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Vice Chancellor for Research Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO

VCR Five Day Proposal Submission Policy

Late proposals are at risk for submission failure and disadvantage on-time proposals. For this reason the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) has implemented a five day proposal submission policy (revised 3/1/2016) that is managed by the UC Berkeley Sponsored Projects Office (SPO).

As of March 1, 2016, the following priorities will govern how proposals are reviewed and submitted by SPO.

Priority Rankings

  • First Priority: Proposals with a final administrative section and a final or draft technical section received by SPO at least five business days before the sponsor’s deadline with the final/corrected technical and administrative sections received by SPO at least 16 business hours before the sponsor’s deadline.
  • Second Priority: Proposals with a final administrative section and a final or draft technical section received by SPO at least five business days before the sponsor’s deadline with the final/corrected technical and administrative sections received by SPO received 8-16 business hours before the sponsor’s deadline.
  • Third Priority: Proposals that miss the five business day deadline and/or are received in final form by SPO less than 8 business hours before the sponsor’s deadline.

Proposal Review Based on Priority Rankings

SPO will process First Priority proposals before all other proposals due on the same day. These proposals will receive normal review and submission assistance from SPO. Second Priority proposals will be reviewed and submitted by SPO in the normal manner after all First Priority proposals due on the same day are successfully submitted.

Third Priority proposals must receive prior approval from the VCR to be submitted. VCR late proposal approval will not be given to any Third Priority proposal submitted to the VCR on the day the proposal is due and will be limited to three such approvals per PI per fiscal year (July 1–June 30).

To obtain VCR approval the PI must submit a VCR Third Priority (Late) Proposal Approval Request Form. This form must be submitted directly from the email address of the dean/chair/head of the submitting unit to: vcrlateproposal@berkeley.edu. Forms submitted from a PI’s email address and incomplete forms will not be processed. Requests submitted to the VCR on the proposal due date will not be approved.

Third Priority proposals will be reviewed for institutional issues only and submitted “as is” but only after any institutional issues have been corrected and after all other First and Second Priority proposals due on the same day are submitted. Submission errors for Third Priority proposals will be addressed only if time permits.

Important!

A complete proposal includes a final or draft technical section and all administrative sections of the proposal required by the sponsor in final form. Incomplete proposals will be returned without review. If the complete proposal is subsequently resubmitted after the VCR’s five day deadline, the proposal will become a Third Priority proposal, and it will be necessary to obtain VCR approval for the proposal to be submitted to the sponsor by SPO.

To be accepted and timestamped by SPO, proposals submitted through FastLane, ASSIST or NSPIRES (or any other similar electronic submission portal) must be (a) submitted as a Phoebe record and (b) made available to SPO in the electronic submission portal by these same internal deadlines.

Proposal Priority Chart

Type of Proposal Internal Deadlines Type of Review
First Priority First submission to SPO five business days before sponsor deadline
AND
Final submission to SPO at least 16 business hours before sponsor deadline
SPO will conduct full review and work to ensure successful submission of these proposals before Second and Third Priority proposals due on the same day.
Second Priority First submission to SPO five business days before sponsor deadline
AND
Final submission to SPO at least 8-16 business hours before sponsor deadline
SPO will conduct full review and work to ensure successful submission of these proposals after all First Priority proposals due on the same day are successfully submitted.
Third Priority First submission to SPO less than five business days before the sponsor’s deadline-requires late proposal VCR approval
AND/OR
Final submission to SPO less than 8 business hours before the sponsor’s deadline-requires late proposal VCR approval
SPO will review for institutional issues only and submit the proposal with other proposal elements “as is” but only with prior VCR approval. Note: Requests for VCR approval must be submitted by the Chair/Dean/Director by the end of the business day (5 pm, M-F) the day before the proposal is due. Requests submitted after this internal due date will automatically be disapproved. Third Priority proposals will be submitted after all First and Second Priority proposals due on the same day have been submitted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Campus personnel are encouraged to review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below for a better understanding of how the new policy will be implemented. The following provides a guide to FAQ topics:

