woman pointing at laptop screen with pen; screen is the eResearch portal

“Pre-Award” constitutes anything that facilitates a proposal’s creation and submission, prior to the award being received. The following pages contain resources, tools and guidance that is available to assist our Research Administrators with their day-to-day activities.

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Proposal Preparation
Medical School Grant Proposal Sampler

Internal site with example proposals for viewing (level-2 access required).

NIH Specifics, Tips and Tricks

Links to information on many NIH topics such as preparing a Biosketch, Resubmission, Training (T) Grant, or Cover Letter.

Budgeting & Costs

This page contains a variety of information on budgeting various types of proposals, and includes a variety of topics from Budgeting Personnel to Budgeting Industry Studies and Clinical Trials.

Transferring Grants between Institutions

Overview of the transfer process and resources available to help work through a transfer in or out of UM.

Requesting Letters of Support/Commitment: Obtain Cost Sharing Support

Often proposals submitted to sponsors can be strengthened with a letter of support or a letter of commitment for cost sharing from the leadership of UMHS or the Medical School. In order to facilitate these requests, the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs (EVPMA) will sign the letter on behalf of UMHS, and the Senior Associate Dean for Research will sign the letter on behalf of the Medical School.

With several programs requesting letters, we have developed a standard request plan for you to follow:

  • Download the letter template (Word document) and draft the entire letter, filling in those areas marked in red (do not change font style, etc.).
  • If anyone beyond the Chief Scientific Officer needs to sign the letter, add the appropriate signature line(s). Do not have anyone sign prior to sending. The Office of Research will review and make any edits / comments before printing on letterhead and returning to you to have signed. PLEASE NOTE: The Office of Research evaluates and handles any signatures needed on these type of support letters from the EVPMA or UMOR.
  • Do not print on letterhead.
  • If the letter does not include an explanation of the science, please include a draft of the abstract as an attachment for reference.
  • Please make sure the letter content is in the final form, as changes that require a reissue of the letter will not always be able to be accommodated.
  • Email the Word version of the draft letter to [email protected] with "Request for Letter of Support/Commitment" in the subject line.
  • Be sure to include in the body of the email:
    • The investigator name and department
    • The relevant sponsor/program
    • The deadline to the sponsor/your send date
    • The name and email address of the person(s) to contact when the letter is executed
    • Special formatting requirements (e.g., length, font size)

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the email address above.

Please expect executing the letter may take up to three (3) working days, but will be done as quickly as possible.

NIH Data Management & Sharing Policy

The NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy aims to advance rigorous and reproducible research, while promoting greater public trust in research. The policy, which goes into effect January 25, 2023, will promote better data stewardship, where data management and sharing are viewed as integral parts of the research process and are adequately planned for from the beginning.

The policy states that all NIH-supported research, regardless of award amount, generating scientific data is required to have a Data Management and Sharing Plan. Important points to note:

  • Plans are submitted with the application.
  • Researchers should maximize appropriate data sharing.
  • Compliance is expected and will be monitored at regular reporting intervals.
  • The use of established data repositories is expected.
  • Scientific data should be made accessible as soon as possible, shared no later than the time of an associated publication or at the end of a performance period.

The policy applies only to NIH-funded research that will produce scientific data. It does not apply to research and other activities that do not generate scientific data, including training, infrastructure development, and non-research activities.

Examples of Data Management & Sharing Plans

Examples of plans by UMMS investigators that satisfy the new NIH requirements (level 2 login required).

The NIH released a supplementary document with information about what elements are expected to be in a Data Management and Sharing Plan. These elements should comprise two pages or less, and should include:

  • Data type
  • Related tools, software and/or code
  • Standards
  • Data preservation, access, and associated timelines
  • Access, distribution, or reuse considerations
  • Oversight of data management and sharing

View examples of Data Management and Sharing Plans, from successful NIH proposals submitted by UMMS investigators (level 2 login required).

The new NIH Data Management and Sharing policy…

  • Applies to all projects that will produce scientific data, not just those research proposals seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs.
  • Provides more guidance regarding the contents of the plan.
  • Explicitly states that there are allowable costs which should be written into the budget.
  • Compliance will be more rigorously monitored.
  • NIH recognizes that data sharing may be complicated or limited by institutional policies, local IRB rules, as well as by local, state, and Federal laws and regulations like the Privacy Rule.

The U-M Research Data Stewardship Initiative is taking the lead on helping investigators and administrators navigate the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy, and a number of helpful resources have been assembled on this webpage.

Space FAQs

General Space Rules for what to enter on the Proposal Approval Form (PAF).

