June 12, 2017

NSF Websites Unavailable June 30-July 4

The National Science Foundation is moving its Data Center IT servers to the new NSF headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, from June 30 at 8:00 PM EDT through July 4 at 6:00 PM EDT, to prepare for NSF staff relocation in August 2017.

The NSF website, FastLane, and Research.gov will be unavailable from Friday, June 30 at 8:00 PM EDT until Tuesday, July 4 at 6:00 PM EDT. During this outage period, there will be no access to these websites, proposals cannot be submitted in FastLane, and project reports and cash requests cannot be submitted in Research.gov. However, previously saved information and uploaded documents in FastLane and Research.gov, including in-process proposals and reports, will be accessible after the Data Center move.

For more information, see NSF Important Notice No. 139, National Science Foundation Headquarters Moving to Alexandria, Virginia.

June 08, 2017

NIH’s New Next Generation Researchers Initiative

The National Institutes of Health has launched the Next Generation Researchers Initiative to bolster support for early-stage and mid-career investigators to address longstanding challenges faced by researchers trying to embark upon and sustain independent research careers.

NIH will take a multi-pronged approach to increase the number of NIH-funded early-stage and mid-career investigators and stabilize the career trajectory of scientists by:
  • Further extending the payline for early stage investigators, with an aim of funding most applications that score in the top 25 percent
  • Providing additional support for mid-career investigators with ≤ 10 years as a principal investigator
    • Extending the payline for those about to lose all NIH funding
    • Identifying “rising stars” who are seeking support for their second RPG, but just missed the payline
NIH will also place greater emphasis on current NIH funding programs aimed at early-stage and mid-career investigators, such as:
  • NIH Common Fund’s New Innovator Awards
  • National Institute of General Medicine Sciences Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA)
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) awards
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Supplements to Advance Research (STAR) from Projects to Programs
  • Other special awards from specific institutes

June 02, 2017

NIH, AHRQ, and NIOSH: Updated Policies on Post-Submission Materials

The National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have updated their policies for post-submission materials for applications submitted for due dates on or after September 25, 2017.

Post-submission materials are those submitted after submission of the grant application but prior to initial peer review. They are not intended to correct oversights or errors discovered after submission of the application, but rather allow applicants the opportunity to respond to unforeseen events.  

New: For grant applications submitted for due dates on or after September 25, 2017, citations of issued patents will be accepted as post-submission materials.

For additional information on allowable and non-allowable post-submission materials see Additional Change to the NIH/AHRQ/NIOSH Policy on Post-Submission Materials NOT-OD-17-066.

May 26, 2017

New NSF Proposal and Award Newsletter

The Policy Office in the Division of Institution and Award Support at the National Science Foundation has released the second quarterly NSF Proposal & Award Policy Newsletter. This issue contains information and guidance on how NSF views participant support costs.

May 02, 2017

NIH Plans to Implement a Grant Support Index Limit

National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins has issued an important notice, New NIH Approach to Grant Funding Aimed at Optimizing Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars.

In this notice, Dr. Collins describes a new tool that NIH plans to implement—the Grant Support Index (GSI)—to ensure that the NIH supports a diversity of biomedical problems, rather than concentrating resources in a smaller number of labs. NIH’s goal is to free up about 1,600 new awards to broaden the pool of investigators conducting NIH research and improve the stability of the enterprise.

The plan is that each principal investigator (PI) that submits an application to NIH will be assigned a GSI value based on the type, complexity, and size of the PI’s current NIH awards. PIs that have GSIs over 21 (the equivalent of 3 single-PI R01 awards) will be expected to include a plan in their applications for how they would adjust their existing grant load to be within the GSI limits if their application is awarded. (Note: A GSI limit is not specified by Dr. Collins.)

Rationale for the use of the GSI from Dr. Collins:
  • The distribution of NIH grant funding is highly skewed, with 10 percent of NIH-funded investigators receiving over 40 percent of NIH funding. Analyses conducted by both NIH and others has shown that incremental research output gradually diminishes as the amount of support per investigator increases.
  • The more principal investigators must manage in terms of additional projects, personnel, and grant applications, the less additional time they have to dedicate to their research.
  • There are reasons to believe that supporting more researchers working on a diversity of biomedical problems, rather than concentrating resources in a smaller number of labs, might maximize the number of important discoveries.
This will not affect current funding and is expected to free up approximately $500-$650 million in funding for 1500-1600 new awards. The GSI could potentially be implemented for applications being accepted in September 2017.

Over the next few months, NIH will be seeking feedback from the scientific community on how best to implement the GSI limit. Dr. Collins indicates that there are still many details of the policy that need to be worked out. Look for more on this topic from NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Dr. Michael Lauer through his Open Mike Blog.

April 20, 2017

Advantages of Using an Updated Subrecipient Commitment Form (4/2017)

The Sponsored Projects Office has posted a new Subrecipient Commitment Form for Non-FDP Pilot Institutions (4/2017).

Advantages of using the new form:

If the subrecipient institution has answered the relevant conflict of interest (COI) question in section 5 of the Subrecipient Commitment Form for Non-FDP Pilot Institutions (4/2017), it will not be necessary to provide SPO with a PHS Financial Disclosure (Form 5) or the NSF Financial Disclosure Form for any subrecipient investigator at the proposal stage.

