December 17, 2014

NSF Revises Grants.gov Application Guide

The National Science Foundation has published a revised version of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide, effective for applications submitted or due to NSF on or after December 26, 2014.

NSF has updated the Guide to align with changes to the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that implements the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200). NSF includes a summary of the significant changes and clarifications on pages two and three of the revised Guide.

NIH Simplifies Policy for Late Applications

The National Institutes of Health has simplified the NIH policy for late application submission. Effective for applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015, there is a two-week window of consideration after the application due date, during which time NIH might consider accepting a late application.

NIH provides more details in the December 17 NIH Guide Notice, Simplifying the NIH Policy for Late Application Submission (NOT-OD-15-039). The guidance includes examples of reasons why late applications might be or will not be accepted.

December 09, 2014

New UC Berkeley Campus Guide to OMB Uniform Guidance

The White House Office of Management and Budget issued guidance effective as of December 26, 2014 designed to streamline and simplify the policy framework for grants and other types of agreements issued by the federal government. This new “Uniform Guidance” combines and replaces eight federal circulars and will govern all of UC Berkeley’s future federal contract and grant activities.

The UC Berkeley Campus Guide to OMB Uniform Guidance highlights selected items of the Uniform Guidance that will impact all federal proposals submitted by and new awards made to the University on or after December 26, 2014. Please pay particular attention to new information on allowable costs and activities that now require prior federal agency approval.

Federal proposals being submitted now are subject to these new regulations. Awards issued after December 26, 2014 also will be subject to these new requirements. Federal agencies also have the option of applying the Uniform Guidance to existing awards when issuing funding increments on or after December 26, 2014. However, the federal sponsor chooses not to apply the Uniform Guidance at that time, the existing award will continue to be administered under the original federal award’s terms and conditions.

Revisions and updates to this guide and to the OMB Uniform Guidance page will be made after more specific information on how the Uniform Guidance will be implemented by each of the federal agencies is published. We anticipate receiving this information on or after December 26, 2014.

January 2, 2014 Research Advocate: OMB Publishes Federal Grants Reform Guidance

December 05, 2014

NIH Pushes Back Requirement Date for New Biosketch Format

The National Institutes of Health has published Update: New Biographical Sketch Format Required for NIH and AHRQ Grant Applications Submitted for Due Dates on or After May 25, 2015 (NOT-OD-15-032). The new notice supercedes NOT-OD-15-024 that required the new biosketch format for January 25, 2015 applications.

NIH and AHRQ have changed the requirement date from January 25 to May 25, 2015, to provide some latitude for applicants who have already been compiling biosketches for large grant applications with deadlines in early in 2015.

NIH and AHRQ encourage applicants to use the new biosketch format for all grant and cooperative agreement applications submitted before May 25, and will require use of the new format for applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015.

November 26, 2014 Research Advocate: NIH and AHRQ Requiring New Biographical Sketch Format

December 04, 2014

NIH Changes Guidance on Marking Changes in Resubmission Applications

The National Institutes of Health issued NIH Modification to Guidance on Marking Changes in Resubmission Applications (NOT-OD-15-030). The change is effective immediately.

The December 4, 2014 NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-030 states:

“NIH has removed the requirement to identify ‘substantial scientific changes’ in the text of a Resubmission application by ‘bracketing, indenting, or change of typography’.

Effective immediately, it is sufficient to outline the changes made to the Resubmission application in the Introduction attachment. The Introduction must include a summary of substantial additions, deletions, and changes to the application. It must also include a response to weaknesses raised in the Summary Statement. The page limit for the Introduction may not exceed one page unless indicated otherwise in the Table of Page Limits.”

November 26, 2014

NIH and AHRQ Requiring New Biographical Sketch Format

The National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will require use of a new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015. Until then, applicants can choose to use either the old or new biosketch format.

The November 26, 2014 NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-024 states:

“The revised forms and instructions are now available on the SF 424 (R&R) Forms and Applications page. The new format extends the page limit from four to five pages, and allows researchers to describe up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research. Investigators can outline the central findings of prior work and the influence of those findings on the investigator’s field. Investigators involved in Team Science are provided the opportunity to describe their specific role(s) in the work. Each description can be accompanied by a listing of up to four relevant peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research products, including audio or video products; patents; data and research materials; databases; educational aids or curricula; instruments or equipment; models; protocols; and software or netware that are relevant to the described contribution. In addition to the descriptions of specific contributions and documentation, researchers will be allowed to include a link to a full list of their published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as MyBibliography or SciENcv.”

