The Provost’s Office aims to facilitate academic programs, projects and research at Harvard by providing clear criteria and procedures for University-level review of research proposals that pose management challenges and/or reputational risk and by providing reasonable review and oversight of major projects and programs. This process is intended to streamline the review process for PIs and administrators, improve management and administration, and reduce risks for program participants, for individual researchers, for Schools, and for Harvard as an institution.
Programs and projects that meet these criteria should be reviewed and approved by the Provost’s Office before they are proposed to external funders. When unavoidable, proposals relating to international projects may be submitted to external funders prior to Provostial review, as long as they are submitted with the understanding that their status is contingent until they are reviewed and approved by the Provost.
Within the Provost’s Office, proposals may be reviewed by the Vice Provost for Research, the University Director for Sponsored Programs, the Vice Provost for International Affairs and, in the case of some international projects, also by the University Committee on International Projects and Sites (UCIPS). In all cases, reviewers will consult with others when relevant.
Once a program or project has received Provostial approval, any significant program expansions or changes should be submitted through this process, so that additional Provostial review may occur.
A proposal or project that meets any one of the following criteria requires Provostial approval:
1. The project has an aggregate budget of more than $5 million, or is an international program whose annual budget is greater than:
2. The project involves the public use of Harvard’s name and/or trademark. Generally, for a project to use the name “Harvard“ (as opposed to, for example, “Harvard Business School,” or “Harvard School of Public Health”), that project must clearly be a University-wide activity and report formally to a University-wide officer, such as the Provost. For further information, see the Use of Name guidelines, especially question #2.
3. The project supports the establishment of any new international site. For this purpose, “new international site” refers to: (1) real estate, including offices and research space, outside the U.S. that is leased for Harvard use for a period of six months or longer; or (2) a project outside the U.S. to which two or more Harvard faculty members, employees, staff members of an affiliated entity, independent contractors, post-doctoral fellows, or students are assigned and placed for a period of six months or longer; or (3) a project that involves significant work in, or the posting of a Harvard faculty member, employee, staff member of an affiliated entity, an independent contractor, post-doctoral fellow, or student to, countries or regions on the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning list, or any other physical location that presents a significant health or safety risk for such personnel.
4. The project is international and involves human subjects research that requires IRB expedited or full review.
5. The project involves, or is allied with, the direct provision of medical or clinical services.
6. The sponsor of the project represents a new source of funds for Harvard activities (see New Sponsor Form).
7. A majority of funds in the project (over 50 percent) will not be expended at Harvard but will be expended through vendors or subcontractors other than Harvard, or a majority of project activities will be conducted by persons who are not Harvard staff.
The following criteria also trigger Provostial review, but are more subjective than criteria 1 through 7 above. Faculty and administrators should consult with the Office for Sponsored Programs, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, or the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs to determine whether a project meets any of these criteria:
8. The project has a substantial risk of violating Harvard’s anti-discrimination policy.
9. The sponsor, or a closely related or similar project, has posed significant management and/or financial issues for the University pursuant to an earlier sponsored award.
10. The sponsor or project may present a serious reputational risk for the University or may otherwise attract significant adverse publicity to the University.
11. The project involves activities for which there is inadequate or uncertain program, financial and/or managerial infrastructure, which may be a special concern in projects that take place outside the United States.
12. The project involves a scope, scale, or type of work that is beyond the University’s teaching and research mission or is especially unusual or complex.
Sponsored proposals (including grant applications and RFP/RFA responses) that meet these criteria should be submitted to the relevant Sponsored Programs Office. The Sponsored Programs staff will ensure that the proposal is submitted for Provostial review.
Other proposals that meet these criteria should be submitted to the Provost's Review account.
Proposals should be submitted for review before the proposal is filed with potential funders, if at all possible, and in all cases before the activity is initiated. In order to be reviewed in this process, sufficient detail about the planned activity and its budget should be presented. This does not require an exhaustive narrative and a line-item budget, but the detail should be sufficient to allow the reviewers to understand the purpose and nature of the project, its planned activities, and its budgetary needs. Reviewers may seek more detail, as needed.