Office of Research Working with SPO - Office of Research

Working with SPO

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Preparing & Submitting Proposals

There are many steps to developing a research project and preparing a proposal for submission. The Office of Research aims to provide and identify services and resources to aid the researcher’s efforts in developing and preparing a project or proposal.

Working with SPO

Why Submit to Sponsored Programs

It is the policy of the University of California that faculty or other academic employees who receive any part of their salary through the University, or whose activities use any University resources or facilities, must submit their proposals through the appropriate local contracts and grants office. The Office of Research, Sponsored Programs serves in that capacity at the University of California, Davis and is the Davis Campus office delegated to accept or execute extramurally sponsored awards on behalf of the Regents of the University of California.

The Office of Research, Sponsored Programs has been entrusted with the authority, on behalf of the Davis campus and the University of California, to certify that proposals are consistent with University policies and regulations. The Office of Research, Sponsored Programs also has the responsibility to ensure that promises made in proposals can be honored and that the grant or contract can be accepted if it is awarded.

All proposals for extramural funding must be submitted through Sponsored Programs, with the exception of limited submission pre-proposals and pre-proposals that do not require an institutional signature.

How to Submit to Sponsored Programs

Pre-Proposal/White Paper/Letter of Intent with Required Institutional Signature

Some sponsors require a pre-proposal as part of the proposal review process. Pre-proposals that require an institutional signature, or require a detailed budget, or contain terms and conditions to which university is required to agree to at the time of submission of the pre-proposals, need to be submitted through OR-Sponsored Programs. Submit these to Sponsored Programs in Cayuse SP as a new Proposal/Internal Processing Form (IPF).

If the pre-proposal/white paper/letter of intent does not include a budget or require institutional signature, department level approvals may not be needed. Check with the department contract and grant analyst if unsure. Instructions for submitting these are available in the Handbook for Department Contract & Grant Staff, Principal Investigators and Approvers.

Full-Proposal Submission

Please submit a complete copy of your proposal package in Cayuse SP. Download the Proposal Preparation Checklist.

A complete proposal package includes, at a minimum:

  • Completed Internal Processing Form (IPF). A complete proposal package submitted to OR-Sponsored Programs will contain the following:
  • Cover page if required by the sponsor (sample cover page, to be used when agency forms are not available (PDF)
  • Proposal guidelines from the sponsor agency (e.g., RFP, RFA, BAA, etc.)
  • Budget, if a budget is required by the sponsor. Note that Sponsored Programs strongly encourages submission of a budget with any proposal that includes a dollar amount. When no budget is required, Sponsored Programs may ask for additional details on indirect cost calculations to ensure adequate funds are available to the project at time of award. ( Refer to the Preparing a Proposal Budget Toolkit and OR Budget Templates for assistance. Include cost share/match only if specifically required by funding agency.)
  • Budget justification,  if a budget is required by the sponsor (Provide a detailed justification for all items listed in the budget. Refer to the Preparing a Proposal Budget Toolkit for guidance.)
  • Cost-Share Approval, if applicable
  • Exception to PI status request, if applicable
  • Electronic application package, if applicable (Provide access to the completed electronic application. Final copies are required 2 business days prior to submission to sponsor agency.)
  • Addition sponsor-specific items, if applicable
  • Subawards, if applicable (Provide scope of work, budget, budget justification, F&A Rate Agreement and Subrecipient Monitoring Form or Multiple Campus Commitment Form for all subawards.)
  • Compliance documents, if applicable (Provide completed and signed conflict of interest Form 800 and/or other required compliance documents. Disclosures filed online do not need to be uploaded in Cayuse SP.)

When Sponsored Programs receives your proposal package, you will be assigned a proposal analyst, and will receive further information regarding your proposal via email. You may also view the status of your proposal directly in Cayuse SP. For more information about what the analyst assigned to your project will be checking for when reviewing your proposal, please visit Proposal Review.

Submission Deadlines

For proposals to receive a full review by OR-Sponsored Programs, they must be received 5 business days prior to requested return/submission date. Please incorporate time for obtaining the necessary department and/or dean approvals when submitting your proposal for routing in Cayuse SP.

If you are in the School of Medicine or the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Dean will need to approve your proposal before it can be submitted to OR-Sponsored Programs. For information about your Dean’s suggested deadlines, you should contact your Dean’s office.


What Will Sponsored Programs Review

When reviewing proposals the following issues must be considered by an OR-Sponsored Programs analyst prior to submission. Some of these items are required to be submitted to Sponsored Programs prior to a proposal being submitted to a sponsor. These are indicated with and asterisk (*). The other items on this list are recommended at the time of proposal submission, but become mandatory when an award is received.

