April 17, 2014

NIH and AHRQ Announce Change in Resubmission Policy

The National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have issued NIH and AHRQ Announce Updated Policy for Application Submission (NOT-OD-14-074), changing the policy on resubmission of grant applications.

The NIH Guide notice states, “Effective immediately, for application due dates after April 16, 2014, following an unsuccessful resubmission (A1) application, applicants may submit the same idea as a new (A0) application for the next appropriate due date. The NIH and AHRQ will not assess the similarity of the science in the new (A0) application to any previously reviewed submission when accepting an application for review.”

Dr. Sally Rockey’s Rock Talk blog post, A Change in Our Resubmission Policy, provides background and additional information.

Update: On April 22, NIH published Clarifications to the NIH and AHRQ Policy for Application Submission (NOT-OD-14-082) and revised the Frequently Asked Questions: Resubmissions of NIH Applications.

April 16, 2014

FDP Publishes Faculty Workload Survey Report

The Federal Demonstration Partnership has published the 2012 Faculty Workload Survey Research Report. In 2012, the FDP conducted a survey of principal investigators of federally funded projects to determine the impact of federal regulations and requirements on research. The FDP received responses from 13,453 PIs (a 26% response rate) from 111 FDP member institutions.

The new report states that overall, “PIs reported that almost half of their available research time for federal projects had to be allocated to project-related requirements instead of the content of their research projects. PIs estimated that an average of 42% of their research time associated with federally funded projects was spent on meeting requirements rather than conducting active research.” The 2012 results are similar to those found in the 2005 FDP Faculty Workload Survey, “suggesting little change since the original survey was conducted.”

See the 105-page Report and the FDP Faculty Standing Committee documents for detailed analysis and background.

April 04, 2014

NIH Expands RPPR for Non-SNAP Progress Reports on April 25

The National Institutes of Health will open the use of the federal-wide progress reporting form, the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR), for all Type 5 non-SNAP (Streamlined Non-competing Award Process) progress reports on April 25, 2014. NIH expects to require use of the RPPR for non-SNAP progress reports in October 2014. See NIH Notice NOT-OD-14-064 for details.

April 02, 2014

DARPA Launches Biological Technologies Office

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced the creation of a new Biological Technologies Office to explore the intersection of biology and the physical sciences. The BTO goals are to “harness the power of biological systems by applying the rigorous tools of engineering and related disciplines, and to design next-generation technologies that are inspired by insights gained from the life sciences.” The initial BTO portfolio includes programs transferred from the Defense Sciences and Microsystems Technology Offices, but will also include new opportunities.

April 01, 2014

France A. Córdova Sworn in as NSF Director

France A. Córdova was sworn in March 31, 2014 as the director of the National Science Foundation for a six-year term.

Córdova is president emerita of Purdue University, where she served as president from 2007 to 2012. Among many other prestigious positions, Dr. Córdova was the UC Riverside chancellor and distinguished professor of physics and astronomy from 2002 to 2007, and she was the vice chancellor for research and professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara from 1996 to 2002.

More information is available in the NSF press release.

March 13, 2014

On-Time Proposals: What You Can Expect from SPO

Sponsored Projects Office Director Pamela Miller sent the following email to the SPO sponews-l mailing list on March 12, 2014:

To the Campus Community:

Thank you for your efforts to ensure that UC Berkeley’s proposals for research funding are submitted on time and in compliance with sponsor requirements. Successful research administration is really a team activity and the Sponsored Projects Office is committed to providing the best support we possibly can to UC Berkeley’s research community.

We know that faculty members and their departmental or Shared Services research administrators are working very hard to meet the campus’s Five Day Proposal Submission policy. At SPO, we want you to know that we are doing our part to efficiently manage on-time proposals and are instituting new measures to provide necessary and timely feedback to the faculty. SPO therefore will provide a response within two working days to all proposals submitted to SPO at least five working days before the funding agency deadline.

To be more specific, if the proposal is complete, SPO will, at minimum, provide a “triage” review within two working days covering the major elements of the proposal required by the sponsor and will inform the principal investigator and/or research administrator of the results. Please note: This will not be the final review of the proposal. After the initial triage review, the SPO CGO will continue to review the proposal and provide a final complete review within the next few days.

