August 21, 2007

NSF Report: Impact of Proposal and Award Management Mechanisms

In recent years, the funding rate for National Science Foundation proposals has decreased, while NSF budget, average award size, and proposal submission rates have increased. The percentage of principal investigators that are funded has decreased, as the number of PIs submitting to NSF has increased.

Responding to concerns that this trend may be having negative impacts on the academic research community, NSF established the Impact of Proposal and Award Management Mechanisms Working Group (IPAMM) in March 2006. IPAMM was charged to “recommend policies and preferred practices to improve NSF’s program announcement and solicitation processes in ways that achieve appropriate balances between proposal funding rates, award sizes and award duration in the various types of awards that comprise the total NSF portfolio, with the emphasis on individual, investigator-initiated grants.”

NSF published the final report on IPAMM’s study, Impact of Proposal and Award Management Mechanisms, on August 8.

IPAMM Recommendations (from the NSF press release)

1. NSF should require that each of the directorates and research offices develop an overarching strategic framework, incorporating flexible management approaches.

2. Long-term planning for accommodating growth in the communities and infrastructure built by research investments (including both physical infrastructure and human resources) must be incorporated when developing new funding opportunities.

3. The practice of limiting the number of proposals that a principal investigator or institution may submit is appropriate in some situations but should be considered in the context of relevant trade-offs and impacts on the community.

4. Careful consideration should be given to the short-term use of various management practices to increase the number of awards and reduce the need to revise and resubmit highly rated proposals.

5. NSF management should inform the appropriate internal and external communities when implementing new proposal management practices and should monitor their concerns during implementation.

6. NSF should ensure that the community has access to specific and accurate statistical data on funding rates; this will include evaluating the Budget Internet Information System and updating it, as needed.

7. NSF should annually update trend analyses for internal review, and include it in the annual Report on the NSF Merit Review Process to the Board.

August 20, 2007

America COMPETES Act to Fund Federal STEM Programs

The America COMPETES Act (America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act), H.R. 2272, was signed into law by the President on August 9, 2007. The Act, passed by both chambers of Congress just before the August recess, is the legislative response to the recommendations contained in the National Academies Rising Above the Gathering Storm report. The Act authorizes various programs at the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Education intended to strengthen education and research in the United States related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The Act provides over $40 billion total for fiscal years 2008 to 2010 for STEM programs across federal agencies. Some highlights of the package include:
  • $22 billion for the National Science Foundation, putting NSF on a path to double in budget approximately seven years, increasing support for a variety of programs including the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, CAREER grants for young faculty, and a new program of seed grants.
  • Nearly $17 billion for Energy Department programs, keeping the Office of Science on a seven-year doubling path, and establishing an Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), patterned after DARPA, to support high-risk, high-reward research.
  • A new Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, replacing the Advanced Technology Program but allowing university participation.
Also STEM-related and on August 9, the National Science Board approved the “National Action Plan for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education” report. NSB is asking for comments by August 30.

NIH Meeting on Peer Review Scheduled for San Francisco on October 25

The National Institutes of Health is undertaking a comprehensive look at the entire NIH system of research support, including the peer review system, in order to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness, and is inviting public participation in the discussion. Written comments are requested by September 17. NIH is also holding a series of regional meetings to discuss enhancing peer review:
  • September 12, 2007 – Chicago
  • October 8, 2007 – New York City
  • October 25, 2007 – San Francisco
The October 25 meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m at the Parc 55 Hotel, near 5th and Market in downtown San Francisco. To attend, please register online.

Agenda: NIH Regional Consultation Meetings on Peer Review

Meeting context and review of ongoing activities
Dr. Lawrence Tabak
Director, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH
Co-Chair of the Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) on NIH Peer Review

Goals for the meeting
Dr. Keith Yamamoto
Executive Vice Dean, School of Medicine, UCSF
Professor, Cellular/Molecular Pharmacology and Biochemistry/Biophysics, UCSF
Co-Chair of the Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) on NIH Peer Review

Statements/proposals from External Scientific Community offering specific strategies or tactics for enhancing NIH peer review and research support

Open discussion: Response to emerging themes
As part of our iterative process we welcome feedback about a series of issues/suggestions that have been made thus far- these will be posted on the website in advance of the meeting
Drs. Yamamoto and Tabak, Facilitators

Open Discussion
1) Challenges and opportunities for NIH system of research support
2) Challenges and opportunities for NIH peer review
Drs. Yamamoto and Tabak, Facilitators

Closing Remarks
Drs. Yamamoto and Tabak

August 06, 2007

Work Begins on New Online Protocol Management System

The Research Administration and Compliance Office is very pleased to report that work has begun on the “eProtocol” Project to implement an online protocol management system to support research projects involving human or animal subjects. The system is designed to replace manual, paper-based research protocol processes with a broadly distributed electronic system to simplify protocol submission, processing, and compliance monitoring. The Office of the CIO’s Technology Program Office is providing the services of Jon Conhaim who is representing RAC as project manager of the eProtocol Project.

