October 29, 2008

RAC Offices to Close During the Annual Campus Winter Break

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 Thursday, December 25, 2008 through Friday, January 2, 2009. The Animal Care and Use Committee Office will be closed beginning Wednesday, December 24, 2008 through Friday, January 2, 2009. Offices will reopen on Monday, January 5, 2009.

SPO Proposal Submission
  • Proposals with deadlines during the campus shutdown should arrive at SPO by Friday, December 12, 2008.
  • Proposals due at agencies in early January should be at SPO by Monday, December 15, 2008.
  • No deliveries will be accepted after noon on December 24, 2008; any documents left in the drop box over the break will not be retrieved and logged until January 5, 2009.
ACUC Protocol Submission
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the January 21, 2009 meeting is Monday, December 8, 2008.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the February 18, 2009 meeting is January 12, 2009.
  • ACUC will be closed on December 24, 2008.
CPHS Protocol Submission
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the December 5, 2008 CPHS-I meeting is Monday, November 10, 2008.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the December 19, 2008 CPHS-II meeting is Monday, November 24, 2008.
  • There is no CPHS-I meeting in January 2009; the deadline for protocol submission for the February 6, 2009 CPHS-I meeting is Monday, January 12, 2009.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the January 16, 2009 CPHS-II meeting is Monday, December 22, 2008.
  • Important: if your study was given full board review last January and approval will expire before January 16, 2009, you must submit your renewal application in time for review at a December 2008 CPHS meeting.
  • No deliveries will be accepted after noon on December 24, 2008; any documents left in the drop box over the break will not be retrieved and logged until January 5, 2009.

October 24, 2008

New NIH NRSA Fellowship Certification Form

Beginning December 1, 2008, a new certification form will need to be submitted to SPO with Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) PHS 416-1 grant applications, PHS 416-9 progress reports, and post-award prior approval requests for individual fellowships.

On October 14, 2008, NIH announced a change regarding the signatures of the applicant (individual fellow) and sponsor(s) as a part of PHS 416-1 grant applications, certain post-submission information, PHS 416-9 progress reports, and post-award prior approval requests. The change requires each institution to secure and retain the individual fellow and sponsor(s) signatures as part of the institutional review/approval process. This change in business process for individual fellowships now brings them in line with the similar business process change for principal investigators instituted in 2006.

This business process change applies to all competing applications prepared using the PHS 416-1 application for submission/receipt dates in December 2008 and thereafter. The change will apply to all progress reports for continuation support submitted for submission/receipt dates of December 1, 2008 and thereafter.

To meet the requirement, the Sponsored Projects Office has developed a new form, the “NIH NSRA Fellowship Assurance Certification Form.” The form must be submitted to SPO with NIH PHS 416 fellowship applications, progress reports, and prior approval requests beginning December 1, 2008. The form is available at http://www.spo.berkeley.edu/Forms/UCForms.html.

The NIH Guide announcement of this change and other changes to PHS 416 are available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/WeeklyIndex.cfm/10-17-2008/.

Please contact the SPO research administrator assigned to your department with any questions.

October 22, 2008

VCR Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO

On October 22, 2008, Vice Chancellor for Research Burnside issued a new VCR Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO through CALmessages. The text of the new policy is included below.

From: Beth Burnside, Vice Chancellor for Research
To: Deans, Directors, Department Chairs
Re: VCR Policy on Late Proposal Submissions to SPO

I am writing to alert you to a new policy that I am putting into practice for contract and grant proposals that are submitted after the SPO deadline. As you know, UC Berkeley policy is that complete proposals must be submitted to the Sponsored Projects Office five working days in advance of the sponsor's deadline. In consideration of the volume of proposals and the growing complexity of the proposal submission process, it is essential that principal investigators observe the SPO deadline to allow adequate time for staff members in the Departments and in SPO to work through the many issues that arise before a proposal can be submitted for the sponsor's deadline. Very often a high number of proposals are received by SPO at one time, and because there are difficulties with grants.gov and other on-line submission systems, late proposals create great stress for all staff members and jeopardize timely submission. Further, late proposals often delay the proposals of principal investigators who have submitted their proposals to SPO on time.

Late proposal submissions are a significant problem for the campus. In the last 12 months SPO received 2,909 proposals with a stated sponsor deadline. Of those, about 27% (782) were received by SPO less than 2 days before the sponsor deadline, and nearly 14% (401) were received on the same day they were due to the sponsor. This ongoing problem with late proposal submissions creates a “log-jam” that jeopardizes SPO's ability to transmit to funding agencies those applications that have been submitted on time. Hence, the PIs that have been ignoring the SPO five-day deadline are placing in jeopardy the more numerous PIs who are submitting in a timely fashion. I have on several occasions urged the campus faculty to observe the SPO submission schedule. That has not had a noticeable effect on the volume of late submissions. As a continuation of the current situation is simply untenable, a new policy is required. The following policy will become effective Monday, November 3, 2008.

• Any proposal that is to be submitted to SPO less than five working days before the sponsor deadline will require the prior approval of both the Department Head or Director of the submitting unit and the Vice Chancellor for Research before it will be processed by SPO.