Please read the summary document that indicates the appropriate way to reflect and capture space on a PAF with a Medical School administrative home. These procedures have been adopted to give departments the most flexibility with space allocations to sponsored projects. If you would like detailed information, you may wish to read the long version.

For the purposes of the Medical School, it indicates that we internally agree that the space represented to the sponsor is adequate to conduct the proposed project. And for the school, it records who is responsible to provide space for the project in the instance that something goes awry. The PAF can also be seen as the internal understanding with the PI that space will be available for the work proposed, should it be funded.

Many award applications include a section on available facilities and resources. The information on the PAF should correspond to that section and include all the activity space indicated.

The rule of thumb is: List the space where the work will be done. Access to appropriate space needs to be “promised” to the project team in order for the work plan to be completed.

Normally this will be lab or clinical space. Office, when incidental to the lab or clinical space, does not need to be listed. However, when it is the main location of work (training grants, computer-based research, conference coordination, etc.) offices should be listed.

Beyond these situations, space should be listed if you are promising dedicated resources available to the project either to the sponsor in the application or to the project team as part of institutional resources.

When a core service is paid for (usually on a recharge rate), the space used is considered incidental to the service purchased. In this case, space would not need to be listed on the PAF. In some cases (e.g., if MCRU space is the only space used for the project), space should be listed as it is the sole location of the project.

Most common: When entering space on a PAF in eRPM, an override should be made if the space is clinical in the Hospitals & Health Centers (HHC) and being managed by that department. Normally the department name will appear as UMH of CW at the beginning of the Dept ID name. Please note the space override should be completed prior to routing the PAF.

Less common: An override should be made on a PAF in eRPM when the space entered differs from department listed. Examples include: space that was previously under renovation and now assigned to a department; space that is managed by one department but occupied by a unit guaranteeing access to appropriate facilities.

This requires the involvement of the clinical department’s Clinical Departmental Administrator’s (CDA). In 1996, the hospital allowed for this authority to be assigned to clinical CDAs as they reported directly to the hospital and would likely know the clinic load in the identified space and be able to address the appropriateness for assigning additional research.  More recently in 2018, we agreed that notification to the CDA was adequate for moving forward with the routing of the project.

This notification can be demonstrated by

  • Use of the Ad Hoc Approver activity on the PAF to specifically add the CDA (but approval is not necessary)


  • The CDA’s approval, either by unit approval of the PAF or an uploaded email from the CDA. (Email must include PAF #, specific space used and an indication of approval uploaded under the PAF documents on the PAF).

Most times, space will be approved through the unit approval on the PAF. In the case of clinical space overrides where the CDA will not be signing the PAF as the Unit Approval, notify the CDA by adding them through the Ad Hoc activity in the PAF workspace OR upload an email from the CDA which indicates the PAF #, specific space used and an indication of approval.

All Medical School space must be approved and clinical space must be notified prior to routing the PAF to the Medical School’s Dean’s Office.   Space approvals may happen as part of the participating unit’s approval of the PAF. The administrative home department should be sure all needed notifications are completed and required approvals are attached to the PAF prior to approving and routing to the Medical School.

Also, space overrides (especially those for UMH and CW clinical space) should be entered prior to the project team routing the PAF for approval in order to avoid misrouting the PAF.

Using eRPM
Documents in eResearch Proposal Management (eRPM)

An Unfunded Agreement, or UFA, is any research-related contract that does not have incoming dollars attached to it. Medical School faculty often participate in activities or collaborations that do not involve payments from sponsors. Before these unfunded research activities can be carried out, written contracts that document expectations and responsibilities are put into place.  

For incoming agreements, you are encouraged to talk with your sponsor about the use of U-M’s templates whenever possible. If sponsors are able to sign an unedited version of the agreement, campus is able to execute quickly.

UFAs are prepared in and electronically routed through the eResearch Proposal Management (eRPM) system. While some UFAs route directly to the appropriate central office (the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) or the U-M Innovation Partnerships (formerly Office of Technology Transfer) for processing, others will require departmental approval for the use of space, security requirements, faculty effort, etc. Each Medical School department is responsible for approving their own UFAs as needed. The departments’ business processes may vary, so please contact your Department Contact with questions regarding the approval process.

There are four types of UFAs available to choose from when preparing a new UFA in eRPM. They are:

  • Data Use Agreement (DUA)
  • Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  • “Other” Agreements

Detailed descriptions of each of these agreements are available through the ORSP website on UFAs.

Currently, ORSP handles most NDAs, DUAs, and “Other”; while OTT handles most MTAs. The eRPM system will automatically assign to the central office based on your completed forms. But if you have questions regarding the templates or the system, please contact the Grants Office or central office most likely to handle.

