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Changes to NIH and NSF application instructions

Posted: January 4, 2016

Changes to NIH Applications/Proposals and RPPR Reports

When do the changes go into effect? On 11/25/15, via NOT-OD-16-029 the NIH announced the release of the new, revised application forms and guides effective for applications due January 25 through May 24, 2016.   During this period, revised FORMS-C application forms and instructions should be used. In a second phase of the 2016 revision, FORMS-D forms should be used beginning May 25, 2016; an application guide to these forms will be released in late March.

What is the rationale for these changes? These changes are part of a new NIH initiative designed to improve the rigor of experimental design and to increase the reproducibility of scientific experiments. It is important to note that these changes will be included in the new Study Section proposal review and scoring criteria. See NOT-OD-16-011 or the NIH information page available here for details on this initiative.

What proposals will be affected? Most grant applications will be affected by this change, including R01, R03, R21, and all K (career development awards).

What are the changes? Major changes to the FORMS-C are summarized in NOT-OD-16-004, with FAQs available here.

Changes include:

  • Updates to instructions for preparing the research strategy attachment have been added, additions as below:
    • Significance section
      • Describe the scientific premise for the proposed project, including consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of published research or preliminary data crucial to the support of your application.
    • Approach section
      • Describe the experimental design and methods proposed and how they will achieve robust and unbiased results.
      • Explain how relevant biological variables, such as sex, are factored into research designs and analyses for studies in vertebrate animals and humans. For example, strong justification from the scientific literature, preliminary data, or other relevant considerations, must be provided for applications proposing to study only one sex. Refer to NOT-OD-15-102 for further consideration of NIH expectations about sex as a biological variable.
      • Use of a new “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment is required; in this attachment applicants are instructed to “Briefly describe methods to ensure the identity and validity of key biological and/or chemical resources used in the proposed studies.” These include cell lines, specialty chemicals, antibodies and other biologics. Do not include standard reagents (e.g. buffers, solvents). Information in this section must focus only on authentication/validation of key resources used in the study; all other methods and preliminary data must be included within the page limits of the research strategy. Save this information in a single file named “Authentication of Key Resources Plan,” and attach it as Item 12, Other Attachments, on the Other Project Information form
    • Updated instructions for documents related to use of Vertebrate animals, see NOT-OD-16-006.
    • Updated guidance on criteria to be addressed (description of procedures; justifications; minimization of pain and distress; and euthanasia)
    • A description of veterinary care is no longer required
    • Justification for the number of animals has been eliminated
    • A description and justification of the method of euthanasia is required only if the method is not consistent with AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals
  • Changing the definition of a child to individuals under the age of 18 instead of 21 (NOT-OD-16-010.)
  • Changes to the PHS398 Research Training Plan form, included in Institutional training grant applications (e.g. T32, T34, T35,T90).

What are the changes to the RPPR (Progress Report)?

  • Updates to Section B – Accomplishments
    • By January 25, 2016, the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) instructions will be updated to include the following additional guidance for 6.2 Section B – Accomplishments, in addition to the existing instructions.  Progress reports submitted on or after January 25, 2016 that are initiated prior to the instruction updates may use the current forms while following these additional instructions.  The instructions that will address rigor are listed below for your convenience.
  • 2 What was accomplished under these goals?
    • Include the approaches taken to ensure robust and unbiased results.
  • 6 What do you plan to do for the next reporting period to accomplish these goals?
    • Discuss efforts to ensure that the approach is scientifically rigorous and results are robust and unbiased.

Changes to NSF Applications/Proposals

When do the changes go into effect? On 10/15/2015, the NSF announced changes to the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). These changes are in effect for all proposals with due dates on or after January 26th, 2016 and awards made on or after January 26, 2016.

A summary of significant changes is available here.

Some notable changes to proposal guidelines include:

  • Chapter I.F: A clarification that NSF will enforce its proposal deadline policy; i.e. that organizations will not be able to submit proposals after 5:00 local time. No solicitations will be issued with a different time due.
  • Chapter II.C.1.e: The addition of the new “Collaborators & Other Affiliations” single-copy document that requires all senior project personnel to provide information regarding collaborators and other affiliations. The requirement to provide the total number of collaborators and other affiliations is removed from the biosketch. This replaces the previous requirement to provide this information as part of the Biosketch.
  • Chapter II.C.2.f: A separate Biosketch for each person named as senior personnel must be provided. Biosketches for all senior personnel cannot be combined into a single PDF file. Section E “Colllaborators and Other Affiliations” is removed from the biosketch.
  • Chapter II.C.2.h: In the Current and Pending support document or form, all current project support must be listed, including internal funds allocated toward specific projects. A separate document or form must be provided for each person named as senior personnel.
  • Chapter II.B.2: Applicant organizations are responsible for ensuring that applications follow all standard NSF type size, margin, and spacing requirements.
  • Chapter II.D.14: The Dual Research of Concern (DURC) is a new section and states that proposing organizations are responsible for identifying NSF-funded life sciences proposals that could potentially be considered dual use research of concern, as defined in the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern.
  • Chapter II.C.2.b, Project Summary: only Project Summaries that use special characters may be uploaded in the Supplementary Documents section. Uploaded Project Summaries must contain separate headings for Overview, Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts or the proposal will be returned without review.
Category : NIH / NSF

Delay in new procurement requirements

Posted: October 27, 2015

The Ohio State University is delaying implementation of the new procurement requirements in OMB 2.CFR.200.320 until July 1, 2017.  The university will continue to comply with the procurement standards in the OMB guidance at 2 CFR §200.110(a) until that time.

