The Wisconsin Proposal Electronic Routing (WISPER) system is the electronic routing tool for extramural funding applications and agreements at UW-Milwaukee. Mozilla Firefox is the recommended browser for WISPER. Some WISPER functionality may be impacted with the use of Internet Explorer, Safari, or Chrome.

Faculty and staff must route all proposal submissions through WISPER. Please note the following:

  • File name attachments cannot exceed 64 characters.
  • Pop-up blockers must be turned off for use with WISPER. If prompted, indicate “always allow pop-ups for this site” to prevent further functionality issues.
  • Users that prefer Internet Explorer may attempt to modify settings in Windows to resolve some functionality issues.

WISPER Quick Guide

Looking to initiate a WISPER record? OSP has developed a WISPER Quick Guide (PDF) to assist faculty and staff with quickly creating and routing new WISPER records.

WISPER Training and Reference Resources

Several resources are available to faculty, staff, and administrators for the use of the WISPER system:

WISPER Reference Manual
A WISPER Reference Manual (PDF) provides a comprehensive guide to the use of the WISPER system. These are general instructions; additional details follow below for specific divisions, colleges, and schools.

WISPER Training System
UW System maintains a training site for WISPER. This will allow faculty and staff the opportunity to utilize WISPER in a demo environment.

WISPER Desk References and Webcasts
Below are brief instructional reference documents and webcasts for the more common WISPER functions (as excerpted from the WISPER Reference Manual):

WISPER Function
User Preferences: Delegates and E-mail (PDF)
Record Creation by the PI (PDF)
Foundation Record Creation by the PI (PDF)
Creating a Pre-Proposal Record (PDF)
Creating a Full Proposal Record after a Pre-Proposal is Accepted (PDF)
Creating a Gift-in-Kind Record (PDF)
Signing a Record by the PI (PDF)
Routing a Record (PDF)
Requesting an Approval (PDF)
Responding to a Request for Approval (PDF)
Tracking a Record (PDF)
Copying a Record (PDF)
Completing Project Details (PDF)
Completing Protocol Details (PDF)
Requesting an Advance Account (PDF)
Submitting a Revised Budget (PDF)

School/College Overviews/Instructions
Each school and college has unique procedures for WISPER. A PI Reference Manual is provided below for each school/college.

Supplements for School/College Administrators
Documentation is available for UW-Milwaukee administrators responsible for WISPER reviews/approvals.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: When and why do I need to complete a WISPER record?
A: WISPER (WISconsin Proposal Electronic Routing) is the UW System-wide electronic routing tool for extramural funding applications and agreements. Any proposal to an external sponsor which requires a budget and/or institutional approval (Authorized Organizational Representative signature, for example) requires internal approvals via a WISPER record. This also includes Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs), Data Use Agreements, No Fund Agreement s(NFAs), and other documents that related to research activity that requires institutional review and acceptance.

Q: Who has access to WISPER records?
A: Once all approvals have been secured through WISPER, campus faculty and staff with PantherIDs can view the information on the General Tab. The principal investigator (PI), the Campus Contact, anyone sent an Approval Request, Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) staff, and some Division staff also have access to the Attachments.

General Tab

Q: Who uses the “Sign the Record” link?
A: The PI must click on this link to “Sign for the Proposal.” The Division cannot approve the record if the PI has not signed for the proposal. If the project is selected for funding, the PI and Division will Sign for the Award.

Q: What is the “Administering Department”?
A: In most cases, this is the primary department of the PI. It is a combination of the Division and Department codes. Many of the Department names listed include “General” as part of the description—these are typically used as the “administering department.” Administering departments should NOT be a 150 account code.

Q: Are the “Proposal Type” and the “Document Type” required?
A: Yes. The Division cannot complete their Approval of the record if these fields are blank.

Q: What is the “Sponsor Program Number” and why is this needed?
A: This is the Program Announcement number, Request for Proposals number, or any other number/identifier used by the sponsor to identify the call for proposals. This information will assist campus reviewers if they have questions about the program requirements and the proposal materials attached to the WISPER record. It is also used to search for proposals submitted to specific programs.

Q: What is the “Sponsor Reference Number”?
A: This will be the number assigned by the sponsor to a specific proposal. It is updated by OSP staff once the agency assigns the number following submission.

Q: What should be entered in the “Campus Contact” field?
A: In most cases, this identifies an individual working with the PI that will be available to answer questions about the proposal. For proposals generated from the College of Letters and Sciences, the name of the Department Support person should be entered to allow them access to the WISPER “Attachments” tab.

Q: When is it appropriate to select “Contact PI to Submit” for the “Submission Method”?
A: PIs should select this option if the proposal will be submitted directly to the sponsor by the PI. This would include electronic submission systems that do not require institutional submission and most subaward proposal submissions, where the PI is typically working directly with a collaborator at another institution.

Q: What information should I enter in the “Submission Instructions” field?
A: If this is a proposal for a subaward from another institution, the contact information to be used to address our Letter of Institutional Support.

Q: Do I have to answer all of the Compliance questions?
A: Yes. The WISPER record will not move forward without responses to these questions.

Q: Who should I add in the “Personnel” section?
A: All Senior/Key Persons named in the budget (with direct salary charges to the grant OR if used to satisfy required cost share) must be included in the “Personnel” section.

Q: What information should be entered in the “Cost Share Comments” section?
A: PIs should provide a brief description of the cost share commitment and source of support.