Guidance and Tools

Medical School Required Use of the CTRF in eRPM

The Clinical Trial Routing Form (CTRF) allows study agreement contract negotiations to proceed in parallel with budget negotiations and regulatory approval.  

We have had success in the use of the CTRF. In the Pilot, we had the option of sending draft industry-sponsored clinical trial contract agreements to ORSP to begin language review and negotiations prior to receiving the PAF. However, we also recognized in the Pilot, “noise” was created by last minute agreements that arrived at ORSP with the PAF, disrupting work flow. In an effort to continue streamlining the clinical trial process, more appropriately queue work, and capture performance metrics, the Medical School and ORSP are mandating the use of the CTRF for certain projects.

Effective 7/1/2013, the Clinical Trial Routing Form (CTRF) will be REQUIRED for all activity in 31200, Clinical Trial Site Activity. This expands the use from solely industry to any sponsor (federal, non-profit, AND industry).

Additionally, the CTRF should also continue to be used for investigator-initiated industry-sponsored clinical trials (in the Research class codes) when there is a draft agreement prior to a PAF routing.

We anticipate there may be some instances when you file a CTRF and then immediately route a PAF. We are aware and would like to observe the impact of these instances through data collection and direct feedback. We will be analyzing the relative benefit of the CTRF, its impact on both the time to execute study agreements and overall timeline to activate clinical trials. 

We will be monitoring utilization of the CTRF and following up with further education for those units that do not use the form. We are interested in receiving feedback on any issues or potential barriers units identify.

If a project team has questions on the use the CTRF for their 31200 Clinical Trial Site Activity project, please call Heather Offhaus in Grant Services & Analysis to discuss (734-763-4272).

See Using the Clinical Trial Routing Form (CTRF) for specific information on how to use them.

Each proposed or received grant or contract must route for approval. It is expected that this takes place prior to proposal being sent to the sponsor. The Proposal Approval Form (PAF) serves as the electronic record of the proposal. The PAF, which is part of the eResearch Proposal Management (eRPM) system, electronically routes the application through the appropriate University channels for approval. The PAF is a summary of information about the project along with the attachment of the actual application that is used for internal review and approval through post-award data management.

eRPM Proposal Approval Form online learning courses and other training materials are available at:

Pre-Proposal (PRE) vs. Proposal Approval Form (PAF)

A PRE must be completed and routed in eRPM only if the sponsor requests:

  • an “approval” or “signature” from an “authorized” University official,
  • or physical or electronic submission by ORSP.
  • See also ORSP's policy on PREs.


  • If the Pre-Proposal is a Limited Submission, units must work with UMOR or Medical School Office of Research (see U-M Medical School and the U-M Office of Research (UMOR) for appropriate endorsement prior to submission.
  • If categorical budgets and/or other resource or commitments are represented (including cost sharing commitments, third party or effort commitments), the information must follow standard Med School/UM policy of representation. Regardless of how information has been represented (e.g., use of DHHS salary cap, incorrect IDC rate or calculation), the full proposal will be required to include the appropriate information and no exceptions will be made on the final / official proposal based on pre-proposal information.

Note: If you begin a PRE mistakenly, it cannot be converted in the eRPM system to a regular PAF; care should be taken to choose the correct vehicle.

Additional information is provided by the Office of Research & Sponsored Projects (ORSP). See the ORSP Standard Operating Procedure for exact definitions and contact the Grants Office at [email protected] or 734-763-4272 if you are in need of help interpreting or direction.

Communicating in eResearch Proposal Management (eRPM)

This best practice reminds eRPM users of some simple etiquette to be used when leaving comments in eRPM either through the “Post a Comment” activity or when submitting changes.

The recommendation is that when leaving comments please be concise but through so that anyone looking at the PAF will understand what was done and why. 

With this in mind, please ensure that your comments are meaningful and substantial.  Simply stating “change made per email from Grants” does not tell any other approvers what changes were made, and/or if those changes impact them.  Additionally, the project team doesn’t have a clear record in the system of what was changed and why.

When making comments in eRPM please remember that everyone that has access to view the PAF will be able to see your comment.  Please also know that in the case of performing the activity to “Submit Changes”, acknowledgement requests will be generated.  Acknowledgement requests are sent to all units that have approved the PAF prior to the change being submitted.  The acknowledgement requests direct those approvers to confirm the PAF in its new state.  Individuals receiving these email Acknowledge notices rely heavily on the notes included (taken from the Submit Changes activity) in order to understand changes made to the project.

Occasionally, the project team/PI has a change that needs to take place after a proposal’s administrative shell has been routed in eRPM. The change could be initiated by the Project Team or in result of questions from other Unit Reviewers. The changes may not have impact on other participating units; however, good communication is required in such a large system of approvals. As a result, this best practice provides guidelines to follow when changes are made to the administrative shell after it has been routed.

