Research Administration Office

How to Get Your Sponsored Proposals Submitted Faster

Dear Colleagues:

The RAO would like to take this opportunity to remind our clients of a few important issues regarding proposal submissions, and suggest ways to ensure that your proposals are approved and submitted faster and more efficiently.  Our recent experience has shown that periodic reminders of these important policies can be helpful.

OSP Proposal Submission Deadline Policy
Per University policy, the RAO must “lock and route” proposals in GMAS 5 full working days in advance of the sponsor's due date.  This means that if a proposal is due on Monday, July 1, it must be locked and routed to OSP by the end of the day Friday, June 21 or by 9:00 a.m. on Monday, June 24 in order to meet the deadline.  Proposals that are locked and routed later in a day (e.g., 2:00 p.m.) are not counted as received by OSP until the next day.  HKS policy currently requires that complete and final proposals must be submitted to the RAO at least 7 full working days in advance of the sponsor's due date in order to allow a minimum of  1-2 days for final RAO  and Academic Dean review. 

What you can do:
Please remember: “Final RAO review” assumes that this is not the first time the RAO staff has seen the material, and that we have been working with the PI and/or staff on the proposal well in advance for all but the most basic and uncomplicated proposalThis includes review of the budget (often with multiple revisions); obtaining approval, if necessary, from the Faculty Committee on Projects and Proposals (FCOPP) and the Provost’s Office; identifying and addressing potential conflicts of interest; and managing internal overhead shortfall negotiations.  If we see a proposal for the first time 7 working days before it is due (2 days for the RAO review, 5 for OSP), it is likely we will not have enough time to properly review it.  This is certainly the case, for instance,  when it is a novel, complicated international proposal with a brand new sponsor; a proposal that needs major revisions before it can be submitted; or a proposal that may raise questions by the Academic Dean or the Provost’s Office.  We must also remind our PIs and Centers that any individual new proposal is only one item in a complex and dynamic pipeline of other proposals under review at any given point in time.

Note:  For proposals without firm sponsor deadlines, the RAO reserves the right to revise the due date in GMAS (in consultation with the PI and Center) depending on when we can review/lock and route the proposal.

Annual Report on Outside Activities
The Academic Dean recently requested that all HKS faculty members complete and submit their Annual Report on Outside Professional Activities and Potential Conflicts (also known as financial Conflict of Interest disclosure) to report on outside engagements during Calendar Year 2012.  This report was due to the Academic Dean on May 15 via email to  To comply with the University’s Conflict of Interest disclosure policy, we must confirm – prior to each individual new sponsored proposal submission -  that the PI has an up-to-date Annual Report on file.  OSP will not submit new proposals (to both US federal and non-federal sponsors) until they receive this confirmation from the RAO.

What you can do:
If you have any doubt, please check with your PI to make sure they have submitted their annual report as you are preparing proposals for submission so that we do not risk missing submission deadlines.

Participation Agreement
Last fall the Provost’s Office sent emails to faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students regarding the revised Harvard University Participation Agreement (PA).  The PA defines certain responsibilities of those who perform research at Harvard and/or who may create intellectual property through the use of Harvard resources, who are subject to certain University policies and, in some cases, to the terms of agreements between Harvard and third parties (e.g., research sponsors).  The PA is now easily signed electronically and stored in GMAS, and needs to be done one time only.  Proposals submissions and new award set up will be delayed if a faculty member has not signed the revised PA. 

What you can do:
Please check on whether your PI has signed the PA; if not, please ask them to read and sign the revised Participation Agreement here:  You can confirm whether someone has signed the PA by finding their record in GMAS (search under “people”), then click on the arrow next to “person approvals” and next to Participation Agreement there should be a date if it has been signed. 

Please contact us with any questions, and thanks very much for your help!


The Research Administration Office

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