Budget Agreement Boosts U.S. Science

December 18, 2015:  Congress today overwhelmingly passed the 2016 spending bill. The House of Representatives this morning voted 316 to 113, with a majority of Republicans and nearly all Democrats favoring the $1.1 trillion package for all federal agencies. The Senate concurred a few hours later with a vote of 65 to 33. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law later today.

Early on 16 December, congressional leaders released the text of an omnibus spending bill that will fund all federal agencies for the rest of the 2016 fiscal year. We’ve taken a look at how individual agencies fared under the bill (see bullets below). Science has also compiled a table showing the budgets of key research agencies and programs.

These stories appear following this summary of the legislation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) leads the way among U.S. science agencies getting increases in the final 2016 spending bill released today.

NIH is the winner in absolute dollars. It gets a bump of $2 billion, or 6.6%, from its current budget of $30.1 billion. Spending on science programs at NASA would grow by 6.6%, to $5.6 billion, and rise by 5.6% in the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, to $5.35 billion. The National Science Foundation would receive an additional $119 million, or 1.6%, to $7.46 billion, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would get a 6% boost, to $291 million.

“It’s fantastic news. We’re beyond excited,” says Jennifer Zeitzer of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. United for Medical Research, a Washington, D.C.–based lobbying group, says “this meaningful increase for NIH makes real progress toward catching up from the past decade of underfunding and keeping up with scientific advancements and public health needs.”

 

With the exception of NIH, these final numbers are higher than what was contained in spending bills for individual agencies passed by panels in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. The increases were made possible by a late-October agreement between Congress and the White House that set overall spending levels for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. It added $50 billion this year to the $1.017 trillion spent in 2015, divided equally between civilian and military spending, and $30 billion in 2017. The agreement also negated the threat of a government shutdown this fall from conservatives unhappy with any increase in federal spending.

There could be more to the story, however. Congressional leaders have not yet released the report language that accompanies the 2009-page omnibus spending bill. That language contains specific instructions to agencies about how to allocate their dollars. And those instructions could ruffle some feathers.

In the meantime, Congress did spell out a few things in the overall bill itself. For example, NASA was given $175 million to continue work on a mission to Jupiter’s Europa moon, a pet project of Representative John Culberson (R–TX), who leads the House spending panel that oversees NASA. And DOE was told not to spend more than $115 million on the U.S. contribution to ITER, the international fusion reactor being built in France, until ITER officials present a new schedule for the troubled project. It also requires DOE to recommend, by May 2016, whether the U.S. should stay in ITER or withdraw.

*Originally posted in Science Magazine  (http://news.sciencemag.org/funding/2015/12/budget-agreement-boosts-u-s-science)

Mistakes Are Meant for Learning, Not Repeating – Biosketch Compliance

Biosketch Compliance

Title: oops post-it note On November 5, NIH started sending email notifications to applicants indicating reviewers found one or more biosketches that did not comply with our current biosketch format (NOT-OD-15-032). Hundreds of letters have already gone out. If you’ve received one of these notifications, don’t panic. These letters are currently just warnings and require no action on your part. However, they do demonstrate NIH’s commitment to enforcing compliance with our biosketch policy.

What does it mean to have a compliant biosketch?

eRA systems ensure some biosketch rules are met by flagging errors upon submission. Applications that violate these rules won’t even move forward to NIH for consideration.

  • A biosketch is attached for each and every Sr/Key person listed in the application
  • Each biosketch is less than or equal to 5 pages
  • Each biosketch attachment is in PDF format

But, there are additional rules you must follow to be compliant that aren’t systematically caught by eRA systems.

Did you catch the part where I said “reviewers found” the non-compliant biosketches? We have provided instructions to our reviewers to flag any applications with biosketches that don’t follow current guidelines. Don’t make extra work for your reviewer – give them a clean application without the distraction of non-compliant formatting they have to write up.

