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College of Engineering / Offices / Business Office / Proposal And Award Processes

Proposal And Award Processes

The Engineering Business Office in partnership with Auburn University Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) offers essential and strategic expertise to support all aspects of sponsored activities including research compliance, proposal development and pre-award services, interdisciplinary and new program development, and guidance on conceptualizing and protection of intellectual property.

  1. Find Funding 

    PIVOT: Subscription database with more than 25,000 funding opportunities
    Intramural Grants Program: Internal grants opportunities and guidance
    NSF: List of open NSF programs and due dates

    Limited Submissions: If the RFP indicates the institution is limited in the number of proposals it can submit, please refer to the Limited Submission policy and process

  2. Proposal Preparation and Submission 

    Faculty members will develop the proposal and gather all necessary supporting documentation following the Sponsor requirements.

    a. Proposal Review and Submission

    All proposals and pre-proposals containing a budget must be reviewed and approved by EBO before submitting to the sponsor. Please follow these steps for review and submission:

    30 to 10 days from proposal deadline:
    Contact your Pre-Award administrator and departmental contact to begin preparation of “standard” documents for proposal submission. The primary Pre-Award contacts are:

    10 days from Proposal Deadline:
    Submit draft proposals to Pre-Award administrator via email. At a minimum, the submission should include:

    • AU cover form (recommend eCover Form in AU Access
    • Announcement/RFP/BAA/solicitation or link to website where information is located
    • Statement of work (can be draft or can be project summary
    • Budget and budget justification: Budget Template

    Budget Development: When developing the budget for your proposal, please remember to use the current approved rates found on the AU Fact Sheet.

    Research Compliance: Please follow the sponsor requirements for Human Subjects research, animal care and use, or Biological Hazards approvals for the proposal.

    7 days from proposal deadline:
    Begin uploading documents on sponsor system

    3 days from proposal deadline:
    Provide all required documents for final review. EBO will review and provide feedback and final approval.

    1-2 Days from proposal deadline:
    EBO will submit proposal to sponsor upon receipt of the final proposal and PI notice to submit or EBO will return the approved final proposal to faculty member for submission.

    Research Resources

  3. Award Review and Acceptance 

    Faculty, Departments, Engineering Business Office, and Sponsored Programs may all receive awards for external funding. Once the contract or award document arrives, the process for accepting the award begins.

    a: Negotiating the Agreement

    The administrative process for non-industry awards begins in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). The award document, or agreement, is matched to the appropriate proposal. If the award document does not require University signature (e.g., most federal grants), then the paperwork to establish a Fund is initiated and forwarded to the Office of Contracts and Grants Accounting (CGA) to create the Fund. If the award instrument requires University signature, or if specific terms or conditions are involved (e.g., contracts, some purchase orders), Sponsored Programs will review and negotiate terms directly with the sponsor.

    The process for industry sponsored awards begins on the Office on Innovation Advancement and Commercialization (IAC). Negotiations with industry or private sector sponsors can lead to time delays in processing a new contract. Companies frequently include contract terms in their agreements that are problematic in terms of University policy and State law. Reaching mutually satisfactory arrangements in our partnership with industry can be challenging, given our different missions. Contentious issues include publication constraints, confidentiality clauses, intellectual property rights, indemnification, liability and insurance issues, arbitration clauses, governing law, and currency exchange. Investigators should understand the University’s position on these issues before they begin discussions with prospective sponsors.

    Tools and Tips for Industry Contracts:

    Auburn utilizes four (4) agreement templates that include acceptable terms and conditions. They are the fixed price research agreement, fixed price research services agreement, fixed price technical agreement and the cost reimbursable research agreement. If you choose to use one of these, please check with EBO to confirm you are using the correct template for the proposed work.

    Principal Investigators may negotiate directly with the sponsors regarding the scope of work to be conducted. However, Investigators may not negotiate any other terms.

    All contracts should contain a property title clause, even if the proposed budget does not include equipment. This will prevent a problem should equipment be purchased during the life of the contract. The standard University property clause states, "Upon termination of the Agreement, any equipment, material, or supplies remaining in stock will become the property of the University."

    b: Signing the Agreement

  4. Setting Up The Fund

    OSP sends the signed agreement along with a fully-signed Auburn University Cover Form for Extramural Programs, budget, journal voucher, and indirect cost distribution form to CGA to create a fund and notify the Principal Investigator and departmental administrator of the new Fund number.

    CGA considers the Principal Investigator’s tight technical schedule once a project is awarded and does its best to minimize the amount of time it takes to set up a Fund to allow for expenditures. CGA established the new Fund number in the Banner system after receiving the documentation from OSP.

    Anticipation The University does not have formal authority to incur costs against a grant or contract until a fully executed award document is in place. However, there are times when the award documents are late and the Principal Investigator needs to begin spending before the award document is fully executed. Charging another sponsored project account for costs associated with a pending award is not allowed. Instead, when the award documents are late and the investigator knows that the University will accept the terms of the award, e.g., standard Federal grants, it is appropriate for the investigator to request that a Fund be established on anticipation. Establishing a Fund on anticipation is not appropriate if the University and sponsor have not completed negotiation of unacceptable terms of a contract

  5. Fund Management 

    Each sponsored project Fund in Banner is assigned to a Principal Investigator as the responsible person. The Principal Investigator may delegate some of the duties associated with financial management of the Fund to a business manager. However, the Principal Investigator assumes full responsibility for all activity on the Fund.

    The Principal Investigator is responsible for ensuring that all disbursements from the Fund are:

    • for the bona fide purpose of the account;
    • allowable per the terms of the award
    • authorized in accordance with University policies, State and Federal laws and regulations;
    • charged to the appropriate account code; and
    • fall within the available funding for the Fund.

    The Principal Investigator is responsible for ensuring that:

    • The Fund is reconciled on a timely basis
    • Immediate action is taken to resolve the errors or discrepancies noted during the report reconciliation and to follow up to ensure that errors are corrected

    My Funding, a tab within the Self-Service Banner Application in AU Access, is a dashboard that displays real-time financial data on external contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements. It provides faculty and staff live and historical financial data for an individual’s external support, facilities and administrative cost recovery details, advanced search functions, and the ability to download relevant financial information as needed.