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Quick Guide to Proposal Review and Submission for UC Berkeley Faculty

Campus Offices Responsible for Submitting Proposals

Faculty and other academic employees who receive any part of their salary through the University, or whose activities use any University resources or facilities, must submit proposals for extramural funding through one of the following offices. The office used depends on the source of funding:

  • Sponsored Projects Office: This office reviews and approves proposals to government agencies (local, state, federal) and non-profit sponsors prior to submission.
  • Industry Alliance Office: This office reviews and approves proposals to for-profit and industrial sponsors prior to submission.

It is considered a University policy violation to submit proposals related to research, instruction and/or public service from UC Berkeley without the oversight and approval of one of the above offices. Therefore, Principal Investigators (PIs) are advised to contact SPO or IAO as soon as possible if an informal discussion with a sponsor about future funding escalates to the sponsor requesting a scope of work and a budget. This information should not be provided to the sponsor, even informally, without prior review by SPO or IAO.


When to Submit a Proposal to SPO and IAO

According to VCR policy, all proposals must be received in SPO/IAO at least five (5) working days prior to the sponsor’s date due if UC Berkeley is the lead applicant. If UC Berkeley is a subrecipient in another organization’s proposal, the proposal must be received at SPO/IAO five (5) working days before UC Berkeley’s proposal materials are needed by the lead applicant organization.

All sections of the proposal must be complete. See the VCR Five Day Proposal Submission Policy for more information.


How to Submit a Proposal to SPO and IAO

Phoebe Proposal

Phoebe Proposal is the electronic proposal routing and approval system developed for the UC Berkeley campus. To use Phoebe to route proposals to SPO/IAO for approval, the PI’s department or unit must be set up to use Phoebe and the CSS/Department research administrators in that department/unit must have received training on the Phoebe system.

Once these conditions are met, the CSS/Department research administrators will be able to help the PI upload his or her proposal (and all required attachments) into Phoebe. The proposal is then routed to the PI and the Chair/Dean or Director of the PI’s unit for approval. After this administrative approval is provided, the proposal can be reviewed in Phoebe by SPO/IAO. After SPO/IAO approval is obtained, the proposal can be submitted to the sponsor.

Special Phoebe Procedures for NSF FastLane and NIH ASSIST Proposals

Phoebe Proposal should be used for all campus proposals. However, proposals submitted to NSF via FastLane and NIH proposals developed using ASSIST must be handled in a slightly different manner than other proposals.

After the PI creates the NSF FastLane or the NIH ASSIST proposal, the CSS/Department RA should create an internal proposal record for this proposal in Phoebe. The CSS/Department RA will need to provide the FastLane Temporary Proposal ID Number or ASSIST Proposal Number for the ASSIST proposal as well as any required internal proposal attachments in Phoebe, e.g., subrecipient commitment forms, COI disclosure forms.

The CSS/Department RA may also choose to upload a PDF of the FastLane or ASSIST proposal into Phoebe for the convenience of the Chair/Dean or Director’s review, however this is not required by SPO/IAO.

Once SPO receives the above information via Phoebe and has been granted access to the FastLane/ASSIST proposal, SPO will complete the review of the proposal and submit the proposal on behalf of the University.


Department Submission to Sponsor

Electronic Systems

Some electronic submission systems do not require an authorized representative to submit the proposal. In certain cases, when the PI provides SPO with the final version of the proposal, and after SPO reviews and approves, SPO submits the proposal to the funding agency as one document attached to an email. Otherwise, these submissions fall into two basic categories. The following chart describes SPO’s role in each type of submission.

1. The proposal is to be submitted to the funding agency as many separate documents attached to an email to the agency. The PI provides SPO with the final version of the proposal. SPO reviews and approves the proposal and notifies the PI when the PI may submit the proposal to the funding agency.
2. The proposal to be submitted must be created by entering information into various components of an online proposal preparation system. The proposal can be submitted by the PI by pushing a submit button. (An authorized representative is not required to submit.) The PI provides SPO with the final version of the proposal by creating a PDF copy of the proposal from the online system. SPO reviews and approves the proposal and notifies the PI when the PI may submit the proposal to the funding agency.

