Research Proposal Guide | Page title banner

Research Proposal Guide

Research Proposal Guide | Intro

Once an Initial Research Estimate Form (IREF) is validated and selected for funding, the next step is to complete a Research Proposal. Proposals must be completed and approved before funding can be authorized and released.

Faculty that have an IREF validated and selected for funding are required to complete the following steps before funding will be authorized and established. More details for each step are provided below; this list can be used as a checklist if desired.

Please notify NRP at if you have any reservations about accepting your funded project (e.g. impending retirement, emergent obligations, etc.).

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Events & Deadlines

28 Jun 2024

Topic Advocate Leads return IREF prioritization to NRP


Tentative: FY25 Project Selection Results Announced

04 Sep 2024

Proposal packages due

01 Oct 2024

FY25 Project Cycle starts

30 Jun 2025

Mid-Year Progress Summaries due via email to

31 Mar 2026

Executive Summaries & Final Tech Reports must be submitted to Graduate Writing Center

12 Apr 2026

Mills Medal nominations due

Quick links

Researcher Toolkit | General info

Principal Investigators

The Principal Investigator (PI) is the researcher who has primary responsibility for the design, execution, and management of a sponsored research project and is named on the proposal to the sponsoring agency. The PI has the primary responsibility for the fulfillment of the Statement of Work. Even when collaborating with one or more Co-PIs, the PI has the ultimate responsibility for the project and remains the sole individual responsible for managing expenditures in support of the project. 


Only eligible Naval Postgraduate School faculty participating in the mission of NPS may submit proposals and act as a PI/PD/Co-I/Co-PD for sponsored projects. Individuals in a faculty or staff category other than those listed in the SPPGM-22 require a waiver to be eligible.

Sponsored Program Policy/Guidance Memo 22 (SPPGM-22): Who can be a PI/PD/Co-I/Co-PD? (PDF, 4 January 2023)
PI/PD/Co-I/Co-PD Justification Memorandum (Waiver Form) (PDF)

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Research Proposal Guide | Annual PI Training

Annual PI Training

Completion is required for obtaining funding allocation.

Training is required for anyone who functions as a PI/PD or has direct access to funds on sponsored projects. Annual PI Training is completed within Sakai, and includes four modules:

  • Accountability/Fiscal Law: 13/14 required to pass
  • Protection of Human Subjects: 7/8 required to pass
  • OPSEC for the PI/PD: pass/fail
  • Stewardship: 18/20 required to pass

PIs must pass all modules for training to be complete. Please visit Sponsored Programs Related Annual Online Trainings to begin.

Please send a screenshot or export of your passing scores to NRP upon successful completion of your Annual PI Training.

Research Proposal Guide | Acknowledgment of Terms

Acknowledgment of Terms

All PIs and Co-PIs must digitally sign the Acknowledgment of Terms form. This form must then be uploaded as an attachment to your Research Proposal.

To digitally sign the form, you may need to download and save it to your computer, and open in Adobe Reader. Opening it in your web browser doesn't reliably activate the signature fields.

When uploading as an attachment, go to the Abstracts and Attachments tab in Coeus, and upload the form using the "Supplementary Documentation" category.

Please do not email any documents directly to NRP unless requested to do so.

PDF, 142KB. Last updated November 2023

Research Proposal Guide | Technical Proposal/Narrative

Technical Proposal/Narrative

All PIs must complete a Technical Proposal/Narrative, using the official NRP template. These documents must be submitted as attachments to your Research Proposal.

Incomplete documents and/or old template formats will be rejected.
  • Read all template guidance prior to starting your proposal
  • Complete all required template elements
  • Supporting TASKS section must include direct correlation/justification for all budget expenses
  • Coeus is approved for CUI, but please mark all documents accordingly if applicable
  • Remove the first page containing template guidance before submitting to Coeus

Topic Advocate signatures are no longer required. Research Proposals will be routed through the chain for approval by NPS personnel and teams using Coeus. For efficiency purposes and to prevent delays, please do not bypass this process.

Please do not email any documents directly to NRP unless requested to do so.

Word, 57KB. Last updated October 2023

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Research Proposal Guide | Coeus Proposal Package

Coeus Proposal Package

Koali Coeus is the system NRP uses to manage and review Research Proposals. To submit a Research Proposal, you will use a Proposal Development Document (PDD).

