Proposal Development & Approval - Timing & Deadlines

Working With Our Office


  • Do this as soon as you start planning to submit a proposal--the earlier you contact us, the better
  • A Proposal Specialist will be assigned to your project and will contact you with a timeline and next steps
  • ALL proposals and pre-proposals must be authorized by the UM Office of Research & Sponsored Projects (ORSP) on behalf of the university via the PAF (Proposal Approval Form) before submission to a sponsor--Dearborn ORA will guide you through this process
  • Your Proposal Specialist will provide you with a timeline and other requirements needed to meet the university's internal deadline policy.
  • Our goal is to assist you with this process to ensure timely and accurate submissions that will not be returned without review due to administrative errors and that will ensure compliance with sponsor and university requirements in the post-award phase.

Deadline Information

Plan ahead--the chance for insurmountable obstacles increases in direct proportion to the closing of a deadline window... Late proposals do run the risk of not being submitted by the sponsor's deadline.

  • In order to receive full review, proposals much reach ORSP at least 4 business days prior to the submission deadline
  • Proposals arriving to ORSP at least 2 days prior to the submission deadline will receive a limited review
  • All other proposals are AT RISK and will receive a limited review if time allows, but may not be approved in time for the submission deadline

You should notify UM-Dearborn ORA at least 20 work days before the deadline so we can begin assisting you. Upon submission of the Proposal Request Form, PIs will be provided with a timeline for submitting documents to our office, and due dates for the final proposal package in accordance with UM's deadline policy in order to provide the best opportunity for success. Proposals submitted for approval outside the university's internal deadline are not guaranteed submission by the sponsor's deadline.

PROPOSALS WITH "NO DEADLINE":  When there is no specified sponsor deadline (i.e., sponsor accepts proposals any time), Dearborn ORA will not designate a submission deadline and upon receiving the PAF and final proposal, ORSP will perform a Full Review and submit the proposal as soon as possible. If a PI wishes ORA to specify a deadline, we will need supporting documentation (e.g., request from a program officer.) Upon the PI's request, ORA will indicate a target submission date, which ORSP will endeavor to meet if their internal deadline policy is met.

PRE-PROPOSALS: The UM-Dearborn campus requirement is that a PRE-PAF must be routed and approved prior to submission to a sponsor.for any pre-proposal (including concept papers, letters of intent, letters of inquiry, white papers, pre-applications, etc.) that includes budgetary information, commitments of cost-sharing, time/effort, or space, or third party commitments, in order to allow the administrative home unit, which has overall responsibility for the project, to review and approve what is being proposed.

UM-Dearborn Office of Research Administration Service Policy

In order to better ensure reliable and timely support for our faculty, the UM-Dearborn ORA provides a clear and uniform policy outlining the services we can offer to faculty. The level of service is time‐sensitive, depending on when ORA receives your Proposal Request Form and key information needed to begin the proposal planning and development (e.g., sponsor solicitation, general budget needs, period of performance, collaborator information, etc.).

Office of Research Administration Engagement and Service Timeline

Engagement 20 Business Days (Or More) In Advance Of The Sponsor Deadline

Early engagement allows our staff to build an effective working relationship with University investigators and enables PIs to receive the full complement of ORA services as well as full review from UM-ORSP.

Engagement Between 19 And 10 Business Days In Advance Of The Sponsor Deadline

The level of service (Full or Administrative Review Only) that a university investigator will receive is at the discretion of ORA. Requests that fall into this timeframe will be assigned a level of service based upon the complexity (e.g., multi‐institution/units, subcontracts, etc.) and the current ORA staffing and workload. The PI will be notified at the time of engagement the level of service assigned to the proposal.

Note: Proposals assigned to Full Service may be relegated to Administrative Review Only if the PI fails to meet the timeline milestones set forth in the collaboration plan and ORA resources are needed to provide assistance to other Full Service customers.

Engagement Between 9 And 6 Business Days In Advance Of The Sponsor Deadline

University investigators will receive an Administrative Review only by the ORA (as defined in Table 1) and all required changes are the complete responsibility of the PI to correct.

Engagement 5 Business Days Or Less In Advance Of The Sponsor Deadline

Subject to the workload of ORA, investigators will receive an Administrative Review only and all required changes are the responsibility of the PI to correct.
University investigators already engaged with ORA will have priority over PIs who engage ORA in this timeframe. Given the UM-ORSP requirement that proposals be finalized and submitted 4 business days in advance of the sponsor deadline, Dearborn ORA cannot guarantee that PIs engaging 5 business days or less in advance of the sponsor deadline will have their proposals submitted by the sponsor deadline.

Working with UM-Dearborn Office of Research Administration

Our goal is to provide the highest level of service possible in assisting you with assembling all the elements of your proposal package and ensuring there are no administrative errors that could result in a proposal being turned down or returned without review.

Once an ORA staff member has been assigned to your proposal, the PI will receive a summary of RFP requirements needed for the proposal package and a timeline for submission of documents to meet internal and sponsor deadlines. ORA's ability to provide services can be limited by the amount of time available to complete your proposal package, and is dependent on adherence to the timeline.