Having trouble keeping up with NIH’s biosketch rules and getting your key personnel to follow them? Encourage people participating on your application to use SciENcv. Not only does SciENcv help manage biosketch information, it also creates perfectly compliant biosketches.

If you’ve received a warning letter, learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them. Eventually, these warning letters will be replaced with notifications that applications have been removed from consideration.

  • Include each section (A – Personal Statement; B – Positions and Honors; C – Contributions to Science; D – Research Support or Scholastic Performance)
  • Include no more than 5 contributions to science with no more than 4 citations per contribution
  • Ensure that if you include the optional link to a full list of your published work in a site like My Bibliography that the URL is public, accessible without providing any login or personal information, and doesn’t link to websites that may violate page limit rules
    • Note: We will restrict this link to federal (.gov) sites beginning with applications to due dates on/after May 25, 2016 (NOT-OD-16-004)
  • Refrain from including information, such as preliminary data, that belongs elsewhere in the application
  • Follow NIH guidance on font type, font size, paper size, and margins (See section 2.6 of application guide)

Original post NIH eSubmission Items of Interest posted November 16, 2015

Change is Coming: Updates to NIH Application Forms and Instructions

We periodically need to update our application forms and instructions to accommodate changing policy, new business needs, and sometimes (not often enough) to reduce the amount of information we ask of you. Given our constraints, we have been working to provide systems support to make the mechanics of these transitions easier for you. This particular set of changes implements a number of policy changes impacting applications submitted in 2016, which we announced in a series of recent NIH Guide notices. We would like to give you a quick overview of what is happening.

We will be rolling out the changes in two phases, as summarized in our notice published in the NIH Guide, since our new application forms will not be ready until the spring.

You may want to pay particular attention to the following changes, effective for applications submitted on or after January 25, 2016:

  • There will be new application requirements and review language regarding enhanced rigor and reproducibility (We’ll be elaborating on these requirements in a separate upcoming post.)
  • We will ask for less information in the vertebrate animal section of the application, to remove redundancy with information already included in IACUC reviews. (Some of this information will be shifted to the research strategy section.)
  • We are updating the NIH policy on inclusion of children to lower the age designation for children to include those under 18 years old. (The current age designation for children includes all research subjects under 21 years old.)
  • For training grants, information requirements will change and lower applicant burden

For due dates of May 25, 2016 and beyond, we will require use of new application forms (FORMS-D). We will remind you again this spring, but please understand that it is imperative that you submit your application on the right form package to ensure successful submission.

We will reissue fellowship, career development, training and all parent funding opportunity announcements this spring, to ensure the announcements include instructions that match the form requirements. We’ll also make a variety of resources available this spring to help ensure you submit using the right forms.

If you have been using the Grants.gov downloadable forms and haven’t tried ASSIST yet, members of my staff (the electronic Research Administration or eRA) are working on enhancing the copy application feature to make it even easier to move your application (including attachments) from one form version to another. During the last round of grant applications, over 25% of the applicants switched from using downloadable forms to ASSIST. They successfully submitted their applications on the first try over 90% of the time compared with only 60% of the time for those still using the standard downloadable forms.

So be on the lookout for new application instructions we will release at the end of November, and for more communications from us as we get closer to the time we move to FORMS-D.

Original post by NIH website on October 29, 2015 by

NSF Revised PAPPG (*effective 1/25/16)

NSF revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 16-1) has been issued.

The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016.

 

Please read here Significant Changes to the 2016-1 PAPPG

 

NSF Revises Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)

NSF has announced that a revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 16-1) has been issued.

