Once all of the ground work has been accomplished, writing the narrative can be the easiest part of proposal development. Careful preparation and an understanding of how an application will be reviewed can increase odds of success. Reading the grant guidelines thoroughly can help you understand what is expected and ensure you are conforming to the instructions.
Pre-Award staff can assist in the interpretation and clarification of sponsor requirements and university policies and procedures. Staff are able to offer insight into the review process for certain sponsors to better prepare you for writing the narrative.
Gathering preliminary research findings and necessary data, as well as completing a literature review can take a great deal of time and must be accomplished well before the actual writing of the proposal can occur. Be organized and allow enough time to gather the essential information for the proposal well before the deadline. For NIH and NSF proposals, the OGRD has developed checklists to assist with this process.
Pre-Award staff will provide support for editing and reviewing proposal content for compliance to sponsor guidelines and to ensure that it is responsive to the solicitation.
Pre-Award staff will also liaison with university units, department chairs and deans to mediate or problem solve specialized grant requirements on behalf of the PD/PI. Some areas that may need OGRD support include cost sharing, institutional commitment or working across colleges.
Staff will work with the PD/PI to ensure that all proposal components are addressed and completed and that the application is ready for submission based on sponsor requirements.
As you draft your proposal narrative it is helpful to get feedback from peers, colleagues or friends. This process can be very beneficial. If someone who has little or no knowledge of the project reads the narrative and does not understand what you are doing and why, you should strongly consider refining the proposal.
Collaborations with other researchers at other institutions (Subawards)
Many times, faculty work with colleagues at other institutions to accomplish their research and may want to have the collaborator(s) complete a portion of the work for the grant project. Collaborative arrangements can be formalized in the form of a subaward or subcontract, depending on the substance of the agreement. The development of these relationships begins at the pre-award stage. Regardless of the type of relationship, the proposed costs must be incorporated into the overall budget that will be submitted on behalf of the PD/PI by EWU.
Pre-Award staff will guide this process. Once a determination is made as to the type of relationship, certain information will be required prior to submission. For subawards, information will include a subrecipient commitment form, scope or statement of work deliverables, budget and budget narrative as well as an applicable indirect cost rate agreement. Subcontracts, which can include contracts for professional services, will require a letter stating time commitment, scope of services, rate of compensation and timeframe of the work.
Irrespective of the type of relationship, EWU is ultimately responsible for the oversight and management of all arrangements to ensure compliance. The type of oversight needed is determined by the type of relationship.
A subrecipient (the recipient of the subaward) is responsible for completing some portion of the sponsored project’s work and is subject to the laws, regulations, and terms and conditions that govern the prime award that provides the funding to the university.
A subcontractor (the recipient of the subcontract) generally provides goods or services that are ancillary to the project, which can include professional and consultant services to provide services that require specific skills.
Federal subawards are subject to the same grants management and compliance requirements as EWU (the pass-through entity), where contracts are not.
The chart below highlights the main differences between subaward and subcontracts:
|An assistance relationship||A procurement relationship|
|Determines eligibility-risk assessment and is subject to subrecipient monitoring||Normally operates within a competitive environment|
|Performance measured against federal program objectives||Provides similar goods or services to many purchasers within normal business hours|
|Responsible for programmatic decision making||Does not make programmatic decisions|
|Adheres to applicable federal program requirements||Adheres to the terms and conditions of a contract to ensure allowability|
|Uses funds to carry out a program for public purpose specified by the statute that the grant abides by||Uses funds to carry out services needed to help EWU carry out the program or project under the federal award
Provides goods and services that are ancillary to the program
|Subject to federal program compliance requirements of the federal program||Not subject to compliance requirements of the federal program|
Pre-Award staff will work closely with the PD/PI to develop a comprehensive and accurate budget and narrative that is responsive to the solicitation and to the project. Whether simple or complex, budgets must comply with federal regulations as well as sponsor and university guidelines.
Staff will determine the applicability of costs including, but not limited to: determining level of effort, salary and fringe benefit rates, travel, equipment, institutional commitment or cost sharing, and subawards or subcontracts.
Pre-Award staff will calculate salaries, travel and other costs in accordance with federal regulations and university policy. Staff will also facilitate discussions with university units or departments, deans and the provost to negotiate or secure university cost share or institutional commitment as necessary.
With PD/PI input, a draft budget will be developed based on specific needs of the project and will be reviewed making adjustments as needed.
In addition to the budget, a budget narrative or justification must also be developed that substantiates and explains why the funds are being requested as well as how the costs were estimated. This section is critical as it enables the PD/PI to emphasize the importance of essential project costs. A budget that is adequately and appropriately justified is the best way to assure a positive cost analysis by the sponsor. Staff can assist you with this process.
For some solicitations, there are various types of letters that are required. They include letters of general support for the project, letters that outline a subcontractor’s scope of work and level of time and commitment, letters that confirm a commitment to match funds or time for a project, as well as letters that outline the scope of collaborations. Pre-Award staff will support faculty and staff as needed in identifying the type of letter needed as well as obtaining the necessary documents. If letters are needed, they should be requested well in advance of the submission date to ensure that they are received in a timely manner to be included in the submission.
Most submissions have multiple components including, but not limited to, a biosketch for each individual designated as key personnel, description of facilities and other resources and current and pending support for all key personnel. Pre-Award staff will review the solicitation and determine what documents are needed for final submission and provide assistance or guidance as needed to ensure that they are prepared to meet the sponsor guidelines.
All draft proposals for external funding, including all attachments, must be provided to the OGRD 10 working days prior to the submission deadline. This will allow OGRD staff adequate time to work with you to ensure that the final application is strong in all components including providing feedback on and proofing of the narrative, budget development, completion of required forms and appendices and adherence to the formatting requirements of the sponsor.
OGRD staff make every effort to assist faculty and staff in the submission of last minute proposals; however, staff may not have the time available to provide the necessary level of support required for a strong proposal submission if the 10-day deadline is not met.
These procedures are not inclusive and may not apply to all grant projects or contracts that are submitted. Contact the OGRD if you have questions.