Proposal Review and Approval at Duke

ORS reviews all award applications for administrative compliance with sponsor requirements and alignment with Duke University policies and processes. To facilitate a full and comprehensive review, ORS requests that all application components—including a mature draft of the technical/scientific section(s)—be received by ORS no later than 8:00 am five (5) business days prior to the sponsor’s deadline. To meet this requirement, the proposal entry in Duke’s Sponsored Projects System (SPS) must have routed through and been approved at the non-central unit levels and be in a state of “Pending Central Approval” (PCA).

If the application is going to be submitted by an authorized organizational representative using a sponsor’s electronic system (e.g., NSF Fastlane), ORS must also have access to review and submit the application no later than 8:00am five (5) business days prior to the sponsor’s deadline. Failure of the PI to grant ORS access to the application may result in the application not being submitted in a timely manner or not being submitted at all.

Inconsistencies among the different components of a proposal can cause complications and processing delays with our sponsors. ORS reviews programmatic language at a high level to ensure consistency between the work proposed and details included in the budget or elsewhere in the application. ORS does not review proposals for scientific merit or reasonableness. Once ORS confirms that the application meets the requirements of the sponsor, Duke University, and any other applicable rules and regulations, the application is designated ‘Awaiting Submission’ by ORS in (SPS), at which point the PI may release the application to the sponsor.

It is important to understand that the deliberate withholding of information, falsification, misrepresentation or carelessness in carrying out the processes, authorizations, notifications, or responsibilities required to review an application and make necessary assurances may result in administrative actions such as: withdrawal or rejection of an application; suspension and/or termination of an award; debarment of the PI, project personnel, or Duke University; and/or the imposition of civil fines and criminal penalties.

First Level - PI & Co-PI Approval

All required personnel, PI and co-PI's, must complete the attestations electronically for all proposals, providing assurance that they will comply with the University's policies and procedures in the conduct of the project.

Second Level - Department & School Approval

Department and School level approvals for proposals are obtained through the routing and approval process in SPS. When a proposal is "completed" in SPS it is routed to all the appropriate departments and school officials for review and approval. The number and type of University units involved in the project will determine which approvals will be required in SPS. In the simplest scenario, the PI and co-PIs are from the same department and only the approval from that department and/or school is required. However, if faculty members from other departments and/or schools are involved in the proposal, SPS will automatically route the proposal to those units for approval.

Final Level - University Approval

The authorization to sign proposals and awards as an institutional representative of the University is given by the Board of Trustees. 

Therefore, the only people who may sign proposals on behalf of the University are:

  • President Vincent Price
  • Vice President for Research, Lawrence Carin

and the following ORS Staff:

  • Keith Hurka-Owen, Executive Director
  • Susan Lasley, Associate Director
  • Broderick Grady, Associate Director
  • Jennifer Bolognesi, Assistant Director
  • Shonta Holloway, Assistant Director
  • Adam King, Assistant Director
  • Ken Macdonald, Assistant Director
  • Charlene Wang, Assistant Director

Note: Proposals from PIs in the School of Medicine must be reviewed and signed by authorized staff in ORA.

Once ORS has completed review and obtained all clearances, one of the authorized officials will sign your proposal and notify you that it is ready for submission. ORS will obtain the signature of the President or Vice President for Research when required.

If a Certifications & Representation form or any other type of sponsor form requires a signature, ORS will sign or obtain a signature from the appropriate person.

Certifications & Representations (AKA: Certs and Reps)

In order to receive federal funds, the University must certify that it is in compliance with relevant laws and regulations such as the Civil Rights Act, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, and the Drug-free Workplace Act.

This can happen in one of three ways:

  1. The staff of ORS may be asked to sign certification forms provided by the sponsoring agency which are then included in the proposal packet. Each agency will identify which forms need to be signed. Faculty members, chairs, and deans cannot represent the University on compliance issues. Certifications, like proposals and awards, must be signed by ORS; or
  2. The institutional signature provided by ORS on the agency's formal cover sheet confirms that Duke is in compliance with the relevant regulations; or
  3. Some sponsors include certifications in the terms and conditions of the award. When Duke accepts the award, it thereby asserts its compliance with the terms of the certifications.