If the proposal is sitting in the Dean’s Office awaiting review and changes need to be made, please call the Grants Office, 3-4272, to let us know BEFORE making any changes.

If a change by the Project Team to a proposal’s administrative shell is needed while a unit review is underway, immediate communication to reviewers is necessary in order to help them understand any impact of the change.  In these instances, the reviewer may need to stop their review until the changes are complete.  Conversely, if the changes do not impact the unit, and it is clearly communicated, the reviewer could choose to continue their individual review while the changes are occurring. 

When there is a change during review, please call, email or “Post a Comment” in eRPM to the other participating units so they are aware of the changes being made and if it impacts their unit.

As a reminder, changes should not be made to the administrative shell following Medical School Grants Office Approval.  If a change becomes necessary, even if requested by ORSP, please call us at 3-4272 or email [email protected], BEFORE making any changes. 

When a proposal’s administrative shell is changed after a participating unit has approved, the unit will receive an “Acknowledge” Activity. Often times there is no detailed description of the changes noted that would allow the units to know what was changed and if the changes impact them.  There is a need to improve the communication in order to inform units of impact (or non-impact) to their unit.

As a result, please call or email the impacted units to inform them of the change that was made. 

eResearch Proposal Management (eRPM) offers an action called ‘Project Team Cancel PAF.’ Both the PI and the Primary Research Administrator (PRA) have the ability to cancel a PAF. When this action is used the specific PAF will no longer be able to be submitted to the sponsor.

Within the Medical School, it becomes necessary to cancel a PAF when the PI decides not to submit a proposal yet the PAF has already been approved by participating units. The School will require this procedure until another solution is available in the eRPM system.

There are several reasons to cancel:

  • There is no way for units to effectively suspend their approval and re-review after changes are made in the next submission iteration. The proposal would stay in active routing states which would cause issues determining when a proposal is ready to move forward with accurate information.
  • In the case of NIH submissions using the 424 attached to the PAF, NIH advises to re-download forms in case of changes.  This must be done on a new PAF.
  • In the case of other sponsors, while the forms may not change, a new download of the forms (with changes) will inevitably be needed.

The roles that may cancel a PAF are the PI, PRA, and PR. A PAF may be cancelled by the PI or PRA while in one of the following states: Proposal Preparation, Unit Review, Unit Review – Project Team Making Changes and Reviewer Making Changes. Once the PAF has reached ORSP, the project team must request the Cancel from the PR.

After a PAF is cancelled it can be found on the PI & Project Team’s “Cancelled” tab in the “My Home” workspace. 

If the Project Team chooses to submit the project in a future cycle the cancelled PAF may be cloned. ALL fields filled out carry over to the newly created PAF, except the attachments.

Steps for the Project Team to Cancel:

  1. Click the “Project Team Cancel PAF” Activity.  This can be found in the gray, left-hand side bar under the Activities header.
  2. Enter the reason that the PAF is being cancelled and the person that requested the cancellation (if applicable) in the comments text box and then click “OK.”
  3. Notify ORSP/Dean's Office.
Proposal Routing
Grant Routing Deadlines

A Medical School deadline calculator tool and chart of upcoming (and past) NIH deadlines with our corresponding deadlines noted.

Proposal Review Checklists

A 'checklist' that can be used to verify the completeness of the documents required in a grant application prior to routing the proposal.

Medical School Department Contacts

This is a list, by department, of pre-award research administrator names and phone numbers.

Medical School Authorized Signers

This is a list, by department, of those approved to sign on behalf of the Chair, as well as a listing of those Clinical Department Administrators allowed to sign for hospital space.

Streamlined Review Services

We have created checklists and tools to assist departments/units in preparing and reviewing proposals.

Proposal Review Checklist

Multiple Proposal Review Checklists were developed to aid review for NIH grants as well as general checklists covering key components of most proposals submitting through the Medical School

Budget Templates

Multiple budget templates are available for use in different budget scenarios.

The Grant Services & Analysis provides a Streamlined Review. We focus on ensuring compliance (sponsor, institution, and school) with timely turnaround in the review process.

Please note although the office has stopped the “tick and tie” of the budget, it will continue reviewing effort levels, F&A calculations, and justification language. Additionally, in order to continue support of the school’s units, we have developed new resources for the departments. We will add to this list below as new opportunities present that will accompany the Streamlined Review process.

Unusual Budget Situations

If a unit requires support for particular cases (e.g., large‐scale grants, rare sponsors, second set of eyes on budget, etc.), the GR&A office will provide budget review support if:

  • Requested by the Primary Pre‐Award Research Administrator; and
  • Provided with a “solid draft” of the budget section no less than one week before the published School Deadline for the proposal.
  • Any requests made after this time are not guaranteed dedicated help.

