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Getting Ready

The pre-award phase begins when the researcher has identified a funding opportunity and ends with the final funding status of the proposal. There are several steps in between these two actions, called the Pre-Award Lifecycle. For the College of Engineering, those steps are as follows:

Below are some resources for finding and identifying funding opportunities. This is not an exhaustive list, but a great starting point.



The college’s Office of Research Administration recommends the below key items in the solicitation be identified and addressed, as applicable. Keep in mind these are the most common key items and not an inclusive list.

  • Confirm the university (an Institute of Higher Education (IHE) and the PI(s) are eligible to apply
  • Confirm the deadline date and time for direct sponsor and prime sponsor, when applicable
  • Confirm the deadline type, for example, receipt, target, or postmark.
  • Determine if the solicitation is a limited submission. If so, please review further information actions HERE.
  • Identify any additional links or references such as supplemental instructions (i.g. NSF’s PAPPG).
  • Identify any additional submission mechanism instructions (i.g. “General Instructions for NIH and other PHS Agencies). Ensure that each party involved with the proposal and submission understands these guidelines and seeks clarification if needed.
  • Ensure all appropriate parties have the necessary profile account for the sponsor and/or submission mechanism if the PI or department is responsible for submitting. Also, confirm that person is comfortable with how to submit via that mechanism.
  • Identify the maximum and/or minimum total amounts that can be requested from the sponsor.
  • Identify the maximum and/or minimum total amounts that can be requested from the sponsor, including the amount is identified in US dollars or if it is listed as another foreign currency. If the currency is other than US dollars, conversion documentation will be required for PINS.
  • Determine if there are any further budgetary restrictions, such as any parameter limitations for the amount requested (i.e. total amount requested per year) and/or limitation of certain costs (i.g. PI salary and fringes, tuition)
  • Identify any cost-share requirements, specifically the level of cost-share (i.e. 1:1) and how it is calculated or determined. Further, are there any restrictions to what types of cost-share can be included.
  • Determine if the federally negotiated indirect cost rate can be used or does the sponsor have any restrictions. If so, what are those restrictions and ensure proper documentation from the sponsor is included in PINS.
  • Review the solicitation, sponsor forms, and application, etc. for any potentially problematic terms and/or conditions (i.e. ‘red flag’ terms). If any are identified, then provide the PI with the applicable questions (from the Questionnaire) for his/her response, if not already provided. Pending his/her response, further, follow-up may be required.
  • Ensure to identify and complete any required forms or documents, including those requiring AOR signature. Once completed, provide the unsigned forms to your assigned college consultant for signature.
  • No solicitation, no problem! Here are some other options:
  • Use an email from the sponsor/program officer, which may include instructions, required forms or other documents needed for the submission.
  • Apply the general guidelines from NC State, State of NC, Uniform Guidance, and Sponsor.
  • Keep in mind, a standard proposal consists minimally of an LOI, SOW, budget, budget justification, biosketch.

Proposal Development Unit (PDU) – supports faculty teams in the development of large-scale (>$1M), interdisciplinary research proposals. Request their services via the website

  • PINS is expected to follow the college’s 8-day/4-day policy, otherwise, it will fall under the rush policy, as stated in the memo.
  • PINS is also expected to follow SPARCS Prompt Policy, otherwise, SPARCS cannot ensure they will meet the requested requirements by the sponsor’s deadline.
  • All information and fields in the PINS record complete and without error(s) before initiating it.
  •  PINS must also include at least the minimum documents and documentation, as applicable:
    • Solicitation/RFP/BAA or Sponsor’s email request
    •  Budget breakdown (WRS format)
    •  Narrative budget justification
    • Cost Share commitment(s)
    • Documentation for sponsor’s F&A requirement when it deviates from the university’s federally negotiated rates. Keep in mind that ‘requested’ is not the same as required.
    • ORI’s endorsement confirming their approval of the PI responding to the limited submission solicitation.
  • PINS can then be initiated but NOT approved by PI. This will allow the PI and department continuous access to the record for any edits that may be necessary once the preliminary review is provided by the college processor.
  •   COI/NOI: Ensure the Principle and Co-Principle(s), when applicable, must have a completed and current record on file.

Types of proposed sponsored projects

  • Research:. Investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery of new knowledge or that builds upon existing knowledge. The creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way resulting in new concepts, methodologies and understandings.
  • Instruction:.The dissemination of knowledge or information through teaching and non-research training activities. These activities include developing or compiling course and curriculum materials/programs.
  • Other Sponsored Activities: The dissemination of known knowledge or processes. Service performed for the benefit of the public. A program that geographically extends the resources of the institution to entities or persons otherwise unable to take advantage of such resources.

