Proposal Review Process

Who Submits Proposals?
All proposals are submitted by each pre-award office representing the various tubs within the University: OSP Awards Management (University Area); Sponsored Program Administration (HMS); Office of Financial Services (Harvard Chan School). No proposal may be submitted to a sponsor by a pre-award office without review and approval by the Principal Investigator's department head or Laboratory Director or Dean, as appropriate. Each school / faculty within Harvard has its own procedures. Below is a brief, generic description to give you a sense of how the process works.

Typically, while constructing a proposal, the PI consults the department head or Laboratory director regarding the availability and use of space and personnel and secures his/her approval. If the research involves human subjects, animal subjects, or hazardous substances, approval of the relevant committees must also be obtained prior to submission to the Dean or his/her designee. Fellows should seem review and approval by their mentors.

The Dean or designee reviews and approves the proposal and forwards it in GMAS to the appropriate pre-award office with the following:

  • relevant internal approval forms (human/animal subjects, etc.)
  • correct number of copies, including a copy for the pre-award office

Pre-Award Offices
Proposals should be submitted five business days in advance of the sponsor's deadline for the final institutional review for conformance with University and sponsor requirements.  Please refer to the Proposal Submission Policy for further information. 

Proposals to federal, state, and the majority of other sponsors must always be signed by an authorized institutional representative. Each pre-award office has individuals so designated.

Some things to remember when assembling and then submitting a proposal ...

  • If a proposal is in response to an RFP, please upload the RFP (or the URL of applicable Web site) to GMAS for review of the RFP's terms and conditions. On occasion an RFP may include terms and conditions that conflict with Harvard's research policies. Your pre-award representative may need some additional time to secure special approval or strategize on how to proceed.
  • If you will be unable to discuss any questions your pre-award office may have about a proposal, please provide the name of an individual who is available to answer questions or make changes as required.
  • If the project involves Co-Principal Investigators from different schools, each school should follow its own policies for determining who will act as lead investigator. GMAS sign off. One person should be assigned to coordinate the proposal process to facilitate its processing with the pre-award office.
  • If the project meets any of the Provostial Review criteria, it should be submitted for Provostial Review and Approval before the proposal is filed with potential funders, if at all possible, and in all cases before the activity is initiated.  Per the Provostial Signoff in GMAS process document, the OSP or SPA reviewer will edit the Required Signatures in GMAS and add the “Provost Signatory” role to the list,  which alerts the Associate Research Compliance Coordinator that there is a actionable item for Provostial Review.  The Provost Reviewer will navigate to the GMAS Request Home Page from the email and perform the review and, if no concerns, will electronically sign indicating approval to OSP/SPA that they may move forward with the submission. If there are additional considerations or restrictions placed on the project, they will be communicated to the department contact, PI, and OSP/SPA reviewer.