Electronic Routing for Review and Approval

Review and approval processes at institutions large and small are at once necessary and painful. Grant and contract proposals and many other kinds of documents have to be carried around campus (or sometimes couriered to other campuses!) to collect all the necessary sign-offs prior to submission. This process exists to ensure that those offices or individuals with responsibility to ensure compliance with institutional policy, regulations, laws and other kinds of requirements have been met or will be able to be met in the event of an award. The kinds of checks run the gamut from confirming departmental support for the project, to verifying that sufficient space will exist in the animal facility for the number and species involved in a project involving laboratory animals, to ensuring that appropriate safety measures and equipment are in place to support research with biological hazards or select agents, to evaluating export control issues for a particular project.

Stand alone systems that process uploaded documents or are tied to traditional document management systems abound. Electronic routing systems can also be integrated with the business systems they support. Stand alone systems may provide consistency across multiple business systems, but generally cannot be as neatly integrated into those distinct systems, and therefore often generate increased user training requirements and end user support. Business systems may include electronic routing integrated with other business processes, which can lower training requirements and improve usability. Either way, electronic routing systems can speed the review and approval process and ensure a consistent audit trail for reporting and review after-the-fact.

However, it is important to review the features of an available electronic routing system to ensure that it meets the needs of the institution and, for example, proposal sponsor requirements or regulations. For example, in 2006, NIH phased out its requirement for PI signature on grant proposals, replacing that with an assurance by the institution that it had secured “written assurance” from the PI prior to submission of the application that  “must include at least the following certifications:  (1) that the information submitted within the application is true, complete and accurate to the best of the PI’s knowledge; (2) that any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or claims may subject the PI to criminal, civil, or administrative penalties; and (3) that the PI agrees to accept responsibility for the scientific conduct of the project and to provide the required progress reports if a grant is awarded as a result of the application.” Thus, an electronic routing system for use with proposal submission should support collecting a certification from the PI (or all PIs in multiple-PI proposals) that they understand and agree to fulfill these and any other relevant responsibilities prior to the institutional official’s authorization to submit the application.

InfoEd Global provides a common routing tool to service its development modules – proposal development, protocol development, technology transfer disclosures and agreements, etc. Once a proposal or other record is complete, it can be submitted into an electronic routing process that will virtually “move” it around campus or around the world as needed, enabling each person whose review is required to perform his/her duties. InfoEd’s electronic routing utility offers a consistent, configurable and attractive user interface coupled with a comprehensive suite of features to support the unique business needs of each institution. Routes can be pre-configured and can be tied to roles rather than individuals minimizing configuration maintenance; modifications to the route for a specific record can be modified on-the-fly if necessary. Designation of backups for reviewers supports reviewer absences without manual intervention; automated reminders keep reviews flowing even in the most hectic times. Advanced logic, institution-specific instructions that can be edited as needs change, flexible and configurable options to collect certifications from PIs and reviewers, collection of review sheets or other uploaded documents, and full reporting on route history are among the additional features that round out InfoEd’s routing utility. For more information on InfoEd Global’s business modules or routing functionality, please contact us.

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