Pre-Award Unit

The Climate School's Pre-Award Unit supports the compliance, policy alignment, and responsiveness of proposals requesting extramural sponsorship. Our cross-functional team conducts rigorous reviews of all proposals to ensure that all requests for extramural sponsorship adhere to the highest standards of compliance, quality, ethics, and individual and institutional risk management. 

Contact [email protected] at any time - we are excited to work with you!


Federal requirements for sponsored projects are extensive and in constant flux, with institutions expected to maintain full compliance with and responsiveness to all requirements. The Pre-Award Unit helps researchers ensure this compliance in order to achieve two goals:

  1. Ensuring Proposal Review: Non-compliant and/or non-responsive proposals will be returned without sponsor review. Our internal reviews greatly reduce the chance of this happening.
  2. Facilitating Institutional Approval: Federal funds are awarded to institutions, not individuals; when an institution submits a proposal for extramural sponsorship, it is legally committing to stewarding awarded funds with integrity and legal compliance. Our internal reviews ensure the Climate School stands behind all submissions and can fully manage an award.

The Pre-Award Unit reports into the Climate School’s new Office of Research, which provides complementary support in large-scale proposal development, collaboration and teaming support, researcher leadership training, and federal and industry affairs; please view our workflow here. By uniting pre-award compliance and administrative review with these overarching proposal development functions, we can provide PIs with an extensive, consistent, and streamlined support service across all Climate School campuses.

For now, we expect no changes to PIs’ proposal development workflows. Future policy changes and improvements will be slowly and carefully communicated, and we will work with you to adapt to new processes that we design to make your lives easier.

Sponsored Projects Administration - the central administrative unit responsible for submitting proposals for the University - will not submit your grant without Andrew Miller’s Rascal approval; please add Andrew (ajm2144) as an approver on all Rascals, with corresponding policy guidance here.

The Pre-Award Unit reserves the right to withdraw any proposal or contract submitted without prior approval, or any proposal or contract that is deemed post-submission to be non-compliant or non-responsive.

On Page 97, Columbia’s Sponsored Projects Handbook states, “At least five business days prior to the sponsor’s submission deadline, the following documents should be submitted to your Project Officer.”

PIs should route their proposals to the Pre-Award Unit no less than five business days before the sponsor’s deadline so that we have the opportunity to conduct the comprehensive review that supports your proposal’s compliance and success. If PIs communicate timelines and expectations early, we will be able to work with SPA to plan flexibility. The Pre-Award unit reviews each proposal and also manages the volume of all proposals combined. Please let us know when you have a proposal in the pipeline so that we can help you - we are in this together!

We love this question! Policies pertaining to the responsible conduct of research are extensive and at times impenetrable, including conflict of interest, research with human subjects and non-human animals, export controls, and environmental health and safety. To find out more about these policies and protocols:

We value your feedback on ways to improve our partnership with and support of the Climate School’s research community. With any questions - large or small, now and always in the future - please email [email protected]. We are excited to hear from you!