Grants Development Office

Office of Research and Economic Development

Post-Award Administration

Cal Poly Proposal Approval Form



This Proposal Approval Form (PAF) is to be completed and routed for any project involving external support for an instructional, research or public service project. All approvals should be obtained before a proposal is submitted or, in the case of a contract, before a contract may be signed. Approvals from the VP of Administration and Finance and the Grants Development Office (GDO) must be obtained prior to proposal submission or contract signing. The purpose of the form is to provide full and complete information on sponsored projects carried out under the University name and to highlight the features of the project that would have greatest impact on the University, should the project be funded. Any item requiring an explanation for which there is insufficient room should be referenced and completed in the Notes or attachments to the form.

Generally, after administrative approvals are obtained, the project director is responsible for securing approvals through the Dean's or Provost’s level and then returning the proposal and form to the Director, Grants Development Office for final approval and transmittal to the sponsor. At least five working days should normally be allowed for final review. Questions concerning the form and the approval process may be directed to the GDO (Bldg. 38, Rm. 152 Extension 6-2982). The Principal Investigator/ Project Director (PI/PD) will be notified when the PAF has been fully approved.  Documents that require original signature(s) are kept with the official proposal file in the Grants Development Office. Copies may be requested from the GDO staff, but as the PAF in an internal approval document, it should not be submitted to the sponsor with the grant/contract documents.



PROPOSAL NUMBER: The number will be assigned by the Grants Development Office.  The first two digits indicate the fiscal year in which the proposal is expected to be submitted.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR(S)/PROJECT DIRECTOR(S) (Item 1): If a project is to have co-investigators/directors, one person must be designated as the administrative project manager. This person will approve all project expenditures (unless signature delegation is made in writing) and will be responsible for ensuring that line item and/or total expenditures do not exceed limitations set by the grant or contract.

TITLE AND SUMMARY (Item 2): The full title of the submitted proposal should be used.  The summary should describe the project (not the proposal) and should be written in terms intelligible to educated laypersons. If the project is funded, the summary may be used in various reports and informational releases, so care should be taken to ensure its completeness and suitability for such reports.

PROPOSED SPONSOR (Item 3): Use the full sponsor name rather than acronym.  If the project is expected to be funded as a subaward, the primary sponsor will be listed first, with the secondary (or tertiary) sponsor(s) through which the funds will be passed listed in order, indicating that the funds will come “via” those sponsors, with Cal Poly’s direct sponsor listed last:  Primary Sponsor via Secondary Sponsor via Tertiary Sponsor

PROJECT PERIOD (Item 4): This refers to the proposed start and end dates of the project. The actual term of the project may change depending upon award date and/or full execution of a contract.

PROJECT COST (Item 5): Total project cost is the amount of this anticipated award plus cost-sharing, including other external funding, which is to be applied to the project.

COST SHARING (Item 6): If any State-controlled or third party funds are to be used in support of the costs of the project, they should be identified. Assigned time contributions must be specified by academic year and percentage; the source, whether single or shared, must be identified. If the cost-sharing source is other than the Department Head or Dean, an additional signature ("other") may be required. Indirect costs (see item 11) not charged to the sponsor should normally be shown as cost-sharing here and in the budget.  Cost sharing commitments from Cal Poly sources must also be detailed in the Matching Form to be signed by those with budgetary authority over the specific accounts to be charged.  Third-party funds committed to the project must be supported by letters of commitment from those parties detailing that financial commitment.

PERSONNEL (Item 7): All personnel time commitments should be identified explicitly, making it clear when and upon what basis faculty and professional staff time are to be devoted to the project. In general, faculty will work either on a released time or on an added effort basis. Added effort is limited to 25% additional time during academic sessions, but faculty may work full-time between quarters and summer (if not teaching summer quarter). Released time is expressed to the sponsor in terms of percent of effort. The academic workload includes 15 units per quarter. Approval of commitments for faculty or staff is normally given by the Dean of the college(s) or academic or administrative Department Head. On interdisciplinary projects involving more than one college, the signature(s) of cooperating Dean(s) and/or Administrative Department Director(s) are required.

Clerical/technical assistance hours and graduate and undergraduate student hours are those intended to be funded by the grant or contract, not contributed hours. The number of hours should be based on the initial budget estimates for these categories.

Salaries are budget figures only with fixed projections for increases. Actual rates in effect at the time the work is performed will be paid. Retroactive increases to salaries may or may not be accommodated due to the sponsor’s restrictions, end dates, etc.

FACILITIES (Item 8): Projects must have appropriate facilities available or must have a specific and feasible plan for identifying and/or obtaining such facilities prior to final approval if an award is made. If additional facilities and/or renovation are involved, this should be stated in the Notes and approved by University Administration.

