To help sustain its position as the No. 1 public U.S. university in research expenditures, the University of Michigan will roll out a new policy Jan. 6, 2020 regarding deadlines for the submission of external funding proposals.

The policy, which will establish explicit, fair and uniformly applied levels of service for processing proposals, has been developed over the last four and a half years, in coordination with research administrators, faculty, deans and other U-M leaders.

As the nation’s largest public research university, U-M submits more than 7,700 proposals each year on behalf of its faculty. It has ranked No. 1 in research volume among the nation’s public universities for nine consecutive years, with $1.62 billion in research expenditures for fiscal year 2019.

The new policy is flexible enough to accommodate the different needs of faculty and research administrators spanning all three U-M campuses and their schools, colleges, institutes and centers, each of which is unique in terms of the administrative support it provides. Many schools and colleges have implemented their own policies to align with this new U-M policy.

“In today’s increasingly competitive and highly regulated funding environment, it has never been more important to balance faculty efforts to secure sponsored research funding with the need to safeguard the university’s research enterprise from significant instances of noncompliance,” said Craig Reynolds, executive director of research and sponsored projects.

“Through an extensive process of stakeholder engagement, I believe we have designed a deadline policy that strikes this balance.”

Under the new policy, a proposal for external funding will receive one of two levels of review — full or limited — depending on when the final version of the proposal and its accompanying finalized Proposal Approval Form are received in the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.

A full review ensures compliance with both U-M and sponsor requirements, and is provided for proposals submitted to ORSP with a lead time of 32 business hours or more (or the equivalent of four business days) prior to the submission deadline on the PAF.

A limited review ensures compliance with U-M requirements, and is provided for proposals submitted to ORSP with a lead time of at least 15 business hours prior to the submission deadline. A limited review does not provide a check for compliance with the sponsor’s guidelines.

Proposals receiving a full or limited review will be submitted by the submission deadline entered on the PAF, provided any ORSP-identified changes are completed in a timely fashion by the principal investigator’s team.

Proposals that arrive at ORSP fewer than 15 business hours prior to the submission deadline will be assigned “at risk” status. Ultimately, ORSP cannot guarantee “at risk” proposals will be submitted by the submission deadline, or that they will be complete or correct upon submission.

Importantly, “at risk” proposals will neither be prioritized over timely proposals nor submitted without receiving a limited review for institutional compliance.

ORSP has created a webpage that includes more information about the new policy, including ORSP’s PAF and Proposal Checklist, the levels of review, frequently asked questions, and definitions. Questions that are not related to a school’s or college’s implementation should be submitted via this Google document.