We’re more than halfway through the proposal development process for most Designation Renewal System (DRS) Round 7 grants. The submission date (November 19) is now less than 4 weeks away. At this point in the process there are usually many balls in the air. You might be well along your way with proposal development and are likely still gathering items for the appendix. Below are a few tips for how to ensure a successful and timely submission of your proposal.

Check in on your timeline. We recommend revisiting your timeline to see where you are now and what still needs to be accomplished. What sections remain to be drafted? What decisions need to be made? Who will review the proposal and when? When will you obtain approvals? Gather your planning team and ensure everyone is on the same page about what needs to happen between now and your due date.

Be mindful of the page limit. The page limit for file 1 (narrative) and file 2 (appendices) is 150 pages. We recommend creating a page tracker in which you monitor how many pages are in each section of your proposal. List all appendices and the number of pages. Excel files are great for this purpose. Make your list, update it as you go, and determine where you can trim text if you’re over the page limit. If you have a question about whether a particular appendix item adds value to your proposal, take another look at the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), as the guidance related to the appendix is specific.

Track your appendices. Ensure someone on your team is monitoring the status of appendix items. If there are appendix items you don’t have in hand yet then determine who will keep track of those items and follow up. For example, are you expecting letters of support? Do you have all resumes, MOUs, and other items to support your proposal? Give yourself plenty of time to compile your appendices into a single file well in advance of the submission date. If you know an appendix item is coming, put a placeholder in your proposal and fill it in when the document arrives.

Conduct a strong quality assurance review of your full proposal. We highly recommend identifying someone who can perform a strong quality assurance review of your proposal. This will help to ensure you’ve met all of the criteria of the FOA and your proposal is clear and formatted properly. The person reviewing your proposal can use the evaluation criteria in the FOA to identify areas you may need to improve in advance of submission. This step could help to enhance the competitiveness of your proposal.

Determine submission responsibilities. Now is the time to determine who will be responsible for formatting all proposal documents, entering data, and submitting the proposal. Identify your best-case scenario date for submission. We recommend choosing a date at least a few days in advance of the deadline. If you hit any bumps in your submission process this cushion will give you a couple of days to troubleshoot and still submit on time.

Ensure active registrations and start data entry early. Make sure your login credentials to grants.gov are current. Also check to see that you have an active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM). This is required to apply online through grants.gov. To the extent possible, begin entering application data sooner rather than later. Complete as much as you can in advance so that when it comes down to the days leading up to submission you can focus on tying up loose ends.

We hope the application development process is going smoothly for you!

Looking for an update on DRS Round 8? We haven’t seen any new activity on grants.gov. We’ll keep checking and report back as soon as grants are forecasted.

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