Note: For COVID-19 proposal submission information, see COVID-19 Related Proposals.


VCR Four Day Proposal Submission Policy

On-Time Proposals

To be considered to be “on-time” a draft of the proposal (that meets the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) minimum requirements for institutional review—see below) must be submitted to SPO four (4) business days before the proposal deadline AND the final version of the proposal must be provided to SPO no later than eight (8) business hours before the proposal deadline. If either of these internal deadlines are missed, the proposal will be considered “late” and the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) Four Day Proposal Submission Policy will apply.

Requirements: Four Business Days Prior to Proposal Deadline

PIs are required to submit a draft technical section and a final administrative section of a proposal to SPO no later than four (4) business days prior to the proposal deadline. At minimum the proposal must include the following or it will be returned without review by SPO.

  • All of the currently listed minimum required fields to save and submit the proposal in Phoebe.
  • A budget in the sponsor’s format or an internal budget with all institutional rates displayed, each subrecipient’s total costs listed, and any proposed cost sharing included.
  • A draft of Berkeley’s SOW (must be clearly identified if part of a larger project).
  • Required proposal forms (filled out) that contain University identifying information and/or require SPO signature.

Requirements: Eight Business Hours Prior to Proposal Deadline

In addition, the final version of the proposal must be submitted to SPO no later than eight (8) business hours before the proposal deadline.

Late Proposals

Late proposals are at risk for submission failure and disadvantage on-time proposals. For this reason the Vice Chancellor for Research has implemented a four day proposal submission policy (revised 9/1/2019) that is managed by the UC Berkeley Sponsored Projects Office.

The following procedures will govern late proposals submitted to SPO.

  1.  All late proposals will require VCR approval. To obtain this approval the Principal Investigator (PI) must submit a VCR (Late) Proposal Approval Request Form the day before the proposal deadline.
  2. This form must be submitted directly from the email address of the dean/chair/head of the submitting unit to: vcrlateproposal@berkeley.edu.
  3. Forms submitted from a PI’s email address and incomplete forms will not be processed.
  4. Requests submitted to the VCR on the proposal due date will not be approved.
  5. PIs are limited to three late proposals per fiscal year (July 1–June 30).

Frequently Asked Questions

Deadline Questions

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.

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.

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 four business day deadline? The 8 business hour deadline?

To meet the four day deadline the proposal (with no less than the minimum elements described above) would need to be submitted to SPO by 2 pm on Monday. To meet the 8 business hour deadline, the proposal with final technical and final administrative sections would need to be submitted to SPO by 2 pm on Thursday.

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.

If I submit my proposal to SPO and meet the VCR’s four 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 late. VCR approval will be required before SPO can review the proposal.

When UCB is a subrecipient 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 four business days before the proposal is required by the lead institution.


Late Proposal Questions

How will a late proposal be reviewed by SPO?

Late proposals will be reviewed for institutional issues and submitted to the sponsor “as is” but only after any institutional issues have been corrected and after all other on-time proposals due on the same day are submitted. Submission errors for late proposals will be addressed by SPO only if time permits.

Who is responsible for deciding that a VCR late proposal approval is necessary?

It is always the PI’s responsibility to make this request. SPO is not responsible for alerting or directing the PI or the RA to make such requests.

If a PI has had three 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.


Proposal Questions

What is the difference between the technical and administrative elements of a proposal?

“Technical Sections” of a proposal convey information related to the specific aims or objectives of the ;proposed project, the activities and methods that will be used to carry out the project, and the contributions, outcomes, and/or findings that are anticipated.

