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Proposal Preparation & Submission

All proposals submitted on behalf of University of Florida faculty and staff must comply with University, State, Federal and sponsor requirements.  The PI, department administration support staff and the Division of Sponsored Programs are a team to ensure the most competitive and compliant proposals are submitted.

Getting Started

Whether you are new to writing proposals or a seasoned principal investigator, the resources below will assist you with:

  • Understanding sponsor solicitations
  • Developing a proposal in accordance with sponsor guidelines
  • Understanding UF-specific proposal requirements (including documentation and eligibility)
  • Understanding the process for proposal submission and approval at UF

Proposal Approvals

Delivering Proposals to DSP & Signature Requirements

UF requires approvals for proposals, supplemental funding, progress reports with detailed budgets or other sponsored projects in UFIRST. UFIRST will electronically route the proposal and collect the required approvals.

UFIRST approval workflow requirements will depend on the Department and/or College. The typical workflow of a proposal in UFIRST is a follows:

Approvals are to be collected prior to submitting the proposal to a sponsor. In those cases where the approvals were not collected prior to submission, they will be required prior to accepting an award. Approvals are collected using UFIRST.

For additional Web Simulations and Instruction Guides for UFIRST Approvers and Certifiers please visit the UFIRST Grant Tool Kits.

Proposal Approval Process

Principal Investigator

  1. Develop proposal in compliance with University, sponsor, state and federal policies and regulations. The technical description of the work, narratives included in support of that description (e.g., budget justifications) and the ability to execute fall to the PI.
  2. Identify key personnel and provide reasonable estimate of the effort required to carry out the statement of work.
  3. Identify resources required to complete the proposal including personnel, facilities, subrecipients, costs to charge the sponsor and resources to be committed by the PI, department, college, or University.
  4. Identify compliance requirements (i.e. human subjects, animals, safety concerns, export requirements and personal conflicts) required to be managed in performance of the project.
  5. Complete all required disclosures of Financial Interests and Outside Activities prior to submission of the proposal.
  6. Identify type of work to be undertaken to facilitate proper selection of facilities and administration (F&A) rate types and category or purpose for institutional reporting.
  7. Certify to the veracity and integrity of the full and complete proposal including technical and financial commitments.
  8. Ensure completion by PI and/or study team of all training required for compliance with University, sponsor, state and federal policy and regulations.
  9. Ensure the proposal is completed with sufficient lead time to allow for the full and complete review by the Chair, Dean, and DSP outlined below.
  10. Prepare responses to Sponsor inquiries during review process (e.g., Just-In-Time [JIT], revised budgets, revised scope of work, etc.)

Department Administration

In coordination with and support of the PI:

  1. Develop a budget with:
    1. Costing in accordance with University, sponsor, state and federal policy and regulations including only allowable costs.
    2. Complete and accurate listing of all key personnel and all effort commitments for such personnel and appropriate salaries and fringes are charged for all personnel.
    3. Correct F&A determination and calculation. If the F&A rate deviates from the federally negotiated rate, PIs with the support of department administration should confirm that the F&A conforms to University policy. Any questions should be sent to DSP in advance of completing the budget and routing the proposal.
    4. Clear identification of any cost sharing—voluntary or mandatory—provided by University.
    5. All necessary supporting documentation (e.g., letters of support from representatives authorized to bind the subrecipients, budgets from subrecipients, quotes for equipment).
  2. Ensure proposal meets sponsor guidelines for items such as page limits, cost limits, and forms required.
  3. Provide DSP a copy of the proposal guidelines (especially those with special requirements) in advance of the submission deadline for review.
    1. Contractual exceptions and reps & certs must be handled by DSP and completed prior to submission day.
    2. Small Business Subcontracting Plans, if applicable, will be coordinated between the Department Administration, DSP and Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations. Note that completion of these plans takes significant time. Should the proposal require a Small Business Subcontracting Plan, the department administration and PI should notify DSP at least two weeks prior to the proposal deadline.
  4. If proposal is electronically submitted, facilitate the upload of all proposal documents to appropriate electronic system.
  5. Complete the appropriate University routing forms in UFIRST.
  6. Upload all proposal related documents in UFIRST. Pertinent documents include:
    1. The Solicitation
    2. Full and complete proposal
    3. Disclosure of Financial Interests forms, as required
    4. Subawardee scope, budget and consortium letter, as required
  7. Facilitate approval through UFIRST.
  8. Ensure compliance with all College and Department concerns and policies.
  9. Assist PI with preparation of responses to Sponsor inquiries during review process (e.g., JIT, revised budgets, revised scope of work, etc.). Transmit these responses through UFIRST. DSP will review and coordinate appropriate response to the Sponsor.

