April 24, 2015

UC President's Research Catalyst Award

University of California President Janet Napolitano and UC Research Initiatives have issued a Request for Proposals for the 2016 President’s Research Catalyst Awards. This president’s initiative aims to advance innovative research in areas of strategic importance to UC that has the potential to benefit California, the nation and the world, and to stimulate public support for UC research that fulfills the following programmatic goals:
  • Catalyze innovative scholarship that makes significant contributions to knowledge and science in areas of strategic importance to UC, and that has the potential to improve human lives, society, the environment, or the economy, enhance culture and community, or provide other public benefit
  • Catalyze multicampus and systemwide collaboration that positions UC as a national leader
  • Catalyze faculty collaboration across career stages to provide mentorship, support professional advancement, and position UC faculty as leaders in key fields
  • Catalyze graduate student training opportunities in cutting-edge interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary research
  • Catalyze public engagement in the UC research mission through opportunities for community collaborative research, citizen science, or other community outreach, education and engagement
  • Catalyze undergraduate participation in research through educational, curricular or training/internship components (as appropriate to the fields and disciplines)
The competition is open to all fields of research and interdisciplinary or thematic collaboration. All proposals must be submitted by academic appointees with Principal Investigator status at a UC campus, and must include participation of at least three UC campuses.

Key Dates:
  • Applicant Teleconferences: May 1-8, 2015 (Pre-registration is required.)
  • Required Letters of Intent Due: Thursday, June 4, 2015
  • Notification of LOI Decision: by Friday, July 10, 2015
  • Invited Full Proposals Due: Wednesday, August 26, 2015

April 20, 2015

NSF FastLane Automated Compliance Checking Effective April 24, 2015

The message below was issued on April 20, 2015, by Jean Feldman, Head, Policy Office, Division of Institution and Award Support, National Science Foundation. For more information, see Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals.

Dear Colleagues:

Beginning April, 24, 2015, proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations in FastLane will undergo a series of  automated proposal compliance validation checks to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (Chapter II.C.2. of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG)). These checks will automatically validate a proposal for compliance against proposal sections per type of funding mechanism. For example, an error message will appear if a project description or budget are not provided in proposals submitted in response to a Program Solicitation.

Checks will be triggered when proposers select the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message will display when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the proposal cannot be submitted until it is compliant.
Please note that these automated compliance checks will not be conducted on proposals submitted to NSF via Grants.gov.

To view a detailed list of all compliance checks, click here

January 16, 2015 Research Advocate: NSF Updates to FastLane and Research.gov on January 26
February 20, 2013 Research Advocate: NSF FastLane Begins Automated Proposal Compliance Checking on March 18

April 09, 2015

NIH Seeks Input on Strategies to Optimize Impact and Sustainability of Biomedical Research

The National Institutes of Health is requesting input regarding the possible development of new policies and other strategies to improve the impact and sustainability of the NIH-funded biomedical research enterprise.

NIH seeks input from researchers, academic institutions, professional societies, and other stakeholders on any or all of these areas:
  1. Key issues that currently limit the impact of NIH’s funding for biomedical research and challenge the sustainability of the biomedical research enterprise. We welcome responses that explain why these issues are of high importance.
  2. Ideas about adjusting current funding policies to ensure both continued impact and sustainability of the NIH-supported research enterprise. We welcome responses that point to specific strengths or weaknesses in current policies and suggest how we can build on or improve them.
  3. Ideas for new policies, strategies, and other approaches that would increase the impact and sustainability of NIH-funded biomedical research.
  4. Any other issues that respondents feel are relevant.
NIH will accept responses through May 17, 2015. Responses must be submitted electronically.

For more information, see the April 2 NIH Guide Notice, Request for Information (RFI): Optimizing Funding Policies and Other Strategies to Improve the Impact and Sustainability of Biomedical Research (NOT-OD-15-084), as well as a Rock Talk article by Jon Lorsch and Sally Rockey, Give Input on Strategies for Optimizing the Impact and Sustainability of Biomedical Research.

April 07, 2015

NSF Issues Uniform Guidance FAQs

The National Science Foundation has issued Frequently Asked Questions on the National Science Foundation’s Implementation of 2 CFR § 200 (Uniform Guidance). The new FAQs are available on the NSF Policy Office page.

The following is the text of the FAQs:

1. Which awards incorporate the new Uniform Guidance requirements?

The Uniform Guidance is effective for awards and funding increments on existing awards made on or after December 26, 2014. The Uniform Guidance will not be incorporated in the following circumstances:
  • If the award is a standard grant made prior to December 26, 2014; or
  • If the award is a continuing grant that has received all of its funding increments prior to December 26, 2014.
2. With the implementation of the new Uniform Guidance, how does an awardee know which terms and conditions apply an award?

For existing awards made prior to December 26, 2014, the terms and conditions referenced in the award notice will continue to apply. If an existing award receives a funding increment on or after December 26, 2014, then the Grant General Conditions (GC-1) will be incorporated by reference into that funding amendment.

