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About Lawrence

The Grant Process: Know Your Role

Lately, there has been several postings to the Grants Forum related to processes uses by Grants Offices to coordinate grant efforts. Coming from a higher education institution and now working with literally all of New York State's colleges, universities, and non-profit research facilities there is a real need to spell out the responsibilities of every one involved in the pursuit of a grant. As with most processes, you must consistently follow your specific design or your process will unravel to the point of total frustration.

What follows is the current process used by my organization. It is not intended to be a panacea, but rather a starting point for you to think about your own processes. Feel free to use any and all parts, but be sure to customize your specific process to fit your specific needs. Should you have any questions or comments, I can be reached at the email addressin my bio.

NYSERNet Office of Sponsored Programs
Grant Process

To insure a fluid and seamless grants program, NYSERNet's Office of Sponsored Programs created the following process to standardize our grant process.

The Office of Sponsored Programs manages relationships with public funding sources: federal, state, regional and local government departments and agencies; and publicly supported and private foundations (both independent and corporate foundations). No funding source should be approached without first contacting your Division Chair/Program Director and the Director of Sponsored Programs.

The following process shall be implemented once a program/project idea has been approved by your Division Chair/Program Director to move ahead.

To insure a timely and efficacious proposal development process, the following guidelines are to be used:

1. As soon as an interest is shown to pursue an institutional, individual or collaborative grant opportunity, an Office of Sponsored Programs (SP) representative will meet with the NYSERNet Executive Management Team to discuss and determine:

  • Does it fit in with the current institutional direction and needs
  • Relationship to the institutional mission
  • Where does it belong on the list of other projects
  • Objectives and Strategy
  • Budget
  • Feasibility
  • Timelines
  • Milestones
  • Resources Required (internal, external, other)
  • Role of Institutional Partners NOTE: SP needs to participate in all funding related discussions with potential partners especially any conversations that take place early in the process.
  • Appropriate Project Director(s) or Principal Investigator(s)
  • Assignment of responsibilities
  • Possible funding sources

2. Once approved by the Executive Management Team, SP will forward copies of a Project Paper and Time Line to appropriate NYSERNet staff (potential team members) for feedback on feasibility. With possible collaborative efforts, SP will forward the material to appropriate Board members.

3. SP will meet with the Project Director(s) or Principal Investigator(s) to put in place a first draft of the budget and the narrative, copies of which will be routed to the President, Chief Operating Officer, VP for Finance & Administration, Director of External Programs, and your direct Supervisor for review and project sign-off.

4. In the grant process, the Pre-Award responsibilities of the Project Director(s) or Principal Investigator(s) are:

  • Work with Director of Sponsored Programs and other staff members to advocate for desired project;
  • Provide proposal content;
  • Adhere to the mutually agreed upon time line for proposal submission;
  • Provide detailed narrative with supporting documentation in draft form pertinent to the subject of the proposal in WordPerfect or MS-Word format;
  • Provide detailed budget information including any salary justifications (e.g., release time, summer leave) and equipment purchases. The budget can only be submitted in Excel;
  • Provide electronic copy of material on CD-ROM or 3.5" diskette. Files may be sent electronically as an attachment to email.
  • Work with the Director of Sponsored Programs to ensure a concise, compelling and complete argument to support the project.

5. In the grant process, the Pre-Award responsibilities of Sponsored Programs are:

  • Disseminate grant guidelines to NYSERNet staff and, when appropriate, to members of the Board;
  • Work in tandem with Project Director(s) or Principal Investigator(s) throughout the entire preparation process;
  • Determine funding strategies;
  • Manage and coordinate all communication with potential funding source(s)
  • Request and obtain required applications and guidelines;
  • Identify grant requirements;
  • Establish and monitor a proposal time line to ensure unhurried preparation;
  • Prepare preliminary draft of budget and narrative summary from staff generated materials;
  • Maintain necessary files on funding sources and funding requests;
  • Advise Project Director(s) or Principal Investigator(s) when variances in grant preparation occur and discuss and implement solutions for maintaining balance;
  • Review/edit proposals under development. The Project Director(s) or Principal Investigator(s) has the final say in any suggested changes;
  • Prepare summary and narrative budget forms;
  • Assemble final draft version for institutional review;
  • Obtain all necessary internal approvals and sign-offs throughout the process;
  • Copy, prepare and send final proposal to funding source as per the guidelines;
  • Serve as authorized institutional representative.

6. The Post-Award responsibilities of the Project Director or Principal Investigator are:

  • Work with Sponsored Programs and External Programs to produce a press release related to the project;
  • Provide Sponsored Programs copies of all voice (written notes), electronic or hard copy correspondence received from the funding source within 24 hours of receipt;
  • Provide Sponsored Programs with an electronic copy of all correspondence and reports to be sent to a funding source with enough lead-time for internal review and sign-off of all material. No material(s) shall be sent to funding source without SP's sign-off.
  • Maintain records related to all aspects of the funded project such as a separate effort log for everyone involved, itemized and documented report of all revenue and expenses, and all voice (written notes), electronic, and hard copy communication related to the program regardless of the source.
  • Provide, when requested, any additional materials in a timely manner to Sponsored Programs;
  • Provide assistance with site visits;
  • Report any problems, changes or deviations from proposal to the Director of Sponsored Program within 48 hours of discovery; (NOTE: any changes must be approved in advance by the funding source.)
  • Submit all reports (interim, final and financial) electronically to the Director of Sponsored Programs for review and editing as agreed to in the project time line.

7. The Post-Award responsibilities of Sponsored Programs are:

  • Maintain necessary files on funding sources, funding requests, proposal working papers, proposals, and all communication between NYSERNet and a funding source;
  • Maintain contacts with funding sources as necessary;
  • Forward any additional materials and correspondence to the funding source;
  • Set up visits required by funding sources;
  • Negotiate any changes with funding sources;
  • Notify concerned parties about funding decisions and provide explanations if requests are rejected;
  • Submit all reports to funding agency;
  • Serve as authorized institutional representative.
  • Interface with the accounting department for all transactions


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