An NSF research proposal was prepared last year. Even though all scientific work planned at the university will be done by two postdocs and 2 - 3 graduate students, the university requires a tenured/tenure-track faculty to be a PI. As a result, they couldn't submit the proposal.
This year, to satisfy this requirement, a tenured faculty was chosen to be a "place-holder PI". This PI's research is not directly related to the project, and he also has little interest to get involved. He's just there to satisfy the university's requirement.
Will the existence of such a place-holder PI hurt the chance of such a proposal being funded?
If not, how should the proposal explain the role of the place-holder PI?
More detail: The proposal in question is actually a collaborative proposal (also interdisciplinary: math + biology), and there is an experienced biologist who will be the PI in University B.
The two post-docs, in University A, are on the mathematical side. The university rule is that they cannot be the PIs. A tenured/tenure-track faculty in University A must be the PI. That's why a place-holder PI was picked.
So the proposal's personnel structure look like this:
- University A: 1 Place-holder PI + 2 post-doc co-PIs + students
- University B: 1 PI + students + ...
So my question is mainly about whether or not the appearance of one useless PI can be problematic. (the other PI is not useless)
Just to add more detail, in both the proposal development stage and the proposal itself, more experienced professors are indeed involved. The post-docs' mentor (who was also the advisor of the graduate students) was deeply involved in the development of the proposal but can no longer be the PI (for reasons that are too unique to mention here). A slightly more experienced researcher outside University A (me) is also listed in the proposal for the role to provide some guidance --- basically fill in the hole the original PI left. And I will provide a letter of collaboration.
My original question left out these important detail (to avoid the rather unique situation being easily identifiable). This misled earlier answers to focus on the appearance that we have two post-docs are leading the project, which does not look like a good situation. This is actually not the case. But those answers are, of course, still very good answers.