July 25, 2014

USDA Creating New Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the creation of a new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR), that will “leverage public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to boosting America's agricultural economy.”

FFAR was authorized by Congress as part of the 2014 Farm Bill and will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations to fund research activities that focus on problems of national and international significance. Congress provided $200 million for the foundation which must be matched by non-federal funds.

FFAR will fund research in areas that include plant and animal health; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; agricultural and food security; and agriculture systems and technology.

AAAS: Federal Budget Process 101

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has published The Federal Budget Process 101. The article, written by Matt Hourihan, Director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program, provides a step-by-step summary of the complicated annual budget cycle, from the President’s budget formulation, through Congressional appropriations, then to the execution of the budget by federal agencies starting October 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year.

The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program provides detailed and timely analyses of federal research and development funding trends, including, for example, Research and Development Funding in FY 2015 Appropriations.

July 02, 2014

OACU/ACUC to Launch eProtocol July 2014

The UC Berkeley Office for Animal Care and Use (OACU) and the Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) are transitioning from a paper-based protocol submission and review process to a web-based system called Berkeley eProtocol in July 2014. This is the same system that has been in use by the UCB Office for Protection of Human Subjects (OPHS) and the Committee for Protection Human Subjects (CPHS) since 2009. Within eProtocol, the two different protocol systems are designated as eProtocol IACUC (animals) and eProtocol IRB (humans subjects).

eProtocol is a proven system that has not only been in place at Berkeley since 2009, it’s also in use at many other academic institutions, including Stanford University, University of Texas (Austin), Colorado State University, Harvard University, and University of Minnesota, to name a few.

How does this impact you?
  • Effective July 1, 2014, all new protocols must be submitted online via eProtocol.
    • eProtocol will be available for submissions starting July 30, 2014.
    • New submission received prior to August 25, 2014, will be reviewed at the October 8th ACUC meeting. See the ACUC web site for submission deadlines.
  • Protocols due for their de novo (three-year) review in October 2014 must be submitted online via eProtocol.
  • Revisions to existing “electronic” protocols (“eProtocols”) will be made using the eProtocol system.
  • Annual reviews and revisions to existing “paper” protocols can continue to use the paper-based process up until the protocol’s de novo submission.
  • Investigators may opt to submit a revision as a new electronic eProtocol and they are strongly encouraged to contact the OACU Director regarding this possibility.
What are the benefits of eProtocol?
  • eProtocol will be a “one-stop shop” for investigators submitting both human and animal research protocols (one PI dashboard to navigate from).
  • PIs can designate up to two other people to have “editing” access to the protocol.
  • Protocols will be readily accessible online for all team members through “view only” access.
  • eProtocol sends automatic email reminders to the PI, Lab Contact and third designated individual on protocol for protocol annual renewals and three-year de novo reviews.
  • eProtocol sends automated emails acknowledging receipt of submission, when review questions from ACUC/OACU have been sent to the PI, and when the protocol action has been approved.
  • PIs can “clone” (i.e. copy) a protocol and edit from that point or they can choose to cut and paste from a Word document into the text fields in answering questions. Or, both strategies can be used when writing/developing a new protocol submission.
  • eProtocol provides secure, worldwide access (where the internet is available) for the PI to work on documents and even submit them.
  • Because documents (animal use protocols, review questions, attachments) reside within the web-based system, there are no version control issues.
  • After initial protocol submission, annual reviews and subsequent de novo submissions will be greatly simplified.
  • eProtocol simplifies the process of revision submission and we anticipate it will speed the approval process along.
  • eProtocol will help the PI and ACUC ensure compliance more efficiently and effectively, particularly for USDA-regulated species.

June 26, 2014

SPO Service Schedule September 12, 2014

On Friday, September 12, 2014, the majority of Sponsored Projects Office staff will be involved in a regional meeting with sponsored project officers from Stanford University and UCSF. SPO services on this date therefore will be limited to front-desk administrative duties. Proposal and award set-up activity will resume on Monday, September 15. Individuals submitting proposals or other time-sensitive transactions during this time frame should plan accordingly.

June 16, 2014

UCOP Launches OMB Uniform Guidance Page

The Research Policy Analysis and Coordination office in the University of California Office of the President has launched a new web page to centralize information on the OMB Uniform Guidance. The page includes a Federal Resources section with links to the new Guidance and other federal information and a Higher Education Resources section including links to analysis from the Council on Governmental Relations, the Federal Demonstration Partnership, and other organizations.

As UC develops its implementation plan, information and resources will be posted to the site.

May 12, 2014 Research Advocate: NSF Issues Draft Implementation Plan for OMB Uniform Guidance
January 30, 2014 Research Advocate: COFAR Posts Training Webcast on Federal Grants Reform Uniform Guidance
January 2, 2014 Research Advocate: OMB Publishes Federal Grants Reform Guidance
December 19, 2013 Research Advocate: OMB to Issue “Super Circular” Grant Reform Guidance

June 03, 2014

Department of Education Webinars on Funding Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is hosting a series of webinars in June related to research funding opportunities. The first is on June 5 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Pacific Time. See IES Funding Opportunities Webinar Series for more information and to register.
  • Overview of Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research, June 5
  • Overview of Continuous Improvement Research in Education (CIRE) and Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies (State and Local), June 9
  • Overview of Education Research & Development Centers Competition (84.305C), June 10
  • Application Submission Process, June 11
  • Application Submission Process, June 25

May 30, 2014

NSF Clarifies Policy on Abstracts and Titles

The National Science Foundation has issued Important Notice to Presidents of Universities and Colleges and Heads of Other National Science Foundation Awardee Organizations: NSF Abstracts and Titles (Notice No. 136) to clarify the NSF policy on award abstracts and titles. NSF is acting to ensure that abstracts and titles clearly convey to the public justification for NSF actions and funding decisions.