Use our Proposal Preparation Checklist to ensure that you include all of the items needed for your proposal package.

Links to related UC and UC Davis policies and forms are provided for your convenience.

What Sponsored Programs will not Review

The following items are not reviewed in any proposals prior to submission to the sponsor:

  • Project Summary
  • Table of contents
  • Project description
  • Current and pending support
  • References cited
  • Biographical sketches
  • Appendix information
  • Pages margins, font/pitch, line spacing, characters per inch, page limitations

Principal Investigators are responsible for reviewing these items prior to submitting their proposal package to Sponsored Programs.

Final Scope of Work*

When a proposal package is submitted to Sponsored Programs for review, PIs may choose to include a draft scope of work. This will enable the assigned analyst to review the proposal while the PI finalizes their scope of work. However, the PI must ensure that Sponsored Programs receives a final scope of work prior to submission of the proposal to the Sponsor.

PI Eligibility*

UC policy states that only qualified members of the Academic Senate and appointees in other eligible title groups listed in the UC Academic Senate policy may submit proposals without the need for an exception. The assigned analyst will be checking to verify that the individual submitting this proposal is an eligible PI according to UC Davis policy. If they are not, the analyst will request a completed PI Exception form (Form 105A).

In addition, a Sponsor may have PI eligibility requirements which need to be met, such as requiring the PI to be a Young Investigator. Sponsor-specific PI eligibility requirements can typically be found in the funding announcement.

Institutional Eligibility*

In some cases, sponsors place restrictions on what types of institutions are eligible to apply for funding. When reviewing the proposal package, the assigned analyst will verify that UC Davis is eligible per the sponsor and call-specific guidelines.

Lead PI and Chair/Director Certification; Dean and other department approval, if necessary*

Prior to submitting a proposal to a sponsor, SPO must verify that the department or ORU has guaranteed that they have the appropriate facilities, infrastructure, and space to conduct this project. Note that infrastructure includes items ordinarily included in Facilities and Administrative (F&A, or indirect) costs, such as computers and office supplies, even if overhead costs are not allowed on that specific project. The department chair or director is required to approval the Internal Processing Form (IPF) to verify that proposed needs are approved. In some schools and colleges, the dean requires all proposals to be submitted for review and approval by the dean prior to submission to SPO. In addition, if the resources of a unit or department other than the PI’s will be involved in this project, approval from that department/units chair/director (whomever has the authority to commit those resources) will be required on the Internal Processing Form (IPF). Internal Processing Forms in will automatically be routed to the appropriate departments, units and deans’ offices based on the entered information.


Contractor: A contractor provides similar goods or services to a number of entities. The services of a contractor are repetitive in nature, and a contractor’s goods are commonly available to many customers. A contractor therefore requires little, if any, instruction as to how to go about producing the good or service. A contactor is paid when the service or product is accepted by the customer/client. A contractor engages in “work for hire” and thus should not have copyrights and/or other intellectual property rights related to any materials, inventions, works of authorship, software, information and data conceived or developed by UC Davis in the performance of the project.

Subrecipient: A subrecipient relationship exists when an outside entity performs all or a portion of the scope of work or objectives of the award received by UC Davis. A contractor may carry out an important “task” in support of the project, but a subrecipient must meet performance targets that are tied to UC Davis’ program objectives. A subrecipient also has the latitude to make policy and organizational decisions governing how it carries out a program, i.e., programmatic decision-making. This involves constructing a plan or method of action; executing this plan with available human and financial resources; evaluating the outcomes/results; revising the plan, strategies, and tactics as necessary; and reporting the results. A subrecipient is a true partner and as such may assert copyrights and/or other intellectual property rights related to the work performed.

A subrecipient, unlike a contractor, also is held responsible for compliance with applicable sponsor requirements, program statutes, regulations, rules, policies (including local policies), and guidance. A subrecipient must submit a comprehensive closeout package at the end of the agreement. A contractor is only required to provide an invoice.

Including Subrecipients in Proposals

Each proposed subrecipient should be named in the Internal Processing Form (IPF) proposal. The IPF/proposal attachments in Cayuse SP should incorporate documentation from each subrecipient including:

  • Complete itemized budget
  • Budget justification,
  • Statement of Work to be performed,
  • UCD_Subrecipient Commitment Form signed by each subrecipient’s authorized official as well as any other required documents required by the sponsor (e.g., letter of commitment, a signed cover sheet, signed certification form, etc.).

