The Quick and the Deadlines

Grant submission is a team effort, and each member of the team has a stake in the outcome.  When an award comes in, the PI gets resources for important research, but there are also accountants who manage the flow of funds, managers who handle purchasing, specialists who ensure compliance, and the list goes on.  Lots of people put forth a lot of effort to ensure effective award management, and lots of people work at the front end as well to ensure the highest likelihood that the proposal for funds receives every consideration.  This is why there are internal deadlines for submission that predate the deadline for application imposed by the sponsor.  Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) at WSU is responsible for submitting all external requests for funding on behalf of the University, and therefore need time to review and make sure that outgoing proposals are compliant.  SPA requires that all outgoing proposals be submitted three (3) full business days before the agency deadline for proper review (SPA’s policy can be found here).  The WSU School of Medicine also enforces this policy, and requires that all proposals submitted from any School of Medicine department after this deadline be acknowledged by the department chair and recorded in the School of Medicine Office of Research.  For the School of Medicine Late Submission Form and Policy, please follow this link.

An internal deadline is not meant to be a cruel imposition on already time-constrained researchers.  Rather, applications submitted on or before internal deadlines are given earlier and more thorough administrative reviews.  When a GCO or administrator is not in a time crunch, their reviews will be more valuable rather than just glancing through the application to verify the compulsory elements. When time is available
to give meticulous component review (such as  human subjects statements, budget justifications, conflict of interest, etc) it increases the likelihood of a smooth review of the application by the sponsor’s scientific review
panel. Extra consideration beyond the departmental office only improves the quality of the proposal, and ensures the elimination of errors that can be chalked up to haste.

A cursory survey finds that most major research universities impose a standard five-day internal deadline; as stated above, for now, WSU requires three.  To read more about other university standards and how they promote deadlines, check out NCURA’s article in the December 2010 issue of their magazine (p 18).

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