Services we offer, contingent on the timeline provided, include the following**

  • eligibility confirmation and request to submit as a separate campus if necessary
  • advice on cost estimates and development of the budget and cost rationale
  • completion of sponsor application/forms and assembly of required documents
  • uploading of documents to the sponsor's system
  • review of all documents for completeness and compliance with sponsor's guidelines and UM policies
  • contacting the sponsor with questions related to proposal requirements (non-technical)
  • facilitating communication with subcontractors to obtain required information
  • assistance with obtaining letters of support/commitment if needed
  • a pdf copy of the complete proposal package for PI review prior to submission

**See the Engagement and Service Policy document for a complete list

Due to the administrative nature of ORA's services and the obligation to provide services to the entire campus, we are unable to offer assistance related to editing of the proposal narrative or updates to faculty CVs/biosketches/other support documents.

In order to avoid mistakes such as using the wrong file or document version, ORA requires that all documents be emailed to us by the PI. Use of shared resources such as Google Drive or MBox creates the opportunity for errors such as selecting the wrong file, or of documents being changed or revised after downloading. Clear communication of files from the PI via email ensures that we are using the correct documents in your proposal package.

Key Proposal Development Milestones

The following are the key proposal development milestones apply to all UM‐Dearborn proposals, regardless of the assigned ORA service level. If these milestones are not met, university investigators cannot be assured that their proposals will be submitted by the sponsor deadline.

  • Let us know about your proposal as soon as possible
  • 10 business days before the submission deadline a draft budget must be complete and approved by ORA
  • 8 business days before the submission deadline UM‐Dearborn Administrative Shell must be finalized to route the PAF for campus approvals
  • 4 business days before the submission deadline the proposal must be finalized and approved by UM‐Dearborn for submission to ORSP. Proposals that do not meet this University deadline risk not being submitted by the sponsor's deadline.
Budget Preparation

Our staff will work with you to develop your budget, based on project needs, sponsor guidelines, and university policies.

Any expenses monitored under federal Uniform Guidance must be specifically identified in your budget request. These items include: 
  • clerical and administrative salaries
  • computers, printers, etc.
  • office supplies and postage/mailing
  • telephone line charges, cellular and local calls
  • memberships and dues
  • books or journals and subscriptions
  • hosting and food expenses

Inform your Proposal Specialist if you expect to have any of these types of expenses so they can be itemized in your original budget.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs (also known as IDC, overhead, Facilities & Administrative costs or F&A) are real costs of University operations that are not easily or uniquely assignable to a specific project. The importance of recovering IDC as part of the full cost of a sponsored project cannot be overstated. Indirect costs help make it possible to conduct organized research at UM-Dearborn by providing funds for research-related expenses like utilities and custodial services in labs, occupational safety and hazardous waste removal, Information & Technology Services, sponsored project administration, and other support services.

Indirect cost rates are negotiated with the federal government under the guidelines of Title 2, Part 200 of the Code of Federal Regulations on a periodic basis and are recovered by the University as a percentage of some or all of the direct cost expenses of funded projects. Indirect cost recovery is applicable to all sponsored projects, and it is University policy that all sponsored projects recover full IDC whenever possible. The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) publishes a list of current IDC rates by sponsored project activity.

UM-Dearborn Office of Research does not approve indirect cost waivers. Any waiver of IDC must be requested and approved through your dean's office prior to PAF routing. Dean's offices may only approve to waive the PI, department, and college portion of recovered IDC distribution. THE PORTION OF IDC DISTRIBUTED BACK TO CENTRAL CAMPUS MAY NOT BE WAIVED.

Route & Submit Proposals

The Internal Approval Process

Signatures and Approvals

Any proposal submitted for financial sponsorship of a project or program, research grants or contracts, pre-proposals that combine a work statement and budget estimate, or proposals to be submitted through another university (i.e., subcontract to UM) must be approved through internal channels as follows:

STEP 1: Work with the Dearborn Office of  Research Administration to develop the budget and other required sections of your proposal and complete the University's Proposal Approval Form (PAF) process in eResearch.

  • eResearch Proposal Management (eRPM) is a web-based system used to coordinate the electronic routing, approval, and submission of proposals to external sponsors.
  • The PAF (Proposal Approval Form) is a standard routing and data-entry form used at all three U-M campuses to obtain institutional approval for external grants and contracts.  It is used for all proposals, whether submitted through, mailed to corporate sponsors, for pre-proposals that include a budget estimate, and proposals submitted by another institution where UM will be a subcontractor or subgrantee. 
  • You must provide accurate information, particularly that related to human subjects, restrictions on publication, and conflict of interest as these are important regulatory issues that must be known to your chair, dean, Dearborn Research Office, and UM-ORSP.

STEP 2: When the PAF is complete and budget/major sections of the proposal are final, Dearborn ORA will send the PI a request to review and electronically sign the PAF and conflict of interest statement.

STEP 3: The PAF will be routed for internal unit review and approvals from your Chair, Dean, and Dearborn Office of Research Administration.

The budget and other documents indicating campus commitments (e.g.. facilities & resources,) must be final before routing, however, the PI may still work on the proposal narrative and other documents during the campus internal approval process.  The proposal will not be routed to Ann Arbor for submission until it has been finalized (i.e., all documents are complete and the package is ready for submission.)

STEP 4: The finalized proposal is routed to the Office of Research & Sponsored Projects (ORSP) in Ann Arbor for review, final approval, and signature by the University's Authorized Organizational Representative if required. Generally, ORSP will then submit to the sponsor, or they will notify the Project Team that the proposal has been approved for submission.

Office of Research

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