October 22, 2008

VCR Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO

On October 22, 2008, Vice Chancellor for Research Burnside issued a new VCR Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO through CALmessages. The text of the new policy is included below.

From: Beth Burnside, Vice Chancellor for Research
To: Deans, Directors, Department Chairs
Re: VCR Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO

I am writing to alert you to a new policy that I am putting into practice for contract and grant proposals that are submitted after the SPO deadline. As you know, UC Berkeley policy is that complete proposals must be submitted to the Sponsored Projects Office five working days in advance of the sponsor's deadline. In consideration of the volume of proposals and the growing complexity of the proposal submission process, it is essential that principal investigators observe the SPO deadline to allow adequate time for staff members in the Departments and in SPO to work through the many issues that arise before a proposal can be submitted for the sponsor's deadline. Very often a high number of proposals are received by SPO at one time, and because there are difficulties with grants.gov and other on-line submission systems, late proposals create great stress for all staff members and jeopardize timely submission. Further, late proposals often delay the proposals of principal investigators who have submitted their proposals to SPO on time.

Late proposal submissions are a significant problem for the campus. In the last 12 months SPO received 2,909 proposals with a stated sponsor deadline. Of those, about 27% (782) were received by SPO less than 2 days before the sponsor deadline, and nearly 14% (401) were received on the same day they were due to the sponsor. This ongoing problem with late proposal submissions creates a “log-jam” that jeopardizes SPO's ability to transmit to funding agencies those applications that have been submitted on time. Hence, the PIs that have been ignoring the SPO five-day deadline are placing in jeopardy the more numerous PIs who are submitting in a timely fashion. I have on several occasions urged the campus faculty to observe the SPO submission schedule. That has not had a noticeable effect on the volume of late submissions. As a continuation of the current situation is simply untenable, a new policy is required. The following policy will become effective Monday, November 3, 2008.

• Any proposal that is to be submitted to SPO less than five working days before the sponsor deadline will require the prior approval of both the Department Head or Director of the submitting unit and the Vice Chancellor for Research before it will be processed by SPO.

• I have asked SPO management not to approve proposals received after the SPO deadline unless this policy has been followed.

• SPO will no longer have authority to grant extensions on its own to principal investigators to submit proposals after the five-day deadline. All extensions must be approved by the VCR to be processed. This policy applies to paper and electronic submissions of new, competing renewal, continuation and re-submission proposals regardless of sponsor, if the sponsor specifies a deadline. If no deadline is specified, SPO will expect to have five working days to process the proposal from the time of receipt.

• Sponsor requests for annual progress reports, revised budgets and other requests such as this are not subject to this policy.

• To obtain approval to submit a proposal after the SPO deadline, the Principal Investigator must send a request via email to the appropriate Department or Lab Head and lead administrative officer, with a copy to Marcia Smith, AVC-RAC. The request must explain why the proposal is late and describe the reasons why it could not or cannot be submitted on time. The justification will need to be very compelling for it to be considered for exception to this policy.

• If the Department or Lab Head or designee approves the late submission, he/she must notify Marcia Smith and forward the proposal to my office for consideration and approval. Once we receive the Department approval, we will try to respond to the Department, the Principal Investigator and SPO within one day. Please note that if I approve the proposal for submission, it will be processed by SPO in the order it was received.

I ask that you inform all principal investigators in your unit of this policy. Please reinforce to principal investigators the importance of this policy so that they are aware that as a result they may be prevented from submitting a late proposal. I also want to note that although every effort will be made to submit approved late proposals by the sponsor's deadline, there are no guarantees that they will make it through the system in time.

My staff and I appreciate your cooperation as we work through the implementation of this new policy. If you have questions or would like to discuss the policy, do not hesitate to call Marcia Smith or myself.

Sincerely yours,
Beth Burnside
Vice Chancellor for Research