3. If an existing award receives a non-funding amendment (i.e., an amendment that does not provide any additional funding, such as a change of PI), is the amendment subject to the Grant General Conditions (GC-1) dated December 26, 2014?

No. The GC-1 is effective for new NSF awards and funding amendments to existing awards made on or after December 26, 2014. Non-funding amendments do not change the terms and conditions of the current award, except as noted in the administrative change.

4. If an existing award receives an amendment and the new GC-1 is incorporated, is it necessary to request a retroactive approval for items that normally require prior approvals?

Once an existing award receives a funding amendment that incorporates the GC-1, dated 12/26/14, preparation and submission of notifications and requests will follow the requirements specified in the new award conditions. Article 2 of the GC-1 outlines the 2 items that require approval from the National Science Foundation. (See also Award & Administration Guide, Exhibit II-1 for additional information.)

5. In regards to NSF’s recent change in the grant conditions that authorize grantees up to 120 days to submit final disbursement requests, will ACM$ allow for disbursement requests up to 120 days on awards not subject to the GC-1 dated, 12/26/15?

The 120 day standard will apply to all awards. The Award Cash Management System (ACM$) will not differentiate between awards and amendments made prior to December 26, 2014 and those made after December 26, 2014.

Indirect Costs

6. It states in the Grant Proposal Guide: "No supporting documentation is required for proposed rates of 10% or less of modified total direct costs." Is it therefore acceptable to allow less than 10% of modified total direct costs? If so, is 0% acceptable?

Submission of proposal budgets that reflect indirect cost rates below the de minimus 10% are not acceptable. NSF’s expectation with respect to indirect costs is made clear in NSF Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II.C.3.g(vi)(e): “It is NSF’s expectation that, consistent with 2 CFR § 200.414, NSF awardees will use the domestic subrecipient’s applicable U.S. federally negotiated indirect cost rate(s). If no such rate exists, the NSF awardee may either negotiate a rate or use a de minimus indirect cost rate recovery of 10% of modified total direct costs.”

7. The University has, on occasion, experienced receipt of budgets from subcontractors who elect not to charge F&A at all. Is a 0% F&A rate acceptable in these cases?

Indirect cost rates of 0% are not acceptable as this would represent a form of voluntary committed cost sharing which is prohibited under NSF’s Cost Sharing Policy.


8. Listed as a "Significant Change to the Grant Proposal Guide to Implement the Uniform Guidance" is all travel must now be justified in Line E of the budget. How detailed must this request be to meet this requirement? For instance, if the name of a conference is available but not the exact date or location, is this sufficient?

The NSF Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II.C.2.g(iv) outlines what is required to justify travel costs: “Travel and its relation to the proposed activities must be specified, itemized and justified by destination and cost.” Therefore, proposers should provide as much information that is available to ensure that the travel is specified, itemized and justified. NSF realizes that all details may not be available at the time of proposal submission and, thus, proposers will be unable to provide such information.

9. When might temporary dependent care costs be allowable?

(Note: UC’s policy does not currently allow for dependent costs related to travel; therefore such costs would not be an allowable charge to NSF.)

April 01, 2015

New Biosketch Format for NIH and AHRQ

The National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Health Research and Quality are requiring a new biosketch format (NOT-OD-15-032) for all competing and non-competing applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015. Biosketch format pages, instructions, samples and FAQs are available on the SF 424 (R&R) Forms and Applications page.

Applicants can use Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv) to generate their biosketches faster and in the right format.

The Berkeley Research Development Office (BRDO) provides additional guidance:

For proposals with a due date on or after May 25, 2015, you must use NIH’s new format for biosketches, which is a major departure from the previous format. The biggest change is that instead of listing your publications in section C, you now are asked to describe your five most significant contributions to science placed in historical context, each of which may be supported by up to four of your publications or other products. To accommodate this change, the page limit has been increased from four to five pages.

NIH Publishes Revised NIH Grants Policy Statement

The National Institutes of Health has published the revised NIH Grants Policy Statement (NIHGPS, rev. 3/31/2015).

NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-087, Publication of the Revised NIH Grants Policy Statement (Rev. 3/31/2015), states:

“This revision is applicable to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements with budget periods beginning on or after December 26, 2014 and awards that received supplemental funding on or after December 26, 2014. This revision supersedes, in its entirety, the NIH Grants Policy Statement (10/2013) as a standard term and condition of award. It also supersedes the NIH Interim Grant General Conditions (published 2/5/2015). However, the October 2013 NIHGPS continues to be the standard term and condition for all NIH grants and cooperative agreements with budget periods that began between October 1, 2013 and December 25, 2014.”

Along with the revised NIH GPS, NIH has provided a document summarizing the significant changes.

February 5, 2015 Research Advocate: NIH Issues Interim General Grant Conditions and FAQs - Uniform Guidance