The University of Alabama, Research & Economic Development

Proposal Routing, Review and Approval Policy for Externally Sponsored Grants & Contracts

Unit:  Research and Economic Development
Contact: Jennifer R. Camp
Title:  Associate Vice President for Research Administration
Effective Date: 06/01/2021
Revision Date: 06/01/2021



The Office for Research & Economic Development (ORED) is authorized to submit proposals for external funding on behalf of The University of Alabama. The Office for Sponsored Programs (OSP), a unit of ORED, provides services that are designed to assist faculty and other employees in proposal development and to facilitate the overall grant and contract process, while balancing the need for institutional and regulatory compliance. This policy ensures successful submission to the sponsoring agency including, assurance that the proposed project aligns with the mission; institutional commitments can be met; sufficient resources are available to successfully conduct the work; significant regulatory and legal responsibilities are evaluated and can be met; affirms that Principal Investigator(s) understand associated requirements; administration is prepared to accept an award; and institutional records include timely data for reporting and other business needs. Submission of an Internal Processing Form (IPF) signifies that the final phase of the pre-award process has commenced; it should not be the first notification or discussion with key stakeholders. It is an expectation that most, if not all, requirements for submission have already been met before an IPF is routed.


  1. The IPF captures general information and regulatory compliance considerations for the proposed project. The IPF is required for externally sponsored grants and contracts; supporting documents routed with the IPF must include final administrative documents and draft technical/programmatic components to be reviewed internally. An IPF is required for the following three types of proposals submitted by OSP:
    1. Deadline-driven proposals – An employee serving in the Lead Principal Investigator (Lead PI) role, or their designee, must submit an IPF for routing at least five (5) full business days prior to the sponsor deadline to allow sufficient time for key personnel, department(s), college(s) and OSP to review and approve prior to submission.
    2. No deadline – Grants and Contracts that do not have a formal proposal submission process or specified deadline typically advance in three phases.
      1. Phase 1 generally includes proposal development and informal discussions with a potential sponsor.
      2. Phase 2 may include informal negotiations with the sponsor resulting in a proposed scope of work and budget.
  • Phase 3 involves formal contracting of terms and conditions between the sponsor and University. The length of time for Phase 3 to be completed is dependent on the type of sponsor, previous experience with a sponsor, complexity of proposed terms and conditions, and level of OSP engagement prior to Phase 3.
An employee serving in the Lead PI role, or their designee, must initiate the IPF prior to Phase 3. Any prior informal agreements between the Lead PI and sponsor may be subject to modification by OSP. Externally sponsored agreements will not be signed by an Authorized Organizational Representative of the University if an IPF has not been completed.
  1. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) – SBIR and STTR proposals are a unique hybrid of deadline-driven proposal submissions to the federal government where the University collaborates with a private company who is ultimately responsible for the proposal submission. An employee serving in the Lead PI role, or their designee, must initiate an IPF at least five (5) full business days prior to the Small Business Concern (SBC) submission of a proposal to the sponsor. Additional guidelines for Lead PI participation in these specific programs can be found in the SBIR/STTR Research Policy.
  1. All final documents for any type of proposal must be provided to OSP at least two (2) full business days prior to the sponsor deadline. OSP supports submission of the most compelling proposal possible, therefore, limited exceptions may be requested under extraordinary circumstances, as outlined in #8 below.
    1. Once all final documents have been received by OSP and completion of approvals and other considerations have been finalized, the Lead PI should expect that OSP may formally submit a proposal to the sponsor in advance of the deadline.
  2. All key individuals required to certify and approve the IPF must complete these steps prior to the sponsor deadline. This ensures the University is aware of the request; is able to commit the resources required by the project; confirms the project aligns with the University mission; and can administer the project in compliance with applicable federal, state, University and sponsor policies and procedures.
    1. Lead PI certification of the IPF attests to the veracity and accuracy of the information and reflects their intent to adhere to federal, state, University and sponsor policies that apply to the proposal.
    2. The Lead PI or Departmental Administrator should monitor any routing-in-progress to ensure the IPF is completed prior to proposal submission.
  3. The IPF routing requirement applies to all types of funding requests (4 a-c below), whether a grant, fellowship, or contract; to all types of application systems, whether paper or electronic; and to all external funding sources, whether governmental, nonprofit, or industry. Likewise, the routing requirement is enforced whether the document requires an institutional signature or not.
  4. Preliminary or Pre-proposal applications that include a budget and/or require signature of an authorized representative;
  5. Full applications that represent new, revised, competitive renewal or supplemental funding requests; and
  6. Contracts and Agreements that represent new, revised, competitive renewal or supplemental funding requests.
  7. Lead PI’s are encouraged to notify their OSP Grant Specialist, Department Chair and/or Associate Dean for Research (ADR) of a potential proposal or submission prior to routing the IPF, particularly if there are components that need additional time and consideration, such as mandatory cost share, collaboration with external entities, or complex projects (such as program grants).
  8. OSP will provide guidance to the Lead PI and review the final proposal with particular emphasis on budget, effort commitments, cost share requirements, University information, compliance with sponsor guidelines, federal and state regulations, and University policies.
    1. The Lead PI and project team should make a concerted effort to ensure the proposal documents adhere to sponsor guidelines (i.e., formatting) and OSP will provide a second-level review. Content within the technical aspects of the proposal are the responsibility of the Lead PI and project team.
  9. OSP will not accept proposals that do not comply with this policy. In extraordinary circumstances, the Lead PI may submit a written request to, directed to the Associate Vice President for Research Administration, detailing the mitigating circumstances. The Associate Vice President (or their designee) may consult with other key stakeholders and reserves the right to approve or deny exceptions. OSP reserves the right to shorten this review process; withdraw an application; attempt to submit a correction; or decline an award if favorable award terms and conditions cannot be successfully negotiated.


Authorized Organizational Representative – An individual authorized by the Board of Trustees to sign externally sponsored grants and contracts on behalf of The University of Alabama.


This policy applies to all University employees who participate in the submission of externally sponsored grants and contracts through the Office for Sponsored Programs.



Office for Research and Economic Development

Approved by Russell J. Mumper, Ph.D, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, 06/01/2021