CFAES Give Today
Office for Research and Graduate Education

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Color-Coded Proposal Reviews


A Color-Coded Proposal Review is a review system which provides constructive, unbiased feedback to improve overall proposal quality and competitiveness with the goal of increasing award success rates. The office of Research & Graduate Education offers blue, pink, red, and gold team reviews. To request a review, click here. The Standard Operating Procedure for the Color-Coded Proposal Review process can be found, here

Shannon Hollis Professional HeadshotMEET SHANNON HOLLIS 

When it comes to Color-Coded Proposal Reviews Shannon Hollis is our resident expert. Shannon will act as a point of contact for interested PIs and serve as the team manager during the review process. 
During a red team review, the department's recommended type of review, the red team manager will work with the PI to: 
  • identify and seek committments from reviewers
  • provide the reviewers with a final draft of the narrative guidelines for the review, evaluation form, and solicitation materials
  • allow 1-week for the review and then schedule a debrief meeting between the PI, proposal team, and reviewers 
  • provide a summary of the discussion.

Have questions regarding the process? Shannon can be contacted via email at


Flow chart outlining the Proposal development process timeline and where the different color-coded reviews fall on that timeline.
*This graphic represents the ideal situation and does not restrict those researchers following a different process or timeline from requesting a review. 

Phases 1 & 2 typically occur 1-2 years prior to a proposal due date. Activities in this stage may include white papers, applying for SEED funding to obtain preliminary data to be used for a larger opportunity, or meeting with program managers to understand what they are looking to fund.

During the next phase, you may start further defining your workplan and incorporating into a formal outline. Sometimes solicitations are announced at this point and you may start draft the narrative.

The Proposal Preparation Stage comes after the solicitation is released where you begin pulling together all of the required components of the proposal and submission.

Finally, the proposal will be submitted and evaluated prior to award.


  • Blue Team Review: A review of the narrative outline to ensure all sections are included and writers assigned to each section. Identify missing information. 
    Timing: 10+ weeks before submission.
  • Pink Team Review: A review of a first/second draft of the narrative (65-80% complete). Assess if in agreement with RFP. 
    Timing: 8-10 weeks before submission.
  • Red Team Review: A disciplined and methodical peer review process of a near-final narrative to identify areas of improvement. Involves 3-4 subject matter experts. 
    Timing: 6-8 weeks before submission.
  • Gold Team Review: A review of the final narrative to ensure compliance. 
    Timing: 2 weeks before submission.

For a more in-depth description of each review, click here


Flow chart outlining the steps in the Red Team Review Process

The Office for Research & Graduate Education recommends a red team review, especially in cases of resubmissions, large proposals, and for early career investigators. A red team review is an established step in the proposal development process where a critical assessment of the proposal is completed to assess compliance and responsiveness to the RFP. The red team review results in a report of strengths, weaknesses, and deficiencies prior to submission.

Reviews are a major milestone during proposal development and offer PIs the opportunity to make continuous improvements. Reviews also provide “fresh eyes” that can objectively examine the proposal and can increase the chances of award success. 

Request a Review  Ask a Question More Info