Proposal Review Process

Submit a Proposal

Because of the diversity in type and purpose of various proposal mechanisms, we strongly encourage close review of the eligibility requirements with the solicitation, as well as close collaboration with your specific Dean's Office to ensure that the PI is an appropriate candidate for the proposal/award. It is important to read each solicitation closely to ensure proper candidacy for the specific mechanism.

Proposal Submission Responsibility


The department is responsible for the preparation of the research proposal under the direction of the Department Chair and Principal Investigator overseeing the planned project. Department administrators should work closely with the Principal Investigator to prepare the proposal for submission and to obtain all of the necessary documents required for subsequent proposal review. The department is ultimately responsible for the submission of the proposal to the sponsor once Office of Sponsored Programs approval/endorsement is received.


The Chair or designee for each department is responsible for the review and endorsement of the proposal on a department level and in some cases is responsible for forwarding the paperwork to the appropriate Dean's office for signature.


The Dean or designee for each school is responsible for the review and endorsement of the proposal on a school level and in some cases is responsible for forwarding the paperwork to the Office of Sponsored Programs for final review prior to submission.

Office of Sponsored Programs

All proposals submitted by University personnel must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Sponsored Programs prior to the submission to the sponsor to ensure adherence to all internal and external policies and procedures. The Vice Chancellor for Sponsored Programs and Research Operations, Associate Directors, and Assistant Directors of the Office of Sponsored Programs serve as the University authorized signatories responsible for endorsing research proposals for submission to a sponsor. Proposals received by the Federal Contract Services team will be reviewed in accordance with our standard proposal review guidelines.

Each department has a dedicated Federal Contracts Officer responsible for the review and approval of every Federal Contract proposal. Identify your Federal Contracts Officer.

Steps to Take Before Submitting

  • Carefully read the solicitation (or request from the sponsor if in Pre-Award Revisions stage) 
  • Notify Federal Contract Services Team via with a copy of the solicitation (or request) and due date
  • PI and Department Administrator discuss submission, including use of existing Intellectual Property and exchange of materials/data
  • Identify Investigator(s), Key Personnel & External Participant(s) identified by the University of Pittsburgh and sponsor policies and procedures
  • Ensure all Conflict of Interest disclosures are current
  • Gather any necessary waivers
  • Prepare the budget (in accordance with current/appropriate fringe benefit and F&A rates and the solicitation/request)
  • Obtain necessary External Participants’ Documentation (including Statement of Intent/Commitment Letter (see sample), SOW, budget, etc.), if applicable

Upon Receiving

  • OSP reviews: 
    • The solicitation (it contains many of the terms and conditions that will be included in the final award)
    • The Final Business Proposal
    • The Draft Technical Proposal
    • Compliance Items (i.e., COI Disclosure for Investigator(s) and Key Personnel identified by the University of Pittsburgh and sponsor policies and procedures, screen personnel for possible restricted parties, etc.)
    • Recommend conferral with Pitt IT if Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) or Information Security (IT Security) language is in the solicitation. Compliance may require use of the University’s Network Operations Center (NOC) and may impose significant additional costs to the department - as much as six figures or more. 
  • OSP will: 
    • Draft an Endorsement Letter (also called an Exceptions Letter)
    • Complete Representations and Certifications, if applicable (sometimes requires PI/department input)
    • Obtain institutional endorsement