Over the next months, we will be installing, configuring, testing, and performing a fit/gap analysis on the system. As part of this work, we will be interviewing faculty and OPHS, ACUC, and SPO staff to determine precisely how the system fits with our existing processes and what gaps may exist that will require process or system modifications.

We are excited to initiate this important project with outcomes that will benefit the entire campus.

August 02, 2007

RAC Forum: Save the Dates!

The Research Administration and Compliance Office has scheduled the monthly RAC Forum meetings for the coming year. This year, we will be holding the RAC Forum on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. until noon. All meetings except for April will be held in the Tilden Room, 5th floor, ASUC Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building. Please save the following dates:

September 12, 2007, 10:30-noon
October 10, 2007, 10:30-noon
November 14, 2007, 10:30-noon
December 12, 2007, 10:30-noon
January 16, 2008, 10:30-noon
February 13, 2008, 10:30-noon
March 12, 2008, 10:30-noon
April 16, 2008, 10:30-noon (location to be determined)
May 14, 2008, 10:30-noon
June 11, 2008, 10:30-noon

We will be sending the agenda for the September meeting soon. You can also check the RAC web site at

As always, please feel free to contact us if you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed at the meetings. We'll see you in September!

New Facilities and Administrative Cost Rates for Campus

The campus has a new multi-year Facilities and Administration (indirect cost) rate agreement with the federal government. The agreement, dated July 27, 2007, specifies the F&A rates to be applied to awards from federal and non-federal sponsors. Berkeley's last rate agreement expired on June 30, 2006 and allowed for provisional rates through June 30, 2007. Under the new agreement the rate for on-campus research increases to 53 percent on July 1, 2007 and to 53.5 percent on July 1, 2009. The off-campus research rate will remain at 26 percent. The rates for other sponsored activities will also go up and the Space Sciences Laboratory's special rates will be lowered.

Rates for awards with start dates prior to July 1, 2006 will remain at their current levels for the remaining life of the award, including non-competing budget periods. The new rate schedule applies to new awards (including new competing budget periods) received on or after July 1, 2006. Thus the overhead rate applied to a multi-year on-campus competitive research award received on or after July 1, 2006 will be 52 percent through June 30, 2007, 53 percent from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2009, and 53.5 percent thereafter.

These rates will be applied automatically by the Controller's Office. For questions concerning how these rates apply to your contracts and grants, contact your representative at the Sponsored Projects Office. For questions on how F&A rates are determined, contact Gregg Carr at or 3-7564.

7/1/06 - 6/30/07, 52.0%
7/1/07 - 6/30/09, 53%
7/1/09 - 6/30/11, 53.5%
7/1/06 - 6/30/11, 26.0%

7/1/06 - 6/30/07, 50.0%
7/1/07 - 6/30/09, 56%
7/1/09 - 6/30/11, 56.5%
7/1/06 - 6/30/11, 26.0%

7/1/06 - 6/30/07, 30.0%
7/1/07 - 6/30/09, 33%
7/1/09 - 6/30/11, 33.5%
7/1/06 - 6/30/07, 17.0%
7/1/07 - 6/30/11, 19.0%

7/1/06 - 6/30/07, 38.0%
7/1/07 - 6/30/11, 29.0%
7/1/06 - 6/30/07, 17.0%
7/1/07 - 6/30/11, 16.6%

*The F&A rate used for most federally sponsored training awards is 8% of total costs.

August 01, 2007

NIH Redesigns Web Sites

The National Institutes of Health has revised the NIH home page, and the NIH Office for Extramural Research has a new, improved OER Grants web site as well as a revamped, customer-focused Electronic Research Administration (eRA) home page.

The new OER site includes the following new features and changes:
  • New overall look and feel with updated graphics;
  • New site features, with content managers, updated header, site navigation, right-side information area and footer;
  • New content pages, providing an overview of the NIH grants process and more;
  • Many updated web pages, some with significant content changes;
  • Some pages removed and other actions taken;
  • Links to the redesigned eRA web site.
OER has posted a summary of changes that lists new site features and new content pages. New content includes web pages on grant application basics, a grants process overview with a process-at-a-glance chart, the peer review process, and award management.