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How to Submit Your Proposal

The Office of Grants and Contracts (OGC) at CU Denver uses a 2-stage submission process – routing and then submission. Routing can be defined as the approval step. Since all awards are made to the University, you need to have approval from the University for your submission. The CLAS Office of Research and Creative Activities helps you to obtain the necessary College approvals and acts as a liaison with OGC for all proposals. The submission step is coordinated between you, the CLAS Research Services Senior Professional and OGC. The tabs below provide all the details you need to understand what is involved in each step.

PI Training
The Office of Grants and Contracts requires all potential Principal Investigators (PI) to complete an on-line PI training. This training lasts approximately 1.5 hours and can be completed in smaller chunks of time if you need it. The training is designed to help all PIs understand CU Denver's processes, policies and tools available to help you successfully manage your award. The training will also help you understand how Federal, State, and CU policies impact your proposal and how you need to set up your proposal so you can be compliant with all the necessary rules and regulations. The courses are offered through the SkillSoft portal.  All PIs need to complete the following courses:  

1.  Research Administration for Faculty; Course No. A00139

2.  Direct Charging to Sponsored Projects, Course No. U00059

3.  Electronic Personell Effort Reporting, Course No. U00055

Please note that OGC will not set up your award unless you have completed this training.

Read the Request for Proposal (RFP)
Even though most federal agencies have standard RFPs that they issue on a regular basis, it is important to read each one in case that particular RFP has special requirements you need to adhere to in order to be considered for funding. Some things to look for are:

  • Special registration with the agency. Some registrations must be done by OGC (NSF, NIH, etc.) and you need to allow a couple of days for this to be completed.
  • Some agencies require either a Letter of Intent or a Pre-Application in order to be able to submit a full proposal.
    • Note that if a Letter of Intent or Pre-Application involved an estimated or full budget, we must route this through OGC prior to submission.
  • Some RFPs limit the number of applications from a single institution. If you are interested in applying in this situation, please contact the CLAS Grants Development Coordinator to assist you in working with the Vice Chancellor of Research. The Vice Chancellor coordinates all limited submissions and determines if an internal competition needs to be held.
  • Budget limitations – you may need to coordinate with the Department Chair and the Dean's office if there are limits on any of the following items.
    • PI Salary
    • Indirect Costs
    • Exclusion of items that may be necessary to the proposed effort

Conflict of Interest
Due to recent changes at the federal level, all potential Principal Investigators, Senior Personnel and Collaborators (even from different institutions) must have a current Conflict of Interest disclosure on file. Please use the link below for more information about what is considered a conflict of interest and how often you need to update your disclosure.
Office of Regulatory Compliance - Conflict of Interest

Working with Collaborators – on and off-campus
Much of the currently funded research is collaborative in nature. Collaborations not only have impacts on the work that is proposed, but also on your budget and the timing of how materials are assembled for routing (approval) and submission. Please discuss with the CLAS Grants Development Coordinator the presence of off-campus collaborations well in advance of your routing date. There are various collaborative and consultancy arrangements that need finalizing prior to routing.

  • Most agencies have some type of budget limit. It is important that you and your collaborators work together to make sure that the budget is sufficient to cover the proposed effort.
  • If your collaborator is off-campus we must have their final budget numbers before we route our proposal.
    • This means that they will have to have gone through their own institution’s routing process for budget approval before we route. This usually means that your collaborator needs to route his/her budget about three (3) weeks prior to the due date.
    • If your collaborator is the lead institution – then we will need to know their routing deadline so we can have all the final budget materials to them on time.
  • Working with your collaborator(s) can impact the writing and completion your proposal. Be sure to keep in mind the following items as you move forward with your collaborative proposal:
    • Budgets and budget justifications can take extra time because you have to consider not only the direct cost of research, but also the indirect costs.
    • Editing can take a little longer when documents need to go through several institutions for approval.
    • Dealing with more than one routing schedule can add time to your proposal submission process. Please contact the CLAS Grants Development Coordinator as soon as possible so a schedule can be made and contacts established at the different departments or institutions.

As stated earlier, Routing is the approval process used at CU Denver. During this stage, you will work with your Department Chair, the CLAS Dean's Office and the Office of Grants and Contracts to obtain all the necessary approvals so you can submit your proposal. This process is used to clarify commitments and review the proposed project for compliance with departmental, college, University and Sponsor requirements.

