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A pre-proposal (sometimes called a white paper, letter proposal, letter of intent, preliminary proposal, pre-application, or concept paper) is a short description of the proposed project. Usually, the purpose of a pre-proposal is to inform and interest the potential sponsor in the project, resulting in a request for a more detailed formal proposal. If the sponsor requires an institutional official to sign or submit the pre-proposal, please contact Sponsored Projects Services early in the preparation process to determine if the pre-proposal should be routed through UAccess Research subject to Internal Deadlines for Proposal Routing.
A pre-proposal must be routed through UAccess Research for institutional approval prior to submission if it:
- Involves a commitment of University resources
- Includes a detailed budget
- Includes cost sharing or an exception to the University F&A Cost rate
It is not necessary to route a pre-proposal for institutional approval if it:
- Includes a total cost estimate without a detailed budget
- Is not expected to result directly in an award without a full detailed proposal
Sponsors solicit formal proposals by publishing specific program announcements. These solicitations are often called Request for Proposals (RFPs), Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs), etc. Researchers responding to the program announcement write the proposal to meet the sponsor’s program guidelines. Deadlines may recur annually or several times a year.
A response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) is one type of solicited proposal. Most RFP’s have a stated deadline and are one-time solicitations for specific needs of the sponsor, not expected to recur. The proposed project must respond to the specific work statement in the Request for Proposal.
Solicited proposals must be routed through the University proposal routing process prior to submitting the proposal to the sponsor.
A competing renewal proposal (also called a competing continuation) is a request for continued funding of a project for which the funding or project period is about to terminate. Such proposals are similar to "new" proposals and must be routed and approved in the same manner.
Noncompeting continuation proposals, which request the next year’s funding within a multi-year grant, generally consist of a progress report, budget, and other relevant materials such as research results, reprints, vitae for new personnel, etc. They sometimes include a financial status report showing the unobligated balance for the current year. Generally, sponsors require the signature of the institutional official and investigators. Noncompeting continuation proposals are routed through UAccess Research, even if a budget is not required.
Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR) is a federal-wide uniform progress report format for use by federal agencies that provide sponsored funding. RPPR is also used for noncompeting continuations. These reports to NSF are now submitted through Research.gov. Information on how to file annual, final, and interim reports with the NSF is available at About Research.gov Project Reporting.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires use of the RPPR module to submit progress reports. Information is available on the NIH’s Research Performance Progress Report and the Managing Projects - Progress reports section of this website.
Occasionally, sponsors announce program funding opportunities limiting the number of proposals that may be submitted by each institution/applicant. Research, Discovery & Innovation distributes the program announcements through the weekly e-news, The Current, and online. Faculty interested in submitting proposals should follow the limited submission pre-proposal process. The primary criterion for selecting proposals is the relevance to the program selection criteria and the potential for successfully competing in the sponsor’s competitive process. Faculty whose pre-proposals are selected as the institutional submission will be notified and must then prepare a complete application to submit to the sponsor. See Limited Solicitations for additional information.
When a sponsor wants to fund a proposed project at an amount different from that originally proposed, the sponsor asks the investigator to submit a "revised" budget supporting the amount to be funded. A revised budget must be routed through the University proposal routing process to document the signatories’ approval of the budget revisions. If the sponsor reduces the budget, the investigator must determine whether the originally proposed scope and objectives of the project can be met under the revised budget. If not, the investigator and sponsor must redefine the scope and objectives in writing before the University accepts the award.
If the original budget contained cost share or matching, the cost share or matching amount may need to change to reflect the budget revisions. These changes need to be approved by the department head prior to routing the budget through UAccess Research.
Occasionally sponsors will request the Principal Investigator to revise the proposed budget before the time of award. The Preaward Services team needs to determine whether the revised budget needs to be fully re-routed through the UAccess Research System. Revised budgets that do not need re-routing still need to be reviewed by the Preaward Services team before being returned to the sponsor.
Budget revisions requested by the sponsor for fully routed proposals must be re-routed if:
- The budget change is greater than 25%, increase or decrease
- The scope of work is changing
- Any changes to Key Personnel
- Any increase in cost share
Example situations where budget revisions require re-route:
- The budget is changing 26% and the scope of work is staying the same
- The scope of work is changing but the budget is only changing 10%
- The budget is changing 30% and the scope of work is changing
- Principal Investigator is changing but the scope of work and budget are staying the same
- Cost-share is increasing
Revised budgets that do not need re-routing still need to be reviewed by the Preaward Services team before being returned to the sponsor.