SPA Review & Authorization

Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) serves to support faculty and research programs by facilitating applications for external funding and management of awards. As the designated authorized institutional official, SPA reviews and approves all proposals on behalf of the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Roles and Responsibilities

We encourage faculty who are developing grant proposals to seek input from the individuals below throughout the proposal development process and to solicit required approvals in a timely fashion.

  • Principal Investigator (PI)
    Responsible for the overall development of the proposal
  • Department Chair
    Responsible for review of research plan; ensures institutional resources needed to conduct the project
  • Department Administrative Staff
    Responsible for review of proposal prior to submission to SPA: review of salary information for accuracy, review of budget and administrative components
  • SPA
    Provides guidance to PI/department staff on proposal preparation; reviews the proposal for accuracy, completeness and compliance with sponsor regulations and institutional policies; provides institutional authorization of the proposal

Delivery to SPA

Each School has its own review process and time frame(HMS/HSDM) (HSPH). The deadlines have been established to factor in time to asses and address the relevance of the Provost review criteria. For a list of documents to include with your proposal and some general hints, see Preparing a Proposal.

Why is the SPA deadline necessary?

The deadline is the only way SPA can:

  • Provide a thorough review of every proposal
  • Ensure compliance with sponsor, School, and University policies, including review by the Provost office where necessary
  • Suggest, where appropriate, changes that would enhance funding success
  • For proposals submitted electronically, allow for an important cushion of time in the event of technical problems

Failure to meet this deadline may jeopardize the submission of the proposal.

Submission to Sponsor

Once the required documents have been submitted by the deadline, SPA will work with the PI and/or department administrator to resolve questions and recommend changes. Where feasible and efficient, SPA staff will make edits. However, substantial changes will necessitate that the proposal be returned to the department for edits. Harvard’s Grants Management Application Suite (GMAS) allows for direct submission of research grants to federal agencies via Grants.gov. Upon entering the Funding Opportunity Number in the request, GMAS will determine if an application can be submitted system-to-system (S2S).