Once the proposal has been written and the budget completed, the internal approval process begins. The established procedures are put in place based on research rules and policies such as:
- Compliance guidelines for spending federal/state/local/private research funds
- Protecting the rights of human/animal subjects involved in research activity
- Controlling conflicts of interest that may occur when conducting research
- Preventing misconduct in research
- Assuring safe procedures when conducting research
- Overseeing issues related to Intellectual Property
Specific information related to each of these issues (as well as many others related to conducting research) is available on the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (OVPRGS) website.
Every university has internal procedures
Every university that engages in funded research projects has an internal system designed to address each of the issues listed above to ensure that the institution, the funding agency, the research subjects, etc. are protected.
The MSU eTransmittal Form
At MSU, the process is organized through a electronic document entitled the MSU eTransmittal Approval Form.
The Transmittal is an important document because it is the means by which each unit at the University has the opportunity to accept the responsibility for the costs and research integrity associated with a grant, in the event the grant should be awarded. It is important that ALL INFORMATION be ACCURATE, COMPLETE, and COMPLIANT with federal rules and guidelines.
Once the eTransmittal form is completed, it is circulated in proper sequence to all parties who must give approval PRIOR to the final submission of the grant proposal. In other words, the Principal Investigator must sign off on the form, then it must be approved by ALL Department Chairs/Unit Administrators of the researchers involved in the project. From there, the Dean's Office from each college involved must sign off on the form and it is then sent to the Contract and Grants Administration (CGA) office for final review, sign off and submission. Each of these offices will need time to review the project proposal, budget, budget justification and any additional information prior to signature.
CHM Research Office Pre-Award Review Process
Although we are happy to review proposal budgets when they are still in the draft stage to help avoid problems later on in the process, in order to sign off on the eTransmittal Form we need a copy for our records of the following package of information in final form:
- Project description;
- Complete detailed project budget;
- Complete project subcontract information, if applicable;
- Final budget justification;
- Complete eTransmittal Form;
- Project guidelines (either a copy of the funding opportunity guidelines or the website address to access the guidelines);
Once the package has arrived in the research office, we will set up a file to be kept in our office. The file is then subject to a CHM review process which includes the following questions:
- Do the guidelines have any special requirements or unusual expectations that are not consistent with MSU CHM goals?
- Is cost share required?
- Is there a limit on the overhead rate that can be charged?
- Is the project described in the abstract consistent with the funds requested?
- Does the project imply special space needs? If so, is this indicated on the eTransmittal?
- Are there any items included in the project budget that are not consistent with Federal A21 rules relative to University spending of Federal dollars?
- How much faculty time is being promised to the project?
- Do faculty salaries exceed the salary cap that has been established by NIH? If so, is the excess included as cost share to be covered by the department?
- How are the faculty salaries/fringe benefits calculated? (e.g. is the CGA Budget Builder--see the CGA Home Page for this tool--used to build this part of the budget?)
- Is faculty time being allocated during the academic year, the summer months or both?
- Is there a promise of cost share in the budget?
- Is there enough detail provided in the budget to determine the direct costs, overhead costs, cost share, salaries, fringe benefits, and specific areas of spending such as equipment, travel, supplies, etc.?
- Are all allowable items included in the Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) consistent with A21 guidelines?
- How much effort is being promised for each researcher involved in the project?
- Are any verbal promises being made that include costs not included in the actual budget?
- If so, are these promised expenditures indicated as cost share on the Transmittal form and have all Department Chairs indicated their agreement to absorb these costs?
- Is the narrative in the Budget Justification consistent with the actual entries in the project budget?
- Are all faculty included in the project listed on the eTransmittal form?
- Are the effort being reported on the form consistent with the project description?
- Do the effort and overhead totals equal 100%?
- Is all cost share implied in the budget included and explained on the eTransmittal form?
- Are all subcontracting costs included on the eTransmittal form?
- Do the totals listed on the eTransmittal Form match those included on the project budget?
- Are all questions answered relative to characteristics of the project?
- Have ALL Department Chairs with faculty promised to the project signed off on the eTransmittal Form, thereby indicating their approval of the project and, especially, their support of any cost share promised to support the project?
Time Requirements for CHM Review
Allow enough time for the internal review/signature process prior to the submission deadline date.
eTransmittals requiring review and signature are a top priority in the research office. However, when questions arise or issues are identified it can take time to get them answered and/or resolved. In most cases, eTransmittals are signed the same day or the next day from when they are received in our office. It is not our intention to cause any delay in your effort to obtain funding for your research projects, but it is necessary to make sure all aspects of the request meet department, college, university and federal guidelines. For this reason, please allow time (preferably 3 days) for the Research Office to review the package before expecting the sign off to occur. Again, most often the eTransmittals are signed off on the same day they are made available, but when issues arise, they can take time to resolve.
Finally, there should be NO changes made to the proposal or the eTransmittal Form after signatures have been secured. In the event that changes are required, it is necessary to provide evidence that all signators are in approval of the changes made before the proposal can be submitted.
If you would like assistance at ANY STAGE in the process of the pre-award package, please contact:
Sally Harris, Ph.D., Director of Research Support
Office of the Associate Dean for Research
Tel: (517) 353-7217