If the proposal is incomplete, SPO will identify the missing components required by the sponsor and return the proposal to the PI and/or research administrator within two working days.

If a proposal cannot be submitted on time, even with a draft technical section, the PI should request an exception to the VCR’s late proposal policy. To manage SPO’s workload and to provide equitable treatment to the on-time proposals, late proposals approved by the VCR will be processed after on-time proposals due that same day have been submitted.

We know that submitting applications for funding can be a complex, and at times, stressful activity. At SPO we are working hard with our partners in Shared Services and in the departments to ensure that that the process goes as smoothly as possible and that Berkeley is always positioned to achieve a successful result. Thank you for your assistance.

Pamela F. Miller, Ph.D.
Director, Sponsored Projects Office
University of California at Berkeley
2150 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704-5940
Phone: 510-642-2925
Email: plfmiller@berkeley.edu

NIH Postdoctoral Stipend/Salary Increase

Vice Chancellor for Research Graham Fleming issued the following CALmessages notice regarding NIH postdoctoral salary/stipends on March 12, 2014:

Date: March 12, 2014
Sender: Graham Fleming, Vice Chancellor for Research (Control Units)
To: Faculty
Subject: NIH Postdoctoral Stipend/Salary Increase

On February 10, 2014 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Notice (NOT-OD-14-046) establishing stipend levels for FY2014 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Awards (NRSA). The NIH notice can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-14-046.html.

Article 4, “Compensation,” Section A-3 of the UC-UAW Contract for Postdoctoral Scholars states, “increases to the University salary/stipend minima rates shall be made in accord with the NIH Notice pertaining to the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipend levels.” The effective date of the new salary scale is the first day of the payroll period following the NIH Notice, which is March 1, 2014.

Therefore, all Postdoctoral Scholars that are newly appointed, or whose reappointment/anniversary date is on or after March 1, 2014, must be at the appropriate annual stipend/salary minimum, based on years of postdoctoral experience as follows:

0 yrs. $42,000
1 yrs. $43,680
2 yrs. $45,432
3 yrs. $47,244
4 yrs. $49,128
5 yrs. $51,096

The implementation of the new scale does not automatically affect the salaries of Postdoctoral Scholars, with the exception of Kirschstein Fellows. For the Kirschstein Fellows who were granted FY2014 awards but issued these awards using the FY2012 stipend levels, their stipends will be adjusted to the FY2014 levels by the NIH. For all others, the new scale affects those who are newly appointed or whose reappointment/anniversary date occurs March 1, 2014 or later.

In addition, UC-UAW Contract, Article 4, “Compensation,” Section D states, “All Postdoctoral Scholars shall be placed on at least the appropriate NIH-NRSA rates based on the Postdoctoral Scholar's experience on June 1, 2014.” If it’s determined that a Postdoctoral Scholar is below the appropriate experience level, CSS Team 9 will notify the VCR Office and contact PIs to request authorization to move the postdoc to the appropriate experience level effective June 1, 2014.

If you have any questions regarding these postdoctoral scholar salary changes, please contact your HR Generalist in CSS Team 9, or email vcroap@berkeley.edu.

February 20, 2014 Research Advocate: NIH Publishes Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards for FY 2014

March 05, 2014

Contracts and Grants Accounting Offers Q&A Session on PeopleSoft C&G

PeopleSoft Contracts and Grants (C&G) is a new financial system being implemented soon at Berkeley to serve the specialized accounting requirements of sponsored awards. Contracts and Grants Accounting is hosting an informational Q&A session on March 13, 2014 on how the system and complementary business processes will support and improve grants management and compliance. This session is open to all.
Contracts and Grants System (C&G) Informational Q&A
Thursday, March 13, 2014
2:00 - 3:30 pm
Haas Pavilion Club Room

February 21, 2014

NSF Issues Revised Award Terms and Conditions

The National Science Foundation has revised the NSF Award Terms and Conditions to parallel changes made to the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide. The revised Terms and Conditions will apply to all new NSF awards and funding amendments to existing NSF awards issued on or after February 24, 2014.

Each set of terms and conditions is accompanied by a summary of the changes made to that document. In addition to clarifications and other changes made to the conditions, the significant change involved supplementing the Program Income Article with information on the annual program income reporting requirement.

