Review, Approval, and Submission

ORSP provides assistance with the processing of proposals, including administrative review and sign-off, and assists with the submission and negotiation of external agreements.  See tips for electronic submission for information about SF 424 and Modular Budgets.  Assistance with the development of the proposal narrative and budget is also available.

ORSP post-award responsibilities include institutional financial management of grants, contracts, and other externally funded agreements beginning immediately after the award.

It is the responsibility of the principal investigator (PI) that any proposals which use the name and resources of The University of Montana, and which may result in an award to the University, adhere to University procedures for submitting a proposal, accepting an award, and administering the project.  All proposals for externally funded grants, research contracts, and cooperative agreements are submitted through ORSP.  When processing for institutional approval, these items are required:

  1. Checklist via E-Prop;
  2. Project budget (and cost match budget  if applicable);
  3. Budget justification or narrative;
  4. Request for proposal (RFP) or program announcement;and, 
  5. Proposal or scope of work.

Lead Time Required for Proposal Submission  

PIs at The University of Montana typically submit over 700 proposals each year.  The pre-award specialists in ORSP work diligently to assist and support PIs so that each proposal contains accurate information and all required components, and best represents the PI and University.  As a result, the pre-award specialist: 

  1. Refers to the RFP,
  2. Reviews  all pertinent sponsor documentation,
  3. Advises the PI about budget preparation
  4. Applies knowledge of accounting principles and, when appropriate, Federal Cost Accounting Standards,
  5. Reviews the PI’s budget, budget narrative, and scope of work,
  6. Occasionally offers advice regarding the budget proposed with scope of activity desired, providing accurate University and State figures for salaries, fringe, and insurance,
  7. Checks accuracy of institutional commitments,
  8. Confirms  institutional approvals have been secured  (including cost match),
  9. Follows University, State, and Federal guidelines and regulations,
  10. Reviews contractual language and commitment,
  11. Understands and applies knowledge of University and State requirements when reviewing and negotiating contracts,
  12. Details understanding of a multitude of State, Federal, and private electronic submittal platforms,
  13. Recognizes and addresses areas of potential audit concern,
  14. Works calmly and efficiently within tight timelines, and
  15. Strives to provide outstanding customer support and service.

It is the PI’s responsibility to allow sufficient time for institutional review and approval. The lead times below are needed to manage workload so that pre-award specialists are able to equally assist and support each PI in submitting proposals that are accurate, complete, and best represent the PI and University.  

 ORSP Lead Time Required for Proposal Submission

Lead Time



Pre-Award Specialist


Letter of Intent (neither institutional signature nor budget required)

LOIs typically focus on the scope of work and do not require/include a dollar amount or budget details.  No E-Prop is required.

Provide your departmentally-assigned pre-award specialist a copy of everything before sending to the sponsor.  


Pre-Proposal  (neither institutional signature nor budget required)

If proposal does NOT require/include a dollar amount, budget, cost share commitment, renovation expenses, or hiring new faculty/staff, E-Prop is not required.

Provide your departmentally-assigned pre-award specialist a copy of everything before sending to the sponsor. 

Two (2) Working Days prior to deadline 

Pre-Proposal (no budget required) submitted via institution over an electronic platform


Pre-proposal or LOI requiring an institutional signature

Proposal does NOT require/include a dollar amount, budget, cost share, renovation, or employee hiring; however, advance notice is necessary to accommodate multiple proposals with the same deadline, or  in case of unanticipated technological challenges with electronic platforms.  No E-Prop is required.

Provide your departmentally-assigned pre-award specialist a copy of everything before sending to the sponsor. 

Five (5) Working Days upon receipt of routed and approved E-Prop

Standard Proposal


Pre-Proposal (budget required)

Begin E-Prop and attach RFP, budget, budget narrative, scope of work/proposal, and all required supporting attachments. ORSP can access E-Prop documentation prior to the PI hitting the "Submit" button to begin the routing process.  

Institutional approvals must be secured before ORSP reviews and submits.

Ten (10) or More Working Days upon receipt of routed and approved E-Prop

Complex Proposal

Center proposals, proposals with subcontracts, or those with a multitude of collaborators and budgets

Contact your departmentally-assigned pre-award specialist immediately when considering submission, even if long before a budget, budget narrative, or scope of work is drafted. Institutional approvals (possibly from all collaborators) must be secured before ORSP submits.

Plan Accordingly for Subawards

If you intend to issue outgoing subawards as part of your proposal, commitment of collaboration via letter or Subrecipient Commitment Form (required prior to setup of an outgoing subaward) must be completed by the subrecipient and signed by the sub's Authorized Official (AO).  

Subrecipients are included as a line item in the University of Montana budget, with the subrecipients detailed budgets included as part of the budget justification. Work with your ORSP pre-award specialist to determine the appropriate type of subrecipient to include for budgeting.  

Use of the Subrecipient Commitment Form will assist the planning process as it requires the following documentation from the subreceipient and will be required by the subaward coordinator in order to issue the subaward:

  • Detailed budget (in Excel) for the subrecipient specific to the subaward to be issued. Sample budget categories:

Salaries & Wages
Subcontract Payments
Other Services (e.g., contracted)
Supplies (e.g., copying)
Travel (includes foreign and non-employee)
Repairs & Maintenance
Research Tuition Waiver (Graduate)
Stipends (living expenses for students, not tied to service or employment)
Other Expenses (includes meetings & conferences)

  • Budget narrative/justification
    • Follow sponsor proposal instructions, providing as much detail as needed;
    • Approach the budget from the perspective of what the sponsor needs to know, not from the perspective of what the PI wants;
    • Explain why each of the requested items is necessary to accomplish the proposed research - don’t leave the reviewer wondering why an item was requested;
    • Also consider:
      • Does the budget justification follow the same order as the budget?
      • Does it give additional details to explain the costs included in the budget, such as quantity and price, if appropriate?
      • Does it include only items that are allowable, reasonable, & allocable?
      • Are items/services clearly documented as essential and, when appropriate, the proportionate benefit can be allocated to the project relatively easily and with a high degree of accuracy?
      • Is it easy to read (short paragraphs, headings to separate different budget categories, etc.?
      • Is it concise?
      • Do the numbers in the budget justification match those in the budget?
  • Scope of work specific to the subaward to be issued.  A standard SOW contains:
    • Objectives/Purpose Statement
    • Scope of Work containing any deliverables or objectives
    • Schedule
  • Certification that the subrecipient organization's complies with all applicable federal and sponsor regulations; and,
  • Determining Subaward F&A
    • if the Subawardee has a federally negotiated F&A rate agreement (a copy must be provided to the Subaward coordinator) and U of M is receiving its fully negotiated F&A rate on the prime award, the subrecipient is entitled to their fully negotiated rate as well.
    • If the Subawardee has a federally negotiated F&A rate agreement, but the sponsor is limiting the F&A on the award, the same limitation applies to the Subaward.
    • If the Subawardee does not have a fully negotiated F&A rate, but F&A is being allowed on the prime award, the subrecipient is entitled to the 10% de minimis rate as specified in 2 CFR 200.414.
    • The Subawardee can choose to decline F&A. In that case they indicate this in section D of the Subrecipient Commitment Form

If the subrecipient is an individual, inquire as to whether s/he is or was covered under TRS/PERS.  If so, per Montana State law, s/he may need to be paid as a UM employee rather than via subaward.  Contact HRS for more information. 

If UM anticipates receiving funding from another institution via a subaward, proceed with proposal preparation and institutional routing and approval requirements as usual.