Please note that it also is not necessary to provide SPO with a PHS Financial Disclosure (Form 5) or the NSF Financial Disclosure Form for any subrecipient investigator at the proposal stage if the subrecipient is participating in the FDP Expanded Clearinghouse Pilot. See the list of participating institutions.

Institutions participating in the FDP pilot program are required to complete the FDP Pilot Subrecipient Project Information Form (8/2016).

April 10, 2017

New Requirement for NSF FastLane Submissions

The National Science Foundation has issued the following important message. More details are available on Collaborator and Other Affliations Information on the NSF website.


Dear Colleagues:

On April 24, 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will initiate a new requirement for all FastLane proposal submissions. This requirement does not apply to NSF Grants.gov submissions.

The new requirement requires the use of a spreadsheet template for identifying Collaborators and Other Affiliations information for Principal Investigators (PIs), co-PIs, and other senior project personnel identified on proposals.

Effective April 24, 2017, NSF will require the submission of a spreadsheet template to identify collaborators and other affiliations. Please note that the spreadsheet template:
  • Has been developed to be fillable. However, the content and format requirements must not be altered by submitters.
  • Must be saved in .xlsx or .xls formats and directly uploaded into FastLane as a Collaborators and Other Affiliations Single Copy Document.
  • Will be converted by FastLane from an .xlsx or .xls file to a PDF file.
  • Has been tested in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and LibreOffice.
  • Will enable preservation of searchable text that otherwise would be lost. Must be uploaded in .xlsx or .xls formats only. Uploading a Collaborators and Other Affiliations Single Copy Document in any other format may delay the timely processing and review of your proposal.
  • Will be directly linked in FastLane.
The template and associated instructions may also be accessed directly at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/coa.jsp.

NSF believes that in addition to the merit review process benefits, the Collaborators and Other Affiliations template will reduce administrative burden and improve efficiencies by providing submitters with a compliant and reusable format to maintain this information for use in subsequent proposal submissions to NSF.

March 23, 2017

Research Administrators’ June RAC Forum Poster Session

As of June 14, 2017, the Research Administration and Compliance (RAC) Forum will be renamed the Research Administration Community (RAC) Forum to reflect the reality of the cooperative nature of research administration on the Berkeley campus. To launch this new enterprise, the June 14th RAC Forum at the Alumni House will be a Poster Session Event “Promoting a Culture of Collaboration.”

This event will provide research administrators across campus with an opportunity to display posters illustrating a process, policy, or job aid that they believe has improved (or has the potential to improve) the effectiveness or efficiency of research administration on the UC Berkeley campus.

Each of the following “research administration communities” are invited to display posters at this event: CSS RA, Department RA, SPO, CGA, and IAO. For information on how to create and display a poster at the June 14th RAC Forum, go to the June 2017 RAC Forum folder in UC Berkeley Box.

In this folder applicants will find an overview of the poster event and instructions. This folder also includes blank poster templates that can be used/adapted to create a 36" x 48" poster. Applicants should read the poster instructions first as well as the tips for creating a visually interesting poster.

The applicant/s that submit the best poster (as judged by RAC Forum attendees) will be treated to a luncheon at the Women’s Faculty Club over the summer months.

March 17, 2017

NIH Operating Under a Continuing Resolution

The National Institutes of Health has issued NIH Operates Under a Continuing Resolution (NOT-17-048). The notice states:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including NIH, operates under the “Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017,” (Public Law 114-254) signed by President Obama on December 10, 2016.  This Act (CR) continues government operations through April 28, 2017 at 99.8099 percent of the FY 2016 enacted level.

Continuing the procedures identified under NOT-OD-17-001 and NOT-OD-16-046 and consistent with NIH practices during the CRs of FY 2006 – 2016, 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 2017 appropriations are enacted, but NIH expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period. All legislative mandates that were in effect in FY 2016 (see NOT-OD-16-044 and NOT-OD-16-048) remain in effect under this CR.  Per NOT-OD-17-049, the salary limitation set at Executive Level II of the Federal Pay Scale, was increased from $185,100 to $187,000, effective January 8, 2017. The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award postdoctoral stipend levels and tuition/fees for FY 2017 are described in NOT-OD-17-003. Until further notice, the undergraduate and predoctoral stipends and tuition/fees will remain at the levels announced in NOT-OD-16-062.
NIH has issued a companion notice, Interim Guidance on Salary Limitation for Grants and Cooperative Agreements (NOT-17-049), stating:
…The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Executive Level II salary was previously set at $185,100, and increased to $187,000 effective January 8, 2017.

For awards issued in those years that were restricted to Executive Level II (see Salary Cap Summary, FY 1990 – FY 2016), including competing awards already issued in FY2017, if adequate funds are available in active awards, and if the salary cap increase is consistent with the institutional base salary, grantees may rebudget to accommodate the current Executive Level II salary level. However, no additional funds will be provided to these grant awards.…
See notices NOT-17-048 and NOT-17-049 for more information.

