Within the hierarchy of approvals, different authorisers will be looking at proposals from different perspectives. What follows are some broad guidelines (not exhaustive) that are intended to help focus the issues around authorisation for submission to the funder.
The university needs to be aware of the full economic cost (fEC) and recovery rate to ensure that there is a balanced portfolio of projects undertaken in a sustainable manner. However, the fEC and the recovery rate of any research project is only one element of the project that is considered at the approval stage. Any one project will have a number of non-financial benefits to the university, for example, the project is important to the department’s research strategy, the funder or scheme may be particularly prestigious, there may be an advantageous collaboration or the project may lead to further research.
An Approvers Report is available in ACP which summarises the project costs and provides information to Approvers on the overall recovery rate, the proportion of directly incurred costs to income received and the estates and indirect costs due to the department.
Head of Department approves the proposal to confirm:
- They are satisfied with the quality of the proposal
- The proposal is consistent with the departmental research strategy
- The project can be delivered within available departmental resources or that the need for additional resources has been raised and agreed by the Dean
- Any institutional commitment within departmental control is fully agreed
- The ethical risk has been assessed by the PI (on the governance tab of ACP) and is appropriate to the project
The Dean approves the proposal to confirm:
- That the proposal is consistent with the faculty research strategy
- That the project can be delivered within available faculty resources or that the need for additional resources has been discussed and agreed by UPRG or other appropriate group
- That any institutional commitment within faculty control is fully agreed
RSO approves the proposal to confirm:
- The proposal is in line with the funder’s terms and conditions and that the proposal forms are completed correctly
- Agreement of institutional match funding is recorded and evidenced (in emails etc.) for future reference and institutional information given in the proposal is correct
- All resources identified in the case for support/proposal are included in the costs on ACP
- Costs deemed ineligible by the funder are not included in the proposal price (even though they may be a part of the project costs on ACP)
- The costs included in the actual proposal form are consistent with those on ACP which have been approved by the HoD and the Dean where applicable
- VAT has be accounted for correctly both within the proposal and ACP e.g. VAT on sub-contracts or on proposals to commercial funders
- On collaborative projects the costs of collaborators are incorporated into the proposal and their approval has been given to Lancaster to submit the proposal on their behalf
- The proposal forms are signed by the relevant approver if a signature is required
- If necessary any non-standard terms and conditions have been reviewed by the contracts team
- Any ethical or other issues raised through the approval process are passed on as appropriate e.g. to the relevant research ethics committee
The RSO pre-award team can only carry out these checks effectively providing that sufficient time is allowed between receiving the completed proposal from the PI and the deadline for submission. PIs should take into account that there will be other proposals already in the RSO workflow and there may be a number for the same deadline. Once all checks have been completed the application may need to go to the Director of Finance and in some cases the Vice-Chancellor for final approval. If Dean level approval is the final level required proposals must still be confirmed for submission by the RSO to ensure these last checks are completed.
The Director of Finance/Vice-Chancellor approves and signs the proposal to confirm:
- That the proposal is consistent with the university strategy
- That any resource issues raised by the Dean have been resolved or that a clear process exists to resolve them
- That any institutional commitment is fully agreed
To allow time for proper consideration, the full proposal should be available to the RSO no later than one week before the deadline for submission.