Proposal review checklist

Whether this is your first proposal at Northern Arizona University or one of many, we hope you will find it helpful to know how your proposal is reviewed in the Office of Grant and Contract Services.

Although this checklist includes most of the issues of potential concern to external sponsors and/or to the university, it is only a guide and some items may not apply to your proposal. The primary documents we review are the proposal approval form (the PAF), the sponsor’s program announcement, and the completed proposal. Our review includes the following types of issues:

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  • Proposal file in this system is complete, including all required signatures.
  • The PI is eligible to submit.
  • Approval (prospect clearance) has been received from the NAU Foundation/Office of University Advancement for a proposal to a foundation or business/corporation.
  • Required compliance approvals (e.g., protocol approval dates for human subjects, animal use protocols, radiation safety, etc.) are documented; or if pending, the date of planned submission is given.
  • Cost share or match is identified on the routing form and supporting documentation is attached.
    • Sponsor cost-sharing or matching requirements are documented.
    • University-approved, voluntary, non-mandatory cost share has been authorized by the chair, director and/or dean, and Vice Provost for Research.
  • F and A rate is indicated on the routing form.
    • Sponsor F and A restrictions are documented.
    • University-approved waivers or reductions are identified on the PAF and authorized in writing by the chair, director and/or dean, and the Vice Provost for Research.
  • Supplementary forms for subcontracts, inclusion of administrative costs, the NSF/NIH investigator disclosure form, etc., if applicable, are attached.
  • A description and signed letter of approval are attached if the proposal requires new construction or space beyond that which is currently available in the department.


  • The proposal format conforms to sponsor requirements for type size, margins, spacing, page restrictions; requirements for references, biographical sketches, etc.
  • Proposal summary/abstract meets sponsor requirements.
  • Institutional commitments described in the proposal are documented on the cost share form and/or a letter signed by an authorized institutional signatory.
  • Third party cost share is documented by a signed letter stating the value of the specific monetary and/or in-kind commitments.
  • Deliverables are consistent with ABOR requirements for ownership of Intellectual Property.
  • Institutional statistical and other data on student enrollment/graduation rates, etc. is accurate (information should be reviewed with PAIR prior to submission).
  • Proposed collaborations/subcontracts have been authorized in writing by the partner agency/university, and include a budget and proposed scope of work.


  • Budget and budget justification match scope of work.
  • Cost data (salaries, fringe benefits, operating and material costs, indirect costs) are accurate and amounts shown are correct.
  • Costs appear to be reasonable, allowable, allocable, and necessary in accordance with the applicable federal cost principles (OMB Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions available at or Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 31.2, Contracts with Commercial Organizations, codified at 48 CFR 31.2, and available at
  • Salaries and wages
    • Pay rates (academic/summer vs. calendar year, student hourly etc.) are identified. Faculty on nine month contracts paid out over 12 months are eligible to earn three months summer salary.
    • Summer salary is calculated based on the rate of pay for the academic year just ended.
    • Overall faculty level-of-effort, from all sources, is not greater than 100%.
    • Faculty academic year salary clearly indicates whether release or supplemental pay is requested. Document supplemental pay requests in accordance with OMB Circular A-21 Section J(8) requirements.
    • Justifications are provided for administrative/clerical staff support in accordance with OMB Circular A-21, Section F(6)(b).
    • Cost-of-living adjustments are appropriate (three to five percent).
    • Expected promotions/tenure adjustments have been factored into salaries.
    • Students do not work more than 20 hours per week total (0.5 FTE) from all sources.
    • Undergraduate research stipends (not wages) are listed under participant support (even if they are paid out as wages).
  • Employee-related expenses (ERE) or fringe benefits (FB)
    • A flat rate is not used for all employees; rather ERE rates are estimated for each employee based on the employee’s eligibility for and election of benefits (family or single health coverage, retirement).
    • Graduate research assistants (GRA) receive tuition remission and insurance benefits in accordance with their appointments (full time or part time). See policy guidelines.
  • Equipment and supply items are correctly categorized. Northern Arizona University defines equipment as movable tangible property having a life expectancy of one year or more and a unit cost of $5,000 or more. The following items are capitalized when ordered on the same purchase order and have an aggregate cost of $5,000 or more: central processing unit (CPU), keyboard, monitor, and operating system (not including application software like Microsoft Word).
  • Travel costs are described in sufficient detail to be able to determine reasonableness.
  • Consultant rates are documented and within agency guidelines.
  • Food and refreshment costs are clearly documented and justified in proposal.
  • Subcontracts are identified and subcontractor has agreed to participate; Request to Issue a Subcontract Form has been completed.
  • Materials and supplies are project-related and reasonable, allowable, allocable and necessary.
  • The university’s federally approved rates are used unless a different rate has been specified by the sponsor (documentation attached) or approved in writing by the Chairs, Deans, and Vice President for Research (allow two weeks for review).
  • Use of the off-campus indirect rate has been approved.
  • All cost share is listed on the PAF, including the amount and source of the cost share or match.
  • Authorizing signatures are provided for internal cost share and match.
  • External cost share is documented by a letter of specific support from the collaborator.