NSF has revised the following documents:
  • NSF Agency Specific Requirements (ASR) to the Research Terms and Conditions (RTC)
  • Grant General Conditions (GC-1)
  • Cooperative Agreement Financial & Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC)
  • Cooperative Agreement Supplemental Financial & Administrative Terms and Conditions for Managers of Large Facilities
  • Cooperative Agreement Supplemental Financial & Administrative Terms and Conditions for Managers of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCS)
  • International Research Terms and Conditions
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I Grant General Conditions
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II Grant General Conditions
  • Fixed Amount Award Conditions
  • Administration of NSF Conference or Group Travel Grant Special Conditions (FL 26)

February 10, 2014

NIH Publishes Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards for FY 2014

The National Institutes of Health has issued NIH Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards FY 2014 (NOT-OD-14-055) and related notices that provide guidance for the remainder of fiscal year 2014 (through September 30, 2014).
From NOT-OD-14-055:

FY 2014 Funding Levels: Non-competing continuation awards that have already been made in FY 2014 were generally funded at levels below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level) as described in NOT-OD-14-012, and in NOT-OD-14-043. Such reductions may be fully or partially restored, depending on the Institute or Center. Non-competing continuation grants (research and non-research) including those that remain to be issued in FY 2014 likely will be made within the range between the commitment level indicated on the Notice of Award and 3 percent below that level. Out-year commitments for continuation awards in FY 2015 and beyond will remain unchanged. The number of competing awards will likely exceed the number of competing awards in FY 2013. The NIH awarding Institutes/Centers (IC) will develop and post their fiscal policies consistent with overall NIH goals and available FY 2014 funds.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA): Consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, and with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee to the Director regarding the Biomedical Research Workforce, the NIH will increase undergraduate and graduate student stipends by 2 percent. Entry level postdoctoral stipends will be increased to $42,000 with 4 percent increases between the individual levels of experience. The full range of stipend adjustments for FY 2014 is described at NOT-OD-14-046.

New Investigators: NIH will continue to support new investigators on R01 equivalent awards at success rates comparable to that of established investigators submitting new (Type 1) R01 equivalent applications. Achievement of comparable success rates should permit the NIH to support new investigators in accordance with the policies established in FY 2009 and subsequent years as described at NOT-OD-09-013 and at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/index.htm.

Salary Limits: Section 203 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2014 prohibits payments for salaries under grants and other extramural mechanisms in excess of Executive Level II. It should be noted, that Executive Level II was increased by 1 percent from $179,700 to $181,500 by Executive Order 13655 that became effective January 12, 2014. See NOT-OD-14-052 for additional information.

Other Legislative Mandates: Other statutory requirements are described in NOT-OD-14-053.

Additional Information:  Additional details on Fiscal Operations, including specific funding strategies for ICs will be posted at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/financial/index.htm.

February 14, 2014 Update: Rock Talk Blog Fiscal Policies, and More, for 2014
January 16, 2014 Research Advocate: NIH Salary Cap Increases to $181,500

January 30, 2014

COFAR Posts Training Webcast on Federal Grants Reform Uniform Guidance

On January 27, 2014, the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR), held a training webcast on the major updates to the Office of Management and Budget’s recently reformed guidance on Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 C.F.R. 200). COFAR is now providing recordings of the webcasts.

The Uniform Guidance will be implemented one year from publication on December 26, 2014. OMB and COFAR will continue to engage federal and non-federal stakeholders over the next year to facilitate a smooth implementation process.

Participants in the webcast included:
  • Norman Dong, Interim Controller Office of Management and Budget
  • Kathy Bialas, Assistant General Counsel, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development 
  • Jean Feldman, Head Policy Officer, Division of Institution & Award Support, National Science Foundation
  • Stephen Daniels, Director of the Division of Policy, Review and Resolution, Department of Labor 
  • Terry Ramsey, Senior Technical Advisor, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Laura Watson, Associate Deputy Administrator, Department of Labor
Uniform Guidance 1/27/2014 Training Webcast:
Training Webcast Presentation Slides:

February 12, 2014 Update: COFAR Releases Frequently Asked Questions
January 2, 2014 Research Advocate: OMB Publishes Federal Grants Reform Guidance
December 19, 2013 Research Advocate: OMB to Issue “Super Circular” Grant Reform Guidance