The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016.  Significant changes include:

  • Enforcement of 5 p.m. submitter’s local time across all NSF funding opportunities;
  • Implementation of NSF’s Public Access Policy;
  • Submission of proposal certifications by the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) concurrently with proposal submission;
  • NSF’s implementation of the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences on Dual Use Research of Concern;
  • Provision of Collaborators and Other Affiliations information as a new single-copy document, instead of as part of the Biographical Sketch;
  • Submission of Biographical Sketches and Current and Pending Support separately for each senior personnel;
  • Electronic signature and submission of notifications and requests by the AOR only;
  • Revision of timeframe for submission of final project reports, project outcomes reports and financial closure of awards to 120 days after the award end date; and
  • Numerous clarifications throughout the document.
Given the number of important revisions, the community is strongly encouraged to review the by-chapter summary of changes provided in the Introduction section of the PAPPG.

A webinar to brief the community on the new PAPPG will be held on October 29th at 2 PM EST.  Registration is required at https://nsfevents.webex.com/nsfevents/onstage/g.php?d=747703895&t=a

While this version of the PAPPG becomes effective on January 25, 2016, in the interim, the guidelines contained in the current PAPPG (NSF 15-1) continue to apply.  We will ensure that the current version of the PAPPG remains on the NSF website, with a notation to proposers that specifies when the new PAPPG (including a link to the new Guide) will become effective.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact the Policy Office on x8243 or by e-mail to policy@nsf.gov.

Are you an NIH Applicant or Grant Administrator?

Upcoming Webinars for NIH Applicants and Grant Administrators:

What You Need to Know About NIH Application Submission and Review


Notice Number: NOT-OD-15-154

Key Dates
Release Date:   September 24, 2015

Related Announcements
None Issued by
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

Purpose

The purpose of this Notice is to inform new NIH applicants, their mentors, and grant administrators at their institution about two upcoming webinars the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is hosting in November 2015.  These webinars are designed to give participants useful insights into our application submission and peer review processes.  CSR is the portal for NIH grant applications and their review for scientific and technical merit.

Each Webinar Will Have a Different Focus

Webinar Focus Date
University Research Administrators November 5, 2015
Research Project Grants (R01) November 6, 2015

All of the webinars will run from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST, including a 30 minute Q&A period.

Viewers Will See Presentations by Five CSR/NIH Experts

  • The Review of Your NIH Grant Application Begins Here
  • What You Need to Know about Application Receipt and Referral
  • How Your Application Is Reviewed
  • Key Things to Know About the NIH Grants Program
  • Jumpstart Your Career with CSR’s Early Career Reviewer Program (R01 webinar only)

How to Participate in the Webinar

  • Go to www.csr.nih.gov/webinar to register for the webinar you wish to join by Monday, October 29.  You will not need to download special software.  You will just need a reliable Internet connection and browser.
  • Submit questions for the Q&A session before or during the webinar by sending them to the moderator at AskExperts@csr.nih.gov.
  • Go to www.csr.nih.gov/webinar on the day/time your webinar is scheduled.  Click on the link that will be provided there to view it.

View Archived Webinars

  • View archived webinars and PowerPoint slides now: Our 2014 Meet the Experts in NIH Peer Review webinars for R01, R15, Small Business and Fellowship grants are available via our webinar webpage.
  • View our 2015 Webinars and PowerPoints about a month after broadcast: They will be posted on our webinar webpage.

If you have general questions about the NIH application and review processes at other times, please visit the Please direct all inquiries to:

Don Luckett
Center for Scientific Review
Telephone: 301-435-1111
Email: AskExperts@csr.nih.gov

Originally posted on NIH website 9/24/15 by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

Important Note on NIH Closeout Report Deadlines

Important Note on NIH Deadlines for Required Final Reports & Grants Closeout

When an NIH awardee’s grant project periods comes to an end, recipients must close out their grant by submitting a Final Federal Financial Report (FFR), Final Progress Report (FPR), and Final Invention Statement and Certification (FIS). The deadlines for these reports has recently changed to align with forthcoming standard award terms and conditions for participating Federal research agencies. All projects with a period of performance end date on or after October 1, 2014 must submit the final FFR, the FPR, and the FIS within 120 calendar days of the end of the period of performance. For any grants with a period of performance (project period) end date prior to October 1, 2014, the reporting deadline will be 90 days from the project period end date.

