daunting and time-consuming, but we are here to help you navigate the winding road.
To facilitate the process, you will find below an outline of applicant responsibilities, necessary forms, and other resources that will help you develop your proposal effectively.

Roles and Responsibilities for Proposal Preparation Stage
Roles PI PreAward Unit Admin PostAward Unit Admin Dean OSP GCA VPR ORI
Finds Funding Opportunities R C,I,R,A R,A
Prepares the Statement of Work R,A C,I
Prepares the Project Budget R,A R Varies by Unit C,I
Completes and submits IRB/IACUC/IBC Application R,A C,I
Approve cost sharing prior to submission of grant R A C
Approve pre-award account I C,I R,I C A
Develop the project scope for subawards R,A C,I
Complete and submit request for subaward R,A C,I
Key to RACI

Proposal Documents

In order to provide the greatest chance of success for AU proposals, it is expected that Principal Investigators (PI) and their Departmental Administrators (DA) will provide a complete proposal package in advance of the sponsor deadline in accordance with American University’s proposal submission policy.

Proposal Package Elements to OSP

  • Set-up and submit a Cayuse SP record including certification from the PI, PI's department and school. 
  • Well Developed Proposal Draft
  • Final Budget
  • Final Budget justification
  • Completed Sponsor Forms Requiring OSP Signatures

If the proposal includes subawards, the following documents are required:

  • Subrecipient Commitment Form

  • Subrecipient Monitoring Pre-Qualifying Questionnaire

  • Letter of intent to subcontract signed by institutional official of subcontract site
  • Scope of work
  • Budget/budget justification
  • Biosketches for key personnel (if applicable)
  • Subrecipient’s most recent negotiated rate agreement (if applicable)
  • Facilities/resources pages (if applicable)
  • IRB and IACUC approvals (if applicable)
  • Any other documents required by prime sponsor

Distinction Between a Subrecipient and a Contractor

OMB Uniform Guidance also makes a distinction between a subrecipient (substantive work) and a contractor:

A subrecipient is defined as “a non‐Federal entity that receives a subaward from a pass‐through entity to carry out part of a Federal program; but does not include an individual that is a beneficiary of such program. A subrecipient may also be a recipient of other Federal awards directly from a Federal awarding agency.”

A contractor is defined as "an entity that receives a contract,” which is defined as “a legal instrument by which a non‐Federal entity purchases property or services needed to carry out the project or program under a Federal award. The term as used in this Part does not include a legal instrument, even if the non‐Federal entity considers it a contract, when the substance of the transaction meets the definition of a Federal award or subaward.“

If your proposal includes consultants, the following information is required:

  • Consultant letter(s) of commitment (including consulting rate if paid consultant) and Biosketch.
  • If sponsor has specific requirements for consultants, required documents should be included.

Consultants can be an individual or company retained to provide professional advice or services on a project for a fee. They are hired to provide essential services unavailable from existing project personnel.

For requests for F&A rate exceptions, the following documentation is needed:

  • A sponsor’s published rate documented by reference to a posting on their website or included in email from appropriate institutional officer.