January 29, 2014

Proposal Timing

The Sponsored Projects Office is renewing its commitment to providing a timely response to campus principal investigators (PIs) who submit proposals in accordance to the Vice Chancellor for Research Five Day Proposal Submission Policy. To accomplish this goal, SPO is asking the campus community to renew its efforts to meeting the following proposal submission requirements established by the VCR:
  • The proposal must be received by SPO at least five working days before the funding agency deadline or the deadline of the lead institution when UC Berkeley is a subrecipient.
  • The proposal submitted to SPO must be complete. Incomplete proposals will be returned without SPO review.
This means that the proposal must be submitted “on time” and should not have any placeholders or missing sections. The PI may include a draft technical section (the narrative description of the proposed scope of work) as long as this section is marked, “Draft,” and all other administrative sections are in final form. See Vice Chancellor for Research Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO  for a full description of the VCR’s policy.

Although deviations from policy are sometimes unavoidable, PIs are cautioned that when SPO does not have adequate time to review a complete proposal, the proposal is at much greater risk for submission failure, rejection without review, and low funding priority scores.

January 27, 2014

UC Berkeley New Faculty: Grants and Contracts and More, an Introduction Using “Speed Networking”

New UC Berkeley faculty members have much to do and little time to do it. The Vice Chancellor for Research is therefore sponsoring an informal luncheon and information session (in speed-dating format) designed to give all faculty and non-faculty principal investigators who have been at UC Berkeley three years or less a chance to quickly learn about the services provided by the various central campus offices that assist faculty with grants and contracts and some other aspects of research administration.
  • Date and Time: February 11, 2014, 12:00-1:30 pm
  • Lunch/Meeting Location: Heyns Room, Faculty Club
  • RSVP Required (space is limited)
Attend this meeting and you will find out:
  • How you can find external funding opportunities and stay up-to-date on new funding initiatives
  • Where you can go to get help with everything from basic grant writing to the coordination of large multidisciplinary and multi-institutional projects
  • How you can effectively navigate the many compliance requirements that impact your research
  • How you can protect and transfer your intellectual property
  • “Who does what” at UC Berkeley from preaward proposal development through grant closeout
Participating Offices/Committees:
If you have any questions about the program, please contact Leah Esturas-Pierson at lrpierson@berkeley.edu or (510) 642-5829.

January 23, 2014

FY 2014 Federal Budget Appropriations Approved: Resources for Analyses of Agency Funding

On January 17, 2014, the President signed into law H.R. 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, providing fiscal year 2014 appropriations for the federal government through September 30, 2014. Several national organizations provide analyses of these appropriations related to research and development funding and other areas relevant to universities.

The American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) R&D Budget and Policy Program R&D in FY 2014 Appropriations page provides in-depth reports on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. Current topics include:
The Association of American Universities (AAU) FY14 Budget and Appropriations resources include a chart of the Status of AAU FY14 Funding Priorities, updated January 15. The AAU Weekly Wrap-up, January 17, 2014 summarizes key agency funding levels and policy language.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Budget and Appropriations page offers information and news, including a January 17 update, Congress Approves FY 2104 Omnibus Funding Bill.

January 16, 2014

NIH Salary Cap Increases to $181,500

The National Institutes of Health posted NIH Operates Under a Continuing Resolution (NOT-OD-14-043) on January 16, 2014.

The notice states that NIH is operating under the continuing resolution (CR) through January 18, 2014 at the fiscal year 2013 post-sequestration level, and includes the following guidance:

“Continuing the procedures identified under NOT-OD-14-012 and consistent with NIH practices during the CRs of FY 2006 – 2013, the NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level). Upward adjustments to awarded levels will be considered after FY 2014 appropriations are enacted, but NIH expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period. All legislative mandates that were in effect in FY 2013 (see NOT-OD-12-034 and NOT-OD-13-064) remain in effect under this CR including the salary limitation set at Executive Level II of the Federal Pay Scale. It should be noted, that the Executive Level II was increased by 1 percent from $179,700 to $181,500 by Executive Order 13655 that became effective January 12, 2014.

January 24 update: NIH has revised the Salary Cap Summary web page to include 2014.