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NIH Receives First Electronic Applications

NIH's electronic Research Administration (eRA) achieved a major milestone this fall when it accepted its first 14 electronic grant applications (e-applications) for the October/November receipt dates. One of NIH's three enterprise information systems, eRA was established to develop an electronic grants-administration system that would minimize the need for paper throughout the grant life cycle.

Response from pilot participants has been enthusiastic. "Virginia Commonwealth University was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the successful test of a pioneering system for electronic proposal data transmittal to NIH," said Herbert Chermside, director of sponsored programs administration at VCU. According to Dr. Norman Altman, vice provost for research at the University of Miami, e-applications offer a way for grantors and grantees to realize significant efficiencies. "We can focus on our research instead of paperwork and optimize the return for our sponsors." Dr. Bill Caskey, director of research and grants administration at Children's Mercy Hospital, added, "After going through this [electronic submission] once, I don't want to go back to paper again."

Following the fall pilot, eRA will gear up for the February 2004 cycle, when eRA expects to invite more participants, expand the scope of functionality and accept application data from additional sources. At that time, eRA may allow additional application types (the fall pilot is limited to R01 type 1 and type 2 simple projects with modular budgets) and begin issuing Notices of Grant Awards electronically. During FY 2004, eRA will process an increasing number of e-applications for each cycle.

eRA also is working closely with Grants.gov, the federal "storefront" on the web for finding funding opportunities and for downloading and submitting grant proposals. Grants.gov will provide applicants with downloadable electronic forms.

The eRA team plans to enable a third method of submission for the February pilot: computer-to-computer application transmission from the institution to NIH. Interested grantees can obtain an information kit with data schemas, sample code and details of the technology needed to communicate electronically with the eRA system.

For more information about the eRA electronic grant project, contact David Wright at david.wright@nih.gov or 451-4349.


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