For more information see New Biographical Sketch Format Required for NIH and AHRQ Grant Applications Submitted for Due Dates on or After January 25, 2015 (NOT-OD-15-024) and the NIH Office of Extramural Research blog post, Implementing the Modified NIH Biosketch Format.

November 20, 2014

NSF Issues Revised PAPPG

The National Science Foundation Policy Office in the Division of Institution and Award Support has announced that the revised version of the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 15-1) has been issued. The revision includes a summary of Significant Changes and Clarifications to the PAPPG.

The NSF announcement states the following:

The PAPPG has been revised to implement 2 CFR § 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance). The Uniform Guidance incorporates language from eight existing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars into one consolidated set of guidance in the Code of Federal Regulations. The PAPPG also has been revised to incorporate other significant changes and clarifications unrelated to the Uniform Guidance implementation.

The PAPPG is comprised of documents relating to the Foundation's proposal and award process and consists of the:

(a) Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) for guidance on the preparation and submission of proposals to NSF; and
(b) Award & Administration Guide (AAG) to guide, manage, and monitor the award and administration of grants and cooperative agreements made by the Foundation.

As mandated by OMB, the new PAPPG will be effective December 26, 2014. In addition to the significant changes to implement the Uniform Guidance, other important revisions include:
  • Acknowledgement of the implementation of NSF’s new financial system (iTRAK);
  • Addition of an NSF electronic capabilities modernization status matrix to assist the community as NSF transitions our electronic capabilities to Research.gov;
  • Additional compliance checking regarding the type of proposal mechanism used;
  • Expansion of the budget justification section to reflect that each subaward must include a separate budget justification of no more than three pages;
  • New coverage on the Ideas Lab funding mechanism;
  • Description of new prior approval requirements; and
  • Numerous clarifications throughout the document.
Given the extensive nature of the changes made to implement the Uniform Guidance and other important revisions, the community is strongly encouraged to review the by-chapter summary of the changes provided in the Introduction section of the PAPPG. A webinar to brief the community on the new PAPPG will be held in early January; further communication will be forthcoming.

While this version of the PAPPG becomes effective on December 26, 2014, in the interim, the guidelines contained in the current PAPPG (NSF 14-1) continue to apply. We will ensure that the current version of the PAPPG remains on the NSF website, with a notation to proposers that specifies when the new PAPPG (including a link to the new Guide) will become effective.

October 29, 2014

RAC Offices to Close During the Annual Campus Winter Break

The Office for Animal Care and Use, the Conflict of Interest Committee Office, the Office for the Protection of Human Subjects, the Sponsored Projects Office, and the Research Administration and Compliance Office will be closed during the campus energy curtailment beginning at 12 noon on Friday, December 19, 2014 until Monday, January 5, 2015. Offices will reopen on Monday, January 5, 2015. (Please note that this schedule has been revised since originally posted.)

SPO Proposal Submission

SPO will process proposals due in December 2014 and January 2015 according to the VCR’s five-day proposal submission policy with the following exceptions:

Deadlines Due to SPO*
From Monday, December 22, 2014 through (and including) Friday, January 2, 2015 8 am on Monday, December 15, 2014
Monday, January 5, 2015 8 am on Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 8 am on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Wednesday and Thursday, January 7 and 8, 2015 noon on Thursday, December 18, 2014
Friday, January 9, 2015 8 am on Monday, January 5, 2015

*Note: Proposals submitted to SPO with a draft technical section on or before the five business day deadline will be considered “on time” if the proposal is complete in all other respects.

Principal Investigators also are encouraged to inform their SPO Contract and Grant Officer (CGO) if they will be submitting a proposal with a due date just prior to, during, or just after the curtailment period. This will give SPO and the PI an opportunity to discuss the best way to handle the proposal to make sure it is submitted in a timely manner.