NRP creates empty PDD shells within Coeus, to pre-populate required information and simplify setup. Each PI will receive a Coeus-generated, automated email prompting you to begin your proposal.

Please email the NRP office at with any questions, or if you don't receive your Coeus access email.


  • Period of performance and milestone dates, in all proposal documents, must match.
  • Proposals are only accepted through Coeus. Incomplete proposal packages will be rejected.
  • Spend plans must be realistic as you will be required to execute as scheduled (burn rate).
  • Expenses must include direct correlation/justification to the TASKS in your technical proposal.
  • If someone is assisting you in preparing your proposal package, give them a link to this page.
We recommend you click the save button at the bottom of the page after making changes to each tab.

Proposal tab

This tab will be completed by NRP. Please do not make any changes to the fields present on this tab.

NPS Personnel tab

At minimum, you must include the PI and any Co-PIs. You can be a PI on no more than two concurrent NRP projects across all Cycle Years, and no more than one NRP project per Cycle Year.

  1. Click the Search icon next to Employee Search in the top section of the page.
  2. Enter the last name, email address, etc. of the person you wish to add. You only need to fill out one field, and the search is not case-sensitive. Click search.
  3. Click return value on the far left of the row containing the correct personnel record.
  4. The top section of the page will now have the person's name, as well as a Proposal Role section. Select the appropriate role, then click add person below that.

If additional staff/faculty are expected to participate but have yet to be identified, input their positions in your project using To be named instead of Employee Search.

PIs and Co-PIs that require a waiver will have a exclamation point inside a red circle next to their role.

Make sure to complete the PI certification questions as well, or your proposal will have errors when trying to submit.

Proposal Questions tab

Complete this tab before drafting your budget, as the options you select will affect available sections in your budget.

Please answer all Proposal Questions, including any sub-questions that may appear. If you have any questions about this tab, please contact NRP.

Proposal Data tab

Complete this tab before drafting your budget, as the options you select will affect available sections in your budget.

Please fill out all Proposal Data. If you have any questions about this tab, please contact NRP.

To select multiple items in a "select all that apply" list, use Ctrl on Windows, or Cmd on Mac.

Abstracts and Attachments tab

Upload your required attachments including your Acknowledgment of Terms form and your Technical Proposal/Narrative under the categories below:

  • Acknowledgment of Terms: "Supplementary Documentation"
  • Technical Proposal/Narrative: "Technical Proposal/Narrative"
  • Budget Justification: "Budget Justification"
  • Equipment Justification: "Equipment"
  • PI or Co-PI waiver: "PI/D and Co-PI/D Waiver"
    • You must upload a waiver for each person requiring one


Copy-paste the abstract from your Technical Proposal/Narrative into the Publicly Releasable Abstract section, under Enter Abstract. Make sure to click add or it will not save to your PDD correctly.


When entering keywords, please enter one keyword per line, not a comma-separated list. Keywords are used by other integrated systems and comma-separating them can cause errors in the data integrations.

Proposal Budget tab

The quarterly spend plan you enter into Coeus generates your required burn rate schedule. This data is reported to the Budget Submission Office (BSO) and the burn rate must be executed as input into Coeus. PIs are expected to plan for salary adjustments within their budget. The authorized project amount is not increased due to promotions or Cost of Living Allowance increases.

Ensure your quarterly spend plan is realistic by accounting for:

  • Cost-of-living adjustments
  • Raises and promotions
  • Inflation
  • Reasonable flexibility

Official research proposal budgets must be submitted using the Coeus budget proposal tool. It is highly recommended that you use the Coeus training instance to draft your proposal budget.

Your proposal budget is an embedded document within your PDD, and has tabs of its own. NRP has created a quarterly budget shell for you to fill out; open this budget by using the open button on the far right of the page.

Using your IREF budget allocations, enter quarterly expenses in the NPS Labor and Other Direct Costs (Non-Labor) tabs. Your PDD's budget must be equal to or less than the budget proposed in your IREF.

If financial expenditure questions arise during budget development or execution, PIs should consult with the NRP SPFA.

How can the money be spent?