Hard-Copy Proposals

SPO is responsible for reviewing and approving the hard-copy proposal before the proposal is submitted, but it is the responsibility of the PI/Department to mail the hard-copy proposal to the funding agency by the published submission/receipt deadline. If the PI/Department provides a completed and signed FedEx air bill, SPO will submit the proposal via FedEx upon request.


Proposal Review Checklist

When reviewing proposals the following issues should be considered by the PI and the CSS/Department administrator prior to submission. Please note: This is not to be considered an all-inclusive list.

  • Have all of the sponsor’s required proposal elements been included? Sponsors have different proposal requirements. It is the Department/CSS Research Administrator’s responsibility to read the sponsor’s proposal guidelines and to help the PI prepare a proposal that conforms to these requirements.

  • Have all proposal sections been checked for completeness and accuracy prior to submission to SPO? The Department/CSS Research Administrator who aggregates the proposal and submits the proposal to SPO is responsible for ensuring that the all sections of the proposal are complete and accurate prior to submission to SPO for review. Incomplete proposals will be returned without SPO review.

  • Has the correct final and accurate version of the proposal been submitted to SPO? It is the Department/CSS Research Administrator’s responsibility to ensure that the final version of the proposal provided to SPO for submission:
    • Has been approved by the PI.
    • Includes all of the changes requested by SPO during the proposal review process.
    • Does not contain any modifications, deletions and/or additions to the proposal not previously vetted and approved by SPO.

  • Is the individual submitting this proposal an eligible PI? If not, are appropriate approvals being sought? Only qualified members of the Berkeley faculty and academic community will be authorized to serve as PI or PD, according to Berkeley Academic Senate policy. Failure to obtain this approval will delay setting up the award.
    UC Berkeley Principal Investigator Status

  • Has the Chair/Dean or Director of the PI’s department/unit approved the facilities, infrastructure, space, and personnel time/effort needed to conduct this project?

  • Does the project involve human subjects, the use of animals, custom antibodies? Have the appropriate protocols been submitted to the oversight committees?
    Human Research Protection, Animal Care and Use

  • Does the project involve the use of bio-hazardous materials? Has Environment, Health & Safety been notified? Do these materials need to be registered and users screened?
    Office of Environment, Health & Safety

  • Is there a promise of cost sharing on the proposal? If so, is there documentation of such commitment from an appropriate authorized official?
    Cost Sharing Basics

  • Are subrecipients involved in the project? Is there a complete Subrecipient Commitment Form or FDP Pilot Subrecipient Project Information for each subrecipient signed by the authorized official of each entity?
    Working with Subrecipients

  • Does the PI or other key personnel have a potential financial conflict of interest if this project is awarded? If so, have the appropriate disclosures been included with the proposal?
    Conflict of Interest Committee

  • If it is known that the proposal will result in a federal contract or subcontract under a federal contract or subcontract, the PI should find out from the funding organization if total funding will exceed $700,000. If total funding will exceed $700,000, the PI should:
    1. Work with the Department/CSS RA and the Campus Supplier Diversity Program Manager to develop a Small Business Subcontracting Plan as soon as possible.
    2. Ask the funding organization when the plan needs to be submitted for acceptance.  The funding organization may want to review and accept the plan before the proposal is submitted, but the plan always must be accepted before an agreement is signed.
    3. Include the plan in the package submission to SPO, if not previously submitted.
    PIs should see Supply Chain Managment for more information on creating a Small Business Subcontracting Plan.

Problematic Conditions

There are times when the sponsor notifies potential applicants that if the proposal is funded certain terms and conditions will apply. The following award conditions, if known at the proposal stage, may create problems for the University in accepting the award and should be reported to SPO/IAO.