Sponsors may refer to these sections by different names and require somewhat different information but, in general, the technical parts of a proposal will address one or more of the following:

  1. Purpose/objectives
  2. Previous work/related studies and/or literature
  3. Significance/Contribution/Merit/Feasibility
  4. Methods/Procedures/Methodology
  5. Workplan/Timelines/Schedule
  6. Outcomes/Dissemination Plan/Evaluation Plan
  7. Qualifications of Project Personnel/the Applicant Organization/Collaborators (including the programmatic role of named subrecipients)
  8. Compliance  (e.g. human subjects sections, vertebrate animal sections)

The “Administrative Sections” of a proposal are expected to support what has been written in the technical sections.  For example, if the methodology section of the proposal includes travel to a foreign location to carry out the project, the budget and budget narrative (administrative sections) should include a reference to the funds needed to support this travel.

The administrative sections of a proposal typically include:

  1. Title/Cover Page with Applicant Information
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Biographical Sketches/Curriculum Vitae
  4. Equipment/Facilities
  5. Budget and Budget Justification
  6. Current and Pending Support
  7. Appendices/Certifications
  8. Letters of support
  9. Subrecipient’s SOW, budget, Subrecipient Commitment Form
  10. Sponsor specific forms/tables/charts

The preparation of both the technical and administrative sections of a proposal should be written and/or directed by the intellectual leaders of the project, e.g., the PIs/Co-Is, Project Director/s, etc.  These individuals are ultimately responsible for the quality and validity of the entire proposal, including the COI information and current and pending support information provided for all key personnel.

When submitting a proposal to SPO by the VCR’s four-day deadline, the technical sections can be in draft form, but there must be enough information in these technical sections for SPO to evaluate what is being proposed and to determine if the technical and administrative sections correspond.  The final version of a proposal submitted to SPO must have a complete and final version of both the technical and administrative sections.  A mismatch between the technical and administrative sections could affect the sponsor’s evaluation of the proposal.


Special Circumstances

For NSF collaborative submissions where Berkeley is not the lead, what are the requirements?

At least four business days prior to the NSF deadline SPO must receive (at minimum):

  1. In Phoebe:
    1. All of the currently listed minimum required fields to save and submit the proposal in Phoebe.
    2. A draft of Berkeley’s SOW.
  2. In FastLane:
    1. A budget in the sponsor's format or an internal budget with all institutional rates displayed, each subrecipient’s total costs listed, and any proposed cost sharing included.
    2. All of the sponsor’s required proposal forms that contain University identifying information and/or require SPO signature. (Must be filled out.)

How will late fellowship proposals be counted?

Late fellowship proposals will be counted against the Co-PI/Fellow identified in Phoebe. If the fellow has had three prior late proposals in that fiscal year, the late proposal will not be approved.

Are pre-proposals, white papers, letters of intent, etc. covered by the policy?

All transactions of this type, which require an institutional signature, cost share, and/or the submission of a detailed budget, should be submitted to SPO via Phoebe four business 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.

Is a progress report considered a proposal and, therefore, subject to the four day policy?

No. However, a request for supplement is subject to the policy. If in doubt—ask your SPO Contract and Grant Officer.

What if the proposal is a limited submission proposal and the internal review process causes the proposal to be submitted after the VCR’s four 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.

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.

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.

PIs should contact the BRS RA and SPO CGO assigned to their unit at least three (3) weeks before the proposal is due to discuss alternative review/submission procedures and timelines for proposals with any of the following characteristics:

  • The proposal guidelines indicate that submission of the proposal will commit the University to specific award terms and conditions.
  • The proposal includes direct costs of over $10M per year or the RFP/RFA notes other requirements requiring UCOP review (e.g. publication approval, citizenship restrictions)
  • The proposal requirements are significantly complex and/or involve multiple institutions and/or involve multi- or inter-disciplinary efforts.

Can a PI submit a proposal to SPO earlier than the internal deadlines listed to accommodate the PI’s schedule?

Yes. This new model will allow SPO to provide comments addressing any identified institutional issues within two business days after the proposal is received in acceptable form by SPO. SPO will approve/submit the proposal to the sponsor after receiving the final version of the proposal with no remaining institutional issues or submission errors.