Research Service Center

Policy on Proposal Submission

The University of Southern Maine (USM) requires all proposals, pre-proposals, concept papers, letters of intent, contracts, and subcontracts, hereinafter referred to collectively as proposals, submitted to external agencies requesting funds and/or committing University resources (e.g..personnel, space, funds, equipment and facility use, etc.) be reviewed and approved by the Research Service Center (RSC) prior to submission.

This policy applies regardless of:

  • whether USM is the lead agency submitting directly to a funder, or whether USM will be a subcontractor or collaborator under another agency’s submission to a funder, or
  • the method of transmission to the potential sponsor, e.g. via paper copy or electronic submission.

Once all approvals have been completed, the RSC will either transmit, or authorize the transmission of, a proposal to the sponsor. Any proposal submitted to a sponsor without proper review and approval will be withdrawn by the University.

In order to ensure that each proposal receives a full and proper review, and to ensure that each proposal submitted in the name of the institution represents a best effort, the following time-line or lead times are required:

  1.  At least two weeks in advance of the submission deadlineNotify RSC of intent to propose and confirm timeline. This is required for RSC to plan for the staff resources to assist you and schedule time for review of the submission.
  2. At least five working days in advance of the submission deadline – Provide RSC with a version of the narrative and budget suitable for administrative review. This is required for RSC to provide feedback on compliance with Sponsor guidelines, inclusion of required items, editorial improvements, and consistency among the project narrative, budget, and supporting documents. However, should a proposal require review and approval by the Provost, a 10-working day lead time is required. (See criteria below)
  3. At least two working days in advance of the submission deadline – Submit the final version of the proposal to RSC, accompanied by a  Proposal Planning and Submission (Blue) Sheet. This is required for RSC to complete a final compliance check and submit the proposal in time to correct any errors in advance of the deadline. In cases where the approval of the Provost is required, RSC will obtain those signatures.

Any final proposal received with less than a two-day lead time will not be submitted. Exceptions to this policy will require a signed, written justification from the Dean/ Director/ Equivalent Executive Officer indicating that they have reviewed and approved the contents of the proposal (including any institutional commitments), that the proposal is a college/unit and/or an institutional priority, and is determined to be in good enough form to warrant submission. Since these exceptions will not allow for the normal amount of review time, the Research Service Center makes no assurances as to the quality or content of these proposals.

Note that for electronic submissions, the Federal government recommends that the initial submission be made at least three days prior to the deadline to provide time to correct errors. However, based on the specific agency and the expected volume of submissions, longer lead times may be required. Any faculty/staff preparing a submission should consult RSC on appropriate lead times.

Provost review criteria:

  • university commitment in cost-share/match for the term of the project;
  • university commitment to project sustainability or 'institutionalization' beyond the term of the grant award (curriculum or instruction, direct cost commitments, faculty/staff lines, operating and maintenance, etc.)
  • voluntary waiver of sponsor-eligible F&A recovery;
  • major equipment or construction/renovation at or exceeding $50k;
  • earmarks and other institutional awards (one per institution and often requiring a top university administrator as PI).

More information on the steps for proposal preparation and submission may be found on the  website, Checklist Steps for the Preparation and Submission of Proposals for External Funding or you may contact them directly at 780-4411.