EQUIPMENT (Item 9): For all major equipment items requested in the budget, the project director/principal investigator certifies that a search has been conducted and that no suitable equipment will be available elsewhere in the University for use on the proposed project.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST (Item 10): A Statement of Economic Interest is mandated by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (800U) and the State of California Fair Political Practices Commission (700U). The PI/PD must complete and sign the form prior to submission of the proposal or signing of a contract to disclose certain financial or decision-making involvement with governmental and non-governmental entities. The University Conflict of Interest Policy for Principal Investigators is located at

INDIRECT COSTS (Item 11): All projects are expected to provide for recovery of full indirect costs (CAP 341.2.2). Rates may vary for different types of sponsors (e.g. government or private) depending upon sponsor’s published guidelines. It is important that less than full indirect cost recovery be specified and approved prior to submission of a proposal (or acceptance of a direct contract). Since indirect costs are real costs, charges not paid by the sponsor should normally be shown as an in-kind contribution in the proposal or contract. The Director of the Grants Development Office is responsible for approval of indirect cost rates. The signature of the Corporation (or, in a University-administered project, the Vice President of Administration & Finance) will affirm the indirect cost rate and that the project will be accepted and administered under these terms.

CONTINUING COMMITMENT (Item 12): If the University, the Corporation, The California State University, or the State is expected to continue the project in any form after termination of sponsorship, that commitment must be explained in the Notes. If the commitment is explained in detail in the proposal, it will be sufficient to refer to the relevant pages of the proposal in the Notes.

REGULATIONS (Item 13): If the project will involve committee approvals in any of the areas specified, the PI/PD is responsible for submitting protocols and obtaining such approvals. If required by the sponsor to be certified upon submission of the proposal, such approval must have been obtained prior to routing this form and should be confirmed in the Notes. The signature of the Director, Grants Development Office, affirms that a copy of the required committee approval will be obtained and will be maintained in the funded project/grant file. If not required for submission but required prior to project implementation, the project director is responsible for obtaining such approval in a timely manner so as not to delay project implementation. This should also be explained in the Notes section.

NOTES: Any special internal agreements necessary for the conduct of the proposed project not covered elsewhere on the PAF should be detailed in the NOTES. Notice should be included concerning any special approvals that may be required for projects involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, radiation hazards, hazardous waste and so on.



Approvals must be obtained from those involved in the project, the supervisors and College/Division heads of those involved, Center Directors (if applicable), budget managers approving cost sharing commitments, and other administrators who are responsible for ensuring compliance with University and CSU requirements.

By approving the PAF, the PI/PD and administrators certify and approve as follows:

The Director, Grants Development affirms that the budget is adequate and salaries and wages are appropriate; that the indirect cost rate has been appropriately applied; that the project is consistent with University policy, procedures and goals governing sponsored projects; and that the proposal meets the sponsor's requirements.

The Vice President of Administration & Finance affirms that the project is consistent with University fiscal policies and procedures; that any noted adjustment of indirect cost is approved.

PI/PD affirms that the proposal content and routing information are complete, current, accurate, and are consistent with funder requirements. PI/PD shall process all financial transactions through the Corporation and agrees to fulfill the requirements of the grant/contract if awarded including complying with budgetary restrictions, technical reporting requirements, submission of deliverables, and appropriate invention disclosures. Cost share (if applicable) will be secured prior to any expenditure incurred, and any budget changes will be submitted to the Grants Development Office prior to award acceptance. For federal projects, the PI/PD also certifies that they have not been disbarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, excluded or otherwise disqualified from participating in Federal contracts.

The Department Head or Chair affirms that the project is consistent with departmental policies and instructional program, that specified faculty/staff will be released from teaching obligations or other job duties in accordance with the project plan and budget, that an adequate substitute will be found for released time appointments, that adequate facilities are available within the department unless otherwise noted, and that any specified department cost-sharing contributions are approved and will be provided if the project is funded.

The Dean affirms that the project is consistent with the instructional program, objectives, and policies of the college; that adequate facilities will be provided; and that involvement of Center or Institute faculty and any contributions which cite the Center or Institute as the source will be forthcoming. For purposes of California Public Contract Code Section 10410, activities associated with implementing this specific project are considered to be part of the conditions of employment for the Cal Poly faculty members listed herein.

Other approval(s): If the project involves faculty, staff or resources from areas under the jurisdiction of other chair(s), head(s), dean(s), administrative department director(s) or Center/Institute directors, the approval(s) of the other administrator(s) is/are necessary to affirm their intent to cooperate and/or to provide the facilities, resources or contributions outlined in the proposal or contract.

The Dean of Research, who signs on behalf of the University, confirms that the project is consistent with University policies and mission and approves the proposal for submission and/or the project for implementation.

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