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Indiana University Bloomington

Guide to the IU Grants Submission Process

Aside from internal competitions for IU funds, all grant proposals must be formally submitted through the university's Office of Research Administration (ORA). Unless you have received permission from ORA , you are not allowed to submit a grant proposal to any external organization or agency. ORA requires that all administrative components of a proposal be turned into ORA for review 5 business-days before the agency deadline, and all research-related components of the proposal be turned into ORA for review 2 business-days before the agency deadline. In most cases, ORA takes care of boxing and mailing hard copies, or hitting "submit" for electronic submissions. What follows are some notes on what you must do to get that point.

Where to Start

The Office of Research Administration website is full of useful facts, forms, and guidance. This is a good place to start for many questions. If you can't find what you're looking for, call the ORA office at 855-0516 and ask to speak to a grant specialist.

ORA now offers extra proposal development support for budget construction, as well as help filling out forms in Kuali Coeus, FastLane, and Grants.gov. Contact resdev [at] indiana.edu a minimum of two weeks before the agency deadline to request help through this program.

Here are links to some standard NIH packages:

For more basic advice, check out the NIH page on Grant Application Basics, or the NSF page on How to Prepare Your Proposal. The NIH has also published examples of successful R01 applications and summary statements in the new, shorter format, which might be useful as models, as well as a graphical representation of the types of award mechanisms that are most appropriate for each stage of your research career.

Limited Submissions Programs

Some grant programs restrict the number of proposals that can be submitted by a single department, school, campus or even university. This should be explicitly stated in the program guidelines. For such programs, IU conducts an internal competition to determine which proposals may be submitted to the granting agency. Information about internal competitions is posted on the VPR website; be sure to look at the upcoming deadlines link. Unless otherwise indicated, the required material for an internal competition is a simple 1-page description of the planned proposal and a short (1-2 page) CV. Be sure you mention anything you'll need to arrange with the university, such as a financial commitment or additional space.

Institutional Data for the Cover Page

All the IU-related information that might be requested by an agency is listed on the ORA institutional data page. Highlights include:

  • Legal Applicant Name: The Trustees of Indiana University
  • Applicant Institution: Indiana University, P.O. Box 1847, Bloomington, IN 47402-1847, Phone: (812) 855-0516, FAX: (812) 855-9943, E-mail: rugs [at] indiana.edu
  • Authorizing Official: Steven A. Martin, Associate Vice President for Research Administration, Indiana University, P.O. Box 1847, Bloomington, IN 47402-1847, Phone: (812) 855-0516, FAX: (812) 855-9943, E-mail: rugs [at] indiana.edu
  • Entity Number (EIN): 35-6001673
  • EIN for NIH and some other applications: 1-356001673-A1
  • DUNS Number: 00-604-6700
  • Congressional District (Bloomington): 9th
  • NIH Institutional Profile Number (Bloomington): 577805
  • NSF Organization Code (IU): 0018093000

Budgets

A grant specialist at ORA will have to approve your budget before you will be allowed to submit your proposal. It is a good idea to send your budget to ORA a week or two in advance, so that the routing and submission process is not slowed down by budget problems at the last minute. At the very least, they ask for 5 business days for budget review. If you're not sure how to start working on your budget, ORA has sample files you can download from the ORA forms page.

Salaries. Faculty effort on a grant proposal that is committed during the academic year must be treated and documented as "cost share" by the university, unless salary proportionate to the effort is included on the budget. Therefore, the university encourages faculty NOT to include any percent effort on NIH and NSF grants during the academic year on grant budgets, unless cost share is specifically required by the agency guidelines. Read the complete ORA policy on cost share.

Fringe benefits. Fringe benefits are charged on all appointed staff, hourly non-student, and faculty summer salaries. Mandatory health insurance is charged on each graduate student listed in the budget. Fringe and health insurance rates change periodically. You can find the most current numbers for fringe rates, mileage and per diem on the ORA rates page.

