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Proposal Submission: TERA/PAMS

The Tennessee Electronic Research Administration (TERA) is a web–based information system that supports research and sponsored programs. It includes the Proposal and Award Management System (PAMS), which is used to create, route, and approve proposals for sponsored research.

View the following categories for details. For additional instructions, visit the Office of Research TERA webpage.


It is the responsibility of the principal investigator (PI) to submit the proposal—including all sponsor forms, supplementary documents, and a draft of the narrative—with a budget in PAMS with sufficient time to get all approvals. It also is the responsibility of the PI to check regularly to see that the approval process is moving along. The PI needs to respond rapidly to queries about the budget and related topics such as personnel.

Departments are responsible for approving the proposal and budget in a timely fashion and for making sure that what the PI wants to do with personnel titles and payment is appropriate. See below for more details.

The college will review the proposal budget and send queries to the PI if necessary. Budgets will not be approved unless they are clear and understandable.


The Office of Research requires five full business days for processing. Final proposal narratives are due to the Office of Sponsored Programs no later than 9:00 a.m., two full business date prior to submission. The college normally needs twenty-four additional hours, but proposals submitted close to the end of work on Friday may not be approved until Monday. Special requests for a more speedy review should be made in advance.

Approval Process

  1. Departmental approval of a proposal means that someone with budgetary knowledge in the department has examined the budget and agrees that it is accurate. Please pay particular attention to the following factors:
      • Correct statements of graduate student support and its implications for fringe and F&A.
      • Whether the PI has departmental approval to be a PI.
      • Cost-sharing provisions. These must be negotiated ahead of time and a correct account number must be provided.
      • Whether the work has the on- or off-campus F&A rate.
      • Whether additional space is required. Departments are responsible for negotiating for additional space ahead of submission.
  2. Cost-sharing needs to be negotiated by the PI well ahead of a proposal submission deadline, particularly if a large amount is involved. Requests for additional space should be handled within the department, except for proposals on the scale of centers.
  3. Departments should ideally have three individuals with the authority to approve proposals. Generally this would be the department head, associate head, and the exempt business manager. Secondary approvers should be alerted when the primary is unavailable. One member of the group must be available for approvals every working day, so that proposals don’t sit in departmental inboxes.
  4. When more than one department or college is involved in the approval process, the PI should set up the options in PAMS so that approvals at a given level can be simultaneous rather than sequential. That is, all departments should be listed as “#1,” and all colleges should be listed as “#2” to speed up the processing time.

F&A for Proposals Submitted by Members of Centers & Institutes

For FY16 and FY17, a plan has been implemented to provide some F&A to Centers and Institutes. The plan is described HERE and the necessary forms are below: