January 25, 2016

Grants.gov and Adobe Reader DC Compatibility Issue

On January 20, the Grants.gov Program Management Office posted the following information:

The Adobe Reader DC Version 2015.010.20056 released on January 12, 2016 was identified to blank out form field contents when attaching files. Below is the current workaround as we work on a permanent solution for the latest Adobe Reader DC version. Current Resolution:
  1. Uninstall Adobe Reader DC.
  2. Go to https://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/.
  3. Select Reader 11.0.10.
  4. Download installation file and install.
  5. Applicant should be able to successfully complete their application without issue.
For more information, please visit the Grants.gov Adobe Software Compatibility page.

January 21, 2016

Paul Alivisatos Appointed Vice Chancellor for Research

Professor Paul Alivisatos will assume the role of Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley on March 1, 2016.

From his profile on the Berkeley Research website:
As Vice Chancellor for Research he will have overall responsibility for UC Berkeley’s research endeavor and primary leadership in research policy, planning and administration including relations between the university and industry, research compliance, research communications and research support for the Berkeley campus. His administrative portfolio includes management of over fifty campus research units, twelve research museums and remote field stations, and research administration offices including the Office of Research Administration and Compliance, Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA), and the Office of Lab Animal Care.
For more information, see the campus news article, Outgoing Berkeley Lab director to take research helm at UC Berkeley, and the CALmessages announcement from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

January 06, 2016

Statement of Economic Interests (700-U) Form Revised for 2016

The State of California has issued a revised 700-U Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators for immediate use. The revised form, dated 2015/2016, is available on the Conflict of Interest Committee website and is the only version that will now be accepted. If you have any questions please contact Jyl Baldwin (jbaldwin@berkeley.edu, 2-8110).

This year, the requirements for reporting travel have changed. If an individual receives a travel payment for travel occurring on or after January 1, 2016, which is reportable as a gift, he or she must disclose the travel destination.

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.

December 30, 2015

NIH Issues Legislative Mandates FY 2016, Including Salary Cap Increase

The National Institutes of Health has issued the Notice of Legislative Mandates in Effect for FY 2016 (NOT-OD-16-044). The notice provides information on statutory provisions that limit the use of funds on NIH grant, cooperative agreement, and contract awards for FY 2016.

The notice includes an increase to the salary limitation, or salary cap, with further information available in the Notice on Salary Limitation on Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts (NOT-OD-16-045). NOT-OD-16-145 states that for “FY 2016, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113), signed into law on December 18, 2015, restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Executive Level II salary is currently set at $183,300, increasing to $185,100 effective January 10, 2016.”

January 20, 2016 update:
January 26, 2016 update:
January 28, 2016 update:

December 22, 2015

NIH ASSIST Available for All Competing Grant Applications and Some Post-award Actions

ASSIST is the National Institutes of Health system for the preparation, submission and tracking of grant applications through Grants.gov to NIH. Throughout 2015, ASSIST support expanded to a variety of grant programs according to a timeline which is now complete.

ASSIST is now an option for:
  • all single and multi-project, competing grant applications;
  • single-project administrative supplements;
  • single-project, post-award successor-in-interest (type 6) requests; and
  • single-project, post-award change of institution (type 7) requests.
For more information, see ASSIST Now an Option for All NIH Competing Grant Applications and Some Post-award Administrative Actions (NOT-OD-16-042), as well as SPO’s NIH Proposals and Awards at Berkeley.


November 20, 2015 Research Advocate: NIH ASSIST Now an Option for Fellowship Grant Applications
July 20, 2015 Research Advocate: NIH ASSIST Available for Ts, K12, and Other Training and Research Programs
May 1, 2015 Research Advocate: NIH ASSIST Now an Option for R01, Most K, and U01 Applications
January 30, 2015 Research Advocate: An ASSIST for NIH R03 and R21

December 17, 2015

NIH Issues Strategic Plan for FY 2016-2020

The National Institutes of Health has published a new NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016–2020: Turning Discovery Into Health.

