ORSP realigning to strengthen research operations


The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects recently launched a comprehensive realignment strategy designed to support and strengthen research operations across the University of Michigan.

ORSP will implement its realignment strategy over the next 13 months, using a phased approach that aims to enhance structures, and expand its staff, roles, processes, training and systems.


“Our ultimate goal is to modernize, enhance and elevate ORSP workflow and business processes to ensure responsive, compliant, best-in-class operations so that our research community can continue to generate new knowledge and discoveries that positively impact the world around us,” said Shandra White, assistant vice president for research – sponsored projects.

To effectively prioritize its work, ORSP will redesign workflows to streamline business functions that align with current and anticipated needs and growth. The process will require some periods of adjustment in how ORSP engages with research administrators and faculty.

Previously, a single ORSP staff member simultaneously handled three sponsored research business lines: proposal submission, non-financial award management, and contracts and agreements. The ORSP staff designation was determined primarily by the type of external sponsor — government or private — rather than the business line.

Under the realignment, researchers will work with separate ORSP teams that each oversee one of three redesigned business lines.

Research administrators will work with three teams: pre-award, non-financial award management, and contracts and agreements, which includes review and negotiation of nondisclosure agreements, data use agreements, clinical trials or other contracts related to sponsored research. All business lines ensure and safeguard compliance.

The realignment aims to streamline business processes, improve responsiveness and communication with U-M faculty and staff, and improve turnaround times. It also will implement performance measures so staff can make proactive adjustments to best serve the U-M research community.

Based in the Office of the Vice President for Research, ORSP last year reviewed and submitted 7,500 research proposals, managed activity on 2,700 sponsored awards, and negotiated nearly 2,000 contracts and agreements on behalf of U-M to support faculty and staff across disciplines.

Over the past year, ORSP has worked closely with diverse groups of faculty and staff to effectively scale its structure and functions to best align with the university’s expansive and complex research portfolio.

“The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects plays an essential role in driving the success of our research enterprise, and I am incredibly excited to see how this strategic realignment will elevate and enhance the innovative work of the U-M research community for years to come,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and innovation.


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