Proposal Preparation & Submission

Overview

In general, funding proposals for non-clinical industry-sponsored projects are prepared and submitted to OIE for internal review in very much the same way as proposals to government and non-profit agencies are submitted to Sponsored Programs Administration-Grants Division (SPA-GD). As UofL central sponsored programs offices, OIE and SPA, both utilize the same Internal Forms and require similar information, so our customers enjoy consistency and familiarity.

While OIE does not submit funding requests directly to federal sponsors, we often handle proposals for the University to participate as a subawardee to companies (e.g., defense contractors, small business applicants to SBIR/STTR) who are applying to a government agency. OIE staff are knowledgeable about federal rules and regulations related to sponsored projects, potential compliance issues, and terms and conditions applicable to the award whether it is a grant or contract.

Quite often, university and industry investigators have already discussed and agreed on a project of mutual interest prior to proposal development. In such cases, the proposal should be submitted to OIE with a request to initiate negotiation of an appropriate funding agreement.

Regardless of the funding source, proposals should be prepared in accordance with all sponsor guidelines/expectations (including careful adherence to the federal program announcement/solicitation and instructions for subcontractors, if applicable) and with University Policies and Procedures. If the sponsor has published application guidelines, it’s imperative to read and follow them fully, each and every time, in the event of change. Sponsor application guidelines may also contain contractual terms and conditions if awarded, providing the opportunity to plan ahead to address non-standard or restrictive requirements which may require advance review and approval. (Example: Policies and Procedures for Classified and Sensitive Research

Before preparing your proposal, it is important to be familiar with the common elements to be included. Certain documents are needed for internal/OIE review, even if not required by an industry sponsor.

UofL Forms - Completed and signed Proposal Clearance Form (PCF), including PCF/MIRA Additional Signatures Page and/or PCF Clinical Attachment, when applicable. Following the PCF Instructions each time helps to minimize inadvertent error.

Statement of Work/Scope of Work - One of the most critical elements of a proposal and resulting funding agreement is the Statement of Work/Scope of Work (SOW). At a minimum, the SOW should provide a reasonably full and detailed explanation of the proposed activities to be performed by the University project team, typically including project goals and Investigator responsibilities. Industry sponsors may want to include timelines and defined deliverables (generally, the University commits to technical progress reports). If existing intellectual property (IP) of the University, the sponsor, and/or of a third party is to be utilized in performance of the project, it’s very helpful to clearly express such intended use and to list the IP by name/description.

Budget and Budget Justification - Although not required by all industry sponsors, a detailed line item budget and budget justification are used internally by OIE and SPA-Financial Administration to document project needs and personnel commitments, and to sufficiently support that budgeted costs are allowable, allocable, reasonable and consistent.

The budget includes a reasonable estimate of the financial support required to conduct the project, including justification of budget expenses. When applicable, the University budget should be prepared in the form and format required by the sponsor(s) (e.g., SF424 R&R; Budget Pages for Subaward/Consortium for NIH SBIR-STTR application; separate Base and Option budgets if required by Department of Defense Solicitation).

Typical budget categories include:

