The arbitrary deadlines always irked me a bit, even in instances where I was the 'boss' having to enforce them- ha! Reality is that one size doesn't fit all, which we know too well. It may be easy to thoroughly review an R01 in just a few hours at first look and be ready for S2S without any sweat-- in that case, a 5-day rule may seem overly restrictive. On the other hand, could be you get a proposal for some one-off sponsor you've never dealt with, involving sub partners you've never engaged before, and requires a submission system you've never used. In that latter case, 5 days might not save you even though technically fits the deadline (may or may not be based on true events). I do agree with you that a 'systems theory' view is almost always the answer to doing better. What we do has a lot of parts and players. If you have the resources and institutional backing to put some of those suggestions in place, stellar! But unless/until that comes to fruition for offices...
From the pure 'to policy or not to policy' core of it all: I'm more of the mindset of honest expectation-setting when it comes to proposal timeline enforcement. In my nearly 15 years and several institution experience, I can count on one hand the number of times we've NOT submitted a proposal that showed up in 11th hour. That said, seems much more realistic to just have a shared understanding that proposals submitted with more time get a better review and more comprehensive support. Proposals that don't, well- don't. How granular that becomes is up to your office. I know some offices out there have set up a Gantt-looking timeline chart of what scope and depth of services/review remain available if a submission is received by X# days ahead of sponsor deadline-- and I think that's a brilliant approach. It allows OSP to be a bit more nimble while avoiding the 'breaking your own policy' conundrum).
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