  • The first part of routing is obtaining all the necessary approvals to submit your proposal. The review and approvals on the electronic routing indicate the following commitments or support.
    • Your approval of the electronic routing indicates that you are or will be compliant with all of the following policies.
      • Conflict of Interest
      • Human Subjects requirements (as applicable)
      • Animal Subjects requirements (as appropriate)
      • Biosafety requirements (as appropriate)
      • Export Control (as appropriate)
      • You are willing to be responsible for
        • The execution of the proposed activities
        • Adhering to the proposed financial plan
        • Certifying effort (for yourself and any employees you have on the project)
        • Supervising employees and subcontractors
        • Reviewing and reconciling financial statements
        • Disclosing intellectual property issues
        • Notifying OGC of any audits
    • Your Department Chair's review and approval of the electronic routing certifies:
      • There is or will be available appropriate space for the project,
      • S/he agrees with budgetary matters including workloads, course buy-outs, cost share, graduate students, post-docs, etc.
      • Any cost share is documented and agreed upon.
    • Once you and your Chair have approved the routing, it is forwarded to the CLAS Associate Dean for Research and Creative Activities to obtain the necessary approval for the College. The approval certifies:
      • Effort commitments are appropriate and cost share, if any, is appropriate and agreed upon
      • Space needs are met or committed
      • The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences supports the submission
  • The second part of routing is the review of the entire proposal for compliance. The Office of Grants and Contracts completes this review. They check all proposals for the following items.
    • Correct application of costs in the budget.
      • Verification of salary amounts
      • Appropriate calculation of fringe benefits and facilities and administrative costs (F&A or overhead)
    • Compliance with sponsor requirements
      • This is completely done when applications are routed on time and all documents are provided
      • When routing is done past the OGC deadline or without all the required documents, this step is diminished significantly and the you as the PI become responsible to ensure complete compliance
    • Compliance with University policies and procedures and Federal regulations
    • Once their review is complete, OGC will note any required changes we must make before submission, sign the routing form, and return the routing to us via e-mail.
      • The OGC signature on the returned routing documents indicates you have institutional permission to submit the proposal as long as you make the required changes noted in the returned routing document

When to Route
The Office of Grants and Contracts has established two routing deadlines based upon the type of submission you are planning. Electronic submissions (which are submissions that must be completed by the Office of Grants and Contracts) are required to be submitted to OGC 12 business days prior to the sponsor's deadline. Paper submissions (or any submission that we submit at the College level) are required to be submitted to OGC 5 business days prior to the sponsor's deadline. The link below will assist you with determining your routing deadline. Keep in mind that prior to being submitted to OGC you will need to complete several steps (see What is Routing and What to Route for more information) to complete the routing so you may need to be prepared prior to the OGC routing deadline date. In general, your routing materials should be in the CLAS Grant Development Coordinator's office the day before they are due to OGC for routing. Note that if you will be a collaborator on another institution's submission, their institutional routing deadline is our final deadline and you should plan routing around their deadline and not the sponsor's.

Electronic Submission Routing Submission Deadlines (paper and electronic)

What to Route
Below is a list of items that are generally part of a proposal submission and what 'condition' each needs to be in at the time of routing. Of course, a RFP may have other documents than the ones listed below. Please contact the CLAS Grants Development Coordinator for specific details on your proposal.

  • The CLAS Grant Submission Information Form 
  • Documents that need to be in final form at the time of routing.
    • Budget
      • A detailed budget is required even if the sponsor does not require a detailed budget.
      • Your budget must include appropriate charges for time, supplies, travel, etc.  Please see the CLAS Effort policy for information on minimum effort and course-buyout charges.
    • Budget Justification
      • A detailed budget justification is required even if the sponsor does not require one.
    • Project Summary, Abstract and/or Specific Aims
    • On or Off-Campus collaborator information
      • Detailed budget
      • Detailed Budget Justification
      • The CLAS Subrecipient form with all signatures
      • All forms required for the final submission
        • Biographical Sketches or CVs
        • Facilities descriptions
        • Current and Pending Support Forms
    • If you will be a collaborator on another institution's submission, you will need to complete the Letter of Intent to Enter into a Consortium agreement form and sign and date it.
  • Documents STRONGLY suggested to be in final form at routing, but draft is acceptable
    • CLAS personnel biographical sketches or CVs
    • CLAS facilities and capacities descriptions
    • CLAS personnel Current and Pending Support Forms
    • Data Management Plans
    • Post-Doctoral Mentoring Plans
    • Human Subject, IACUC, or Biosafety information
  • Documents that can be in draft form at the time of routing
    • Project Narrative
    • Bibliography/References

