Freedom of Information Act Office
IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
March 1, 2006
|From:||Deputy Director, Executive Secretariat|
|Subject:||IC Directors Meeting Highlights—February 9, 2006|
Dr. Ruiz Bravo introduced Megan Columbus, NIH Program Manager for Electronic Receipt of Grant Applications, and Dr. Wally Schaffer, NIH Program Manager for the Multiple PI Project.
I. Update on Electronic Submission
The goal is for NIH to transition to fully electronic receipt of grants through Grants.gov using the SF 424 (R&R) by September 2007. NIH will use a phased-in transition strategy:
- Will transition by individual research program/funding mechanism
- All applications in response to these announcements for transitioned mechanisms will require electronic submission through Grants.gov on the SF 424 family of forms
- Mechanisms not yet transitioned will continue to require paper PHS 398 submission
- NIH will announce plans to transition mechanisms in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Ms. Columbus shared the NIH planned transition timeline for electronic submissions and explained some advantages of the system, such as the NIH’s ability to retrieve the applications from Grants.gov and check the applications for compliance. One of the advantages for the user is that they will use Grants.gov for applications to all agencies and the SF 424 (R&R) application forms for use with many of the research Agencies. Ms. Columbus relayed the number of SBIT/STTR and conference grants submitted in December, and both numbers were in the expected range. She also reported that there were very few applications submitted in paper.
There were many lessons learned during the initial phase, for example:
- NIH helpdesk was overwhelmed
- Volume of changed/corrected applications was very high
These issues will be addressed through:
- Looking at staffing model for help desk and developing tools for the help desk to use to answer questions
- Clarifying instruction guides and funding opportunity announcements to incorporate helpful hints learned from initial submissions
- Increasing outreach and education to applicant community
Some major concerns of applicant institutions are that the Grants.gov PureEdge solution is PC based, which requires Mac users to have PC emulation software or use Citrix servers to submit an application; institutions need to put processes in place to manage a new way of doing business; and questions about Grants.gov and eRA Commons system capacity.
The NIH has established an e-mail address to collect comments and/or suggestions from users and is continuing to analyze lessons learned and working to address identified issues.
II. Update on Multi PI Project
Dr. Schaffer with help from Dr. Wilder stated that the objective of multiple PIs is to stimulate team science and interdisciplinary research. The driving reasons for this are:
- Recommendations from BECON in 2003
- Roadmap initiative to stimulate interdisciplinary science
- Directive from OSTP in January 2005
- Recognition that PIs make special arrangements to secure credit for externally sponsored projects
The implementation workgroup has considered a broad range of issues associated with extramural research from legal issues to definitions to regulations, etc. The workgroup has offered several presentations regarding the Multiple PI Project to stakeholders such as the Association of Academic Health Centers, Bioengineering Consortium, and the RPC Steering Committee.
Dr. Schaffer discussed the status of ongoing steps in the development of the Multiple PI Project including:
- Initiating a pilot to receive Multi-PI applications
- Developing language for RFAs and PAs
- Developing electronic systems
- Developing new instructions and fields in PHS 398
- Communicating a phasing plan
- Coordinating with OSTP and other Federal agencies, etc.
He also reported that there are issues to be resolved such as designing and building systems for apportionment and linked awards and enhancing communicating plans to NIH staff and the scientific community. The workgroup has proposed review criteria for the Multi PI Project pilot. The criteria preserve existing peer review criteria recognizing that there will be more than one PI and the need to review the leadership plan that describes how the PIs will work together on the project. Dr. Schaffer concluded his presentation with a proposed timeline for the development of this Project.
III. Other Informational Items
Dr. Zerhouni announced the resignation of Dr. Allen Spiegel and thanked him for his many years of service to the NIH. He in turn thanked all for their support. Dr. Griffin Rodgers has accepted the assignment of Acting Director of the NIDDK.
cc: OD Senior Staff