• I have asked SPO management not to approve proposals received after the SPO deadline unless this policy has been followed.

• SPO will no longer have authority to grant extensions on its own to principal investigators to submit proposals after the five-day deadline. All extensions must be approved by the VCR to be processed. This policy applies to paper and electronic submissions of new, competing renewal, continuation and re-submission proposals regardless of sponsor, if the sponsor specifies a deadline. If no deadline is specified, SPO will expect to have five working days to process the proposal from the time of receipt.

• Sponsor requests for annual progress reports, revised budgets and other requests such as this are not subject to this policy.

• To obtain approval to submit a proposal after the SPO deadline, the Principal Investigator must send a request via email to the appropriate Department or Lab Head and lead administrative officer, with a copy to Marcia Smith, AVC-RAC. The request must explain why the proposal is late and describe the reasons why it could not or cannot be submitted on time. The justification will need to be very compelling for it to be considered for exception to this policy.

• If the Department or Lab Head or designee approves the late submission, he/she must notify Marcia Smith and forward the proposal to my office for consideration and approval. Once we receive the Department approval, we will try to respond to the Department, the Principal Investigator and SPO within one day. Please note that if I approve the proposal for submission, it will be processed by SPO in the order it was received.

I ask that you inform all principal investigators in your unit of this policy. Please reinforce to principal investigators the importance of this policy so that they are aware that as a result they may be prevented from submitting a late proposal. I also want to note that although every effort will be made to submit approved late proposals by the sponsor's deadline, there are no guarantees that they will make it through the system in time.

My staff and I appreciate your cooperation as we work through the implementation of this new policy. If you have questions or would like to discuss the policy, do not hesitate to call Marcia Smith or myself.

Sincerely yours,
Beth Burnside
Vice Chancellor for Research

October 06, 2008

Keeping Current with NIH: Recent News Highlights

The National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research (OER) provides several sources for current news related to grants policy, funding programs, compliance, and electronic research administration.
Some recent important NIH announcements are linked and summarized below.

New NIH Policy on Resubmission (Amended) Applications (October 10 NIH Guide)

Beginning with original new applications and competing renewal applications submitted for the January 25, 2009 due dates and beyond, NIH will accept only a single amendment to the original application. Applicants who fail to receive funding after two submissions (i.e., the original and the single amendment) may resubmit but only if the application is fundamentally revised to qualify as new. A new application is expected to be substantially different in content and scope with more significant differences than are normally encountered in an amended application.

Original new and competing renewal applications that were submitted prior to January 25, 2009 will be permitted two amendments. For these “grandfathered” applications, NIH expects that any second amendment will be submitted no later than January 7, 2011.

Non-Competing Grant Awards under the Current Continuing Resolution

The Department of Health and Human Services continues to operate on a continuing resolution (CR) that currently extends through March 6, 2009. The CR applies the terms of the FY 2008 appropriations for the period covered by the CR. Until the final FY 2009 appropriation is enacted, 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 percent of the previously committed level). This is consistent with NIH practice during the CRs of FY 2006-2008. NIH will consider upward adjustments to these levels after the final appropriation is enacted, but expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period. NIH plans to publish additional details at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/financial/index.htm.

UC Berkeley questions regarding adjustments applied to individual grant awards amay be directed to the Grants Management Specialist identified on the Notice of Award.

Encouraging Early Transition to Research Independence: Modifying the NIH New Investigator Policy to Identify Early Stage Investigators

The NIH New Investigator policy been changed to encourage early transition to independence. Under the revised policy, New Investigators within ten years of completing their terminal research degree or within ten years of completing their medical residency will be designated Early Stage Investigators (ESIs). Beginning with traditional R01 applications received for the February 2009 receipt dates, NIH will identify applications from ESIs and New Investigators, and the career stage of the PD/PI will be considered at the time of review and award. NIH will be developing and issuing more complete information, instructions, and Frequently Asked Questions before the February R01 receipt dates.

Reminder Concerning Grantee Compliance with Public Access Policy and Related NIH Monitoring Activities

NIH principal investigators are subject to the terms of the NIH Public Access Policy. The policy, issued in January, requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication and requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.

NIH published a notice in the September 25 NIH Guide describing NIH Public Access Policy compliance monitoring efforts for fiscal year 2009, along with a reminder about grantee compliance with the policy and the location of citations for papers in applications, proposals and progress reports.

1/18/2008 Research Advocate article: NIH Public Access Policy Now Required

Announcing Transition Schedule for NIH/AHRQ/CDC/NIOSH/FDA to Adobe-based forms for SF424 Research and Related (R&R) Electronic Submissions through Grants.gov

Most electronic submissions to NIH on or after January 1, 2009, must use Grants.gov Adobe application forms. NIH has issued a schedule for the transition to Adobe forms.

Investigators planning to apply to NIH should be aware of that new Funding Opportunity Announcements released after September 1, 2008, will not have Adobe application forms for downloading until December 2008. Applicants will need to check the FOA in December to download the new Adobe application forms. Also, applicants should be aware that Grants.gov requires the use of very specific versions of Adobe Reader, currently 8.1.1, 8.1.2, or 9.0. The Grants.gov web site has a list of compatible versions that is updated when Adobe releases new editions.

