As part of OSP’s on-going effort to streamline processes and improve service, we have been studying the proposal development and approval process for opportunities to save time. Using data collected by the OSP proposal review tool, we started looking for common proposal issues that could be addressed to make the proposal submission process more efficient and painless. We presented our initial data at an OSP Forum in June 2011.

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Administrative Quality of Proposals

A four-month sample of proposals developed in 2011 showed that only about 31% of proposals received in OSP were compliant and could be sent to the sponsor without correction.

This initial data along with discussions at the Forum helped us to develop a strategy to address common issues, often in conjunction with other OSP priorities.

Issue:  Lacking the necessary approvals and/or disclosures

Changes to address the issue:

  • Refined Coeus Proposal Routing Maps, providing additional documentation on routing and approvals on the OSP website
  • PI certifications with smart COI questions built into Coeus; training and COI module in Coeus
  • Requirement that ALL proposals route through Coeus

Issue: Budget does not meet MIT or sponsor requirements

Changes to address the issue:

  • Enhanced Budget Development page on the OSP website
  • More training on how to use the budget tool in Coeus

Issue:Proposal does not conform to the sponsor’s Request For Proposal (RFP)

Changes to address the issue:

  • Sponsor Information page on OSP website, with checklists for specific agencies
  • Roles and Responsibilities page on OSP website

Where are we now?

OSP recently looked to see what effect our efforts have had on the administrative quality of proposals arriving in OSP.

As the chart above shows, we found that:

  • The percentage of proposals being submitted with no issues actually decreased from FY11 to FY13
  • The percentage with agency specific, budget and RFP issues has increased
  • The percentage submitted with signature and disclosure issues has been significantly reduced

We are very pleased that we could almost eliminate the signature and disclosure issue, primarily through system changes.  However, due to lack of progress on the budget and RFP issues, we began working with the schools to find effective solutions and set goals for the number of “no issues” proposals.  This will help remove re-work on the part of the department and OSP, and ideally, provide more time for the PI to develop the technical portion of the proposal.

The Plan

Working with the Deans, OSP will help each School:

  • Determine achievable goals for increasing the percentage of proposals with no issues
  • Identify DLCs with low error rates to develop information sharing and training around best practices
  • Review progress on a regular basis through semi-annual error and 5-day waiver reporting