Proposal Submission

Once a proposal has been completed and reviewed through the routing process, it must be submitted to the sponsoring agency. Agencies may differ in how they wish grant or contract proposals to be submitted.

Some agencies either allow or require that a proposal be submitted electronically. Such systems may include agency-designed web-based systems, for certain federal applications, or other methods. Agencies also vary on whether an authorized institutional official (OSP) must make the final submission in the appropriate electronic system or if the PI must or may submit the application. Most federal agencies require the actual submission to be performed by an authorized institutional official.  In Emory’s case, this is OSP. Foundations vary in their policy. Regardless of the method of submission, all proposals must be routed to OSP in the Emory Proposal Express system (EPEX) prior to submission to the agency. Once OSP has received a fully routed proposal in EPEX, it will be reviewed by OSP staff. OSP staff will work with the PI and support staff on any corrections needed on the proposal. Proposals are first reviewed by a Research Analyst and then provided to a Director, Associate Director, or Assistant Director for final review. After completing the review, OSP will confirm with the PI and/or support staff that the proposal is ready for final submission and submit the proposal (for systems that require OSP to make the submissions) or confirm with the PI and support staff that the PI may proceed with their submission (for systems which require the PI to submit). For agencies which allow either the PI or OSP to submit, OSP will coordinate with the PI to ensure the appropriate submission is made.

Cayuse 424 is a commercial, web-based system employed by Emory for the electronic submission of grant applications to federal agencies. Cayuse 424 covers roughly 97% of all programs available in the federal government’s system. As Cayuse 424 offers many efficiencies over use of the Adobe forms kits for submission, Cayuse 424 use became required on June 5, 2011 for all proposals for which it is available, with the exceptions noted below. Once a proposal has been completed in Cayuse 424 and been fully routed to OSP via EPEX, it will be reviewed by OSP as noted above. OSP staff have automatic access to all proposals created in the Cayuse system, so there is no need to grant them access. OSP staff will work with the PI and support staff on any issues, as well as, confirm that the proposal is in final form and ready for submission. Once that confirmation is received, OSP will perform final system validations and submit the proposal through the Cayuse 424 system. Upon confirmation of successful system submission, OSP will notify the PI via email of the submission and will provide the system tracking number.

Although most federal grant proposals will be available for submission in the Cayuse 424 system, there may be some programs for which Cayuse 424 submission is not available. Those proposals must be created and submitted using the Adobe forms kits.  Applicants must download the application kit and complete it offline. Due to the nature of the submission process, an additional step is needed. Once the proposal is fully routed to OSP via the EPEX system, the PI and or support staff will need to provide the final Adobe application file to OSP. OSP has developed a Digital Dropbox for submission of these files.

Once the proposal is in final form and ready for submission, the PI and/or their support staff should go to the OSP Digital Drop box at: The requested information should be completed and the file provided. OSP will receive notice when the file is received. OSP will then review the proposal per the above processes and confirm that everything is final and ready for submission. Upon receipt of such confirmation, OSP will make the final submission to the agency using the file provided. Upon confirmation of successful system submission, OSP will notify the PI via email of the submission and will provide the system tracking number.

FastLane is NSF’s electronic proposal submission system. PIs and support staff create a proposal online in the FastLane system. Like Cayuse, FastLane is a combination of web-based data entry and file upload. Unlike Cayuse, PIs must explicitly grant OSP access to their proposals (referred to in FastLane as the SRO). As with Cayuse, once a proposal has been fully routed in EPEX, OSP will review the proposal in FastLane. Once OSP has received confirmation that the application is in final form, the proposal will be electronically submitted in the FastLane system. PIs can check the status of the proposal in FastLane to confirm receipt. Although NSF programs may be available for proposal creation and submission in the Cayuse 424 system, use of Cayuse 424 for NSF proposals is not currently mandatory. PIs may use FastLane if they prefer.

Some foundation sponsors to use a system called proposalCENTRAL for their grant proposal submissions. proposalCENTRAL is a web-based, electronic proposal submission system. Similar to other web-based systems, it uses a combination of forms data entry and file upload for proposal completion. Foundations which utilize proposalCENTRAL include, but are not limited to, American Cancer Society, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Georgia Cancer Coalition. As with other electronic submission systems, OSP will review the final application in proposalCENTRAL prior to submission. Investigators preparing a grant in proposalCENTRAL should bear in mind that OSP does not have automatic access to proposalCENTRAL proposals. Investigators must grant access to OSP to each proposal they create. This is done using the Enable Other Users to Access this Proposal feature within the system. The proposalCENTRAL system includes capabilities for either the PI or the authorized institutional official (OSP) to make the actual submission. Agencies vary in how they choose to implement the submission process. OSP will work with the PI and their support staff to coordinate the final submission. It is important to note that some agencies that utilize proposalCENTRAL may still require a hard copy signature either to be scanned and uploaded into the system or to be mailed in original hard copy. Investigators should carefully review all proposal preparation guidelines provided by each agency.
Many sponsoring agencies have developed their own electronic submission systems. When submitting to such an agency, investigators should pay close attention to the agency instructions for preparing and submitting a proposal. It is also helpful for the investigator and their support staff to include information on the system along with the routed materials in EPEX. If you are submitting to an agency-designed system that requires OSP to create an account or register within the system, please contact your OSP analyst well in advance of the deadline.
While many agencies have converted from paper submissions to electronic submissions, not all agencies have done so. In addition, some agencies accept certain grants electronically, while requiring paper submissions for others. For these agencies, paper applications should be prepared in accordance with agency proposal preparation instructions. Most applications, however, are prepared in either Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word for printing. For paper submissions, copies of all applications sections should be attached to the EPEX record for routing. For agencies which require OSP signature on a Face Page or certification form, OSP will print the form for signature after proposal review. If the agency requires multiple signatures (PI, department chair, etc), an original version of the form, bearing all other required signatures, should be delivered to OSP directly in addition to the EPEX record. OSP cannot sign any such forms until the EPEX record is received and reviewed. Once the proposal has been signed by OSP, or approved by OSP in EPEX if no signature is necessary, OSP will contact the department to notify them of the signature/approval. It is the department’s responsibility to send the paper application to the agency.