Chair/Center Director

  1. Establish departmental procedures supporting University policies and procedures for reviewing proposal development and routing.
  2. Provide necessary resources for faculty to complete research under the auspices of the department’s mission.
  3. Oversee PI and department administration in the preparation and submission of the proposal budget in accordance with University and sponsor policies, and state and federal laws and regulations.
  4. Certify that any proposal submitted by the department contains all costs necessary to complete the proposal activities and that any costs not identified and committed as cost sharing or simply not included will be borne by the department. Department will bear any errors in calculations resulting in less than sufficient funds.
  5. Review F&A requested and ensure the rate conforms to the University’s F&A Cost Policy.
  6. Review and approve the PI eligibility of a non-tenure track faculty member to serve as PI on University submissions, if applicable.
  7. Review and, if applicable, approve any cost sharing committed in the proposal.

Dean, College Administration, or Institute/Center Director

  1. Establish college/unit procedures supporting University policies and procedures for reviewing proposal development and routing.
  2. Clearly delineate the college/unit expectations in meeting the department administration responsibilities for proposal development and routing.
  3. Provide direction, resources, and oversight to ensure that the college administers sponsored programs in accordance with University and sponsor policies, and state and federal laws and regulations.
  4. Certify that any proposal submitted within the college contains all costs necessary to complete the proposal activities.
  5. Validate that F&A costs requested conform to the University’s F&A Cost Policy.
  6. Review and, if applicable, approve any cost sharing committed in the proposal.
  7. If applicable, review and approve the PI eligibility of a non-tenure track faculty member to serve as PI on University submissions.

Division of Sponsored Programs

  1. Develop institutional policies and procedures and direct institutional systems and trainings to ensure efficient and effective proposal management practices. In the area of proposal management, this includes but is not limited to, proposing effort and other direct costs, cost sharing, F&A costs, PI eligibility, and proposal signature requirements.
  2. Provide institutional data systems for managing proposal routing and collecting institutional proposal data. Provide policies, procedures, and training for use of these systems.
  3. As provided by PI and study team and as time allows, review any proposal solicitation for contractual exceptions, representations and certifications, and other common institutional requirements. Communicate common pitfalls or unusual requirements to the PI and Department Administration.
  4. As provided by PI and study team and as time allows, perform the final review of the proposal before submission to the sponsor. As time allows, DSP will:
    1. Confirm the institutional data presented
    2. Confirm the appropriate F&A rate and any justification for deviations from the federal negotiated rate are included
    3. Confirm the proper fringe benefit rates are included
    4. Confirm that the proposal meets the solicitation requirements for page limitations, cost limitations and other proposal limitations
  5. Act as institutional signatory on all proposal and proposal related documents under Power of Attorney designated by the President of the University.
  6. Register the University in sponsor electronic research administration systems and provide guidance to campus on account requirements for those systems. Provide overall institutional leadership for electronic research administration planning and implementation.


Proposal Deadline Policy

Submit-ready proposals must be submitted to the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP) by 9 a.m. the business day prior to the sponsor’s published submission deadline to be considered on-time by DSP. Absent of extenuating circumstances, any proposal submitted after the internal deadline will not be submitted by the university to the sponsor. This policy applies to any sponsored program whose solicitation is published by the sponsor at least 30 calendar days prior to the sponsor’s due date.

These two days provide DSP with time to identify and resolve any issues with the proposal that are inconsistent with university policy or sponsor submission requirements. This is important as such issues may result in the inability for the university to carry out the work within the budget submitted or in the proposal being rejected by the sponsor without review. If issues are identified during DSP’s review, the Principal Investigator and relevant unit administrator will be contacted to address issues and facilitate submission to sponsor.

View the Official Proposal Deadline Policy for more information.

Have questions? Visit the Proposal Deadline Frequently Asked Questions page.

Required Documents

The following documents are required at time of proposal review:

  • UFIRST record routed with appropriate approvals, certifications and SFI activities completed.
  • Proposal/application package including the scope of work, final budget and budget justification, and sponsor required forms. If the PI is submitting, the complete submission package MUST be loaded into UFIRST upon submission to the Sponsor
  • Proposal submission instructions.
  • Sponsor’s proposal guidelines or program solicitation number.
  • If applicable:

If you have any questions on the conflict of interest policy, please visit the Conflict of Interest and Outside Activities webpage.

Additional Proposal Resources