Step 3 - Proposal Approval and Submission

A. Proposal ApprovalsStep 3
B. Proposal Submissions
C. Submission Timeline

A. Proposal Approvals

Internal Approvals Checklist

Before a proposal is submitted to an external funding agency, the application must be approved through the University’s established procedure. SmartGrant Online Routing is used to gather the approvals. By electronically approving the proposal in SmartGrant, each signatory accepts accountability for the roles and actions assigned to them by the University, as described below. 

SmartGrant gathers information required for processing a grant or contract and electronic signatures showing the University’s support. Routing is required for every grant proposal or contract submitted to the Office of Research. If circumstances prevent online routing, ask the Office of Research for a paper form to circulate for signatures.

The routing process must be completed before the proposal can be submitted.

Electronic approval is required from the PI, other committed personnel such as co-PIs or Faculty Associates, and the department chair(s) and college dean(s) of the PI and any other committed personnel. Depending on the scope of the project other approvals (see below) may be necessary. All of the required approval signatures must be obtained before the proposal will be submitted to the funding agency.

The Office of Research will enter your proposal data into Smart Grant and initiate Online Routing. Please contact your pre-award specialist to begin this process.


  • The e-signatures of the principal investigator, all co-principal investigators, and other committed personnel are required. "Other committed personnel" means KSU faculty or staff who are either paid from the grant or committing time to the projects as specified in the proposal. By signing electronically approving the proposal, the PI, co-PIs, and other committed personnel agree to:

    • Accept responsibility for the intellectual content of the research or scholarly activity that is proposed
    • Accept responsibility for the quality and completeness of both the fiscal and technical portions of the proposal
    • Ensure that all necessary institutional approvals (see “Other Approvals” below) are received prior to submission of the proposal to an outside funding source
    • Avoid conflict of interest
    • Adhere to the principles of responsible conduct in research or other creative work described in the KSU Faculty Handbook
    • Assure that the sponsored project is conducted safely and in accordance with university, federal, state, and local regulations
    • Meet deadlines for the completion of reports to the sponsoring agency
    • Accept responsibility for administration of the awarded activity
    • Use funds for the awarded project appropriately and ensure that all expenditures are consistent with the terms and conditions of the award
    • Report potentially patentable or other commercial results
    • Complete the work on schedule and within the project’s agreed upon budget
    • Assure compatibility with the total academic assignment determined in consultation with the department chair or director and dean
  • The department chair or center/institute director of the Principal Investigator and all Co-Principal Investigators must approve all sponsored activities prior to proposal submission to the dean(s). In certain cases, center/institute directors are delegated oversight responsibilities. The signature of the department chair or center/institute director or designee on the Proposal Routing Form indicates acknowledgment of the:

    • Research or creative activities that are being conducted in the department
    • Research or creative activity conforming to the short or long-range objectives of the department
    • Needs of the proposal in terms of space requirements, materials, staffing, or health and safety hazards associated with the conduct of the activities
    • Commitment to provide any necessary requirements if the proposal is funded
    • Approval of release time (if any) for designated faculty
    • Coverage of any over expenditure or disallowed expenditures from departmental funds
    • Adherence to all applicable department, college, and university procedures
    • Competency of the PI to conduct and manage the proposed project
  • The dean or designee assures that he/she:

    • Acknowledges the proposed project
    • Recognizes the project as compatible with the institutional goals and objectives of the college
    • Makes available staff and space necessary for conducting the project
    • Recognizes personnel descriptions as appropriate and consistent in the college
    • Is aware of the budgetary impact of the project on the college
  • Depending on the nature of the project additional approvals may be needed before the proposal is submitted to the Office of Research. Projects requiring special assistance from the offices of must be signed off by the applicable responsible official.

    • Information Technology Services,
    • Environmental Health & Safety, or
    • Plant Operations (if alterations are required to the physical plant)

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B. Proposal Submissions

It is the responsibility of the PI to route their proposal for timely submission to the sponsor. For proposals where the internal approval process is started less than three (3) business days prior to the sponsor's deadline, the PI accepts the risks of the proposal missing the deadline or being rejected for errors.