  • NRP funds are RDT&E BA 6.6 and are appropriated solely for specific selected NRP projects. There must be a direct relationship between funds spent and the selected NRP research project.
  • This money cannot be used for academic/curriculum support.
  • This money cannot be used for office supplies, printers or cell phones.
  • This money cannot be used to hire administrative personnel.

Financial Terms

  • Indirect Costs: The NRP uses NR&DE funds, and indirect cost are not collected. The indirect rate is 0%.
  • Fringe (aka Acceleration or Fully Burdened Rate): Fringe is always included in the cost of payroll regardless of how your payroll is being charged.  Fringe addresses the actual cost of benefits paid by the government for each employee (TSP, FERS, Medicare, FEGLI, TSP Matching, Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Vacation).  NPS recommends using 52.5% for projection purposes.
  • Overhead: The NRP takes a small percentage off the top of the annual budget to run the program. Therefore, no overhead cost needs to be factored into each individual project budget.

Spend Plan Justification

The Description & Purpose field(s) in Coeus for all expenses (Other Direct Costs/Non-Labor) must include a direct correlation/justification to the TASKS in your Technical Proposal/Narrative. Do not use blanket terms.

If your budget includes costs that exceed the NRP allowances, attach a Budget Justification document. Alternatively, you can include line-item Budget Justification notes in your PDD's budget.


  • Ensure that quarters with proposed travel include appropriate corresponding labor hours


  • For FY24, up to 15% of your project's total budget may be allocated to travel ($26,250 for projects with a total budget of $175,000) for the entire project team including PI, Co-PI, researchers, and students
    • People who are not listed in the specific NRP project are not allowed to utilize these funds. Travel percentage and total cap may change in FY25.
  • Unique business such as project kick-off meetings, mid-year progress review meetings, final projects delivery meetings, data collection, and/or one conference attendance that are directly tied to the project can be conducted via travel, but all “regular business” should be conducted on Teams. Virtual/online conferences are preferred and encouraged.
    Labor must be charged to the project at the same time you are on travel.
  • Ensure travel and labor expenses align with research completion timelines, to include any travel for the purpose of final debriefing/delivering the final product(s)
  • Justification: Travel must be clearly justified in the IREF, in any subsequent research proposal, and the associated Coeus budget page. The Coeus Description & Purpose field(s) and the research proposal document must be completed in full and include direct correlation/justification to the TASKS and the deliverables/research outcomes cited in the IREF or research proposal.  
    • Students: Student participation is allowed; however, travel requests must state how the travel applies to the associated NRP research.
    • DTS form justification box must include: NRP project number, PI Name, detailed purpose of the travel i.e., how the travel is directly related to the NRP project, travel is/is not included in the original proposal.
    • All travelers are required to submit a Travel Report after each trip.
  • Travel types not allowed:
    • Academic purposes
    • Thesis development
    • Student graduations
    • Other research projects


  • List all known project personnel. List additional planned but unidentified individuals under "To be named." Notify the NRP SPFA of project personnel changes immediately to avoid a payroll approval delay.
  • Labor is charged using actual benefits and varies per individual. Rates are updated/calculated in Coeus routinely. Consult your SPFA for individual rates. NRP is exempt from other Indirect Costs.
  • NRP funds are not appropriate for employee cash awards. All awards using NRP funds will be reversed upon detection.
  • The fully burdened amount is listed in Coeus. PIs are expected to plan for salary adjustments within their budget. The authorized project amount is not increased due to promotions or Cost of Living Allowance increases.

External Support

If you are intending/planning to outsource labor/skills that cannot be performed by NPS personnel you must obtain approval from your department chair.

NRP funds cannot be used to hire administrative personnel.


All purchases must align with the tasks and deliverables cited in your proposal and require a detailed justification to be submitted in PRE, and must be approved by NRP. As per the Annual PI Training, purchasing for "the greater good" is not allowed.

Provide an explanation, in plain language, detailing how each purchase contributes to the tasks and deliverables of the project. Blanket terms such as "Mission Essential / Critical" are not a valid justification.

