How to Submit a Proposal Through the Institute for the Environment

When you begin planning a proposal in response to a request for proposals (RFP), or similar call for proposals, send the RFP, or a link to the RFP, to Institute for the Environment Business Manager Myra Walters Burke at myrawaltersburke@unc.edu. Ms. Walters Burke will respond by naming an IE pre-award representative to work with you, and that representative will contact you and set up a meeting with you to discuss your proposal.

Timeline

UNC policy requires that the proposal be submitted, with a final project budget, a draft (but preferably final) proposal, a budget justification, and any supporting documents such as letters of commitment, to the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) five working days prior to the funder deadline. Thus budget meetings and similar interactions with IE grant staff need to take place well before the OSR deadline date. It is strongly recommended that you complete the narrative portion of the proposal and have it edited and proof-read as a submission draft ready for OSR review and then submission to the funder as of the OSR deadline five days prior to the funder submission deadline. In addition to following UNC policy, using this timeline helps minimize typographical and factual errors in the narrative proposal, and also provides a time cushion in the event other difficulties develop with your proposal.

Here is a checklist of items that the Institute’s staff needs to begin assisting you with a proposal submission:

  • Proposal title.
  • Start and end dates of proposed project.
  • Names of personnel to be employed as part of the project with percent of each project employee’s full time equivalent (FTE), and contact information for each person in question. Institute staff will contact each person to obtain their CV’s, current and pending support (if required for the proposal in question), and so on. If you plan to employ graduate research associates, we need to know the home department(s) of the graduate student(s) in question. Note that university policy requires principal investigators, or co-principal investigators, to have some paid effort (greater than 0% effort) in the project budget.
  • If the funder is a private foundation or similar entity with a policy of not paying full facilities and administration cost rates, your pre-award representative will work with the funder to secure a written statement to that effect and then load it into the UNC internal processing form (IPF). For the various rates at UNC, see http://research.unc.edu/offices/sponsored-research/resources/DATA_RES_OSR_INFOSHEET#facilities. For information about whether a project is considered on-campus or off-campus, see http://research.unc.edu/offices/sponsored-research/faq/index.htm. Reductions or waivers of overhead rates in other cases are rare, and must be approved by the Institute director (if an Institute-administered project), the Office of Sponsored Research and the Vice Chancellor for Research.
  • Brief abstract for project (required for the UNC internal processing form (IPF)).
  • If there are any subcontractors involved, name of subcontracting entity, name of relevant contact person working at that entity, and their contact information (as much as possible of the following: name, title, mailing address, email, phone number, fax number).
  • Budget information other than personnel: this can include travel, supplies, equipment, consultants (other than those employed through a subcontract), etc. If there will be graduate students involved (other than those paid on an hourly basis), there will be a cost for tuition for each student.
  • Any sharing of facilities and administrative (also known as overhead or f&a) cost returns must be specified in the internal processing form completed to guide the proposal within UNC. Your pre-award representative will ask you, as the project PI, about possible sharing. Generally, sharing, if any, is of the work location portion of these returned funds. This may require consultation with your department chair, and possibly review and approval by the IE Director or her/his designee.
  • Certain funders require that proposals include in-kind and/or cash cost-sharing. This is only relevant if the RFP to which you are responding requires cost sharing. IE policy requires the director’s approval for cost-sharing arrangements related to IE-administered proposals.
  • Provide your best contact information, including an email, work phone number and, if you wish, cell phone number in case of questions. Good communication is the key to building a successful proposal submission.
  • Any other relevant information you receive from the funder should be copied and sent the IE grant staff.