  • Definition of SPO Business Days/Hours: FAQ 1
  • Definition of “Complete”: FAQ 2, 5, 23
  • Return of Proposals FAQ 2, 6
  • Interpreting Deadlines: FAQ 3, 4, 7, 8, 22
  • What to Expect from SPO:  FAQ 11
  • Third Priority Proposals:
    • Causes: FAQ 9, 10
    • Handling: 12—14
    • Number allowed: FAQ 20
    • Fellowships:  FAQ 21
  • When we are a Subrecipient: FAQ 22, 23
  • VCR Approval: FAQ 15—19
  • Special Cases:
    • NSF: FAQ 3
    • Pre-proposals/LOIs: FAQ 24
    • Limited Submission: FAQ 25
    • Progress Reports: FAQ 26
    • Resubmissions; FAQ 27
    • Large/Complex Proposals: FAQ 28
    • Target Due Dates: FAQ 29

  1. What is a “business day”?
    A business day is Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm. This is eight business hours (8 am to noon and 1 pm to 5 pm). Official national and state holidays and Campus/SPO closure days are not considered business days and are not counted when assessing the priority level of a proposal.

  2. If I submit a draft technical section with my proposal that contains placeholders and blank spaces, will the proposal be accepted as “complete”?
    No. This proposal will be returned without review. Although SPO does not review the scientific merit of the technical section, the PI should provide enough detailed content in the technical section for the SPO CGO to determine if the administrative sections of the proposal accurately reflect the content of the technical section. Missing sections and placeholders in a draft technical section prevent SPO from conducting a thorough administrative review and will cause the proposal to be returned without review. Note: Always use the special attachment tab labeled “Draft Proposal” to upload a proposal with a draft technical section in Phoebe.

  3. For NSF collaborative submissions where Berkeley is not the lead, what are the requirements?
    At least five business days prior to the NSF deadline SPO must receive:
      1. A draft technical section in Phoebe. This should be the lead organization's overall project description (in draft or final form) and any other sponsor-required technical components. If this is not possible, SPO will accept, at a minimum, a scope of work for Berkeley’s role on the project.
      2. All administrative sections of Berkeley’s proposal in FastLane. All administrative sections must be complete.
    If this internal deadline is not met or if the lead organization’s final proposal is not uploaded into Fastlane at least eight business hours prior to the NSF deadline, the proposal will be handled as a Third Priority Proposal.

  4. What is the “proposal deadline” for a hard copy proposal that must be received by a particular date?
    If the sponsor requires that a hard copy of a proposal be received by a certain due date, the proposal deadline in Phoebe should be the date the proposal needs to physically mailed or transited to a sponsor in order to be received by the sponsor’s due date. If a sponsor requires both an electronic and hard copy of the proposal be received by a certain date, the proposal deadline in Phoebe should be the mailing/transmittal date for the hard copy proposal. The VCR’s proposal policy always will be based on the mailing/transmittal date of the hard copy proposal

  5. What is meant by “all administrative sections of the proposal required by the sponsor”?
    Every sponsor requires administrative information that supports the proposed scope of work. The administrative sections may be labeled differently by specific sponsors, but typically the administrative section includes the cover sheet (listing details about the institution, the amount of funding requested, cost sharing, and the personnel involved, etc.); the budget and budget justification; biographical information about the key project personnel; current and pending support; and a description of the facilities, equipment, and other resources that will support the project. The administrative section also includes any required special information and supplementary documentation if requested by the sponsor (e.g., Letters of Support/Participation, Data Management Plan, Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan).

    Note: For proposals to NSF and PHS (or other sponsors that have adopted the NSF or PHS financial disclosure requirements), it also will be necessary to submit the Subrecipient Commitment Form (Non-FDP Pilot Institutions) or FDP Pilot Subrecipient Project Information for each named Subrecipient.

  6. If a proposal makes the five day deadline, and SPO notes that corrections need to be made to the proposal, will the proposal be returned as incomplete?
    No. This is part of SPO’s normal review process. Note: SPO will note that a proposal error needs to be corrected no more than twice.

  7. If my proposal is due at 2 pm on Friday, when do I need to submit my proposal to SPO to meet the VCR’s five business day deadline? The 16 business hour deadline? The 8-16 business hour deadline?

    Five Business Day Deadline: The proposal with a complete administrative section and at least a draft technical section would need to be submitted to SPO by 2 pm the previous Friday.

    16 Business Hour Deadline: The proposal with a complete administrative section and at least a draft technical section would need to be submitted to SPO by 2 pm on Wednesday.