In these cases, the GR&A office will make time to review the budget, as requested, and return feedback to the unit within three working days.

During Unit Staff Changes

If a department, especially small units, anticipates less stable periods due to change of staff (e.g., a RA is leaving or a new RA needs training) and they wish to seek temporary budget support from the GR&A office during the transition, the unit may request a more robust budget review during the routing of the administrative shell. The GR&A office will:

  • Review the request and work with the unit to define the need/service;
  • Provide full budget review, in addition to the standard Streamlined compliance review, for grants from the unit for up to three months, to ensure a smooth transition; and
  • Provide support for training new hires as appropriate.

Ad hoc Budget Development Questions

Should a unit Research Administrator need feedback on budgetary strategies, such as budget structure and general perception, they should contact the GR&A office with specific questions.

In order to receive budget feedback in a timely manner and present grant proposals with high standards of grantsmanship, Research Administrators are encouraged to communicate with their PIs on key target dates mentioned above and follow up with them regularly. For questions, comments, or other suggestions of service, please send emails to [email protected].

Routing Non-Medical School Proposals

The following sections of the grant (if required by sponsor) are reviewed by Grant Services & Analysis (Dean's level):  

  • PAF
  • Statement of Work / Abstract
  • Budget Pages and Justification
  • Other Support (for Medical School faculty)
  • Resources (if it involves Medical School space) 

Additional sections may be required by participating departments/divisions within the school.

We review it for:

  • (Medical School) Faculty Effort and Compensation
  • Use of Space
  • Any Other Medical School Commitment (cost sharing, additional resources, etc.) 

Grant Services & Analysis aims to review and comment on the status of the application within a working day, barring complications. 

Routing Medical School Proposals

To facilitate the effective review of proposals, Grant Services & Analysis in the Medical School requires certain proposal components be complete at the time the proposal is routed. Those required components are outlined below by sponsor/proposal type. You may also view a printable grid that details the requirements for all sponsor/proposal types.


SF424 Application:

  • Cover Page
  • Senior/Key Person Profiles
  • Facilities & Other Resources
  • Equipment
  • Performance Site Locations
  • PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement
  • Modular or R&R Budget Pages
  • Budget Justification
  • Additional Narrative Justification (modular budgets only)
  • Multiple PI Plan - if applicable
  • Consortium/Contractual Arrangements - if applicable
  • Letters of Commitment
  • PHS 398 Checklist

For more information on Individual Career Development Awards ("K" series) Admin Shell, view the PDF.

(Updated 03/16/2022)


SF424 Application:

  • Cover Page
  • Senior/Key Person Profiles
  • Facilities & Other Resources
  • Equipment
  • Performance Site Locations
  • PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement
  • R&R Budget Pages
  • Budget Justification
  • Additional Narrative Justification (modular budgets only)
  • Letters of Support
  • PHS 398 Checklist
  • Modified Other Support of Mentor - for mentored awards only
  • Statement from Mentor - for mentored awards only
  • Environment & Institutional Commitment to the Candidate
  • Draft of the Plan  - "Candidate's Plan for Career/Development/Training Activities"

For more information on the Institutional NRSA Training Grants (T32, T35) Admin Shell, view the PDF.

(Updated 6/14/2022)


  • SF424 Application:
  • Cover Page
  • Senior/Key Person Profiles
  • Facilities & Other Resources
  • Equipment
  • Performance Site Locations
  • PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement
  • PHS 398 Training Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Additional Narrative Justification (modular budgets only)
  • Multiple PI Plan - if applicable
  • Consortium/Contractual Arrangements - if applicable
  • Letters of Support
  • Program Plan A. Program Administration
  • Program Plan F. Institutional Environment, and Commitment to Training
  • Table 2. Participating Faculty Members
  • Table 4. Research Support of Participating Faculty Members

For more information on Individual NSRA Fellowship Applications (F series) Admin Shell, view the PDF.

(Updated 03/16/2022)


SF424 Application:

  • Cover Page
  • Senior/Key Personnel Profiles
  • Facilities & Other Resources
  • Equipment
  • Performance Site Locations
  • Budget Section
  • Additional Information Section
  • PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form
  • Activities Planned Under this Award
  • Sponsor and Co-Sponsor Statements
  • Letters of Commitment
  • Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training Section


PHS/SF424/Other Application:

  • Cover/Face Page
  • Facilities & Other Resources
  • Sponsor Budget Pages
  • Budget Justification
  • Consortium/Contractual Arrangements*
  • Letters of Commitment
  • Other Support*


Sponsor's Application:

  • Form Pages and Screen-shots of On-line Application
  • Sponsor Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Letters of Commitment
  • Other Support -- if applicable
  • Sponsor Guidelines in PDF format


Sponsor's Application:

  • Protocol
  • Draft of Contact Detailing Proposed Funding
  • Sponsor Budget
  • Internal Budget
  • Letters of Support
Proposal Submission
Submission Service Policy

Policy on submitting PHS system-to-system electronic proposals.