By signing the Subrecipient Commitment Form the subrecipient’s authorized official is approving the information provided and thereby certifying that the entity is an acceptable collaborator and a true subrecipient. At the proposal stage this is sufficient. However, before issuing a subaward to any collaborating entity SPO must be satisfied that the subrecipient’s most recent financial audit information poses no unmanageable risks and that the subrecipient’s proposed Scope of Work reflects the work of a true subrecipient.

Budgeting for Subrecipients

The costs of each subrecipient should appear in UC Davis’ proposal budget as a separate line item that includes both the subrecipient’s direct and indirect costs. UC Davis’ negotiated indirect cost (F&A) rate should then be applied on only the first $25,000 of the total amount of the subaward/subcontract. However, the negotiated F&A rate is applied to “all” contractor costs. Note: When a lesser F&A rate is all that the sponsor will allow, the lesser F&A rate is applied to “all” subaward/subcontractor costs. The following chart illustrates these relationships:

Type of Recipient Negotiated F&A Rate Lesser F&A Rate
Subrecipient Charged on first $25,000 of subaward Charged on all subaward costs
Contractor Charged on all contractor costs Charged on all contractor costs

“Named” vs. “TBD” Collaborators

When the name and/or role of another entity is still “TBD” (to be determined) at the proposal stage, it is safest to budget for this entity as though the entity will be a contractor. This is because if at the award stage a contractor relationship is determined to be more appropriate, it may be necessary for the PI to modify the proposal budget to include appropriate F&A charges.

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Limited Submissions Selectee*

A limited submission is a funding opportunity where the sponsor has restricted the number of proposals or applications an institution such as UC Davis may submit to the agency/organization. When this happens, UC Davis must choose a specified number of applications to be submitted to the sponsor on behalf of the University. If the opportunity is a limited submission, the assigned analyst will look for the approval document from the Limited Submissions Committee.

  • OR – Limited Submissions

Cost Sharing certification, if necessary*

When a proposal involves cost sharing with university funds or resources, the person authorized to commit the funds or resources must provide a letter verifying that the cost sharing can be honored. In most cases, approval of the Internal Processing Form (IPF) in Cayuse SP can meet this authorization requirement.

When a proposal includes a commitment from a third party to cost share, a letter of concurrence from the third party is required.

Budget and Budget Justification, including the following:

  1. PI minimum effort
    1. Must meet minimum effort requirements; see UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual – Section 330-31 – Administration of Contract and Grant Projects – Section D
  2. Appropriate indirect cost rate
    1. Awards which are funded must use the Federally negotiated indirect cost rate agreement. Some sponsoring agencies do not reimburse indirect costs at the federally negotiated rate. The University may honor these exceptions when the organization has written policy guidelines stating agency policy on payment of indirect costs. This does not apply to for-profit entities. To request an exception from the negotiated rates, a request must be sent by the Office of Research, Sponsored Programs to UC Office of the President for review.
  3. Accurate calculations
  4. Graduate student fees and nonresident tuition
    1. Does the project employ graduate students who are employed at least 25% time on sponsored projects? If so, then remission of fees and tuition, whether resident or non-resident, applies.
  5. Subcontractor costs, if applicable
  6. Allowable and allocable costs
    1. Are the costs on the budget allowable and allocable? OMB Circulars A-110 and A-21 act as guides for both allowability and allocability on grants. UC Davis uses these standards for all extramurally funded projects, regardless of sponsor, not only Federally funded projects.

Sponsor- and program-specific administrative requirements

There may be specific proposal package and/or submission requirements that need to be met in order for a proposal to be eligible for review by the sponsor. Proposal analysts will review the Sponsor and Program guidelines, as well as the funding announcement, to determine whether all eligibility and documentation requirements have been met. Please note that the review of these administrative requirements DOES NOT include items such as page formatting, font size, or spelling and grammar.

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IRB Approval

Research involving human subjects, which as defined by federal regulations includes any systematic investigation that is designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge, and which uses living humans or identifiable private information about humans, must have the approval of IRB Administration (IRB Admin). If you believe your proposal is exempt from IRB review, you must still obtain that exemption approval from the IRB. While providing the IRB Protocol # at time of proposal is recommended, it is not mandatory until a project has received funding. Before Sponsored Programs can release any awarded funds, the PI will need to provide the assigned award analyst with an approved IRB protocol number. Submit requests for protocols to the IRB Administration.

IACUC Approval

Research involving vertebrate animal subjects must have the approval of the UC Davis Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). While providing the IACUC Protocol # at time of proposal is recommended, it is not mandatory until a project has received funding. Before Sponsored Programs can release any awarded funds, the PI will need to provide the assigned award analyst with an approved IACUC protocol number. Submit requests for protocols to IACUC.

