[Office-of-research] Continuing Problems with Grants.gov Jeopardize UCR's Proposals

Mitch Boretz mitch at engr.ucr.edu
Fri Mar 6 08:32:33 PST 2009

I agree that this is an issue, but I think don't necessarily agree with Bruce's interpretation of UCR's policy with respect to the solution.

It has always been understood that the three-day and seven-day lead times refer to the time that OR needs to perform its administrative review - not to the time that OR needs to submit the proposal after having completed its review. I am skeptical that we can have every proposal ready to submit three days ahead of the deadline, and I am skeptical that OR is equipped to submit all proposals three days ahead of the deadline even if they are ready to go.

A more realistic approach might be to have everything ready for submission at least 24 hours before the deadline. This should give OR time to submit proposals before traffic jams hit, and to get case numbers well before the deadline if there are problems. It should be reasonably easy to enforce with the PIs, too, since this was the norm when we had to allow time to print and ship proposals on paper.

We also need to ask OR to re-evaluate how it schedules staff on big deadline days. For example, if there is a Grants.gov deadline of noon California time on a Monday, it might be necessary to have someone available over the weekend to submit proposals when traffic will be low.

* * * * *
Mitch Boretz
Bourns College of Engineering, UC Riverside
mitch at engr.ucr.edu

From: office-of-research-bounces at lists.ucr.edu [mailto:office-of-research-bounces at lists.ucr.edu] On Behalf Of Bruce Morgan
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 8:15 AM
To: office-of-research at lists.ucr.edu
Subject: [Office-of-research] Continuing Problems with Grants.gov Jeopardize UCR's Proposals

From:  Bruce Morgan
            Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research

To:       Principal Investigators and Unit Contract and Grant Analysts

Research administration colleagues from across the country are continuing to report significant problems with the submission of proposals through Grants.gov.  Most recently, it was reported that Grants.gov user IDs were "disabled" and the institution reporting this problem was not able to get the IDs reactivated.  Likewise, when they tried to establish new IDs, those could not be activate as well.

UCR is not immune from these types of problems.  Earlier this year, a proposal arrived in the Office of Research one hour before the sponsor's submission deadline.  Shortly after submitting the proposal, just one minute before the deadline expired, the Office of Research received a notice stating that the Contract and Grant Officer who submitted the proposal was not an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR).  We immediately contacted the Grants.gov help desk and they confirmed that the submitter was an AOR and directed us to resubmit the proposal.  After doing so, we were contacted by the sponsor and told that they would not accept the proposal because it was late (i.e., the sponsor received the second submission two hours after the deadline expired).  Currently, we continue our efforts to convince the sponsor to accept our proposal and have received additional information from the Grants.gov help desk to support our request.

It is important to note that this situation could have been avoided if the proposal had been submitted to the Office of Research in accordance with UCR's long-established lead times.  The lead times are intended to allow sufficient time to conduct an institutional review of the proposal, approve it and ensure that it is submitted and accepted in advance of the sponsor's deadline.  The UCR campus policy regarding the review, approval and submission of proposals, which is available on the OR website at http://or.ucr.edu/policies/policies.aspx?k=8.  The policy contains information on the three business-day lead time for standard proposals, the seven business-day lead time for non-standard proposals, and lists the criteria for determining whether a proposal is standard or non-standard.  Additional information regarding proposal preparation and submission can also be found on the OR website at http://or.ucr.edu/SP/Lifecycle/Prepare/index.aspx.

Please note that the Contract and Grant Officer assigned to your unit<http://or.ucr.edu/home/Staff.aspx?t=3> is available to answer your questions regarding sponsor electronic proposal submission systems, technical problems and administrative challenges associated with such systems, and campus proposal submission policy and procedure.  In addition, your Contract and Grant Officer is also available to meet individually or with groups of researchers and/or administrators within a unit to address their proposal-related questions, as well as provide guidance and advice regarding strategies and good practices for planning proposal submissions and avoiding known technical challenges with sponsor electronic proposal submission systems.

The problems that we and our colleagues at other institutions are experiencing are real, but their effect on UCR's proposals can be minimized through careful planning.   It is clear that Grants.gov is failing the research community but until it is replaced we will have to continue using this system which means that if proposals are left to the deadline day for submission there is no assurance they will be accepted by the sponsoring agencies.

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