Q: What does the “Outgoing Sub-agreements” question mean and is a response required?
A: If a PI selects “Yes,” a subaward to another institution is proposed and included in the UWM project budget. This question must be answered in order for the Division to complete Approval of the record. If the project is selected for funding, this assists OSP staff with creating the subaward(s) to the project partners.

Q: Can I search on the Keywords entered?
A: No. Keywords are not required by the institution and will typically not generate any results.

Attachments Tab

Q: To whom do I need to send Approvals via WISPER?
A: PIs should route to their Department Chair and Center Director if applicable. Some Divisions have additional requirements for Approvals; check with your Department Chair and/or Associate Dean’s office for additional instructions.

If this PI has a split appointment or if another Department or Division is involved in the project, additional Approval Requests will be needed. If this is a collaborative submission with another Division, the School/College F&A Split Approval Type will be used to identify a proposed split of indirect cost return between the two Divisions.

PIs may select to use the Budget Review Approval type to send to OSP Pre-Award staff (or email it directly for review). PIs may also use the “Other” Approval Type to allow a Co-PI or any other support staff access to the record. PIs should carefully review the text of any default “Comments” to ensure they are applicable to the approval request.

Q: When should PIs use the “Route to Another Person” link?
A: This is the mechanism for “Routing to the Division.” Once you click on “Route to Another Person,” there will be a choice to “Route to Division” and it should include the Division name for the PI’s primary appointment. If the button includes a different Division, then the “Administering Department” is likely incorrect on the General Tab and should be corrected before Routing to Division.

Q: How does an approver respond to an “Approval Request” email?
A: Access the WISPER record, click on the “Approvals Tab,” locate the “Approval Request” with the approver’s name in the list of Approvals, then click on “Review/Approve.” Approvers may also choose to add comments, and then click on “Approve,” “Deny,” or “Comments” only.

Q: Can an Approver view comments made by other Approvers?
A: Yes, so long as s/he has been given access to the record (PI, Campus Contact, and some Division staff).

Document Types in WISPER

When creating a WISPER record, users must select a “Document Type.” Below is a list of the various Document Types in WISPER, as well as a brief description. If uncertain as to which Document Type to select, please contact your Pre-Award Specialist.

Document Type Code Description Document Overview
CDA Confidential Disclosure Agreement This Document Type may also be used for Non-Disclosure Agreements, Confidentiality Agreements, etc.
CoopAgmt Cooperative Agreement Cooperative Agreements are similar to grants, but typically involve more involvement by the sponsor in the project.
CosReimCon Cost Reimbursable Contract A Cost Reimbursable Contract allows UWM to invoice the sponsor for actual costs incurred at a specified frequency, up to a specific dollar amount.
FixPricCon Fixed Price Contract A Fixed Price Contract provides UWM with a set price for deliverables associated with a project.
GIK Gift In-Kind A Gift In-Kind is a donation of equipment, supplies, books, materials, etc. to UWM from a donor. There is no money involved in the transaction.
Gift Gift Use this Document Type for all gifts to UWM that are NOT from the UWM Foundation.
Gift-UWMF Gift – UWM Foundation Use this Document Type for all gifts to UWM from the UWM Foundation.
Grant Grant The common mechanism for awards in response to “Requests for Proposals” or “Request for Applications.”
IPA Intergovernmental Personnel Assignment This mechanism provides funding to UWM for a faculty member to serve as a Program Official/Officer at a federal agency.
In – MTA Incoming Material Transfer Agreements If a UWM researcher will receive materials from an external organization, select this Document Type.
Internal Internal Grant Programs This Document Type is used only for UW System-sponsored grant programs and these UWM internal grant programs: DIG (Discovery and Innovation Grant), ARC (Advancing Research and Creativity).
Master Master Agreement A Master Agreement sets forth a number of terms and conditions with a sponsor for subsequent projects, but does not provide funding. Subsequent Task Orders or Work Statements will provide funding for individual projects.
NFA No-Fund Agreement This is an Agreement between UWM and an external agency that does not provide funding, but may be necessary in order to execute arrangements for future projects or are research-related. Examples include Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs), Collaboration Agreements, or Data Use Agreements.
Other Other Use this Document Type for any request that does not align with any other item on this list.
Out – MTA Outgoing Material Transfer Agreement If a UWM researcher will send material to an external organization or researcher, use this Document Type.

Related Records in WISPER

WISPER allows users to indicate whether a new WISPER record is related to an existing record. Use the “Related Record” feature if a new record is related to a continuation, renewal, or supplement to an existing award OR if this record is related to a resubmission. Additionally, please use this record if you are requesting approval of a Confidentiality Agreement, Data Use Agreement, Material Transfer Agreement, Memorandum of Understanding, or other document in support of an existing award.If you need assistance with using the “Related Record” function in WISPER, please contact your Pre-Award Specialist.

Paper Copy to OSP

WISPER allows users to indicate whether a paper copy of the proposal or related documents must be sent to the Office of Sponsored Programs in Mitchell Hall. Please check this box if:

  • Your proposal is too large to attach to WISPER.
  • Your proposal requires an original signature by both campus personnel and an authorized institutional official.

Marking this box will notify Office of Sponsored Programs staff that additional hard copy materials are forthcoming. If sending documents via campus mail, please be certain to address the envelope to the “Office of Research.”