    8-16 Business Hour Deadline: The proposal with a complete administrative section and at least a draft technical section would need to be submitted to SPO after 2 pm on Wednesday until 2 pm on Thursday. After 2 pm on Thursday, the proposal (if approved by the VCR) will be treated as a Third Priority proposal.

    Please note: The date and time that the proposal is submitted to SPO is determined by the date and time of the dean/chair/head’s approval in Phoebe.

  8. How do I determine when my proposal is due to SPO if my proposal is due at 5 pm EST?
    You would first convert the sponsor’s deadline to PST and determine the various internal submission deadlines based on this conversion. For example, 5 pm EST = 2 pm PST.

  9. If I submit my proposal to SPO and meet the VCR’s five business day deadline, and return my corrected proposal to SPO less than eight business hours before the sponsor’s deadline, what will happen?
    The proposal will be considered a “Third Priority” proposal. Third Priority proposals require VCR approval to be submitted. If the proposal is approved for submission by the VCR, SPO will review the proposal for institutional issues only. When all institutional issues have been corrected, SPO will submit the proposal “as is” after all First and Second Priority proposals are submitted.

  10. What if I miss the VCR’s five business day deadline and I turn my proposal in to SPO at least 16 business hours before the sponsor’s deadline?
    The proposal will be considered a “Third Priority” proposal. Third Priority proposals require VCR approval to be submitted. If the proposal is approved for submission by the VCR, SPO will review the proposal for institutional issues only. When all institutional issues have been corrected, SPO will submit the proposal “as is” after all First and Second Priority proposals are submitted.

  11. What if I do not receive comments/feedback from SPO in time for me to submit my final proposal by the VCR’s First Priority and Second Priority deadlines?
    If the PI provides at least a draft technical section and a complete administrative section to SPO by the VCR’s five day deadline, SPO should do a complete review and provide feedback to the PI within 16 business hours after the proposal is received by SPO in Phoebe. If SPO provides feedback after this time the PI will not be required to obtain VCR approval if he/she submits the final proposal to SPO less than eight business hours before the proposal deadline, and the proposal will receive normal review and submission assistance from SPO, as time permits.

  12. Third Priority proposals will be reviewed for institutional issues only. What are “institutional issues”?
    Institutional issues are proposal elements that will impact the University if the proposal is funded. These include (but are not necessarily limited to): documentation of any pledged cost sharing, use of appropriate F&A and fringe benefit rates, signed commitment forms for all named subrecipients, completed State and/or Federal Conflict of Interest disclosure forms (if applicable), and acceptance of any terms or commitments at the proposal stage that would obligate the university financially or programmatically.

  13. Third Priority proposals will be submitted “as is.” What does this mean?
    This means that SPO will not review the proposal to make sure all of the sponsor’s required elements/attachments are included or that the proposal is organized as required by the sponsor. SPO also will not identify any potential submission errors that could cause the proposal to be rejected.

  14. Proposal submission errors in Third Priority proposals will be addressed by SPO only if time permits. What does “if time permits” mean?
    If a submission errors occur on a Third Priority proposal, SPO will attempt to work with the CSS or Department RA to fix these problems only if no other First or Second Priority proposals due that same day still need to be reviewed/ submitted. Therefore, Third Priority proposals are at risk for submission errors and/or missing the sponsor’s submission deadline.

  15. Who is responsible for deciding that a VCR late proposal approval is necessary?
    It is always the PI’s responsibility to make this request with guidance from his/her CSS/Department RA. SPO is not responsible for alerting or directing the PI or the RA to make such requests.

  16. Do VCR late proposal approval requests still need to be submitted by the PI’s Chair/Dean/Director?
    Yes. Current policy has not been changed. Requests must be submitted by the PI’s Chair/Dean/Director or the request will not be processed.

  17. What will happen if a Chair/Dean/Director requests VCR late proposal approval on the day the proposal is due?
    The VCR will not approve the submission of the proposal.

  18. If a Chair/Dean/Director submits a request for VCR late proposal approval at 5:30 pm on Friday and the proposal is due at 5 pm on Monday, will the request be accepted?
    No. Such requests must be submitted to the VCR by the Chair/Dean/Director by the end of the business day (5 pm, M-F) the day before the day the proposal is due. Requests submitted after this internal due date will automatically be disapproved. In this case the request should have been submitted before 5 pm on Friday.

