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New Coeus system to streamline grant activity

By : Eric Coker

Faculty members will soon have an electronic “one-stop shop” for grant and research management.

Coeus is a software system that allows users to create and route proposals to external sponsors electronically. The system, which relies on a Web interface, will eliminate the need for paper documents and allow researchers instant access to proposals and other information. By July 1, all grant proposals must be completed using Coeus.

“It’s a system developed by research administrators who understand what putting together a proposal is,” said Lisa Gilroy, director of the Office of Sponsored Programs. “It works — it works like we work in the paper world.

“When we talked to faculty over the course of the years, one thing they really came to us with was, ‘We want something electronic. We don’t want to run around campus trying to find department chairs and others to sign a piece of paper for our proposals.’”

A federal mandate originally called for all proposals to federal agencies to go through grants.gov by 2008. But that system proved unaccommodating, Gilroy said, and the four SUNY university centers (Binghamton, Albany, Buffalo and Stony Brook) went “shopping around” for an alternative.

“Is there a system we can find that will allow us to prepare proposals, route them to our campus electronically and get them to the sponsors without all of the craziness of grants.gov?” Gilroy said. “What we found was Coeus.”

Coeus (named for the Greek god of intelligence) was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is now used by 50 of the top research institutions in the United States. The SUNY university centers share the cost and SUNY also serves as a member of the Coeus executive committee. This seat at the “decision-making table” has helped Coeus make “SUNY-specific” changes, Gilroy said.

Albany has used Coeus since 2008. Binghamton and Stony Brook go live July 1. Buffalo will follow soon after.

Binghamton faculty and staff members must take part in a 90-minute training session to gain access to Coeus. The sessions, which will be held in LNG-112, start Feb. 24 and will continue throughout the semester (sign up at training.binghamton.edu). The training will introduce participants to various aspects of Coeus, such as creating a proposal; uploading components; and routing for approvals.

Gilroy, who expects anyone who has ever submitted a proposal to attend the training sessions, emphasized that Sponsored Programs will still work one-on-one with researchers.

“This isn’t a replacement for the work of grant and research administrators,” she said. “We’re not saying, ‘Now you’re on your own.’ We’re just trying to find the best way for all of us to have the same information.”

Even after the training, faculty members will find plenty of Coeus support, Gilroy said. Clinics will be held in the Sponsored Programs offices a few times a week; Coeus instruction manuals will be available online; a help e-mail will be set up; and an online FAQ and other information is set up on a page specifically for Coeus at research.binghamton.edu/coeus.

“We’re going to a green university,” Gilroy said. “This is our way to get on that bandwagon. We’re trying to reduce paper and make things more efficient. By reducing paper and having a common face to all our proposals, we kill two birds with one stone.”

Gilroy said test cases have been conducted and a handful of proposals have already been successfully submitted to the National Institutes of Health. Proposals will still be due three days before an agency’s deadline to ensure a smooth, online review and submission.

Gilroy’s advice for those making the leap to Coeus is “keep an open mind.”

“I know change is difficult, but once faculty get through Coeus and understand how it works with proposal submissions, it’s going to be a slick, keen system for them to manage their Sponsored Programs activity.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08