The notice states:

The Title of an NSF supported project must describe the purpose of the research in nontechnical terms to the fullest possible extent.

There are two major components of the NSF Abstract:
  • A nontechnical description of the project that states the problem to be studied, and explains the project’s broader significance and importance, that serves as a public justification for NSF funding. This component should be understandable to an educated lay reader. It may include such information as the theoretical or analytical foundation of the proposed research, the fundamental issues that may be resolved by the research, the project’s relation to NSF’s mission, the project’s place in the context of ongoing research in the field, the project’s potential impact on other fields, and the prospect that it will lead to significant advances or the integration of related lines of inquiry.
  • A technical description of the project that states the goals and scope of the research, and the methods and approaches to be used. In many cases, the technical description may be a modified version of the project summary submitted with the proposal.
Thus, an NSF award abstract which is intended for a broad audience may differ from the Project Summary that is submitted as part of a technically reviewed proposal.

May 21, 2014

Exciting Developments in Phoebe!

The Sponsored Projects Office is committed to making Phoebe available to all departments and units across campus. We also are always looking for ways to make proposal preparation within Phoebe more straightforward and trouble free. In that vein, we are pleased to announce the following recent developments in Phoebe.

Guidance for Small Units Joining Phoebe
Is your department or unit interested in accessing Phoebe? Please consult SPO’s new guidance.

Submit to Sponsor
Want to know if your proposal has been submitted? Contract and Grant Officers (CGOs) at SPO are now able to click on a newly exposed button in the system labeled “submit to sponsor.” The button is only visible to CGOs and, upon submitting proposals to agency sponsors, CGOs will now immediately click on that button, which will update the status of the record to “Approval Pending – Submitted.” The status appears in the upper, right-hand corner of the record and can be viewed by principal investigators (PIs), department approvers, and CSS/department administrators with appropriate access.

Phoebe Proposal Preparation Checklist - Now Available
New to Phoebe or just want to make sure you have completed all the required proposal steps? Please visit our Proposal Checklist for Departments, now included in the Phoebe Instructions.

PHS FCOI PI Certification Form - No Longer Required for Proposals in Phoebe
Note that this form is still required at other stages of the funding cycle – new award, non-competing award, no cost extension – but it is not required as an upload for proposals in Phoebe. PIs now are able to certify to the language on the form as part of the online approval process within Phoebe. See What SPO Requires: PHS FCOI Guide for Department Research Administrators and PIs for more information.

Reminder: Avoid Identity Theft
Please remember a proposal initiator should NEVER log into Phoebe with a PI’s CalNet information. If a PI asks you to use his or her CalNet ID to carry out PI functions within Phoebe explain that a CalNet ID should never be shared with anyone for any reason. This is to protect the PI’s personal data, which should be kept private, and to ensure that PI approvals and certifications within Phoebe are valid. The approvals that we track in the system are serious in nature and we want to avoid any gray areas regarding approval and/or allegations that someone’s sensitive personal information has been misused.

We hope these updates are useful, and please feel free to write to our mailing list at phoebe-help@lists.berkeley.edu with any questions or ideas for improvements.

May 15, 2014

Phoebe Unavailable on Sunday, May 18, 2014, 8:00-10:00 am

Phoebe, the UC Berkeley system for proposal approvals and routing, will be unavailable on Sunday, May 18, 2014 from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, for scheduled database maintenance.

May 12, 2014

NSF Issues Draft Implementation Plan for OMB Uniform Guidance

The National Science Foundation has published a draft of the NSF implementation plan for the OMB Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200) and a request for comments in the May 9 Federal Register: Comment Request: National Science Foundation Proposal/Award Information-NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

NSF is asking for comments by July 8 on the draft PAPPG, available on the NSF Policy Office site. NSF is interested in public comment on NSF’s implementation of the OMB Uniform Guidance, as well as the policy changes identified in the PAPPG. Comments regarding the content of the Uniform Guidance should not be submitted.

NSF has highlighted text in yellow that implements the Uniform Guidance. Yellow highlighting appears in the following cases:
  • Use of specific references to the Uniform Guidance;
  • Direct replication of text from the Uniform Guidance; and
  • NSF’s implementation of requirements from the Uniform Guidance that are imposed on agencies.
NSF has formally requested from OMB deviations from the Uniform Guidance in only two areas:
  • Limitation to two months salary compensation for faculty. and
  • Alternative to the Federal Financial Report.
NSF has highlighted in blue policy changes that are being made independent of NSF’s implementation of the Uniform Guidance.

January 30, 2014 Research Advocate: COFAR Posts Training Webcast on Federal Grants Reform Uniform Guidance
January 2, 2014 Research Advocate: OMB Publishes Federal Grants Reform Guidance
December 19, 2013 Research Advocate: OMB to Issue “Super Circular” Grant Reform Guidance

May 01, 2014

National Science Board Publishes Report on Reducing Investigators’ Adminstrative Workloads

The National Science Board has released a new report, Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research, based on responses from thousands of scientists to a request for information to identify which federal agency and institutional requirements contribute most to PIs’ administrative workload.

The NSB press release states the report “recommends limiting proposal requirements to those essential to evaluate merit; keeping reporting focused on outcomes; and automating payroll certification for effort reporting. The NSB further recommends an evaluation of animal research, conflict of interest, and safety and security requirements, and encourages universities to review their IRB and IACUC processes to achieve rapid approval of protocols.”

See the press release and report for further information.

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.