The plan focuses on four objectives, to:
  1. advance opportunities in biomedical research in fundamental science, treatment and cures, and health promotion and disease prevention;
  2. foster innovation by setting NIH priorities to enhance nimbleness, consider burden of disease and value of permanently eradicating a disease, and advance research opportunities presented by rare diseases;
  3. enhance scientific stewardship by recruiting and retaining an outstanding biomedical research workforce, enhancing workforce diversity and impact through partnerships, ensuring rigor and reproducibility, optimizing approaches to inform funding decisions, encouraging innovation, and engaging in proactive risk management practices; and
  4. excel as a federal science agency by managing for results by developing the “science of science,” balancing outputs with outcomes, conducting workforce analyses, continually reviewing peer review, evaluating steps to enhance rigor and reproducibility, reducing administrative burden, and tracking effectiveness of risk management in decision making.
See the NIH press release, NIH Unveils FY2016–2020 Strategic Plan, for more information.

December 02, 2015

New Version of the Subrecipient Commitment Form

The Sponsored Projects Office has made some necessary changes to the Subrecipient Commitment Form under “Section F: Certifications 6. Conflict of Interest.”

This change was needed because subrecipients without an active and enforced conflict of interest policy consistent with the provisions of the National Science Foundation or the Public Health Service are no longer going to be allowed to rely on Berkeley’s Conflict of Interest policy.

All subrecipients now will have to have an appropriate COI policy in place prior to Berkeley issuing a subagreement under a prime award from NSF/PHS or any organization that has adopted the PHS or NSF Conflict of Interest requirements.

This is explained under Section F: Certifications 6. Conflict of Interest.

Important: Before a proposal is submitted to the NSF or the PHS or any organization that that has adopted PHS or NSF COI requirements, subrecipient investigators (as defined by applicable regulations) from entities without an active an enforced conflict of interest policy must complete the PHS Financial Disclosure (Form 5) or the NSF Financial Disclosure Form (as appropriate) and attach it to the Subrecipient Commitment Form before it is submitted to SPO. Failure to do this will prevent the submission of the proposal.

The new Subrecipient Commitment Form dated (12/2015) must be used by January 15, 2016. All other versions of the Subrecipient Commitment Form submitted to SPO after this date will be returned.

During the interim period, the previous version of the form will be accepted by SPO as long as a new Section F: Certifications 6. Conflict of Interest also is provided with appropriate disclosure forms.

November 25, 2015

2015 Sponsored Projects Annual Report Published

The Sponsored Projects Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2015 is now available on the SPO website. The report provides information on campus proposals and awards during the past year; in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, the Berkeley campus received $690.8 million in contract and grant awards.

November 20, 2015

NIH ASSIST Now an Option for Fellowship Grant Applications

ASSIST is the National Institutes of Health system for the preparation, submission and tracking of grant applications through Grants.gov to NIH.

ASSIST can now be used for NIH fellowship grant applications (F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, and FI2). By the end of 2015, ASSIST will be a submission option for all NIH competing grant applications.

For more information, see the NIH Guide Notice ASSIST Now an Option for Fellowship Grant Applications (NOT-OD-16-023), as well as SPO’s NIH Proposals and Awards at Berkeley.

November 18, 2015

Request for Comments on New Federal Research Terms and Conditions

The National Science Foundation is requesting public comment on the updated federal Research Terms and Conditions (RTC) to address and implement the Uniform Guidance. Comments must be received by December 14, 2015.

For details, see the Federal Register Notice - Research Terms and Conditions to address and implement the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), 2 CFR § 200, along with the Draft Research Terms and Conditions Overlay to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), 2 CFR § 200 on the Federal-Wide Research Terms and Conditions page hosted by NSF.

The agencies participating include the: U. S. Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology; U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture; U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration; and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

October 30, 2015

NIH Changes in November

The National Institutes of Health will be making significant changes to the FY 2016 NIH Grants Policy Statement (NIHGPS). The FY 2016 NIHGPS will be available in November. However, NIH has provided a document describing these changes.

Among the changes are the following:
  1. To reduce administrative burden, NIH will allow our recipients to reduce effort during a NCE without prior approval.
  2. Applications containing one or more biosketches that do not conform to the required format may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-032).
  3. Applications that do not conform to the page limit requirements because inappropriate materials have been included in other parts of the application may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-11-080).
  4. Applications submitted as new but containing elements of a resubmission or renewal application are noncompliant with the resubmission policy and may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-059).
  5. Applications submitted after 5 PM local (applicant organization) time on the application due date may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-039).
  6. Any change in research procedures in an active award that would result in an increased risk to human subjects will require prior NIH approval before implementation.
For more information, see the NIH Summary of Upcoming Significant Changes to the NIH Grants Policy Statement and the NIH Guide Notice, Significant Changes: FY 2016 NIH Grants Policy Statement (NOT-OD-16-017).

