March 2005, Issue 4

Important NSF and NIH Policy Changes

The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health recently announced several important policy changes that affect grant proposals. For information on the NSF, go to https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/fastlane.jsp. For NIH changes, go to http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm.

NSF Cost Sharing Policy Change

The National Science Board recently approved a major change to the NSF cost sharing policy.

1. The new policy eliminates program-specific cost sharing and requires only the existing statutory cost sharing (1%). The statutory cost sharing requirement applies to all unsolicited research proposals. This includes all proposals submitted in response to NSF program announcements and those submitted solely in response to the NSF Grant Proposal Guide.

2. All previously issued program solicitations that specify a cost sharing requirement remain valid, unless NSF program managers issue a formal amendment modifying the cost requirement.

3. The revised policy is effective for all new NSF program solicitations issued after October 14, 2004.

For more information, you may contact Jean Feldman, head, Policy Office Division of Institution & Award Support, Office of Budget, Finance & Award Management, by phone at (703) 292-4573 or by email at jfeldman@nsf.gov.

NIH Changes

NIH eRA

One of the biggest changes is that the NIH is migrating from a paper-based to an electronic system for receiving, reviewing, monitoring, and administering NIH grant awards. The new system is called eRA, for electronic research administration, and the external system that researchers use is called the eRA Commons.

“What’s New on the Commons” can be found at https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons/. The NIH has set up a virtual school called “NIH eRA Commons 101,” which can be found at http://era.nih.gov/virtualschool/external/class_c101.htm. You can even run a demonstration of the capabilities of the Commons in a sample environment at https://commonsdemo.era.nih.gov/commons-demo/. To use this demo you need an account with the Commons. To have an account created, please contact the associate director of research administration for your campus: for the Health Sciences Campus, contact Gerald Wodehouse at (617) 636-6709; for the Medford campus, contact Helen Page at (617) 627-5187 or Christine Woodroffe at (617) 627-3696.

The Tufts Office of Research Administration is now enabling several NIH Commons functions, including eSNAP (electronic streamlined non-competing application process), which allows investigators to submit the PHS 2590 form for non-competing grant progress reports electronically. Other functions that are on the way include Status, which allows principal investigators to review the current status of all their grant applications; Just-In-Time (within Status), which allows users to submit just-in-time information when requested by the NIH; and No-Cost Extension (within Status), which allows users to automatically extend grants that are eligible for a one-time extension of the final budget period.

Revised NIH Forms

Many NIH forms have recently been revised. You can go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm for a table listing all forms and revision dates.

  • A new Revised PHS 398 and a new Revised PHS 2590 (revised 9/04) can be found on the Office of the Vice Provost website at http://www.tufts.edu/central/research/National.htm. The revised forms are accepted for submission/receipt dates on or after December 1, 2004, and they must be used for all applications on or after May 1, 2005. One notable change on the budget pages of the Revised PHS 398 is that consortium/contractual F&A costs will no longer be included in the direct cost calculation for determining eligibility for any application with a direct cost limitation. Another notable change that took effect October 1, 2004, is the new address for centralized receipt of progress reports (PHS 2590), which can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-04-063.html.

NIH Policy Changes

A new policy for sharing of model organisms (effective October 1, 2004) states that all proposals that will produce new, genetically modified organisms must contain a plan for allowing others access to data about the organisms. For more information, go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-04-042.html. Examples of sharing plans can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/model_organism/index.htm. Sharing plans should be placed in the Research Plan section of your proposal, immediately after Section F: Vertebrate Animals. Funding can be requested in the budget and budget justification sections to defray the costs of sharing. Questions about patents, MTAs and intellectual property rights can be directed to the Office for Technology Licensing and Industry Collaboration at (617) 636-0338.

NIH is changing its policy regarding the determination of full-time professional effort for NIH-supported career development (K) awards (effective October 1, 2004). The change should allow more researchers to apply for these awards. At http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-04-056.html it is stated that “a career award recipient meets the required commitment of total professional effort as long as: 1) the individual has a full-time appointment with the applicant organization; and 2) the minimum percentage of the candidate’s commitment required for the proposed career award experience is covered by that appointment.” For example, if a candidate recipient has a full-time appointment at a university and a half-time appointment at another organization, the candidate recipient can be supported if the university and the candidate commit at least 75% of the full-time appointment to work covered by the award.

The executive level I salary limitation that may be awarded and charged to NIH grants and contracts was increased (effective January 1, 2005). The January 7, 2005, notice increased the salary from $175,700 to $180,100. If grant awards (competing or non-competing) have already been issued in FY 2004, no adjustments will be made; however, rebudgeting is allowable. Additional details on the salary limitation can be found at Salary Limitation on Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts.

Annual NRSA stipend levels for all individuals receiving support through institutional research training grants or individual fellowships have been increased, effective with all awards made on or after October 1, 2004. Adjustments of stipends and other benefits for trainees will be made only at the time of appointment or reappointment to training grants made with FY 2005 funds. For more information, go to http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-05-032.html.

If you have any questions on these changes, contact the research administration official for your campus: Gerald Wodehouse at (617) 636-6709 for the Health Sciences Campus and Helen Page at (617) 627-5187 or Christine Woodroffe at (617) 627-3696 for the Medford Campus.

 

Tufts University, Office of the Vice Provost
Health Sciences Campus: (617) 636-6550
Medford Campus: (617) 627-3417
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