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McGowan To Leave eRA Project

Dr. John J. McGowan recently announced that he will step down from his post as Electronic Research Administration (eRA) project manager at the end of December. Under his leadership, the NIH eRA initiative has made great progress in achieving its objective of end-to-end electronic grants administration. This fall, McGowan realized the personal goal he set when he joined the project in 1999 — NIH successfully accepted its first competitive e-applications for the October/November cycle.

Dr. John J. McGowan
NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, in a letter of commendation, thanked McGowan for his stellar effort and vision in leading the eRA. "Dr. McGowan's leadership and management brought transparency and clarity to eRA. He established systems and a process to provide independent cost analysis and verification to ensure that the project produced results on time and within budget."

McGowan's success in moving the project forward is due, in large part, to his ability to unite communities with diverse interests toward a common goal. An effective manager who bridged organizational cultures, he created a team of 600 participants, including volunteer eRA business area advocates from 12 different NIH institutes and centers, representatives from 18 grantee institutions, 6 Small Business Innovation Research awardees, computer specialists and end users. The eRA team closely collaborates with, a federal initiative supported by 11 departments and agencies to develop a one-stop electronic grant portal for full-service electronic grants administration.

For McGowan, serving as project manager has been "an honor and a privilege." He views his role as an enabler who brought the stakeholders together, championed the project at higher levels and secured the funding to empower system users to set priorities and accomplish goals. Recognizing that the project was seriously under-funded, McGowan and the advocates built a business case for increasing the annual eRA budget from $15 million to $40 million in a 2-year period.

During McGowan's tenure, eRA Project Team achievements included phase-out of the legacy mainframe IMPAC system; construction of all new software applications using web-based architecture and migration of existing applications to this platform; and scanning of all grant applications received by the Center for Scientific Review, virtually eliminating the costs of reproducing, distributing and storing the 60,000 annual incoming proposals for NIH staff and peer reviewers; as well as many other time and paper-saving tools.

McGowan will devote his full attention to his home institute, NIAID, where he is director of the Division of Extramural Activities. According to McGowan, this is a unique time for NIAID, whose budget has grown from $2.372 billion in FY 2002 to $4.335 billion for FY 2004 in response to bioterrorism, the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases, and the increase in asthma among children in the United States and worldwide.

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