  • Direct Costs
    • Salaries - For University faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and casual or part-time workers, salary figures should be based on the percentage of effort by each individual on the project applied to his/her Institutional Base Salary.
    • Fringe Benefits Rates - The fringe benefits rate is expressed as a percentage of salary. The rate may vary depending on personnel classification. The above link to Recommended Fringe Benefits Rates per category is provided for ease of proposal development. To help avoid potential budget issues if awarded, use of actual rates is suggested when actual applicable fringe benefits rate is known and documented to be higher than the estimated rate shown in the Recommended table.
    • Equipment - Under UofL financial policy, an item is considered capital equipment when it has a unit cost of $5,000 or more, and has a useful life of at least two years and is typically excluded from F&A.;
    • Materials and Supplies - Itemize supplies in separate categories, such as glassware, chemicals, radioisotopes, etc. If animals are to be purchased, state the species and the number to be used. (Typically the following items are excluded from allowable Direct Costs: office supplies, all computers, IT, and phones.)
    • Travel - Domestic and foreign travel should be budgeted and justified separately. List the name, destination, and purpose of trip. Include transportation costs (coach airfare), registration fees, accommodation fees, and other related expenses. For any federally funded travel see the: Fly America Act Travel Policy
    • Publication Costs - Estimate the number of pages, page charges, and names of journals if possible.
    • Consultants (typically non-university employees) - List each consultant, their specialty or service to the project, and their daily, weekly or monthly rate of reimbursement, and show the consultant's total projected cost on the project. Include in the proposal a letter of collaboration and the consultant's curriculum vitae or biographical sketch.
    • Subrecipients - All external subrecipients should be identified at proposal stage. Include in the main UofL proposal each subrecipient's authorized proposal, signed letter of intent, statement of work, and budget with justification. For both budget and contracting purposes, it is important to distinguish between Sub-awards and Personal Service Contracts.
    • Other - Other costs typically include items such as research publications, fees, animal per diem costs, or other project related costs, and tuition when requested from sponsor.
  • Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A; Costs) - Sometimes referred to as Indirect Costs, the University’s F&A; rates are negotiated with UofL's cognizant federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services.
    In your project budget, use the current negotiated F&A; rate applicable to the type of project being proposed (such as Organized Research, or Other Sponsored Activity (which applies to non-experimental standard technical services/testing) and the primary location (on- or off-campus). Industry sponsors has policies regarding F&A; rates, budget rates should reflect those policies and a copy of the policy should be included with the proposal.
  • Cost Sharing - Cost sharing is any cost to the project not borne by the sponsor. It is generally not appropriate to cost share on research projects when industry is the sponsor (unless it is a case of governmental “flow through” which applies federal cost limitations, such as the NIH Salary Cap). For Other Sponsored Activities (standard technical services/testing), financial arrangements must be competitive with costs assessed by commercial organizations for comparable work and may be subject to unrelated business income tax. Department head, dean, and the Office of EVPRI approval are required before cost sharing with research sponsored by industry. Cost Sharing Policy
  • Additional Information - This may consist of the following if required by the sponsor:
    • Current and pending support of the PI and Key Personnel on current awards and pending proposals.
    • Letters of support from non-university investigators.
    • CV or Biographical Sketch for all key project personnel.
    • Other Support as a compilation of the current funding and time commitments for the Principal Investigator and any other key project personnel.
    • References to be cited in the proposal.

To include a subrecipient on your proposal, include the subrecipient’s Statement of Work, budget, budget justification, and Letter of Intent signed by the authorized representative of the organization you wish to engage, in your proposal package to OIE. Also, be sure to specifically reference the subrecipient by name in your application. Inclusion of subrecipients which are not identified at time of proposal may be handled through Purchasing subject to state procurement laws.

A Letter of Intent/Letter of Commitment signed by a University authorized representative certifies that the appropriate central administrative office (such as OIE) has reviewed and approved the University’s scope of work, the commitments of the faculty and the estimated costs of a proposed project, vis-à-vis the sponsor guidelines (if any).

Letters of Intent typically are required when the University will be a subcontractor/subgrantee to an industry sponsor under a federal prime award (whether grant or contract), or when otherwise required by a sponsor’s proposal submission guidelines.

Proposal Completion Checklist

Faculty often discuss technical aspects, and perhaps preliminary cost estimates, of a potential project with an industry sponsor in advance of developing a full proposal. Proposals are to be submitted to industry sponsors by OIE for the institution, on behalf of the UofL Principal Investigator (PI).

To expedite processing and assignment to a reviewer, all completed proposal elements should be submitted to the as attachments to a single email. When possible, proposal elements should be provided in a modifiable format (e.g., Word, Excel) to permit OIE to provide additional information and/or to make corrections in the interest of time.

In order to ensure submission, the final version of the proposal is to be submitted to OIE five (5) full business days prior to the sponsor’s deadline.

In the event that the industry sponsor utilizes a Web portal in which the PI must directly prepare and submit the application, please submit to OIE the final signed PCF, and copies of the final budget, budget justification, and statement of work. A copy of the final form of the proposal, as submitted by the PI to the sponsor, should be submitted to the .

Questions?

OIE staff are happy to answer any questions you may have concerning any process, form, document or policy. You may contact us by or by phone at 502-852-7253.