Refer to the Internal Approvals Checklist for a comprehensive guide on what you need to complete before proposal submission.

  • If the application is to be submitted electronically, the Office of Research will provide technical support (including uploading documents, if necessary) and take care of the electronic signature. For many electronic submissions, there are parts that must be completed by the PI and parts that must be completed by the Office of Research. Plan to be available on submission day to answer last minute questions, especially for electronic submissions. Occasionally, questions arise that are not covered in the application guidelines. If a paper application is required, the Office of Research will manage copying and shipping.

    Deadlines vary widely among sponsors and sponsor programs. Proposals must be submitted to sponsor no later than 5pm on the due date, regardless of the sponsor's deadline. 

  • In some cases, identical proposals may be submitted simultaneously to more than one sponsor provided each sponsor is advised that this has occurred. Careful attention must be given to agency restrictions on the submission of identical proposals to multiple sponsors. Please consult the Office of Research well in advance of any deadlines.

  • Fill out the SmartGrant Intro Proposal Data and email a copy of the abstract, budget, and budget justification to the Office of Research for pre-approval. The budget is usually the most time consuming portion of a proposal to check, and advance copies allow us to help correct possible errors while the text is still in its draft stage.

    Email or call OR if the proposal is being submitted in response to a specific Broad Agency Announcement, Request for Proposals, Research Announcement, etc. so that we can review the proposal along with the solicitation guidelines.

    Allow time for corrections and make sure a contact is available. In many cases, proposals are ready to be signed and submitted without further correction or revision. However, there are times when corrections need to be made, particularly if a budget has not been sent in advance or if a PI is applying to a sponsor with which s/he or the OR is unfamiliar. Allowing time for corrections helps to ensure the proposal is at its best when it is sent out. The PI and/or a departmental/divisional contact must be available to make corrections until the proposal is ready to submit to the sponsor.

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C. Submission Timeline

This timeline is not intended to represent the most the Office of Research can do, but the minimum the Office of Research will do. If possible, the Office of Research will provide a more thorough review of the proposal and will let PIs know when a proposal will receive less than a complete review due to time constraints.

  • At last three weeks prior to the deadline:

    • Please notify the Office of Research preaward staff ( of your intent to submit a proposal by sending a link to the program to which you intend to apply. A preaward staff member will contact you to discuss how the office can support your proposal; they will also review program guidelines and develop a checklist and timeline for completing and submitting the proposal.

    At least two Weeks Prior to the Deadline:

    • Start circulating Cover Pages, Letters of Support/Commitment or other program-specific documents that require signatures from your Chair, Dean, President, etc.
    • Provide narrative and budget drafts to preaward staff to enable them to enter project data into/initiate electronic routing through Smart Grant. You will still be able to edit your proposal while it is going through the approval process. You, your chair, and your dean will all need to approve the proposal in Smart Grant. If your Chair/Dean requires a final draft approval, make sure you finish your proposal early so the approval process can be completed in a timely manner.

    At least 3 days prior to the deadline:

    • All documents for submission must be received by preaward staff to guarantee an on-time submission.

    If drafts received at least 10 days prior to submission

    • surface editing support (punctuation, spelling, readability)
    • budget development (salaries, fringe, supplies, equipment, travel etc.; relevance to project description, cost-sharing)

    If drafts received at least 7 days prior to submission

    • comparison of proposal to sponsor's guidelines (e.g. forms and formating, proposal checklist)
    • compliance issues (e.g., human/animal subjects, health and safety, conflict of interest)

    If final documents received at least 3 days prior to submission

    • final review of documents, including budget and compliance check
    • proposal pack to PI for final review

    If documents are received less than 24 hours prior to submission, the preaward team will review and submit the proposal as time allows, but cannot assure successful submission of proposals.

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