COI Disclosure Submission

In order to be on the agenda for any meeting, complete disclosure packets must be received no later than 10 working days prior to the date of the meeting.
  • The deadline for submission for the December 11, 2014 meeting is November 25, 2014.
ACUC Protocol Submission

Please note that all protocols and protocol revisions must be submitted via email to acuc@berkeley.edu by 5 pm on the deadline date. If you wish to make changes to an approved protocol, you must first contact the Office for Animal Care and Use (OACU) to obtain a copy of the current approved version of your protocol. Failure to do so may result in your protocol being returned to you.
  • The deadline for full committee review of protocol submissions for the January 21, 2015 meeting is Monday, November 17, 2014.
  • Likewise, the deadline for protocol submission for the February 11, 2015 meeting is noon on Friday, December 19, 2014.
CPHS Protocol Submission

Important: if your study is “greater than minimal risk” needing full board review and the approval will expire before January 23, 2015, you must submit your renewal application in time for review at a December 2014 CPHS meeting.
  • There is no CPHS-1 meeting in December 2014.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the December 12, 2014 CPHS-2 meeting is Monday, November 10, 2014.
  • There is no CPHS-1 meeting in January 2015.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the January 23, 2015 CPHS-2 meeting is Monday, December 15, 2014.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the February 6, 2015 CPHS-1 meeting is Monday, January 5, 2015.

October 27, 2014

NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Guidance

As of October 17, 2014, the National Institutes of Health began requiring grantees to submit all type 5 progress reports (non-competing continuation applications) using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) module in eRA Commons. See NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-014.

Note: For SNAP awards, UC Berkeley PIs may submit the RPPR report directly to NIH if they have been delegated submission authority by SPO.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs)

All NIH progress reports (RPPRs) submitted after October 1, 2014 must include in Section D - List of Participants - a brief description of how and whether individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the award. Actual IDPs should not be included. (For more information, see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-14-113.)

The following statement is provided to assist Berkeley PIs respond to Section D of the RPPR:

“Berkeley graduate students and postdocs are encouraged to utilize IDPs to set academic and career goals and facilitate conversations with their mentor(s). Similarly, Berkeley faculty mentors are encouraged to promote the use of IDPs among their trainees. Over the next few months, Berkeley will establish a working group to move towards implementing more targeted information and training sessions to help facilitate the use of IDPs.”

General suggestions and resources for IDPs can be found on the SPO NIH Proposals and Awards at Berkeley page under Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR).


October 16, 2014 Research Advocate: Reminder: NIH Requires RPPR for All Type 5 Progress Reports
September 24, 2014 Research Advocate: NIH Progress Reports Submitted after October 1, 2014: Section on Individual Development Plans
August 7, 2014 Research Advocate: NIH to Require Individual Development Plan Description in Progress Reports

October 16, 2014

NIH Notice for PIs Responding to the West Africa Ebola Outbreak

The National Institutes of Health has published a Notice of Special Accommodations for Submission and Reporting Requirements for Program Directors/Principal Investigators Responding to the West Africa Ebola Outbreak (NOT-OD-15-010).

This notice states:

“In appreciation of the humanitarian assistance being provided by Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PDs/PIs) who travel to West Africa to participate in the Ebola outbreak response and other Ebola-related public health emergencies, NIH is making an accommodation to provide additional time for application submission and grant related reporting for these investigators.”

This accommodation will be extended to individuals who meet all of these conditions:
  • Served in West Africa as part of the response to the Ebola outbreak at the time of the application due date
  • Serve as PD/PI (or Multiple PD/PI) on the late application
  • Include a cover letter with their application that documents specifically that the delay was caused by the PD/PI being engaged in Ebola-related response activities in West Africa at the time the application was due.
NIH will consider these late applications based on the amount of delay caused by the emergency response and the processing time required to prepare each submitted application for peer review. See NOT-OD-15-010 for more information.

Also NIH understands that some progress report delays due to Ebola response activities are unavoidable. Therefore, if researchers are unable to complete progress reports before the scheduled due date, they should promptly contact the Sponsored Projects Office to initiate discussion with the NIH contacts listed on the Notice of Award.