Proposal Submission Process

The Proposal Finalization Checklist also provides you with key items to check before finalizing a proposal (reflective of issues commonly found prior to submission).

Once an application has been successfully submitted through, the PI receives an email indicating: You have a viewing window of two business days (i.e., Monday - Friday, excluding federal holidays) to check the assembled application before it automatically moves forward to NIH staff for further processing and consideration.

Currently, Commons is handling the "two full business days" as complete 8am - 5pm days. It is not a strict 48 hours or two 8-hour work cycles. For example, if you submit on a Monday at 10am, you have until Wednesday at 5pm to view/reject the proposal.

If a PI finds that their application did not assemble correctly or there are other errors while viewing their application in the Commons, PIs may request a rejection from the Medical School.

Rejections may be done at any time within the viewing window, even if past the deadline.

However, PIs should be aware of the submission deadline to determine if they will have enough time to correct and re-submit. The initial email also indicates: After an application is rejected, a changed/corrected application can be submitted if it is still before the submission deadline.

Corrected applications may only be resubmitted prior to the deadline.

NIH Late Policy: Any changed / corrected application submitted after the deadline will be subject to the late policy,

Post-Submission Application Materials Policy: Once the proposal is in the CSR review queue, there is an opportunity for changes to the submission prior to peer review; however, only under limited circumstances. We highly recommend PIs and PRAs read through the policy if considering post-submission changes:

If the application does not qualify for the Late Policy or the Post-Submission Application Materials Policy, then the options available would be to either:

  • Let the application be reviewed in its current state OR,
  • Reject the current proposal and submit in a subsequent deadline cycle

A Best Practice

The University's eRPM system does offer a viewable PDF that PIs can view PRIOR to submitting to the Commons that shows almost exactly how your proposal will look in the hands of the reviewers.  Looking through may help catch idiosyncrasies missed earlier in the review process.  It is highly advisable that PIs review the eRPM generated PDF prior to submission. See the Ready to Finalize? best practice above for step-by-step instructions.

Effective November 2012

We receive requests to reject and resubmit about 1 out of every 4 proposals from the eRA Commons for NIH submissions. The most common reasons are:

  • Typos
  • Margin issues
  • Attachments in the wrong order
  • Misaligned figures

Due to the fact that many of these happen in the last days of the deadline (which has the potential to result in a missed deadline if the proposal has a glitch on the resubmission), below is a quick guide to reviewing the assembled proposal for “easy fixes” prior to any submission.

Once you have uploaded all your attachments to the 424:

  • Enter the eRPM system and find the record for the proposal 
  • Choose for 13-PAFXXXX on the left side of the eRPM home screen.
  • From the next screen menu on the left side, choose Validate the proposal
  • Choose Generate PDF from the menu on the left to create the final PDF
  • At the top of the page, next to “PDF Version:” you will now see a new hyperlink on the word View
  • You may download the PDF and email to the PI* OR the PI may click on the hyperlink to view the fully assembled proposal directly in eRPM
  • After review, correct any issues, re-validate, and re-generate the PDF
  • Finalize the proposal using the eRPM activity on the PAF home page as usual

Finalizing the proposal triggers submission to NIH by the Grants Office. Please do not finalize until you are positive you are ready to submit.

This will reduce the number of proposals that are pulled back from the Commons after submission for correction of errors by approximately 65% and remove the additional concern that a resubmission may not submit in time for the deadline.

Effective July 2012

Many proposals receive warnings or errors due to page limits. For example, the Research Strategy section of most NIH proposals is limited to 12 pages. When the proposal’s final PDF is created (showing how it will be received by Commons) it may reach 15 pages because of added white space at the bottom of pages that is inserted as component pages are separated. When the final PDF of the proposal is viewed it may be difficult to count the pages because of this added white space. 

The following suggestion aims to allow you to feel confident that the page limit is not exceeded in these instances.

  • Create all of the component documents in one Microsoft Word file
  • Finalize the component pages
  • Separate the components into their own PDF files
  • Upload the individual PDFs to the 424 application

Effective July 2012

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignment Agreement Guidance

The Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program allows temporary work assignment of employees between UM and federal agencies by executing an IPA Assignment Agreement. The employee on assignment remains an employee of and continues to be paid by their respective employer for the duration of the time they are on the temporary work assignment. Reimbursement for employee expenses are negotiated between the two parties but at a minimum typically include salary and fringe benefits. For more information about the IPA program you may refer to the government website at or Title 5 Part 334: Code of Federal Regulations [5 CFR 334]: Temporary Assignments Under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA).