For additional information, see the NIH Resources for Adobe Transition web page and the September 29 eRA Commons Items of Interest.

Elias A. Zerhouni to End Tenure as NIH Director

Dr. Elias Zerhouni announced his plans to step down as the director of NIH at the end of October 2008. He plans to pursue writing projects and explore other professional opportunities. Dr. Zerhouni has served as NIH director since May 2002.

October 02, 2008

Significant Changes in New NSF Policies and Procedures Guide

The National Science Foundation has published a revision to the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 09-1), that will be effective for proposals received on or after January 5, 2009. The revision includes some notable changes; NSF has included a Summary of Significant Changes with the Grant Proposal Guide.

The revised PAPPG (NSF 09-1) becomes effective on January 5. Until then, the current PAPPG (NSF 08-01) will continue to apply. NSF plans to revise existing funding opportunities with due dates between January 5 and March 31 to alert proposers to the revisions in the proposal preparation guidelines.

Some of the more significant changes are described below. For information on additional changes, see the Summary of Significant Changes.

Mentoring Requirement for Postdoctoral Research Fellows

One major change is that NSF has added new guidance to the Proposal Preparation Instructions regarding mentoring for postdoctoral fellows, done to address and implement the mentoring requirement of the America COMPETES Act. The revised instructions state that: “Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include, as a separate section within the 15-page Project Description, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices. The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation's broader impacts merit review criterion. Proposals that do not include a separate section on mentoring activities within the Project Description will be returned without review.”

Senior Project Personnel Salary

The revised Proposal Preparation Instructions also include a major revision of NSF’s faculty salary reimbursement policy. NSF will “limit salary compensation for senior project personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year. This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants. This change moves away from the concept of summer salary and allows for reimbursement of two months of salary per year whenever appropriate during the year.” NSF also states that any anticipated compensation “in excess of two months must be disclosed in the proposal budget, justified in the budget justification, and must be specifically approved by NSF in the award notice.”


The revision also introduces two new award mechanisms, Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), that will replace the Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program. RAPID will support quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events with grants of up to $200,000 for one year. EAGER will support high-risk, exploratory, and potentially transformative research with grants of up to $300,000 for up to two years.

PI/Co-PI Definition

Another change in the revised PAPPG is that NSF has clarified the co-Principal Investigator definition to state that NSF does not infer any distinction in scientific stature among multiple PIs, whether referred to as PI or co-PI. NSF will hold all of the senior personnel equally responsible for the conduct of the project and submission of the requisite project reports. The change is found in Exhibit II-7 – Definitions of Categories of Personnel. NSF made this revision for greater consistency with guidance issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

October 01, 2008

New Guidelines on Activities that Require CPHS/OPHS Review

The campus Committee for Protection of Human Subjects and Office for the Protection of Human Subjects have developed new CPHS Guidelines on Activities that Require CPHS/OPHS Review in response to investigator requests for additional guidance about when to submit an application for CPHS/OPHS review.

Please consult with OPHS if you have any questions in this regard. CPHS welcomes any comments from the research community about this new guidance.

RAC Forum Schedule for the Coming Year

Another year of Research Administration and Compliance Forum meetings is underway after a summer break. The monthly RAC Forum is primarily intended for campus administrative staff, but all are welcome. The first meeting was held in September and featured updates from RAC leadership, presentations on subaward business process analysis and the Subrecipient Commitment Form pilot, and an open forum to discuss ideas for topics for future meetings.

Upcoming RAC Forum meetings are scheduled from 10:30 a.m. until noon on the following dates:
  • October 8, 2008
  • November 12, 2008
  • December 10, 2008
  • January 14, 2009
  • February 11, 2009
  • March 11, 2009
  • April 8, 2009
  • May 13, 2009
  • June 10, 2009
Meetings will be held in the Tilden Room, 5th floor, ASUC Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building. Contact Shelley Sprandel (2-8122, spore@berkeley.edu) to be added to the RAC Forum e-mail list.

AAAS Update on R&D in FY 2009 Federal Budget

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) R&D Budget and Policy Program has issued a report, Federal Research Funding Flat in 2009 as Federal Budget Stalls, analyzing the current status of research and development funding in the fiscal year 2009 federal budget as of September 30.

The 2009 federal fiscal year began on October 1, but Congress is preparing to break without finishing the budget. To allow federal agencies without 2009 budget appropriations to continue spending, Congress passed a continuing resolution that would allow spending at or below 2008 funding levels through March 6, 2009. The continuing resolution included appropriations for only three agencies: the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs. These three agencies received substantial increases in R&D.

Agencies in the other nine unsigned appropriations bills will be operating temporarily at or below 2008 funding for several months. This includes the National Institutes of Health and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, NASA, Department of Commerce, USDA, Department of Interior, and Department of Transportation.

A detailed summary of the overall budget outlook for FY 2009 as well as in-depth analysis for each agency is available on the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program web site.