As announced in the NIH Guide, eRA systems are currently being updated to reflect these changes; we expect the “grants pending closeout” search by institution in Commons Quick Queries to reflect the new deadline by July 17, 2015.

http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2015/06/30/important-note-on-deadlines-for-required-final-reports-grants-closeout/?utm_source=nexus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=nihupdate&utm_campaign=jun15

Do You Know You Have a New Option for Submitting R01, U01, and K applications?

As highlighted in an April Rock Talk blog post, NIH’s ASSIST submission system is now an option for submitting R01 applications, as well as most individual career development (K) award applications. In addition, applications to NIH’s U01 programs (Research Project Cooperative Agreements) recently joined the roster of programs supported in ASSIST.

When applying, a button to use ASSIST is linked from the required application instructions section of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) if ASSIST is an option for that opportunity. We still give you the option to use downloadable forms or your institution’s system-to-system solution. So make sure to check in with your central grants office to find out what method they prefer to use.

Planning ahead? ASSIST will become an option for additional single project programs throughout 2015 so stay tuned!

See more at:   http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2015/05/27/do-you-know-you-have-a-new-option-for-submitting-r01-u01-and-k-applications/

For more information contact the MBL Office of Sponsored Programs
 
 

NSF Uniform Guidance FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Questions on the National Science Foundation’s Implementation of 2 CFR § 200 (Uniform Guidance)

1. Which awards incorporate the new Uniform Guidance requirements?
The Uniform Guidance is effective for awards and funding increments on existing awards made on or after December 26, 2014. The Uniform Guidance will not be incorporated in the following circumstances:

  • If the award is a standard grant made prior to December 26, 2014; or
  • If the award is a continuing grant that has received all of its funding increments prior to December 26, 2014.

 
2. With the implementation of the new Uniform Guidance, how does an awardee know which terms and conditions apply an award?
For existing awards made prior to December 26, 2014, the terms and conditions referenced in the award notice will continue to apply.  If an existing award receives a funding increment on or after December 26, 2014, then the Grant General Conditions (GC-1) will be incorporated by reference into that funding amendment.

3. If an existing award receives a non-funding amendment (i.e., an amendment that does not provide any additional funding, such as a change of PI), is the amendment subject to the Grant General Conditions (GC-1) dated December 26, 2014?
No. The GC-1 is effective for new NSF awards and funding amendments to existing awards made on or after December 26, 2014. Non-funding amendments do not change the terms and conditions of the current award, except as noted in the administrative change.

4. If an existing award receives an amendment and the new GC-1 is incorporated, is it necessary to request a retroactive approval for items that normally require prior approvals?
Once an existing award receives a funding amendment that incorporates the GC-1, dated 12/26/14, preparation and submission of notifications and requests will follow the requirements specified in the new award conditions. Article 2 of the GC-1 outlines the two items that require approval from the National Science Foundation. (See also Award & Administration Guide, Exhibit II-1 for additional information.)

5. In regards to NSF’s recent change in the grant conditions that authorize grantees up to 120 days to submit final disbursement requests, will ACM$ allow for disbursement requests up to 120 days on awards not subject to the GC-1 dated, 12/26/15?
The 120 day standard will apply to all awards. The Award Cash Management System (ACM$) will not differentiate between awards and amendments made prior to December 26, 2014 and those made after December 26, 2014.  

6. It states in the Grant Proposal Guide: “No supporting documentation is required for proposed rates of 10% or less of modified total direct costs.” Is it therefore acceptable to allow less than 10% of modified total direct costs? If so, is 0% acceptable?
Submission of proposal budgets that reflect indirect cost rates below the de minimus 10% are not acceptable. NSF’s expectation with respect to indirect costs is made clear in NSF Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II.C.3.g(vi)(e):
“It is NSF’s expectation that, consistent with 2 CFR § 200.414, NSF awardees will use the domestic subrecipient’s applicable U.S. federally negotiated indirect cost rate(s). If no such rate exists, the NSF awardee may either negotiate a rate or use a de minimus indirect cost rate recovery of 10% of modified total direct costs.”