Biological Use Authorization (BUA), if rDNA or pathogenic agents

If a project involves rDNA, infectious or potentially infections materials, bloodborne pathogens, or storage of biohazardous materials, the PI must receive a Biological Use Authorization (BUA). While providing the approval at time of proposal is recommended, it is not mandatory until a project has received funding. Before Sponsored Programs can release any awarded funds, the PI will need to provide the assigned award analyst with an approved BUA number. Submit requests for a BUA to the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).

Stem Cell use protocol, if applicable

The UC Davis policy on human stem cell research states that all UC Davis activities involving human stem cell research, regardless of the type of stem cells or whether the stem cells are adult or embryonic, shall be conducted in compliance with the applicable university, state, and federal regulations governing such research, including any restrictions on the use of federal funds for such research. While providing the Stem Cell Use Protocol # at time of proposal is recommended, it is not mandatory until a project has received funding. Before Sponsored Programs can release any awarded funds, the PI will need to provide the assigned award analyst with an approved Stem Cell Use protocol number. Submit applications for protocols to the UC Davis Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (SCRO).

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Human Anatomical Specimens and Tissue approval, if applicable

The UC Davis policy on anatomical specimens establishes standards and procedures for the procurement, inventory, use, management, transfer, transportation and disposition of human anatomical specimens to support the appropriate educational and research use of human anatomical materials by faculty, staff, students and residents. UC Davis researchers who wish to use human anatomical specimens for education or research must submit an application to the UC Davis Anatomical Materials Review Committee (AMRC) and receive approval from the AMRC before commencing the research or education efforts. While providing Human Anatomical Specimens and Tissue approval at time of proposal is recommended, it is not mandatory until a project has received funding. Before Sponsored Programs can release any awarded funds, the PI will need to provide the assigned award analyst with Human Anatomical Specimens and Tissue approval.

Form 700U, if applicable

State of California law requires disclosure of financial interest in the sponsor of a research project; the donor of a research gift; and, under certain circumstances, the provider of materials under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) when that sponsor, donor, or provider is a non-governmental entity.This form is recommended at time of proposal, particularly if there is a known financial conflict of interest which will need to be addressed by the Conflict of Interest Committee. However, the form is not mandatory until the time of award.

Form 800, if applicable*

Applicants to the National Science Foundation and Public Health Service agencies (including the National Institutes of Health) must disclose project-related financial interests for themselves and all other project investigators at the proposal submission stage.

This requirement also applies to subawards from PHS/NIH or NSF or to other agencies that have adopted the federal requirements (the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the International Vaccine Institute,UC Discovery Grants, and UCOP Special Research Programs).

In addition, this form is required for any project involving human subjects.

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Informed Participation, if applicable

If any terms of a proposal or resulting award that would result in a deviation from the employment agreement that the PI has signed with UC Davis, Sponsored Programs will request that the PI and Chair confirm they are aware of and accept the deviations, for example, royalty sharing, or intellectual property requirements.

In addition, if there is any unfunded liability the PI may incur as a result of an award, Sponsored Programs will request that the PI and Chair confirm that they are aware of and accept the liability, for example, UC Discovery.


Electronic Research Administration (eRA)

eRA is the process through which the administrative and business side of grant activity is automated via electronic communication.

Submitting a proposal to a Sponsor electronically (e.g., Cayuse 424FastLane, Proposal Central).

Follow agency guidelines for electronic submission and check for special computer requirements. You may need to register online with assistance from Sponsored Programs. New registrations can take several days, so please plan ahead and allow adequate time for submission. Remember that even if the proposal submission system will allow a PI or department staff member to “press the button”, UC policy still requires that the proposal be processed through the OR-Sponsored Programs office prior to submission to a sponsor.

Please ensure that there is at least one contact person available (e.g., department administrator or PI) prior to the sponsor deadline. There are often small errors, such as page limits exceeded or missing information, which will cause a proposal to be automatically rejected by a sponsor’s proposal submission system. In these cases, proposal analysts in OR-Sponsored Programs will work quickly to alert the contact person of the issue so that the contact person can resolve it and resend the corrected application to OR Sponsored Programs for resubmission to the sponsor in advance of the sponsor’s deadline.

Regardless of the agency’s method of submission, all proposals must have institutional endorsement before being submitted electronically.

UC Davis eRA training opportunities and user guides are available on the SPARK Training web page. If you need assistance in determining the correct procedure for an electronic submission, please contact your Contract and Grant Team in Office of Research, Sponsored Programs.



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