March 15, 2017

Research Terms and Conditions Implementing the Uniform Guidance

In 2005, standard research terms and conditions (known as “RTCs”) were adopted by many (but not all) federal agencies. RTCs allowed principal investigators to manage their federal grants more efficiently and effectively. For example, research projects subject to the RTCs were allowed to incur 90 day pre-award costs.

When OMB issued Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance) in 2013, the RTCs were suspended until a revised set of RTCs for implementing the Uniform Guidance could be developed.

New RTCs have been written to comply with the requirements set out in the Uniform Guidance, and most (but not all) federal agencies are planning to implement the RTCs at different dates in 2017.

The Final Notice of Research Terms and Conditions (RTC) To Address and Implement the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards Issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was published in the March 14 Federal Register.

Agencies participating, with implementation dates, are:
Note that the Department of Defense is not included; but will implement award terms in compliance with 2 CFR 200.

While the Uniform Guidance outlines provisions that are specific to research, these terms and conditions:
  • Incorporate the entire Uniform Guidance by reference, clarifying or supplementing select provisions where appropriate and consistent with government-wide research policy.
  • Incorporate the latest version of the Frequently Asked Questions for the Office of Management and Budget's Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards at 2 CFR 200.
  • Apply to an award when included as part of the award or when incorporated in the award by reference. Use of the RTCs is envisioned as a streamlined approach that supports the implementation of the Uniform Guidance by providing clarification, supplementary guidance, and, where appropriate, selected options, while meeting the spirit and intent of a uniform implementation.
In addition to the RTCs, three companion resources will be developed: Appendix A, Prior Approval Matrix; Appendix B, Subaward Requirements Matrix; and Appendix C, National Policy Requirements Matrix.

Resources:

March 21, 2017 update: Includes addition of Appendix A Prior Approval Matrix, Appendix C National Policy Requirements; and DOE, HHS/NIH, and NSF Agency Specific Requirements.

March 08, 2017

New NSF Proposal & Award Policy Newsletter

The Policy Office in the Division of Institution & Award Support at the National Science Foundation has published the first issue of the NSF Proposal & Award Policy Newsletter, a new quarterly publication designed to provide information about upcoming changes and clarifications to policies and procedures that affect how you prepare and submit proposals and manage NSF awards.

The first issue includes articles on PAPPG issuance and implementation, human subjects and vertebrate animals, and new types of NSF proposals.

January 27, 2017

NIH Implementation of the Interim-Research Performance Progress Report

Effective February 9, 2017, if the recipient organization has submitted a renewal application on or before the date by which a Final Research Performance Progress Report (Final-RPPR) would be required for the current competitive segment, then submission of an "Interim-RPPR" via eRA Commons is now required. Based on this requirement, the NIH will discontinue the policy for renewal applications whereby, “whether funded or not,” the progress report contained in the renewal application may serve in lieu of a separate final progress report.

For more information on this policy, see NIH Implementation of the Interim-RPPR while a Renewal Application is Under Consideration (NOT-OD-17-037).


November 28, 2016 Research Advocate: NIH Implementation of Final Research Performance Progress Reports (Final RPPR)

January 13, 2017

What Errors Will Impact Your NSF Proposal?

NSF has implemented an automated process to help PIs identify proposal errors prior to submission in Fastlane. The next release of auto-compliance checks will support additional standard proposal type requirements and include checks for new types of proposals. NSF plans to implement FastLane changes effective January 30, 2017 that include the new compliance checks.

See the NSF website for a complete listing of current automated proposal compliance checks performed by FastLane as of August 1, 2016.

NSF will be publishing the list of FastLane automated compliance checks effective January 30, 2017, and updating the advisory accordingly. For more information, see Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals.


September 20, 2016 Research Advocate: NSF Proposals: New FastLane Compliance Checks Effective September 26

January 12, 2017

NIH and AHRQ Font Requirements

For applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health or the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for due dates on or after January 25, 2017, text in PDF attachments must follow these minimum requirements:
  • Text Color: No restriction. Though not required, black or other high-contrast text colors are recommended since they print well and are legible to the largest audience.
  • Font size: Must be 11 points or larger. Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams and charts is acceptable, as long as it is legible when the page is viewed at 100%.
  • Type density: Must be no more than 15 characters per linear inch (including characters and spaces).
  • Line spacing: Must be no more than six lines per vertical inch.
 For additional information, see the NIH Guide notice NIH & AHRQ Update Font Guidelines for Applications to Due Dates On or After January 25, 2017 (NOT-OD-17-030).

January 10, 2017

Statement of Economic Interests (700-U) Form Revised for 2017

The State of California has issued a revised 700-U Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators for immediate use. The revised form, dated 2016/2017, is available on the Conflict of Interest Committee website and is the only version that will now be accepted. The form and requirements are the same as the previous 2016 version. If you have any questions please contact Jyl Baldwin (jbaldwin@berkeley.edu, 2-8110).

State of California law requires disclosure of financial interest in the sponsor of a research project; the donor of a research gift; and, under certain circumstances, the provider of materials under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) when that sponsor, donor, or provider is a non-governmental source. Please see State of California Financial Disclosure for more information.