October 25, 2007

RAC Offices to Close During the Annual Campus Winter Break

The Office for the Protection of Human Subjects, Animal Care and Use Committee Office, and the Sponsored Projects Office, along with the Research Administration and Compliance Office, will be closed during the campus energy curtailment beginning Monday, December 24, 2007, through Tuesday, January 1, 2008. The RAC offices will also be closed for the afternoon on Thursday, December 13, 2007.

SPO Proposal Submission

  • Proposals with deadlines during the campus shutdown should arrive at SPO by Friday, December 7, 2007.
  • Proposals due at agencies in early January should be at SPO before Friday, December 14, 2007.
ACUC Protocol Submission
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the December 5, 2007 meeting is Monday, October 22, 2007.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the January 23, 2008 meeting is Monday, December 10, 2007.
CPHS Protocol Submission
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the December 7, 2007 CPHS-I meeting is Monday, November 5, 2007.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the December 14, 2007 CPHS-II meeting is Monday, November 12, 2007.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the January 4, 2008 CPHS-I meeting is Monday, December 3, 2007.
  • The deadline for protocol submission for the January 18, 2008 CPHS-II meeting is Monday, December 10, 2007.
  • Please note that if your study was given full board review last January and approval will expire before January 4, 2008, you must submit your renewal application in time for review at a December 2007 CPHS meeting.

October 24, 2007

Personally Identifiable Information in DOE Technical Reports

Sponsored Projects Office staff recently received a reminder from the U.S. Department of Energy that Protected Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is not to be included in any technical report submitted to DOE. DOE has noticed that some scientific and technical reports submitted by award recipients using the DOE Energy Link System has had Protected PII included.

If you have already submitted a report to DOE containing Protected PII, DOE asks that you contact your DOE contracting officer immediately. Technical reports submitted to the DOE Energy Link System that were marked as publicly releasable “unlimited announcement” will be made public through DOE public web systems.

Public PII versus Protected PII

PII is any information about an individual which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity. Some information that is considered to be PII is available in public sources such as telephone books, public websites, university listings, etc. This type of information is considered to be Public PII and includes, for example, first and last name, address, work telephone number, email address, home telephone number, and general educational credentials.

In contrast, Protected PII is defined as an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of types of information, including, but not limited to, social security number, passport number, credit card numbers, clearances, bank numbers, biometrics, date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, criminal, medical and financial records, educational transcripts, etc.

October 11, 2007

Optimizing Files for Electronic Submission

When preparing a proposal to submit to Grants.gov or other electronic submission systems, please take the time to make sure files aren't larger than they need to be. Grants.gov does not currently have a limit set for file size. However, large files can fill up email quotas, take more time to upload, and slow down computer performance. These problems are compounded near deadlines when staff are working with multiple proposals at the same time.

For an example of what can go wrong, the Sponsored Projects Office had a recent Grants.gov experience in which a SPO staff member was trying to replace a budget on a PureEdge file that was very large because of the number of scanned PDF attachments. Trying to work with this large file caused the SPO computer to hang, which resulted in wiping out all the information in the PureEdge file. Fortunately, SPO had a backup copy of the file. SPO technical staff worked to reduce the size of this file by optimizing the PDF attachments, then the SPO research administrator was able to upload the revised file in time to meet the Grants.gov deadline that afternoon.

For an example of what is considered large, the National Institutes of Health expects an average R01 application to be in the six to 10 megabyte (MB) range with 99 percent of applications falling under 40 MB. NIH provides guidance on file size in the NIH Frequently Asked Questions on electronic submission. One basic tip from NIH is to avoid scanning text documents to produce PDFs. Instead, NIH recommends producing the documents electronically using text or word-processing software and then converting documents to PDF, and making scanned documents the exception rather than the rule when preparing an application.

What You Can Do
• Start Early and Ask for Help

Please start working on your application early, especially if you are using Grants.gov for the first time. If you are new to Grants.gov, preparing applications for electronic submission, or need help with the process, contact SPO staff early.

• Scanning
When scanning documents is necessary, for example when collaboration letters need to be included with the proposal, set the scanner at 150 dpi (dots per inch) instead of a higher resolution. In some cases, an even lower resolution, such as 72 dpi, might work without sacrificing readability.

• Images
When preparing images to include in a PDF, reduce the size or resolution in an imaging editing program and use compression such as JPEG to save images. Please note that when experimenting with resolution, make sure the results are suitable before making changes that can't be undone.