Fee Remissions. All proposals must include a graduate student fee remission for each student listed in the budget (unless student has more than 90 credit hours). This entry should appear in the “Other” category in the budget. These rates are set by the College and are not subject to indirect costs (F&A).

For grants with F&A, graduate fee remission levels may be charged at the in-state rate. Grants with no F&A must charge graduate fee remission at the full out-of-state rate. A full year of graduate support requires 30 credit hours. Check on the latest rate for graduate credits in the graduate school on the IU Bursar's tuition and fee rates page. Project the rate for future years using a 5% annual rate of increase according to the College's Budget Guidelines below.

Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A, formerly called Indirect Costs). The latest F&A rate agreement with DHHS was signed on June 20, 2011. The on-campus research rate is 56%. All budget entries are subject to F&A costs with the exception of equipment (items more than $5K), fee remissions, and subcontracts or subgrants (only the first $25K is subject to overhead; the remainder is exempt from overhead). All grants must include the negotiated F&A cost rate. Some agencies do not fund F&A costs. In the event they are unable to pay the full rate, the Chair must concur beforehand, as well as the College and OVPR. Any modification of this rate should be clearly stated on the route sheet with appropriate approvals identified.

Budget Approval. There are two ways to share a budget with ORA for review:

  • You may email your budget and justification to ORA (resdev [at] indiana.edu) as attachments (excel, pdf, word, etc). Excel is preferred for the budget itself.
  • The NSF FastLane submission system allows ORA grants specialists to review your budget online. To take advantage of this capability, you must set "SRO Access" in the PI functions for a particular proposal, allowing ORA to view only, view/edit, or view/edit and submit.

Keep in mind that if you include funds for a collaborator at another institution, you will have to arrange a subcontract, with which ORA can assist you. Revised budgets requested by the agency require ORA approval prior to submission.

Research Subject and Materials Approvals

For the most part, research subjects approval from the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB) or the Bloomington Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (BIACUC) can be "pending" at the time a proposal is submitted. But the approval process must be complete before the university can accept an award.

Materials clearances, such as for DNA or radioactive chemicals, generally must be in place prior to the submission of a proposal. Be sure to check into any permission you might need early in the proposal preparation process.

Trainees: Ethics Training and Postdoc Mentoring

NSF requires that all trainees (undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral) involved with grants funded as the result of a proposal submitted after January 4, 2010, receive training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR). There is nothing different that you must do within an NSF proposal to meet this new requirement; however, if your proposal is successful, you should be aware of the additional responsibilities associated with the requirement: discipline specific mentoring by the PI and lead investigators during the course of the grant, and successful completion of selected modules of the online RCR program hosted by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). IU has indicated that it will track certification centrally, so that the burden does not fall primarily on individual PIs.

NSF also requires that postdoctoral fellows receive explicit mentoring, an older requirement prompted by the 2007 America COMPETES Act. Conversely to the above requirement, this affects the proposal and is not tracked post-award. Proposals involving a postdoc must include a supporting document detailing the PI's postdoctoral mentoring plan. IU has not published explicit guidance regarding this plan. Several helpful pages are posted by UC Merced (includes an example file), and the National Postdoc Association (includes articles for faculty mentors).

Collaborators

In most situations, you'll be asked to submit biographical and funding information for collaborators and project participants. Read the format guidelines carefully. NIH and NSF request different formats and different sets of information. The grant specialist at ORA who reviews proposal will ask you to correct formatting problems, such as listing too many publications or synergistic activities, or neglecting to list required funding information for collaborators.

IU participates in COS Pivot, a service that allows researchers to look for potential collaborators based on characteristics of their research profile or publishing history, as well as search for or receive regular notifications of funding opportunities. All IU faculty are encouraged to set up a profile and use the service; assistance with Pivot is available online.

Letters

Many proposals include some sort of letter, either offering endorsement for a project, agreeing to collaborate, or offering financial support--cost share or otherwise.