Assignment Agreement Types: IPA or ‘Reverse’ IPA?
Although the same agreement form is used for mobility assignment of federal and non-federal (UM) employees, university employees on assignment to a federal agency are generally referred to as being ‘on an IPA’ whereas federal employees working for the university are ‘on a Reverse IPA’.

Institutional Signing Authorities for Assignment Agreements
The type of assignment, IPA or Reverse IPA, determines which central office at UM has signing authority and is responsible for executing the agreement. ORSP, via eRPM, has IPA signing authority for UM employees working for a federal agency. Procurement Services, [email protected], has ‘Reverse IPA’ signing authority for federal employees working for UM. Faculty and staff are not authorized to sign IPA or Reverse IPA agreements on behalf of the university.

Agreement    Signing Authority    Employee    Type of Assignment
IPAORSPUM EmployeeOn detail TO a Federal Agency
Reverse IPAProcurement ServicesFederal EmployeeOn detail FROM a Federal Agency

For more information, view the UM Standard Practice Guide for Federal Intergovernmental Personnel Agreements.

Regulations require that IPA Assignment Agreements must be implemented by a written agreement and agreed to by the employee. To be eligible for assignment a UM employee must be employed for at least 90 days in a permanent career position before entering into an agreement. Students and temporary employees are not eligible to enter into IPA agreements.

The following are required to arrange an IPA Assignment Agreement for a university employee:

IPA Assignment Agreement Form

UM is responsible for completing Assignment Agreement Forms for university employees on assignment to federal agencies. Federal agencies have their own Assignment Agreements Forms. The form for the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System, the federal agency UM most frequently executes agreements with, can be found here.

Helpful tips for completing the form:

  • Do not include any social security information for the employee on the agreement form.
  • Standard Language for representing salary & fringe Federal Agency Obligation on Assignment Agreements: The (federal entity) will reimburse UM (xx)% of salary and a fringe rate of (employee fringe rate)% of salary. Example: The VA will reimburse UM 100% of salary and a fringe rate of 25.5% of salary.
      Oct, Nov, DecBill Jan
      Jan, Feb, MarBill Apr
      Apr, May, JunBill July
      July, Aug, SeptBill Oct
  • Standard Language for State or Local Government Agency Obligations: The University of Michigan will disburse salary and fringe benefits according to state regulations and make all required contributions and withhold all deductions. The University will invoice quarterly as follows:

PAF (eResearch Proposal Management)

The Medical School reviews and provides Dean’s (School) and institutional (ORSP) approvals for IPAs executed with the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System. For all other federal agencies ORSP provides institutional approval. Refer to the steps below for eRPM PAF processing information. Be aware federal agencies review Assignment Agreements for appropriateness, completeness, and accuracy before assigning the agreement to their approval workflow for signature & return to the university so allow a minimum of eight to ten weeks for processing. Questions may be directed to [email protected].

Helpful tips to Create a PAF in eRPM

  • List the appropriate ORSP Project Representative as LISTED HERE for Government Sponsor and your unit
  • The title should indicate ‘IPA Agreement’ and the employees first and last name
  • The Proposal Type/Class Code type is 31000
  • In Key Terms list: IPA, Employee Name, Ann Arbor VA (or other federal agency)
  • Project Period: IPA Agreements are executed on the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) which begins Oct 1 and ends Sept 30
  • IDC: IPA Agreements typically have 0% indirect cost
  • For modifications and extensions be sure to include the related AWD number on the PAF

Add the PAF number to the upper right hand corner of the IPA Assignment Agreement, make sure the employee has signed, and upload the agreement to the PAF.

Route the PAF for review and approvals as normal. For Ann Arbor VA: Once PAF Approvals are received and the PAF status reflects Project Team Submission to Sponsor, send the IPA agreement to the VA (please note the IPA agreement MUST be signed by the employee prior to sending) and complete the eRPM Activity:  Log Project Team Submission to Sponsor documenting the IPA assignment agreement has been submitted to the VA.

For all other federal agencies: ORSP standard submission guidelines apply.

Ann Arbor CCMR IPA Contact Info
Regular IPAs: [email protected]
Reverse IPAs: [email protected]

Ann Arbor VA Research Service IPA Contact Info
[email protected] 
[email protected]
[email protected]

The federal agency reviews, signs and returns the partially executed agreement. In addition to signing, the Ann Arbor VA documents their Purchase Order in the upper left of the agreement prior to submitting the agreement to ORSP for countersignature. Upon receipt of a signed agreement ORSP countersigns and sends a copy of the fully signed agreement to the federal agency and issues a Project Award Notice.