Update: On November 25, NIH issued:

October 22, 2015

For NSF PIs: NSF Public Access Repository

The following message is from Jean Feldman at the NSF Policy Office. The intent of the message is to get NSF PIs of any active or closed awards to begin to voluntarily deposit publications in NSF’s Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) starting in December/January 2015.

This will enable NSF to make copies of articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and juried conference papers resulting from NSF awards available to the public free of charge no more than 12 months after initial publication. The Repository will enable NSF-funded investigators to meet this deposit requirement for publications and to include the relevant information in their project reports. The Repository also will provide search mechanisms to enable the public to find and use these articles and papers.

The complete announcement from NSF follows.


Dear Colleagues:

With the release of the Public Access plan, Today’s Data, Tomorrow’s Discoveries, the National Science Foundation (NSF) continues its commitment to expand public access to the results of its funded research. In accordance with its stated plan, NSF will make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication. This NSF requirement will apply to new awards resulting from proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016, which will be the effective date of the updated Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

More information is provided below on NSF’s Public Access solution, the planned pilot of the publications repository and how you can help.

About Public Access

NSF’s Public Access plan (NSF 15-52) describes a set of steps that meet the policy objectives set forth in the February 22, 2013 memorandum issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research. These include making copies of articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and juried conference papers resulting from NSF awards available to the public free of charge no more than 12 months after initial publication. The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) provides mechanisms that enable NSF-funded investigators to meet this deposit requirement for publications and to include the relevant information in their project reports. NSF-PAR also provides search mechanisms to enable the public to find and use these articles and papers. (Note: the existing NSF Data Management requirement specified in the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II.C.2.j remains unchanged.)

About the Pilot

In order to gain early feedback on NSF’s Public Access solution for publications, NSF will begin a pilot following release of the “Beta” version of the NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) in December/January 2015. The pilot will provide NSF with early feedback from the research community to evaluate the NSF Public Access solution from both the public’s perspective and from that of the Principal Investigator (PIs) and co-PI(s).

Who can participate in the Pilot?

PIs or co-PIs from any active or closed awards from NSF are encouraged to participate in the pilot provided they know their Research.gov/FastLane credentials and have a copy of the published journal or juried conference paper. Additionally, NSF will reach out to select PIs/co-PIs with recent awards to elicit volunteers for an enhanced pilot. These PIs/co-PIs will be asked to use NSF-PAR and several new project reporting features during the period of the pilot.

How you can help

As we approach the “Beta” launch, we would appreciate your assistance in encouraging PIs/co-PIs to begin voluntarily depositing publications in NSF-PAR starting in December/January 2015. Detailed instructions on how to deposit publications in NSF-PAR will be available on Research.gov.

For more information on Public Access, please see the Public Access Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you have any questions about the upcoming Public Access pilot, please feel free to reach out by emailing nsf-par@nsf.gov.

October 15, 2015

NSF Issues Revised PAPPG for 2016

The National Science Foundation has issued a revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 16-1).

The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016. Significant changes include:
  • Enforcement of 5 p.m. submitter’s local time across all NSF funding opportunities;
  • Implementation of NSF’s Public Access Policy;
  • Submission of proposal certifications by the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) concurrently with proposal submission;
  • NSF’s implementation of the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences on Dual Use Research of Concern;
  • Provision of Collaborators and Other Affiliations information as a new single-copy document, instead of as part of the Biographical Sketch;
  • Submission of Biographical Sketches and Current and Pending Support separately for each senior personnel;
  • Electronic signature and submission of notifications and requests by the AOR only;
  • Revision of timeframe for submission of final project reports, project outcomes reports and financial closure of awards to 120 days after the award end date; and
  • Numerous clarifications throughout the document.
Given the number of important revisions, NSF strongly encourages the community to review the by-chapter summary of changes provided in the Introduction section of the PAPPG.

