Grant Proposal Development & Awards Process Guide

by College of Agriculture Research Office, Auburn University COA & Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station


COA/AAES Proposal Initiation Form

Our goal is to complete all internal reviews 72 hours before sponsor submission deadlines. Contracts and grants personnel will endeavor to process submissions in a timely fashion, but there are no guarantees unless recommended internal timelines (page 4) are fully met.

Support services offered by the Research Office (RO) include:

• Grant writing/editing support/coordination with department staff;

• Statistical data consultation;

• Pre-submission project management & coordination;

• Project budgeting & budget narrative assistance; and

• Coordination of proposal materials with external sub-awards/sub-recipients.

Suggested timeline:

Before you start proposal development: (Two months before due date, or earlier)

• Identify previously successful proposals (i.e., prior funded projects for your program).

• Clarify your research problem so you can clearly express your need for funding. Supporting questions to be answered include:

o What is the problem you are addressing?

o What has previously been done to address this problem?

o What gaps still remain? How do you propose to close them?

o How does your approach show novelty and/or innovation?

• Determine Co-PIs and their specific role/contribution to the project.

• Determine subawards (if needed).

• Contact the Dept. Accountant and RO with funding notice.

• If cost share is required, discuss with Dept. Accountant and then RO (if necessary).

Grant writing assistance:

RO grant writers offers services including:

• Review of agency solicitation requirements;

• Proposal preparation timelines and processes;

• A compelling “storyline” or gap analysis;

• Requirements of specific grant competitions;

• Assessment, outreach, and diversity component needs;

• Writing of non-technical text and transitions;

• Document control and copyediting;

• Institutional support letters; and

• Collecting forms such as Conflict of interest and Biographical Sketches.

Note: Initial development of proposal content/narrative is the responsibility of the PI(s).

PI notifies the Dept. Accountant and RO staff:

  • RO creates an electronic folder to collect all proposal elements. 
  • RO/Dept. Accountant downloads needed forms, if applicable – completes institutional information. 
  • RO secures institutional documents/information needed for proposal. 
  • RO enters proposal info into database and assigns college (CoA) project number. 

PI works with RO and/or Dept. Accountant for assistance in: 

  • Writing proposal text and supporting attachments; 
  • Budget preparation; 
  • Completion of application package/forms (paper or electronic); 
  • Compilation of proposal elements compiled into one proposal or electronic packet for upload; and 
  • Preparing/initiating proposal eCover form for internal approvals. 

PI works with the Office of Research Compliance (ORC) for assistance with the following compliance requirements: 

• Animal Care and Use (IACUC) 

• Biological Safety (IBC) 

• Human Subjects Research (IRB) 

• National Science Foundation (NSF) Conflict of Interest 

• Public Health Service (PHS) Conflict of Interest 

• Radiation Safety (RSC) 

• Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training 

OSP is the final approval on the Proposal eCover Form:

  • OSP will submit proposal electronically, upload to eCover form and approve. A PDF of full proposal (with approved eCover) will be made available to PI and Dept. Accountant. 
  • If submission does not require Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) to submit, RO needs a copy of final proposal. A PDF of full proposal (with approved eCover) will be made available to PI and Dept. Accountant. PI is then responsible for submitting proposal to sponsor.

1 Month Before Deadline

(or earlier)

Complete Proposal Initiation Form – Contact Dept. Accountant and RO. 

• Determine project management structure. 

• Work from checklist that lists all proposal requirements. 

• Make writing assignments. 

• Discuss need for supporting graphics/figures/statistical data. 

• Recruit advisory board members (if required). 

• Identify outside evaluator and sub-awards (if required).


3 Weeks

Finalize goals and specific objectives.

• Complete logic model (if required). 

• Begin collecting required forms (i.e., Biographical Sketches, Current and Pending Support, and Conflict of Interest). 

• Start collecting letters of commitment/support. 

• Compile tentative budget. 

• Manage the submission of sub-award documents (if applicable). 


2 Weeks

Route eCover form:

o Final budget, budget justification and draft summary, narrative, or scope of work needed. 

o Final sub-award documents (if required). 

o Notate submission instructions, RFA requirements, or needs in Project Comments and Documentation section (e.g., letter of commitment, completed subrecipient form for sub-awards, etc.) 

• Finalize attachments, such as Key Personnel, Equipment, Facilities and Other Resources, Management Plan, and Data Management Plan (DMP). 

Forward all completed documents to RO. 


1 Week

• Incorporate external evaluator’s input into proposal (if required). 

• Project team edit of proposal narrative. 

• Begin finalizing Project Summary and Project Narrative. 

Review of entire grant package.


3 Days

• Complete validity check.

Final package to RO and OSP for review before submission. 