Further information is HERE.

Build the proposal

  • PI and/or department will begin building the proposal according to the solicitation, sponsor’s guidelines, and submission mechanism requirements. Keep in mind, NC State University, State of NC and college guidelines are applicable to sponsored research projects.

Review the proposal

  • The assigned college consultant will review the initiated PINS record and provide the initial preliminary review with any recommendations and additional information.
  • The PI and/or department and college will work together through the preliminary review action items and offer a response to the college consultant.

Complete the proposal

  • PI and/or department will complete the proposal with the most current information.
  • The final proposal must be provided to the CRO ( for final review if the proposal will be submitted by the PI or department via email or other electronic means, i.e. sponsor’s website.
  • The PI and/or department must ensure the final proposal is ready in the sponsor’s system without errors, if the proposal must be submitted via a sponsor’s portal or other electronic mechanism. Keep in mind, warning notifications have the potential to be errors, therefore, you must ensure the final proposal is fully compliant before requesting submission.
  • Ensure the college consultant and AOR has access to the application for final review and approval when the proposal requires university authorized organizational representative (AOR) submission.

Submit the proposal

  • PI or department must explicitly confirm by email ( the college/university has permission to submit when the final proposal or application is ready.
  • The college consultant will conduct their final review of the proposal and offer any last recommendations based on the complete proposal provided. Once these are resolved, the proposal will be provided to the AOR for his/her final review and recommendations to address, if any.
  • Then the AOR will conduct the submission and provide confirmation to the college processor who will inform the PI and/or department.
  • The CRO ( must be copied on the submission if the proposal will be submitted by the PI or department via email.

Confirmation of submission must be provided to if the proposal will be submitted by the PI electronically via the sponsor’s website or portal.


  • PI and department should monitor for any sponsor updates.
  • If the sponsor needs additional forms or information to further consider your proposal for funding, please involve the original college consultant via If it requires AOR signature, they will be able to secure it for you. Also, they will update RADAR with any additional or revised proposal documents.


  • If the sponsor provides notification of their intent to fund the project, in addition to requesting any additional forms or revisions, then work through our Sponsor Request email at
  • If the sponsor provides an agreement directly to the PI and/or department, please forward it to, who will ensure SPARCS receives it for immediate attention.


  • If the sponsor provides notification of non-funding status directly to the PI and/or department, we ask that notification is forward to (include an NC State reference such as PINS or RADAR) and we ask the PI and department update their internal records.[LP7]  The college will ensure RADAR is updated.
  • The solicitation will state or indicate it limits or restricts the number of proposal submissions. The limitation can be the number of proposals per institution, college, sponsor research area/topic or PI and/or CoPIs to name a few.
  • Solicitations with a submission limitation require an internal selection process with ORI Limited Submission Office (PINS IS NOT REQUIRED for this internal NOI and Pre-proposal submission and endorsement process). Additional information can be found HERE
  • If the PI is selected, he/she will be notified by email. That endorsement must be included in the PINS record for the actual proposal submission to the sponsor.
  • NOTE:  If the solicitation is not on their website or for general university limited submission process questions, contact
  • CRO will not submit a proposal without the endorsement notification.

To sign up for the Limited Submission listserv, click HERE

Completed Conflict of Interest (COI) certification is vital to compliance and the integrity of the research project. Effective May 12, 2020, any person having effort (paid or not) on a sponsored project must have a current, completed, and approved COI through the RED system. This includes EHRA faculty and non-faculty, and any SHRA employees, GRAs, PostDocs, and hourly employees on a sponsored project. This process is required annually on the anniversary of the initially approved certification.


Additionally, Notice of Intent (NOI) certifications protect both employees and the university whenever an employee participates in any External Professional Activity for Pay (EPAP). These are activities that are not included within one’s primary or secondary university employment duties, are performed for any entity, public or private, other than the university, are undertaken for compensation, and are based upon the professional knowledge, experience, and abilities of the employee. The university is also required to compile and report this information in the aggregate to the UNC System on an annual basis.

NOI FAQs at:

To complete a COI and NOI disclosure, use your Unity ID and password to access the Research Enterprise Data (RED) system.

For RED training, please visit the RED Training page.


Internal Forms and Templates

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