NSF will host a webinar to brief the community on the new PAPPG will on October 29  at 11:00 am Pacific Time. Registration is required.

While this version of the PAPPG becomes effective on January 25, 2016, in the interim, the guidelines contained in the current PAPPG (NSF 15-1) continue to apply.

October 13, 2015

NIH and AHRQ Announce Changes for Policies, Instructions, and Forms in 2016

The National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have published notices informing the biomedical and health services research communities of planned changes to policies, forms, and instructions for grant applications submitted in 2016.

The planned changes focus on the following areas: rigor and transparency in research, vertebrate animals, inclusion reporting, data safety monitoring, research training, appendices, font requirements, and biosketch clarifications.
    Announced changes will occur in two phases.

    Phase 1: Effective for NIH/AHRQ applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2016.
    • Use of a new “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment (uploaded in Other Attachments section of R&R Other Project Information form)
    • Vertebrate Animals (applies to NIH but not AHRQ)
      • Updated guidance on criteria to be addressed (description of procedures; justifications; minimization of pain and distress; and euthanasia)
      • A description of veterinary care is no longer required
      • Justification for the number of animals has been eliminated
      • A description and justification of the method of euthanasia is required only if the method is not consistent with AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals
    • Definition of “child” (applies to NIH but not AHRQ) The age of a “child” for the purposes of NIH’s inclusion policy will apply to individuals who are 18 years old instead of under 21 years old.
    • Updated requirements and instructions for several attachments on the PHS 398 Research Training Program Plan form:
      • “Recruitment and Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity” - applicants will be asked to focus on recruitment
      • “Human Subjects” - applicants must describe how the institution will ensure that trainees only participate in exempt human subjects research or non-exempt human subjects research that has IRB approval; no longer necessary to provide a list of potential grants trainees may work on and associated IRB information
      • “Vertebrate Animals” - applicants must describe how the institution will ensure that trainees only participate in vertebrate animal research that has IACUC approval; no longer necessary to provide a list of potential grants trainees may work on and associated IACUC information
      • “Progress Report” - requirement to report on publications that arose from work conducted by the trainee while supported by the training grant will be moved to the Just-in-Time process
    Phase 2: Completes the implementation with the introduction of new (FORMS-D) forms and instructions and will impact due dates on or after May 25, 2016.

    More information on this phase will be provided in 2016.

    See NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications (NOT-OD-16-004) for additional details.


    In a related notice, NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Post-Award Forms and Instructions (NOT-OD-16-005), NIH and AHRQ plan to change policies, forms, and instructions for interim and final progress reports, and other post-award documents associated the monitoring, oversight, and closeout of an award. This also applies to revised Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) forms.
    • Changes to Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR)
      • As of 12/1/2015: New training data tables. See NOT-OD-15-112 and NOT-OD-16-007.
      • As of 1/22/2016: Updates Coming to the Screens in the Inclusion Management System (IMS). More information will be posted in a separate Guide Notice just prior to when the changes will be implemented.
      • As of 1/25/2016: Addition of clarifying rigor language. See NOT-OD-16-011 and NOT-OD-15-012.
    • Changes to the following forms also are anticipated:
      • PHS 2271— Statement of Appointment—as of 1/22/2016
      • PHS 416-7— NRSA Termination Notice—as of 1/22/2016
      • PHS 2590— Noncompeting Continuation Progress Report—as of 3/25/2016
      • Final Progress Report Instructions—as of 3/25/2016

    October 09, 2015

    Curious About UC Berkeley’s External Funding?

    Are you curious about the external funding coming to UC Berkeley? RAC Information Systems has created two new interactive dashboards to provide data on the source of Berkeley’s external funding and award processing time.

    The Sponsored Projects Funding dashboard provides access to external funding data summarized by sponsoring agency and department. The data can be further sorted by sponsor type, control unit, and fiscal year using the check boxes on the right hand side of the page.

    Award Processing Time shows the turnaround time it takes to process awards received. The data can be sorted by sponsor class and year received using the check boxes on the right hand side. Note that as of October 2015, 63.38% of awards received at Berkeley are processed in under 14 days, and 84.23% of awards are processed in under 30 days.

    Data will be refreshed quarterly at the beginning of the quarter.