Pod Model FAQs

As part of GW’s overall assessments to evaluate efficiency within all functions, a new “pod” model is in place for sponsored research administration. This represents efforts that began years ago to decentralize research support and is the next evolution of the decentralization principle to accelerate progress toward our goal of achieving preeminence as a comprehensive global research university.

We hope the following will provide answers to some of your questions, and we invite you to email [email protected] with additional questions.

The Provost’s office had already received some feedback about ways to enhance the administration of sponsored programs. The financial mitigation due to the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for the Provost’s office to lead a set of working meetings, through June and July, with Faculty Senate members and Deans to evaluate our operations in research, faculty affairs, career services, advising, and academic technologies.

The assessment data discussed in those working meetings showed that the level of sponsored project administration support to our investigators has varied dramatically across units. It also identified some inefficiencies in the interplay between the schools and central administration sponsored project staff.

Pods will manage the complete lifecycle of a sponsored research project and provide continuity from inception to award closeout. This model enhances support for investigators and streamlines research administration by:

  • integrating central and local staff within the same unit to improve collaboration and communication;
  • distributing existing workload across teams of research administrators;
  • enabling staff to develop and share sponsor-specific expertise; and
  • pooling resources in a way that will make support more consistent for all units across the board.

The new model aligns with a number of themes that emerged from the Phase 1 ecosystem review in 2019, including requests for flexibility, improved communication, and a partnership-oriented approach to research administration. Notably, the ecosystem review highlighted a need for closer collaboration and communication between schools and the central research administration team. The more integrated pod model will improve all of these areas to increase service excellence to the GW research community.

Each pod supports two or more schools and their affiliated research centers and institutes. The pods are organized around similar disciplines and account for the relative volume of proposals, awards and transactions that are handled by each.

The model consists of three pods managed directly by the schools and colleges:

  • Pod 1: Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Elliott School of International Affairs, the School of Business, and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, the College of Professional Studies, and Libraries and Academic Innovation
  • Pod 2: Milken Institute School of Public Health, the Biostatistics Center, and GW Law
  • Pod 3: School of Medicine and Health Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and School of Nursing

The Office of Sponsored Projects website has more detailed information about pod leadership, managers and how to contact the pods.

As the model evolves, other research units will be assigned to pods. In the meantime, any unit needing assistance may contact [email protected].

The pods are school-led and include both school and central research administrators. Each pod has pre-award, post-award and contracting functions. By focusing on school-specific portfolios, research administrators continue to develop expertise in the requirements of common sponsors and funding mechanisms.

All Office of Sponsored Projects staff continue to report to the central office, including the pre-award, post-award and contracting officers that are embedded within the pods. Award set-up, subawards, document and data management, training and education as well as some supervisory and administrative responsibilities remain within the central office. While the pods have more autonomy and flexibility, the authority to commit the university remains within central administrative offices.

Contacts for Office of Sponsored Projects staff are available on the OSP staff webpage, and here for pod staff. If you need assistance or have questions at any time, please contact [email protected].