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WHOI Proposal Process

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Proposals are generated by individual scientists in their own departments. Each department has staff that is specially trained to prepare proposals according to the Agencies' requirements. Copies of any unusual requirements should be sent to the office of Grant and Contract Services (GCS) as soon as they are available, so that the Grant Administrators can assist the department to determine if the RFP/RFQ will conflict with standard WHOI policy.

Each department has people who are authorized to generate a WHOI budget that includes the salary costs and associated overhead charges for each proposal. These budgets are done by a computer program that has access to a portion of the payroll file that contains the current salary of people in the science departments. It automatically calculates a raise based on an inflation factor that is determined by the Director of Research and input into the program. It then determines an average hourly rate for each employee for each period of the proposal based on the start and end dates of the proposal periods. The salary workup portion of the program will also calculate the number of hours of overtime, sea-duty vacation, cruise leave, and extra regular hours required for proposals that include going to sea.  When the proposal is submitted to GCS the budget must be "frozen" to insure that the salary and related costs, and other rates (such as shop services) included in the proposal can be recreated at any future date as needed.

When the Principal Investigator has completed his/her proposal text and signs the endorsement page (when required), and the Administrative Professional has added all the appropriate boiler-plate (depending on agency), the Institution routing and information sheet (referred to as the Green Sheet) is printed from the Budget program and attached to the proposal. This provides various information used throughout the Institution. All of the co-principal investigators on the proposal are required to sign a conflict of interest statement on the Green Sheet. By signing this, the PI(s) is swearing that he/she has no conflict of interest as defined in the WHOI policy. Therefore, the PI(s) should be thoroughly familiar with that policy. No one else may sign "for" the PI(s).

The Department Administrator reviews the proposal, particularly the budget and budget justification and the current and pending support, and signs the Green Sheet. The Department Chair then reviews the proposal and signs the endorsement page (if required) and the Green Sheet.  The Chair is responsible for the science content of the proposal and for providing feedback on proposal writing techniques for new and inexperienced principal investigators.  Proposals with a total requested amount of less than $75,000 no longer need to be reviewed or signed by the Chair.

If there are Co-PIs from a different department, the Department Administrators and Chairs from all departments must sign the Green Sheet as described above for the primary PI's department.

When the department is satisfied, the proposal is sent to GCS (Sandy Botelho-Sherlock). Sandy date-stamps the proposal and checks to be sure the budget has been frozen. She then gives it to the Director of Grant & Contract Services (Claire Reid) for review. Claire pays particular attention to the budget justification as it relates to the budget. GCS does not recalculate the budget to check for accuracy. This is the responsibility of the Department and PI. Claire also reviews any forms required by the particular agency and any subawards that may be included. Another primary purpose for this review is to look for a commitment of Institution funds for cost-sharing, renovations, or other requirements for the Institution's limited unrestricted funds. Cost-sharing and WHOI contributions should be approved and the commitment logged prior to the proposal arriving at GCS. The Director of Research must approve all cost-sharing and voluntary contributions, however, the PI should work with his/her Department Chair to identify appropriate cost-sharing funds.  If the cost-sharing has not received prior approval, the proposal will be held until it is received. When she is satisfied, Claire signs the Green Sheet and any certification or endorsement pages that require original signatures for proposals under $250,000.

A proposal with a total cost of $250,000 or greater goes to the Director of Research. The Director of Research signs the endorsement page as the official Institution representative when original signatures are required.  When he is out of the office there is a list of designated alternates;

  1. Vice President for Academic Programs/Dean
  2. Vice President for Marine Operations
  3. The Department Chairs, in order of seniority

Many proposals are now submitted electronically and the "authorized" official is established in the system prior to submitting any proposals. Thus the Director of Grant and Contract Services - not the Director of Research - electronically signs all proposals regardless of total dollar value.

GCS is responsible for obtaining the needed signatures and monitors who is available at any given time.

The proposal then goes back to the GCS administrative professional, Sandy Botelho-Sherlock. She is responsible for reproduction and mailing of the proposal to the agency and for ensuring that the information entered into the Proposal database is complete and consistent. During NSF panel deadlines and for certain other circumstances the proposals will be sent to Repro for copying. Sandy keeps track of the proposal from the time that the proposal first reaches GCS until it is in the mail to the funding agency, ensuring prompt handling. However, if a proposal has not been submitted in a timely manner and is facing an immediate deadline, it may be necessary for someone from the department to physically escort the proposal through the process to reduce the amount of time the proposal spends on a shuttle bus. An escort does not reduce the time required for proposal review and endorsement. All proposals are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of their deadline.

Proposals that are submitted to an agency electronically, will be printed out and have a Green Sheet attached, and must go through all of the reviews and approvals described above before GCS will push the "submit" button.

No proposal may be submitted prior to GCS and (if required) the Director of Research approval.

During nationwide proposal solicitation deadlines, it is strongly encouraged that proposals leave the Institution at least one week prior to the deadline. This will insure that the proposal is received and processed by the funding agency before the agency's mailroom becomes a disaster, or before the computer systems that receive electronic proposals reach saturation. It also makes the Program Managers happy!

Principal Investigators are advised to complete all their proposals and submit them to their Department Office at least 2 weeks prior to the agency deadline. The Director of Research has set an Institution goal of having all proposals arrive in GCS not later than 2 days before the deadline. This will insure that, if any problems are discovered during the review process, there will be sufficient time to make corrections before the deadline. It is also an insurance policy against last-minute disasters like interruption in power or internet connections, and will greatly reduce the stress on all support staff.

last revised December 2008


Last updated: December 10, 2008

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