Cost Share: As discussed above, cost sharing is strongly discouraged by the University if not specifically required by the agency. Keep in mind that in situations involving commitment of financial support from the university, if a dollar figure is mentioned in the letter, it usually must also be included in the budget as cost share. Cost share situations require additional oversight, reporting and financial management; therefore, to avoid a cost share arrangement if the program guidelines indicate that no cost share is required (for NSF, this phrase is now interpreted as "cost share is not allowed"), be careful that letters of support do not include dollar figures. Instead, retain documentation in your own files about the specific dollar values committed.

Cost-sharing is normally handled by showing the University contribution to the PI salary and fringe benefits during the academic year for the fraction of the time the PI works on grant-related activities. Any such cost-share request must be clearly identified on the route sheet with source, amount, and approvals clearly provided and arrangements finalized prior to routing. Written documentation (including emails) of OVPR or College support should be included as attachments on the proposal routing form in ERA.

The IU cost sharing policy is published in the policy section of the Research Administration website.

Conflicts of Interest

Be sure you have submitted a conflict of interest disclosure form before you try to route your proposal. This is not necessary for each proposal, but must be done annually.

Routing a submission

To ensure that federal and state guidelines are met and that the intellectual and academic objectives of the University are maintained, all proposals for external funding must be reviewed at appropriate administrative levels prior to submission. Internal approvals at Indiana University are obtained electronically with the proposal development document.

Your proposal can be uploaded into Kuali Coeus for electronic submission. If your proposal is not available electronically, or if hard copies must be mailed, bring the hard copies to Grant Services for signature and mailing. In these cases the Grant Services office requests one file copy of the complete proposal.

Kuali Coeus proposal development forms are approved first by the Project Director, then the Department Chair, then the Dean of the School or appropriate administrative official. If project personnel are from more than one department or school, all associated chairs and deans must approve. If a project involves another campus, the campus must also sign off on the proposal. Grant Services will review the proposal, verify that the project is in compliance with applicable regulations, policies and assurances, obtain any required institutional signatures and transmit (or advise the project director to submit) the proposal to the agency according to agency guidelines. In addition, ORA can initiate a KC document for you, and can help you with KC forms, if you run into problems; contact them atproposalhelp [at] indiana.edu

You may submit an electronic route sheet through KC as soon as your budget has been approved by ORA , even if the rest of your proposal is not ready to be submitted. You must include the final budget in the routing form as an attachment, as well as any materials documenting cost-share agreements, but no other proposal materials are required for the approval process. You should start the routing form approval process at least 2-3 days before the deadline, to allow sufficient time for all the approvals. PBS staff can also route the KC doc for you.

Actually submitting the proposal

NSF and many other agencies now support completely electronic submission, so that no hard copies are necessary. However, some proposals for NIH and other agencies still require submission of hard copies.

It is no longer necessary to provide hard copies to the various offices that approve your route sheet. Usually, ORA takes responsibility for packaging and shipping proposals that must be submitted as hard copies, but you must supply the actual hard copies, and allow sufficient time for packaging and make sure that the proposal has been correctly routed. However, you may be required to make (and pay for) your own shipping drop-off if you're running close to the receipt date and the last pick-up at ORA has already occurred.

For completely electronic submissions, you should communicate with your assigned grant specialist at ORA to determine whether ORA or you is responsible for "pushing the button." For NSF proposals, ORA must do the final online submission, for which you must set SRO access to "read, edit and submit" in FastLane. For some other submissions, especially private granting programs, you are in charge of submitting the proposal, but you must receive authorization from ORA before you do so.

Note that new deadlines for internal review prior to submission went into effect January 29, 2011. Administrative materials, including the project budget and letters of support, must be submitted to ORA by 5:00 p.m. five (5) business days before the sponsor's deadline. The remaining materials (anything science-related), including proposal abstract, narratives and technical material, must be submitted two (2) business days before the sponsor's deadline for electronic submissions, or three (3) business days before the sponsor's deadline for paper submissions. To request an exemption to this timeline, the PI must submit an explanatory email to the Vice President for Research, copying the Chair and Associate Dean for Research. The complete policy is posted on the ORA site.