Research into Optimization of Grant Proposal Processing at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Locke, Melinda P.
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The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is the nation’s largest University Affiliated Research Center. APL has provided critical contributions to critical challenges in support national security needs. This capstone project focuses on grant proposal development at APL and how grant submissions might be improved. The Business and Communication Services Department (BCSD) plays an important role in grant proposal development and is working to align its strategic priorities to APL’s overarching core purpose, core values, goals, and organizational vision. One aspect of this capstone project examined and documented the existing grant proposal process, including work practices, workplace, cross-departmental partnerships and flexible teaming, and infrastructure. The second aspect of this capstone project obtained survey data from APL staff involved in grant proposal development. The survey was designed as a census survey because the data was an initial exploration of the grants bid and proposals topic at APL. The data types sought through the survey were perceived needs, expressed needs, and relative needs. The survey was aimed at Program Managers, Principal Investigators, Financial Managers, Project Management Assistants, Contract/Grant Managers and Sub-Contract Managers. There were 104 responses from targeted APL employees. The final aspect of the capstone project involved analysis of organizational design and Information Technology (IT) literature, and relevant APL financial data, and the survey data to identify candidate areas for improvement. Five recommendations were developed, which were provided to the BCSD 202X activity for consideration and action. The five recommendations target improvements to Research Administration activities executed in support of and in partnership with APL mission areas. The recommendations also either leverage existing IT infrastructure, or propose changes to that platform to transform the existing Research Administration services, achieve the ideals of strategic flexibility, and transform research administration services into a mobile, on-demand shared service set provided in partnership with mission areas.