NIH recently published a timetable for significant changes to
its grant application and receipt process. In less than 2 years,
NIH will convert entirely from the Public Health Service 398 grant
application to the new Standard Form 424 Research and Research
Related (R&R) and will require all applicants to submit electronically
The schedule for adopting the electronic SF-424 R&R is driven,
in part, by an executive and legislative mandate to simplify and
standardize the grant application and the process for submission.
The Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of
1999 and the President's Management Agenda require that all federal
grant-making agencies use a standard form and a single electronic
system to post funding opportunities and accept electronic applications.
The Office of Management and Budget has designated Grants.gov as
the central posting and receiving point.
NIH will phase in its new application process by research-program
type, beginning with applications for Small Business Innovation
Research/Small Business Technology Transfer grants. Effective Dec.
1, SBIR/STTR grant applicants for NIH R41, R42, R43 and R44 non-AIDS-related
grants must submit SF-424 (R&R) applications through Grants.gov.
NIH expects to receive approximately 2,300 electronic SBIR/STTR
applications at that time.
|Dr. Norka Ruiz Bravo, NIH deputy
director for extramural research, strongly encourages all institutes
and centers to embrace the transition from paper to electronic
applications in the new standard, federal format.
Dr. Norka Ruiz Bravo, NIH deputy director for extramural research,
strongly encourages all institutes and centers to embrace the transition
from paper to electronic applications in the new standard, federal
"Electronic receipt is here to stay," she said. "There is no turning
back. We at NIH have long envisioned a time when every step in
grants administration, from the submission of an application to
grant award, would be electronic. We are fully committed to make
this vision a reality."
According to Ruiz Bravo, "the benefits of end-to-end electronic
processing are too great to ignore." NIH will realize major savings
by eliminating 200 million pieces of paper a year and by significantly
reducing the costs of scanning, data entry, printing and reproduction.
Efficiencies gained are expected to reduce workload on NIH employees
and on its partner institutions. Furthermore, NIH will benefit
from a comprehensive health research data repository that it can
mine to guide its research portfolio and improve the nation's health.
During the next 2 months, the Office of Extramural Research will
launch an NIH "media blitz" to prepare extramural staff for the
conversion to the electronic SF-424 R&R. Under the leadership of
Megan Columbus, project manager for Electronic Receipt of Grant
Applications, the communications team is providing the following
resources to assist NIH'ers:
- OER has established a public web site at http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/index.htm to
provide essential information to all stakeholders.
- There is a new Intranet site at http://inside.era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/index.htm targeted
specifically at the internal NIH audience. The site will offer
presentations on the transition, changes required for funding
opportunity announcements, FAQs pertaining to contingency, minutes
of the electronic application coordination group and other information
about the plans and progress of the initiative.
- OER recently presented a preview of the SF-424 R&R at Natcher
Conference Center. The archived videocast is available to HHS
staff at http://videocast.nih.gov/PastEvents.asp.
On Oct. 12, OER presented "A Walk Through the New 424 (R&R) Grant
Application and Electronic Receipt" at the Natcher Conference Center.
This training included NIH's overall transition strategy, submission
policies, implications for individual business areas and contingency
planning. The archived videocast is available to HHS staff at the
same address as above.
The announcement of NIH's electronic receipt conversion schedule
also is generating a flurry of activity in the grantee community.
James R. Randolph, senior associate director of the University
of Michigan's division of research development and administration,
comments: "At first blush, the implementation timeline appears
quite aggressive and will have sponsored-research offices like
mine scurrying to train a large and diverse audience in the Grants.gov
mechanics. The upside, however, is that with this very large stake
in the ground, applicant institutions are now forced to develop
local timelines for making the transition. The 800-pound gorilla
(no offense intended) has spoken."
Other federal granting agencies are following the same direction.
George Moyer, a management analyst at the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality and liaison to NIH's electronic Research Administration
(eRA), reports that AHRQ is working in partnership with NIH in
the move to electronic receipt of applications through the Grants.gov
portal. "We are following the same guidelines and timeline established
by NIH for this transition."
The success of the conversion to electronic submission depends
on the acceptance and concerted effort of NIH's ICs, other federal
agencies and partners. "Spread the word about electronic receipt,
educate yourselves and those around you, and prepare for the upcoming
transition," urges Ruiz Bravo. "I am confident that using technology
for more efficient grants administration will promote biomedical
research and help NIH to achieve its mission."
OER has organized a network of IC liaisons to assist extramural
staff with the transition. The list of contacts is available at http://inside.era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/ic_liaisons.htm.
Staff also can send questions and comments to Megan Columbus at email@example.com or
to Sheri Cummins, the project's communications coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The timetable for the transition is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-05-067.html.