  19. If a PI has had three Third Priority (late) proposals approved by the VCR in the same fiscal year and the PI decides to request another exception in that same fiscal year, what will happen?
    The VCR will not approve the request.

  20. Since this new policy begins March 1, 2016, and this fiscal year ends June 30, 2016, how will the number of late proposals exceptions per PI be calculated during this time?
    PIs may request up to three late proposal exceptions from the start date of this policy up until June 30, 2017. After this date, PIs will be restricted to three late proposal exceptions per 12 month fiscal year. For example, the PI will be able to have three Third Level proposals approved during the following fiscal year (7/1/17–6/30/18) and three Third Level proposals approved during the next fiscal year (7/1/18–6/30/19) and so on.

  21. How will Third Priority fellowship proposals be treated?
    Third Priority proposals will be counted against the Co-PI/Fellow identified in Phoebe.

  22. When UCB is a subawardee and the proposal is being submitted to a lead institution what date does SPO use to determine if the proposal is late—the agency deadline or when the lead institution requires the receipt of the proposal?
    Proposals to lead institutions are always due at SPO five working days before the proposal is required by the lead institution.

  23. What is required for subaward proposal being submitted by UC Berkeley to a lead institution/organization?
    A subaward proposal should always include UC Berkeley’s statement of work (draft or final form) as well as the budget and budget justification (in final form).  In addition, the proposal initiator also should include the instructions from the lead institution/organization indicating what is required by the lead institution/organization in addition to the statement of work, budget, and budget justification. If significant additional administrative information is requested by the lead institution/organization after the VCR’s five day deadline, the proposal will considered incomplete.

  24. Are pre-proposals, white papers, letters of intent, etc. covered by the policy?
    All transactions of this type, which require an institutional signature and/or the submission of a detailed budget, should be submitted to SPO via Phoebe five working days before the sponsor’s deadline so that SPO can determine if the transaction is “complex” or “basic.”

    If the transaction is “complex” meaning that the sponsor requires a detailed budget and/or University commitments, the transaction will be treated like any other proposal and will be subject to all the requirements and internal deadlines associated with the VCR’s proposal processing policy.

    If the transaction is “basic” meaning that SPO only needs to endorse/submit the transaction without additional review, the VCR’s proposal processing policy will not apply. However, any basic transaction received less than eight business hours before the sponsor’s deadline will be treated as a Third Priority Proposal and must be received during the business day (Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm). See FAQ #1 for the definition of a “business day.”

  25. What if the proposal is a limited submission proposal and the internal review process causes the proposal to be submitted after the VCR’s five day deadline?
    The VCR will notify SPO if the VCR pre-approves the limited submission proposal for late submission. If the VCR provides this approval, the proposal will not be recorded as a late proposal under the PI’s name. However, if the proposal is received by SPO less than five business days before the deadline, the proposal will be reviewed by SPO for institutional issues only.

  26. Is a progress report considered a proposal and, therefore, subject to the five day policy?
    No. However, a request for supplement is subject to the policy. If in doubtask your SPO Contract and Grant Officer.

  27. What if I am resubmitting a proposal with changes requested by the sponsor, how does the VCR policy apply?
    After a proposal is submitted to and accepted by a sponsor, if the sponsor requests that the proposal be resubmitted with modifications by a new deadline, the PI is strongly encouraged to contact SPO to find out if the VCR’s policy applies to the resubmission. Typically if the changes requested by the sponsor significantly affect the administrative sections of the original proposal, the VCR’s policy will apply, and the revised proposal will need to be resubmitted as a new record in Phoebe.

  28. Can there be any special allowances for large (e.g., $10M or above in direct costs in any one year) complex multi-institutional and/or multi- or inter-disciplinary projects?
    PIs and units that anticipate submission of these types of proposals should contact their SPO Contract and Grant Officer at least three weeks before the proposal due date to determine if any modifications to the timelines set by the VCR’s policy can be made.

  29. How is a proposal with a target date processed by SPO?
    SPO will typically process all first and second priority proposals that have a target date before any third priority proposals due that same day. However, if a proposal’s target deadline is flexible, SPO may make adjustments in proposal submission order to ensure all proposals due on a particular day are submitted successfully.