Category : Procurement

NIH transition to subaccount billing

Posted: October 27, 2015

As part of federal government initiatives for transparency and strengthened oversight over funds, DHHS divisions, including the NIH, are transitioning all existing awards as of 10/01/2015 to a new payment system, known as subaccount billing. Under the new subaccount billing system, rather than billing and drawing down funds on NIH awards collectively, universities must bill and draw funds individually by award. As a result of these changes, a set of current NIH awards will be closed out and transitioned to a new award for the remaining years of the grant.

  • Newer awards received in the last 2 years were issued by NIH under the new subaccount billing system and will not go through this transition.
  • If you have an award that is fully funded but has not ended, it will not go through this transition.
  • If you have an NIH award that is 2 or more years old, it is likely to go through a transition to this new system.

For awards that are transitioning, as you receive an NOA (non-competing continuation) for the next year’s funding, the grant number will begin with a 4 instead of a 5 to indicate this award will undergo transition. In this case, OSP will be required to “close-out” the grant by filing a “Subaccount Transitional Final Financial Report” which transfers the remaining unspent funds already received, along with the newly obligated funds, to the Payment Management System (PMS) subaccount established for the grant. Once this is done, it is final and the report cannot be amended or refiled.

This means that transitioning awards will receive new a new GRT number and new project numbers. Your sponsored program officer will let you know in advance if your award is affected, and will be happy to create a preliminary project number for you to begin to use before the actual transition happens.

Category : NIH

2015 NIH Salary Cap

Posted: January 14, 2015

The NIH has announced that the salary cap for grant, cooperative agreement and contract awards remains tied to Federal Executive Level II.  Effective Jan 11, 2015, Executive Level II increased to $183,300, up from $181,500.

Investigators should begin using the 2015 cap immediately in preparing proposal budgets.  However, in keeping with the practice we have used in the past, we will not begin charging NIH funded projects the new cap rate until July 1, 2015.  The reason for this practice is to mitigate to some extent the impact on on-going awards where funds will have to be rebudgeted to cover the increased salary costs.

For additional information please contact your Sponsored Programs Officer.

Category : NIH

Major Changes in the Grants Administration — Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200)

Posted: December 16, 2014

On December 26, 2013, the Office of Management and Budget released the “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards“, commonly known as the Uniform Guidance, or 2 CFR 200, or UG. The Uniform Guidance consolidates and makes consistent the administrative requirements, cost principles and audit requirements formerly included in eight separate circulars. For universities and other institutions of higher education, the Uniform Guidance replaces OMB Circulars A-21, A-110, and A-133.

View OSP’s Uniform Guidance page for additional information


Category : General Information

90 Day sponsored project PETs and HR 9.2

Posted: July 10, 2014

In conjunction with the HR 9.2 implementation, the greater than 90-day PET request and approval process has gone paperless.

Requests to transfer sponsored project “personnel expenses 90 days after the costs were incurred” should continue to be initiated using normal department procedures.  However, rather than completing a paper form, HR personnel will enter the transfer information into a web-based application.  From there, the proposed transfer will route to PIs to review and approve or deny.

Category : General Information

Sponsored project personnel salary adjustments impacted by upcoming HR reimplementation

Posted: February 12, 2014

As you probably know, HR will upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.2 in May 2014. There will be a significant change in the prior period personnel adjustment functionality (currently known as PETs — Personnel Expenditure Transfers) with the conversion.  While the business process will  remain essentially the same, version 9.2 will not allow adjustments for pay periods prior to June 1, 2014.

The purpose of this communication is to outline steps that can be taken now to minimize PET challenges after conversion.

The last date for HR entries, including PETs, in the current system has not been established, but it is expected to be around 5/18/14.  Because version 9.2 will not allow adjustments for pay periods prior to June 2014 it is critical that all necessary adjustments be completed before  “Go Live” 5/28/2014.

Pre Implementation

  • Less than 90 day PET entries must be completed by the department/service center before the deadline set by the university for all HR changes.
  • Less than 90 day PETs on projects that are more than 60 days past their end date will require coordination with OSP.  Requests to have projects reopened must be made by 5/1/14.
  • Greater than 90 day PETs must be submitted to OSP using the form “Request to Transfer Payroll Expenditures more than 90 days After Cost Incurred” (the PET form) by 5/1/14 to allow for review and entry into the current system.

What can department/service center staff do now to help investigators manage their sponsored projects during the system change?

  • Review all personnel appointments on sponsored projects ( direct, cost share, release time).  Ensure that appointments are correct or initiate corrections.
  • Review projects with required cost-share and ensure that appointments are in place and that all necessary PETs are initiated well before the deadline.  Failure to meet cost-share requirements may result in sponsors denying payments.
  • Add and remove project appointments as needed
  • Use available tools that show personnel appointments on sponsored projects such as the End Date Warning Report (e-ProjEnd).

Post Implementation

In HR 9.2 the functionality for personnel salary adjustments is called Direct Retro Distribution (DRD).  DRD replaces the Personnel Expenditure Transfer functionality in the current system   Additional details will be provided in later communications.


Category : Expenditures / General Information