NSF Accepting RAPID Proposals on Ebola Virus

The National Science Foundation has issued a Dear Colleague Letter on the Ebola Virus.

The letter states that “In light of the recent emergence of the lethal Ebola virus in the US, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting proposals to conduct non-medical, non-clinical care research that can be used immediately to better understand how to model and understand the spread of Ebola, educate about prophylactic behaviors, and encourage the development of products, processes, and learning that can address this global challenge.”

NSF invites researchers to use the Rapid Response Research (RAPID) funding mechanism.

Reminder: NIH Requires RPPR for All Type 5 Progress Reports

As of October 17, 2014, the National Institutes of Health is requiring grantees to submit all type 5 progress reports using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) module in eRA Commons.

Annual progress reports submitted in any format other than the RPPR will not be processed by the NIH and will require resubmission through the RPPR.

For more information, see the NIH RPPR web page and the NIH Guide Notice Reminder: NIH Requires the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) for All Type 5 Progress Reports (NOT-OD-15-014).

October 02, 2014

NIH Offering Webinars for New Applicants

The National Institutes of Health is offering a series of webinars in November for new NIH grant applicants, mentors, and others. The NIH Guide notice, Webinars on What You Need to Know About NIH Application Submission and Review (NOT-OD-15-002), provides details.

The NIH Center for Scientific Review will host four Meet the Experts in NIH Peer Review: Webinars for Applicants to give useful insights into the submission and peer review processes. Each of the webinars will focus on a different type of application:
  • Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15): November 4, 2014
  • Fellowship Awards: November 5, 2014
  • Small Business Grants (SBIR/STTR): November 7, 2014
  • Research Project Grants (R01): November 10, 2014
Register for the webinar you wish to join by Tuesday, October 28. NIH also plans to post archived recordings of each webinar within a week after broadcast.

October 01, 2014

DHHS and NIH: Continuing Resolution Notice

Campus researchers with Department of Health and Human Services funding, including National Institutes of Health funding, should be aware of the following notice from NIH on the Continuing Resolution, published October 1, 2014.

NIH Operates Under a Continuing Resolution (NOT-OD-15-001)

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including NIH, operates under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.J.Res. 124) signed by President Obama on September 19, 2014. This Act (CR) continues government operations through December 11, 2014 at 99.9 percent of the FY 2014 enacted level.

Continuing the procedures identified under NOT-OD-14-055 and consistent with NIH practices during the CRs of FY 2006 – 2014, 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 2015 appropriations are enacted, but NIH expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period. All legislative mandates that were in effect in FY 2014 (see NOT-OD-14-053 and NOT-OD-14-046) remain in effect under this CR including the salary limitation set at Executive Level II of the Federal Pay Scale as described in NOT-OD-14-052.

September 26, 2014

NIH Progress Reports Submitted after October 1, 2014: Section on Individual Development Plans

As of October 1, 2014 all National Institutes of Health progress reports (RPPRs) must include a section to describe how individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the award. At this point, NIH is willing to accept a description of whether the institution uses IDPs or not and how they are employed to help manage the training and career development of those individuals. Currently Berkeley does not have an institution-wide IDP policy but such a policy will be developed.

Here is implementation information provided by NIH:

NIH progress reports using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) must include a report on the use of IDPs in Section B. Accomplishments, Question B.4. Actual IDPs should not be included. Instead, grantees will report on whether they use IDPs for all the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers included in Section D. list of Participants. The use of IDPs as well as the manner in which IDPs are used is expected to be determined by the awardee institution, but the RPPR will include a brief description of how and whether IDPs are used to help manage the career development of students and postdocs associated with that award. A similar response is required for all T, F, K, R25, R13, D43 and other awards or award components designed to provide training and professional development opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Reminder, the RPPR is currently required for all type 5 progress reports submitted using a Streamlined Non-Competing Award Process (SNAP), and will be required for all non-SNAP progress reports submitted on/after October 17, 2014 (see NOT-OD-13-035 and NOT-OD-14-092).

For more information, see Revised Policy: Descriptions on the Use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers Required in Annual Progress Reports beginning October 1, 2014 (NOT-OD-14-113).

August 7, 2014 Research Advocate: NIH to Require Individual Development Plan Description in Progress Reports