Summary of Commonly Requested Items Needed for Submission

Proposal Item Responsible Party Description
Internal Processing Form (IPF) – UNC’s internal form for routing proposal through RAMSES PI & IE IE’s staff will complete and route the Internal Processing Form (IPF). The PI will need to provide a number of details needed to complete the IPF (project title, total budget, personnel on project, is IRB approval needed, funding agency, abstract, subcontractors, f&a sharing protocol, community benefits, location of projects, and others), but IE will supply the PI with questions to generate the needed information.
IRB – (Internal Review Board) PI & IE For projects involving human subjects, IE staff will provide the necessary forms to the PI. The PI will be responsible for completing the forms and returning them to IE staff. IE will then submit the forms to the IRB Office for the PI. IRB approval is required by some agencies at the time of submission and others prior to an award being made. OSR will not issue an account number for funded proposals involving human subjects without IRB approval.
Budget & Budget Justification PI & IE PI provides IE staff with estimations of the cost of the project. IE’s staff takes the estimations and puts them into UNC format applying the appropriate benefits, F&A rates, etc. and agency format if required. PI is responsible for developing budget justification but IE is available to assist with items such as fringe benefits and F&A (overhead) justifications.
Project Summary PI PI provides IE staff with the project summary if required by the agency. If not then IE will request an abstract as a part of the IPF for internal use at UNC-CH.
Project Description/Proposal Text PI PI provides IE staff with the project description/proposal text. IE is available to proof and comment on this section if time allows.
Bio Sketch PI & IE PI provides IE staff with his/her bio sketch. IE will assist the PI in tracking down the bio sketch for key personnel on the project if required by the agency.
Current and Pending Support PI & IE PI provides IE staff with his/her current and pending support. IE will assist the PI in tracking down the support for key personnel on the project if required by the agency.
Facilities (List of facilities available to the research team in their home department and at IE such as computers, cameras, recorders, etc.) PI & IE PI provides IE staff with his/her personal facilities. IE will add the facilities available at IE to the PI information if required by the agency.
Subcontract Information Subcontractor, PI & IE It is the responsibility of the subcontractor to provide UNC’s PI and IE with their letter of intent (signed by their authorized official), scope of work and budget for their scope. NOTE: IE cannot route your proposal without this information.
Other agency forms PI & IE IE will complete all agency forms required for submissions but the PI will be responsible for providing various details on these forms.
F & A Rate PI & IE IE will complete this portion of the IPF, but the PI needs to provide supporting documentation (for example, a private foundation’s f&a non-payment policy is required in writing to allow a reduction of the f&a rate on the applicable project to 0%).

Other Commonly Requested Items

Description of the Institute for the Environment

The UNC Institute for the Environment is a multidisciplinary program leading the University’s environmental community in educating practitioners, researching and solving global challenges, and informing people about critical issues.

The Process after this Checklist is Completed:

IE grant (pre-award) staff will put together the proposal submission with all the required forms. Typically, this process will include at least one in-person proposal meeting between you and the IE staff taking the lead in preparing the proposal. Myra Walters Burke will inform you who this is soon after you first contact the Institute (see above). If electronic submission to the funder is required (Grants.gov, FastLane, etc.), you will need to provide the IE grant staff with your logon and password for each funder. The IE grant staff will prepare the electronic UNC Internal Processing Form (IPF) once the project budget is prepared, reviewed and approved by you as the principal investigator of the proposal. Any overhead return sharing arrangements within UNC need to be decided before the IPF is submitted and approved electronically. IE grant staff will upload documents into the IPF as UNC requires, and into the electronic submission, if any, as required by the funder.

If Your Proposal is Funded

Myra Walters Burke will assign an IE post-award employee to work with you, and you will be contacted to meet with that IE employee. During this introductory meeting, you and your IE representative will determine the type of project budgetary report you would like to receive, and how often you would like to receive it (most principal investigators prefer monthly or quarterly reports). Your IE post-award representative will also send you a notice three months in advance of the end date of your project, and will assist you with closing your project (commonly referred to as “NOTRs”, “notice of termination reply”), and with any extensions of your project that you may wish to request (commonly referred to as “NCEs”, “no-cost extensions”). You are encouraged to get to know your representative, and to rely on this person to answer questions about your project account, to assist you with interactions with the Office of Sponsored Research, with NCEs, NOTRs, requests for changes in your project budget, and similar issues.