Carnegie Mellon University

Research Proposals: Government, Corporations and Foundations

POLICY TITLE: Research Proposals at Carnegie Mellon: Government, Corporations and Foundations
DATE OF ISSUANCE: This policy was originally issued to campus vice presidents, deans, directors and department heads on December 1, 1990, as a presidential policy memo.
ACCOUNTABLE DEPARTMENT/UNIT: Office of the Vice President for Research. Questions on policy content should be directed to the Office of Sponsored Programs, 412-268-2812. For the list of persons authorized to sign contracts for Carnegie Mellon see the policy on Authorized Signatures.
ABSTRACT: All proposals, contracts and agreements related to research activities must be reviewed centrally to ensure compliance with government regulations and university policies.
RELATED POLICY: Signature Authority for Legally Binding Commitments and Documents

Policy Statement

Sponsored research is an important part of the mission of the university and accounts for a significant portion of the university's expenditures in a given year. The large amount of research that is supported by government, industry and foundations brings with it a myriad of constantly changing legal, financial and administrative requirements which must be taken into account. Because of the complexity of all these factors, it is important that all proposals, contracts and agreements related to research activities be reviewed centrally to ensure compliance with government regulations and university policies.

Signatures and Approvals

In general, research proposals require two sets of signatures: those required by the funding organization and those required by Carnegie Mellon. No proposal should be sent out of the university without the appropriate signatures.

All research proposals to the government and to corporations should be circulated internally and should be accompanied by a Carnegie Mellon Proposal Routing and Sign-off Sheet. The sign-off sheet ensures that everyone involved in the process has had the opportunity to review the proposal.

The following signatures are required on the sign-off sheet:

  • Principal investigators: their signatures state that they understand their commitments to the project and agree to meet their obligations as set forth in the proposal.
  • Deans and the department heads: their signatures attest that they support the proposal and that all matters relating to space, facilities and personnel can be resolved within the department and the college. In instances of joint proposals, signatures from all department heads and deans are required.
  • Signatures from the Office of Sponsored Research and Provost's Office indicate that the proposal and the budget have been reviewed and that they meet the requirements of both the university and the potential sponsor.

Research proposals to foundations — whether initiated within the college or the Development Office — must also be reviewed and signed by the Provost's Office.

Negotiation of the Award

After an award is made to the university, the Office of Sponsored Research will enter into sponsored research or contract negotiations. The principal investigator will be responsible for negotiating technical aspects of the agreement. The remainder of the negotiations will be the responsibility of the Office of Sponsored Research or the Office of the Associate Provost for Research and Academic Administration. All research agreements must be signed by either the provost or the associate provost for research and academic administration. No other personnel are authorized to commit the university to a research agreement.