Director of Proposal Development offers updates on NIH and NSF policies

Skyline of Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Baltimore, Maryland, is the site of an NIH Regional Seminar being held this week. Another Regional Seminar will be held in Chicago this fall.

Below are  updates on policies recently put into action at NIH and NSF, as well as a look ahead to some upcoming changes.


NIH

General

The NIH budget for FY16 is $32.3 billion, up $2M over FY15.

Proposal submission

  • All documents submitted to NIH (proposals, award documents, and post-award documents) must contain a signature from an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) or Signing Official (SO). At Miami, only Jim Oris, Anne Schauer, and Tricia Callahan can sign as AORs or SOs. Contact your OARS representative if you are uncertain who should sign your NIH documents prior to submission.
  • NIH has updated and streamlined its forms and instructions page. For applications due May 25, 2016 and later, Version D forms must be used.
  • Effective January 10, 2016, the NIH salary cap (Executive Level II) went to $185,100. NIH encourages investigators to propose using their base salary. If base salary exceeds the NIH salary cap, then adjustments will be made at the time of award.
  • For proposals that involve the use of vertebrate animals, the section on euthanasia is now a separate document in order to assure compliance with American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) guidelines. The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) offers policy, guidance, and education related to the use of vertebrate animals in research. Look for resources, FAQs, and quarterly webinars on the OLAW site.
  • The new NIH biosketch allows for up to five pages, one page more than the previous limit. Publications in progress can be mentioned in the Personal Statement, but should not be cited in the publications listing.
  • NIH created ASSIST (Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking) for the preparation and submission of multi-project applications. Miami University will continue to submit and track applications through eSPA, so Miami applicants should not use ASSIST for their proposal submissions.
  • For NRSA and K awards, primary mentors must have an eRA Commons ID affiliated with Miami University. Contact your OARS representative to create an eRA Commons ID or to affiliate an existing ID with Miami.
  • If you plan to work with a foreign collaborator, OARS requests advance notice of 25 working days. However, you should be aware that it may take foreign entities eight to ten weeks to register with eRA Commons and the other systems, and that those registrations must be in place before contracting with the Federal government. Contact your OARS representative for assistance.

Reporting

  • All financial and technical reports must be submitted 120 days following the award end date. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind investigators that while they are responsible for their technical reports, all financial reporting must be done by Miami University’s Grants & Contracts Office. Information about the types of NIH reports and the content they require is available here. All invention disclosures should be processed through iEdison.
  • Find out what’s currently being funded at the NIH and discover trends using NIH RePORTER.

Continuing education

  • Thanks to everyone who joined us for our recent day-long series of NIH workshops, led by Dr. Norm Braveman, former member of the senior NIH staff.
  • NIH will hold two NIH Regional Seminars on program funding and grants administration in 2016:
    • May 11-13, in Baltimore
    • October 26-28, in Chicago

NSF

General

  • The NSF budget request for FY16 is $6.5 billion for research and development. Current funding rates average around 22-23%.
  • A notice will be posted this summer in the Federal Register describing changes proposed for the NSF Proposal and Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), with time allowed for public comment before changes are finalized. Final changes will be posted in October and the grants community will be given 90 days to become familiar prior to implementation in January 2017.

Proposal submission

The following are reflected in the current PAPPG:

  • All proposals are due by 5:00pm local time of the submitting institution. Permission to submit after a deadline in the event of a natural disaster must come from the Program Officer in writing. The communication should be included as a Single Copy Document in the application and a box must be checked on the NSF Cover Page for special exceptions to the NSF deadline policy.
  • Collaborative and Other Affiliation information has been removed from the NSF Biosketch and is now submitted as a Single Copy Document (which differs from Supplemental Material). This change is to help researchers who have long lists of collaborations keep to the two-page limit for biosketches.
  • Information on Results from Prior NSF Submission has been clarified in the most recent version of the PAPPG.
  • Information on internal, institutional funds that require dedicated effort must now be shown on the NSF Current & Pending form.
  • Biosketches and Current & Pending forms can no longer be submitted as a single PDF. Each senior/key personnel should have a separate biosketch and separate Current & Pending forms. Biosketch information for other personnel, such as equipment users, should be uploaded as Supplemental Material documents, and do not have to follow the NSF biosketch format.
  • Clarity has been provided on the use of vertebrate animals in research, which follows NIH OLAW policies.
  • FastLane auto-checks for compliance with page limits and submission deadlines.

Post-award and reporting

  • All financial and technical reports must be submitted 120 days following the award end date. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind investigators that while they are responsible for their technical reports, all financial reporting must be done by Miami University’s Grants & Contracts Office.
  • All post-award communications, such as notifications and requests, must be signed and submitted by the institution’s Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR). Contact your OARS representative if you are uncertain who should sign your NSF requests.

Editor’s note 05/13/2016: The original post mistakenly indicated that NSF biosketches are limited to three pages. We regret the error and have updated the post with the correct limit, which is two pages.

Written by Tricia Callahan, Director of Proposal Development, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.

Photo of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor by Ron Cogswell, via Flickr. NSF lobby photo by Luke Faraone, via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license.

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