Helpful Hint: If the federal agency returns a signed agreement to the Project Team rather than ORSP, use the eRPM PAF activity: ‘Request ORSP Action’ to upload the signed agreement and request UM signature and ORSP Staff will process the agreement. For Ann Arbor VA agreements make sure the purchase order number is included on the agreement before submitting the document to ORSP.

Accessing VA Systems

Note: University employees on IPA Assignment Agreement to the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System will need to complete additional paperwork with the VA as part of the onboarding process to gain access to VA facilities and systems.

UM is responsible for regular review and management of all IPA Assignment Agreements.

Budgets are awarded at the federal agency obligation amount listed on the IPA.

Revenue is accrued when the federal agency is invoiced. The first three quarterly invoices are prepared according to the fiscal obligation amount on the assignment agreement. The final invoice is for the balance due up to the authorized budget of the assignment agreement and is due within 90 days.

Expenditures should be reviewed with investigators on a monthly basis to confirm the expenses reflect the current work assignment. The federal agency should be notified immediately of any significant changes to the original agreement.

Expenditures Exceeding the Authorized Agreement Amount
Expenditures that exceed the original budget amount due to a change in assignment (e.g. increased effort / employee promotion) require a modification to the agreement (see changes to an Assignment Agreement). However, there may also be instances when IPA expenses exceed the authorized budget (Federal Agency Obligation amount) when there has been no change in assignment (e.g. fringe benefit level changes) and the federal agency has agreed to cover the additional expense. In these instances:

  • Obtain an email from the federal agency (e.g. Ann Arbor VA) approving the incremental funding on the existing IPA.
  • Complete a Post Award Change Request (PACR) ‘Other Change’ in eRPM indicating the approved incremental funding for the agreement and include the incremental amount authorized in the Explanation/Documentation section. Include PO information on how the incremental expense is being covered (increase to current PO or provide new PO information).
  • Attach a copy of confirmation email from the federal agency authorizing the increase in supporting documents.

ORSP reviews the change request and issues a modification (MOD) for the incremental funding to allow invoicing for the additional expense amount.

UM is responsible for notifying the federal agency of any significant changes to the original assignment agreement by completing an Assignment Agreement modification so the information on the agreement is accurate, complete and current.  Depending on the type of change to the assignment, the modification may be processed by an incremental PAF, a Post-Award Change Request (PACR), or an ORSP Action Request. Be sure to include information about the significant change type on the modification agreement so that it is clear what is being modified / updated.

Significant Change TypeIPA Assignment Agreement Modification Process
*Budget IncreaseIncremental PAF
Budget DecreaseAWD Post-Award Change Request (Award Reduction)
Employee Duties or ResponsibilitiesAWD ORSP Action Request
Work Assignment or LocationAWD ORSP Action Request
Supervisory RelationshipAWD ORSP Action Request

*Minor changes such as a salary increase due to annual pay adjustments, changes in benefits due to revised coverage and very short-term changes in duties do not require a modification to the original agreement (see expenditures exceeding the authorized amount).

If you need assistance determining which method to use to complete a modification, please contact [email protected] for advice and help.

IPA Assignments may be terminated at any time at the option of UM or the Federal Agency. When possible, the party terminating the agreement before the original completion date should give a 30-day notice to all parties involved. This notification should be in writing and should include the reason for the termination. An assignment must be terminated immediately if the employee on assignment is no longer employed by his or her original employer.

The following are required to terminate an agreement prior to the original completion date:

  • IPA Assignment Agreement Form Modification with updated assignment information  
  • A PACR requesting Early Termination / Close Out

Complete an IPA Assignment Agreement modification with the updated period of assignment information and submit the form to ORSP for submission to the federal agency via Request a Post-Award Change Request on the AWD record (change request ‘Other’: Modification to IPA Agreement) and include contact information for the federal agency. If the employee is terminating employment with the university they will also need to complete their Effort Certification.

Contact Us

BMRC Bridginq Questions:
[email protected]

Grant Services & Analysis 
Phone: 734-763-4272 
Email: [email protected]

About Us
The BMRC (Biomedical Research Council) is a standing committee of the Medical School with a broad representation of the research faculty that helps select limited submission applicants in the health sciences, drive the bridging program, and advise MM leadership on trends in biomedical research.

The BMRC and BMRC bringing program are supported by the Grant Services & Analysis office, a unit of the Medical School Office of Research, where our mission is to foster an environment of innovation and efficiency that serves the Michigan Medicine research community and supports biomedical science from insight to impact.