• Optimizing PDFs
After creating a PDF, use Acrobat or other software to optimize the file and reduce the file size. Check the help menu or user manual to determine the best method for file reduction. For example, in Acrobat 8 Professional, there are several ways to optimize files: Document -> Reduce File Size, Document -> Optimize Scanned PDF, Save As, and PDF Optimizer. Acrobat 7 also provides tools to reduce PDF file size, as does Acrobat 6.

Computer System Requirements
If you are still having trouble working with files even when reducing size whenever possible, you might need a more powerful computer. Grants.gov provides the minimum requirements for PureEdge, but depending on the file types and applications you work with to create the final PureEdge file, this configuration may be inadequate. Grants.gov states that for PureEdge Viewer to function properly, your computer must meet the following system requirements: Windows 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP; 500 MHz processor; 128 MB of RAM; 40 MB disk space; Web browser: Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher, Netscape Communicator 4.5 - 4.8, Netscape 6.1, 6.2, or 7. SPO desktop machines have a 2 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, and an 80-160 GB disk.

IBM has provided Special Edition Mac Viewers for PPC and Intel running Macintosh OS 10.4 or higher that are available for download. If that solution does not work and if you do not have a Windows operating system, you will need to use a Windows Emulation program. SPO provides more information on using Grants.gov with a Macintosh computer.

October 05, 2007

Status of the FY 2008 Federal Budget

The 2008 federal fiscal year (FY) began on October 1, 2007. However, Congress did not finish any of the appropriations bills that would give federal agencies their budgets. Instead, Congress passed a “continuing resolution,” or temporary appropriations bill, that extends funding at 2007 levels through November 16, 2007. In previous years, Congress has issued more than one continuing resolution when more time was needed to finish the budget appropriations. Last year, for example, the FY 2007 federal budget was not passed until February 2007.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science R&D Budget and Policy Program provides up-to-date information and analysis on the federal budget process, including the status of FY 2008 appropriations, as does the Association of American Universities.

The National Institutes of Health issued guidance on Non-Competing Grant Awards Under the Current Continuing Resolution in the October 5 NIH Guide, stating:
“Until the final FY 2008 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 80% of the previously committed level). This is consistent with our practice during the CRs of FY 2006 & 2007. 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.”

August 20 Research Advocate article: America COMPETES Act to Fund Federal STEM Programs

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Electronic Submission and Five-Day Deadline to SPO

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has a new electronic application submission system. Because this is a new, untested system, it is critical that researchers submit one printed copy of the full application with a signed Proposal Review Form to the Sponsored Projects Office at least five working days before the Komen deadline. If the application is not received at SPO five working days before the deadline, SPO cannot guarantee review and successful submission of the application. The UC Berkeley policy on electronic proposal submission is available on CalMessages. Please note that the preferred deadline to SPO is 10 working days before the agency deadline to allow time for thorough review.

Deadlines for upcoming programs:

Komen Postdoctoral Fellowships - Full Application
* Deadline to SPO: October 9
* Deadline to Komen Foundation: October 16

Komen Career Catalyst Research - Full Application
* Deadline to SPO: November 1
* Deadline to Komen Foundation: November 8

Komen Investigator Initiated Research - Full Application
* Deadline to SPO: November 1
* Deadline to Komen Foundation: November 8

Komen Promise Grants - Full Application
* Deadline to SPO: November 27
* Deadline to Komen Foundation: December 4

When preparing your Komen application, please indictate Ms. Jyl Baldwin, Assistant Director, as the signing official. The contact information to use in proposal preparation is:
Grants Contract Official: Jyl Baldwin, (510) 642-8117, jbaldwin@berkeley.edu
Alternate Grants Contract Official: This is your SPO contact person on the SPO staff assignment list
Financial Official: Cynthia Kane, (510) 642-1371, cjkane@berkeley.edu
Media Contact: Marie Felde, (510) 642-3734, mfelde@berkeley.edu
Technology Transfer Official: Carol Mimura, (510) 643-7201, carolm@berkeley.edu

If you have questions, the SPO staff assignments for the Komen foundation and other nonprofit agencies is listed at http://www.spo.berkeley.edu/Staffnonfederal.html.

October 01, 2007

NIH Publishes September Extramural Nexus Newsletter

The National Institutes of Health has published the September edition of NIH Extramual Nexus. The articles, linked below, include interviews, news, and updates from the agency.

For those planning on applying for NIH grants in the near future, a Use of Adobe Forms article explains that NIH will continue to use PureEdge forms at least through March 2008 grant application submission deadlines. A related article, Future Electronic Submission Transitions Still on Hold, states that the transition of NIH Training Grants (T), Career Development Awards (K), and Fellowships (F) to electronic application submission will not occur until Grants.gov can develop the new Adobe forms.

September NIH Extramual Nexus contents: