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University Transition Plan for Electronic Submission of Proposals
September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2

As federal grant-making agencies transition to mandatory electronic proposal submissions, the University of Pennsylvania is meeting this challenge by providing tools and enhanced processes for its researchers. A web-based application for electronic proposals, called Proposal Development (PD), has been created for use by investigators and other research personnel at Penn. PD is part of the PennERA (Electronic Research Administration) system and it streamlines the process for preparation, review, approval, and electronic submission of proposals. 

The PennERA team has created a transition plan, in line with federal mandates, for required use of Proposal Development for both NIH and non-NIH sponsors and mechanisms. Beginning in August 2008, the first groups of mechanisms transitioned to mandatory submission through PD. By December 1, 2008, use of PD for electronic submission of new and competing proposals will be required for researchers in all Schools for all mechanisms and sponsors (see below for the detailed transition plan).

Proposal Development Access

Research Administrators

To access Proposal Development, research administrators are required to attend a hands-on training session. Both basic and advanced Proposal Development training sessions have been scheduled on a monthly basis for administrators; please check the Knowledge Link website for upcoming training dates and registration information at http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu.  To find PD training courses, click “Training - Optional” in the left toolbar. When the course list loads, look for the “PennERA—Proposal Development” courses. If you have any trouble with the course registration process, contact training@pobox.upenn.edu.


Investigators have automatic access to the PD application and do not have to attend hands-on training. The application can be accessed by clicking the “Logon” link on the PennERA website at https://www.pennera.upenn.edu/ and authenticating with your PennKey and PennKey password. If you do not have a PennKey, or if you have a PennKey but forgot your password, go to the PennKey website for more information at www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/.  If you have any trouble with the PennKey process, contact your Local Support Provider. For a contact list, go to www.upenn.edu/computing/view/support/.

Help and Reference Materials

Proposal Development Quick Reference Guides are available to users at http://project.pennera.upenn.edu/PD_QuickRef.asp. Other help and reference materials and more information about Proposal Development can be accessed from the left toolbar on the main PennERA page at https://www.pennera.upenn.edu/

Benefits of Proposal Development

Some of the key benefits of using Proposal Development are:

• Data validations for many elements in Grants.gov proposals, prior to submission

• Ability to track the progress of a proposal through the review and approval process from the users desktop

• Ability to conveniently copy and reuse information from previous proposals

• Multiple users can work on one proposal at the same time

• Integration of funding opportunities and investigator profiles with proposals

• Streamlining internal review and approval of proposals through electronic routing

• Meets mandatory government requirements for electronic submission

• Automatic document conversion to PDF without additional software

• Ability to view and print the final proposal image before electronic submission

• Supports Mac and PC users with Penn standard web browsers

More Information about PennERA

For more information about PennERA, please visit the PennERA website at https://www.pennera.upenn.edu/. If you have any questions or require further information, send an e-mail to pennera@lists.upenn.edu.

—Robin H. Beck, Vice President of
Information Systems and Computing
—Pamela S. Caudill, Associate Vice Provost for Research Services


Proposal Development Transition Timeline

The current list of proposal mechanisms for which Proposal Development can be used is available as  a PDF on the PennERA website at http://project.pennera.upenn.edu/project/current_phase/PDfundingopps.pdf.

Use of PD remains optional for the supported mechanisms until the following dates, when electronic submission through PD becomes mandatory:

August 12—NIH R13 & U13 Conference Grants and Cooperative Agreements

September 1—All CTAs & SRAs (Clinical Trial Agreements & Sponsored Research Agreements)

Note: For these agreements, use the Generic Sponsor Form (see the GSF Reference Guide at http://project.pennera.upenn.edu/PD_docs/GSFref.pdf).

September 7—NIH AIDS & AIDS-related applications

September 25—NIH R18/U18, R25, G11, S11, S21, S22, SC1, SC2, SC3—all applications

October 16­—NIH R03, R21, R33, R34, R36—new applications

October 25—NIH R15—all applications

November 1—NSF—all Grants.gov applications; NSF—all sponsors, all mechanisms for non-health sciences Schools

November 16—NIH R03, R21, R33, R34, R36—renewals, resubmissions, and revision applications

December 1—NSF—all sponsors, all mechanisms for all Schools

Note: Use either the SF424R&R Form or the Generic Sponsor Form (see the GSF Reference Guide at http://project.pennera.upenn.edu/PD_docs/GSFref.pdf).

February 5—NIH R01 & U01—new applications

Note that all proposals must be received in final form by the Office of Research Services (ORS) for review three business days prior to the application deadlines.

This transition plan is also available as a PDF on the PennERA website at



Almanac - September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2