Electronic Routing

The Routing Tab describes what routing is and accomplishes. Please review that if you have questions.  In short, routing is an electronic process where all approvals for the submission are obtained.  Once you have submitted the documents listed above for routing, the CLAS Grants Development Coordinator will clarify any questions or concerns, check your proposal for correct forms and compliance with sponsor, university and college policies, and input your materials into the InfoEd system.  Once that is complete, Principal Investigators receive an e-mail with detailed instructions and a link to their routed proposal.  Completing the instructions from that e-mail is what officially starts the routing process. Please see the OGC Electronic Research Administration website for more details, instructions and course offerings. 

Completing the routing materials on time still leaves you with plenty of time to complete your proposal. The schedule of routing and materials is designed to put you in the best position so that you will have plenty of time to polish and refine the main component of your proposal – the project narrative prior to submission to the sponsor.

When the Office of Grants and Contracts completes their review of your proposal, they will send you and the CLAS Research Services Senior Professional an e-mail indicating that the review is complete and note the following items.

  • If any changes are required prior to submission so that your proposal is compliant with CU Denver policies or the sponsor requirements.
  • If your submission is required to be completed by OGC they will also provide a deadline date so that your submission is on time to the sponsor.
    • Typically the OGC submission deadline is four (4) business days prior to the due date.
    • This date was established to ensure that your proposal can still be submitted on time despite any technical difficulties that can arise with electronic submissions.
      • The few days prior to some large federal submission dates are frequently so busy that it may take OGC personnel hours to get a single submission through the Grants.gov system.
      • There have been instances when electronic submission systems fail. All federal agencies have policies that state it is still your responsibility to have your proposal to the agency by the stated due date even if there are technical difficulties. Fortunately, most federal agencies currently allow you to request an exception if a technical difficulty arises but with increasing high numbers of applications it is very likely that this leniency will not last.
      • At NIH you are allowed to correct any errors, warnings or other issues in a submitted application. However, all corrections must be done prior to the submission deadline. With submission congestion the early submission helps to insure that you will have time to not only submit, but also re-submit if necessary.
    • If your submission does not require the CU Denver Authorized Organizational Representative to submit and certify your application, then the CLAS Grants Development Coordinator handles the submission. You should coordinate your submission with her so that there is sufficient time to submit your proposal through the indicated mechanism (website, e-mail, or mail – or some combination the three).

Once the review is completed by OGC then it is time for you to work with the CLAS Grants Development Coordinator (CLAS GDC) to finish your application materials prior to the noted submission deadline. The CLAS GDC will then assemble your materials into the package identified by the sponsor and send it to you for a complete and final review.

  • It is your responsibility as PI to review the entire application package for completeness and to make sure that everything is correctly represented. If you have any questions or concerns about how the package is assembled it is important you clarify those prior to authorizing your application for submission.
  • The CLAS GDC will also review the entire package to make sure it is compliant with CU Denver and the sponsor's requirement.

When all final reviews are complete it is time for you to authorize your application package to be released for submission. The CLAS GDC will either submit your proposal to OGC or to the sponsor. If OGC handles the submission, they will send an e-mail to you and the CLAS GDC confirming the submission is complete. If the CLAS GDC handles the submission she will send you the information that confirms your submission was received by the sponsor.

  • This is the point at which you need to again review your entire application if possible. You should check it not only for completeness but also for any missed typographical errors, uploading errors, or other issues that could negatively influence the review of your proposal. Often it is possible to 'pull' your submission, make corrections and resubmit your proposal.
  • If your proposal was submitted to NIH, then it is critically important that you log in to your NIH account and review your proposal as soon as you can. By the time your proposal is uploaded into the NIH review system, it has gone through at least five computers or systems and this can cause unexpected errors or symbols to appear in your proposal. This is partly why NIH specifically allows you to correct your proposal.
  • If you find you need to make corrections, contact the CLAS GDC as soon as possible to coordinate the corrections.

Once your submission is complete, the CLAS GDC will download your submitted application package and send it to you. If it is not possible for the CLAS GDC to do this and you can, please send the completed package to her as soon as possible. The copy is kept in your application file and is used to assist with the award process.