  • Orders should be submitted early in order to contribute to the project deliverable(s), and must be acquired within the project's Period of Performance.
  • Acquisitions for computers, equipment, contracts, and MIPRS are only approved for the benefit of the selected NRP project. Therefore, each item must be ordered soon enough that it arrives early enough to contribute to the project deliverables.
  • Equipment purchases:
    • PIs may be allowed to purchase equipment with justification (e.g., computers and required peripherals at the time of ordering) once every three years, however purchasing replacement or additional peripheral equipment is not allowed. Please submit other peripheral equipment purchases through your department.
    • All equipment must be shipped directly to the warehouse and registered in the NPS property accounting system prior to receipt under the PI’s name. The PI is accountable to produce records during an audit.
  • Due to the funding source, RDT&E BA6.6, PIs cannot purchase the following using NRP funds:
    • Cell phones & cell phone services
    • Computer peripherals: monitors, keyboards, mice, headsets, etc.
    • Printers, ink, and toner
    • Office supplies
    • Furniture
    • Publications (Please contact NRP for NRP-related publication expenses)
    • Items considered to be for general purposes


For safety questions or concerns email or visit the Safety Review and Planning page on the Safety website.

Finalizing your budget

Once your budget is complete, save it with the button at the bottom, and use the blue Return to Proposal button at the top right. Check the Final box for your budget in the Proposal Budget tab.



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Research Proposal Guide | Submit Your Proposal

Submit Your Proposal

Once your PDD is completed, run Data Validation.

  1. Go to the Proposal Actions tab
  2. On the Data Validation section, click the show button to expand it
  3. Click turn on validation
  4. Go through each of the Validation Errors and Warnings, and fix them
  5. Reach out to NRP at if you need any help

Once your PDD passes validation, please use the Submit button at the bottom of the Proposal Actions tab to submit it for approval. NRP will receive an automated email from Coeus letting us know when your PDD is ready to review.

See the Troubleshooting guide below for help resolving errors. NRP is also happy to assist; contact us at

Review process

Once your PDD is successfully submitted, it goes through several stages of review:

  1. Your department chair reviews and approves your PDD. If you have Co-PIs listed, their department chairs must review and approve your PDD as well.
  2. NRP reviews your PDD for completeness, accuracy, and adherence to requirements and guidance.
  3. NRP's Financial Manager reviews your budget and spending allocations.
  4. NRP's Program Manager reviews and approves your PDD.
  5. The Vice Provost for Research and Innovation reviews and approves your PDD.

Once the VPR has approved your PDD, NRP double-checks a few more requirements:

Once these are complete, NRP then issues funding for you to begin your research.

To check your proposal's current status in the review process:

  1. Log in to Coeus
  2. In the Proposals section of the Coeus homepage, click "Search Proposals"
  3. In the Document ID field, enter the five-digit Document ID of your proposal. If you don't know the Document ID, please reach out to NRP and we can provide that to you.
  4. Click the Search button
  5. Click "view" on the left of the row your proposal shows up in, in the search results
  6. Go to the Proposal Actions tab
  7. Open the Route Log section by clicking the "show" button on it
  8. The Pending Action Requests tab lists all currently pending approvals. The Future Action Requests tab show the next approvals in the process, after all currently pending approvals have been obtained.
    1. In Action List to Complete: Approval is required
    2. In Action List to FYI: Approval is not required; the person was notified for their situational awareness
    3. If multiple people are listed within the same approval line, only one of them is required to approve

Proposal Amendments

To make amendments to an approved and finalized PDD, email the Coeus Ombudsman with your amendment request.

The types of changes that require an amendment through Coeus are:

  • Changes to the Period of Performance
  • Budget increases
  • Changes to the PI or Co-PI(s)
  • Topic Advocate changes
  • Statement of Work changes
Research Proposal Guide | Troubleshooting


Here are solutions to common problems encountered through the Research Proposal process.

If you're still having trouble, please reach out to NRP. We're happy to help!

PDDs are "checked out" when someone opens them to edit them, and locked until the person editing clicks the close button to "check in" the proposal. Closing the browser tab will not check in the PDD.

If your proposal was locked by someone else, Coeus will display their name at the top of the PDD. Simply email them and request that they open the proposal and close it using the close button at the bottom of the page rather than just closing the browser tab.

If you're not able to get a hold of the person your PDD is checked out to, email the Coeus Ombudsman to request an administrator to unlock your PDD.

Reach out to NRP and let us know; we can add them as an authorized user to your PDD.

Opening the PDF in your browser doesn't always activate the signature fields. Download it to your computer and open it in Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat. The fields should show up.

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