Note: PI may continue to make final edits to the Project Narrative and other Scientific Components (excluding the Budget and Budget Justification) of the proposal until 24 hours prior to the sponsor

If award is received by PI as proposed:

  • PI will forward award document to the Dept. Accountant. 
  • Dept. Accountant will email award to OSP, noting the corresponding Proposal eCover Form number and current status of compliance issues. 
  • OSP will ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved then process internal paperwork to get the award signed and sent to CGA for FOP set up. 

If award is received by PI with a different award and/or cost-share amount:

  • PI will forward award document to the Dept. Accountant. 
  • Dept. Accountant will request or revise the budget/cost-share to match the award amount, complete a paper Extramural Cover Form. Circulate for Dept. Head/ADR approvals only if the cost-share or university commitment has changed. 
  • Dept. Accountant will email award to OSP (cc RO) noting the corresponding Proposal eCover Form number and current status of compliance issues. 
  • OSP will ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved and then process internal paperwork to get the award signed and sent to CGA for FOP set up. 

If award is received by OSP as proposed:

OSP will ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved, then process internal paperwork to get the award signed and sent to CGA for FOP set up. 

If award is received by OSP with a different award and/or cost-share amount:

  • OSP will send award to Dept. Accountant for revised budget. 
  • Circulate for Dept. Head/ADR approvals if cost-share or university commitment changes. 
  • OSP ensures all compliance issues are addressed/approved then processes internal paperwork to get the award signed and sent to CGA for FOP set up. 

If award is received by RO:

RO will send award document to OSP to oversee award processing. 

If an industry or other sponsor award is received or drafted by PI:

  • PI will forward award document, with a scope of work and budget, to Dept. Accountant. 
  • Dept. Accountant will complete a paper Extramural Cover form and send award package to Dept. Head for approval. 
  • Dept. Accountant will email award package to RO for review. 
  • RO will ensure all award elements are in place, send amendment to ADR for approval, and forward to OSP. 
  • OSP will ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved then process internal paperwork to get the award signed (which could include sending to IAC for review/negotiation) – and sent to CGA for FOP set up. 

If award is received by OSP:

  • OSP will email to Dept. Accountant/RO, request a paper Extramural Cover Form, scope of work and budget, approved by Dept. Head/Dean, from the PI/Dept. Accountant. 
  • OSP will then ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved then process internal paperwork to get the award signed and sent to CGA for FOP set up. 

To process an Amendment that adds funding and/or cost-share: 

  • Amendment must have a budget and scope of work to match the amendment document. 
  • Dept. Accountant must complete a paper copy of Extramural Cover Form and route the amendment and attachments for approvals of Dept. Head (copy RO for review); unless a proposal was processed and approved through OSP prior to receipt of the amendment. RO/Dept. Accountant will send the amendment to ADR for approval, and forward to OSP. 
  • OSP will ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved then process internal paperwork to get the amendment signed and sent to CGA to modify the FOP. 

To process an Amendment for No Cost Extension (NCE), administrative changes, etc.: 

  • Dept. Accountant will send the amendment to OSP and copy RO. 
  • OSP will ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved then process internal paperwork to get the amendment signed and sent to CGA to modify the FOP. 

To process an Amendment to revise budget, change PI, and/or scope of work: 

  • Amendment must have a budget and scope of work to match the amendment document. 
  • Dept. Accountant must complete a paper copy of Extramural Cover Form and route amendment and attachments for approvals of Dept. Head then to RO for review. 
  • RO will send amendment to ADR for approval then to OSP. 
  • OSP will ensure that all compliance issues are addressed/approved then process internal paperwork to get the amendment signed and sent to CGA to modify the FOP. 

Other Processes

To Set Up on Anticipation:

  • Dept. Accountant will complete cover form, the “Request for Project to Be Established on Anticipation” form, and attach the pending award document (if available), the scope of work, budget and budget justification. Dept. Accountant should obtain Dept. Head approval and forward to RO for review and ADR’s signature. 
  • RO will email entire package to OSP. 

To request a FOP be Extended to Indefinite:

PI/Dept. Accountant will send an email/memo to CGA requesting that the FOP be extended to indefinite – noting the FOP number, the project is complete, any deliverables have been submitted and that all project related costs have been charged to the project FOP. They must also have received full payment, but CGA will make that determination. 

Acronyms: 

AAES – Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station 

ADR – Associate Dean for Research 

AOR – Authorized Organizational Representative 

CGA – Contracts and Grants Accounting 

FOP – Fund/Organization/Program 

IAC – Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization 

IACUC – Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (Animal Use and Care) 

IBC – Institutional Biosafety Committee (Biological Safety Compliance) 

IRB – Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects Research Compliance) 

NCE – No Cost Extension 

ORC – Office of Research Compliance 

OSP – Office of Sponsored Programs 

PHS – Public Health Service 

PI – Principal Investigator 

RCR – Responsible Conduct of Research Training 

RO – Research Office 

RSC – Radiation Safety Committee