Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Electronic Signatures
What is an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR)?
An Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) is the individual who is authorized to sign on behalf of the proposing organization. It is the organization’s responsibility to determine – and identify within the FastLane system -- which individual(s) will have the authority to electronically sign the proposal and provide the required proposal certifications.
What if our organization has multiple individuals that we wish to designate as AORs?
NSF has not imposed a limitation on the number of AORs that may be designated. An organization may assign the “Authorized Organizational Representative Functions” permission to as many individuals as they deem appropriate within the FastLane system
Must PIs and co-PIs electronically sign the proposal?
NSF requires only an Authorized Organizational Representative signature in submission of a proposal to NSF. The signature of the PI and any identified Co-PIs is not required.
Is the organization responsible for collecting PI signatures for proposals submitted to NSF?
The signature of the PI and any identified Co-PIs is not required on proposals submitted to NSF. This NSF policy does not negate, or in any way impact, requirements imposed by an organization’s internal routing and approval process
At what point does NSF consider a proposal to be submitted?
A proposal is considered to be submitted and to have met a stated deadline when the "Submit" button is clicked in FastLane.
For those organizations where the submission and signature processes are separate, the AOR has five business days from the date of electronic submission to electronically sign the proposal. A proposal may not be processed, however, until NSF has received the complete proposal (including the electronic certifications from the AOR).
How long after submission does the AOR have to electronically sign the proposal?
For those organizations where the submission and certification processes are separate, the AOR has five business days from the date of electronic submission to electronically sign the proposal. For organizations where the person submitting the proposal also is an identified AOR, the submission process and the signature process will happen concurrently.
How will subawardee signatures be handled in the e-signature process?
The electronic signature policy eliminates the requirement for the proposing organization to provide a paper copy of the subaward budget signed by the AOR of the subawardee organization as part of its proposal submission to NSF.
If an organization determines that those authorized to submit proposals also are designated AORs, should both the “Submit Proposals to NSF” and “Authorized Organizational Representative Functions” be checked as part of their user permissions?
Yes, both permissions must be checked in the FastLane user permission table. For those organizations where the certification process is separate from the submission function, AORs also can be given the permission to submit proposals to NSF. They must, however, be assigned the “Authorized Organizational Representative Functions” permission in order to have the ability to electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet.
What if our organization has separate individuals designated to submit and sign the proposal?
The system has been designed to accommodate this arrangement. Individuals who have the authority to submit proposals to NSF will submit the proposal electronically via FastLane as usual. The AOR will then use the “Authorized Organizational Representative Functions” function within Organizational Management to electronically sign the proposal.
Can an AOR electronically sign a proposal "in process" prior to submission of the proposal?
No, FastLane will not permit the AOR to electronically sign the proposal prior to submission.
How and when will the AOR be notified if there is a proposal waiting to be electronically signed?
The AOR will enter the Organizational Management module in FastLane and then click on the "AOR Functions" module. They will see a list of all proposals waiting to be electronically signed. No e-mail notification will be generated regarding proposals waiting to be signed.
In terms of how the process actually works, is an e-mail sent to both the AOR(s) and the institutional proposal submitters notifying them of when a proposal is ready to be submitted?
When “View/Edit/Submit Sponsored Research Office” access is allowed, an e-mail is automatically sent only to those person(s) who have the ability to submit proposals for the organization.
Are signed budgets still required when submitting supplemental funding requests?
No, supplemental funding requests must be submitted completely electronically via FastLane and the same process of electronic signatures applies. A signed paper copy of the supplemental funding request budget is not required to be submitted to NSF.