7. The University has, on occasion, experienced receipt of budgets from subcontractors who elect not to charge F&A at all. Is a 0% F&A rate acceptable in these cases?
Indirect cost rates of 0% are not acceptable as this would represent a form of voluntary committed cost sharing which is prohibited under NSF’s Cost Sharing Policy.

8. Listed as a “Significant Change to the Grant Proposal Guide to Implement the Uniform Guidance” is all travel must now be justified in Line E of the budget. How detailed must this request be to meet this requirement? For instance, if the name of a conference is available but not the exact date or location, is this sufficient?
The NSF Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II.C.2.g(iv) outlines what is required to justify travel costs: “Travel and its relation to the proposed activities must be specified, itemized and justified by destination and cost.” Therefore, proposers should provide as much information that is available to ensure that the travel is specified, itemized and justified. NSF realizes that all details may not be available at the time of proposal submission and, thus, proposers will be unable to provide such information.                                                                                           

9. When might temporary dependent care costs be allowable?
Temporary dependent care costs resulting from travel to conferences may be allowable when all of the conditions specified in 2 CFR § 200.474 have been met. Inclusion of such costs on a proposal budget may be appropriate only if all of the following conditions are met:

  • the costs have to be a direct result of the individual’s travel for the Federal award;
  • the costs have to be consistent with the non-Federal entity’s documented travel policy (so, if an institution does not allow such dependent care costs, then they would not be allowable on the NSF award); and
  • the costs have to be above the normal dependent care costs (for example, if someone currently pays for dependent care during the weekday working hours, then the grant would not pay for those costs while the person is traveling; if however there are additional costs while traveling – such as for attendance at evening meetings – which may require additional care and costs above and beyond what one would normally incur while they were at home, then those additional costs could be allowable on the award).
    NSF’s policy regarding travel support for dependents is covered in Chapter II.C.2.g(iv) of the Grant Proposal Guide: Travel support for dependents of key project personnel may be requested only when the travel is for a duration of six months or more either by inclusion in the approved budget or with the prior written approval of the cognizant NSF Grants Officer. Temporary dependent care costs above and beyond regular dependent care that directly result from travel to conferences are allowable costs provided that the conditions established in 2 CFR § 200.474 are met.

For additional information please contact the MBL Office of Sponsored Programs

NIH Policy on Application Compliance

Notice Number: NOT-OD-15-095

Key Dates
Release Date: April 15, 2015

Related Announcements
NoneIssued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Purpose

The purpose of this notice is to remind applicants, both investigators and grants office officials, that to be fair to all concerned the NIH needs to consistently apply standards for application compliance.

Policy

Be mindful that non-compliance can have serious consequences. NIH may withdraw any application identified during the receipt, referral and review process that is not compliant with the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, the Funding Opportunity Announcement, and relevant NIH Guide Notices.

Some examples of how this policy is applied to NIH applications include but are not limited to:

  • Applications containing one or more biosketches that do not conform to the required format may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-032).
  • Applications that do not conform to the page limit requirements because inappropriate materials have been included in other parts of the application may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-11-080).
  • Applications submitted as new but containing elements of a resubmission or renewal application are noncompliant with the resubmission policy and may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-059).
  • Applications submitted after 5 PM local (applicant organization) time on the application due date may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-039).

It is important to remember that these are just examples, and that all requirements specified in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, the Funding Opportunity Announcement, and relevant NIH Guide Notices are to be followed. When in doubt about compliance policy, contact NIH “Grants Info” or the Division of Receipt and Referral as listed below.

If an application is withdrawn because it does not conform to the application preparation and submission instructions, a letter will be placed in the eRA Commons Status page for that application.  The PD/PI and the AOR from the applicant organization will be notified by eRA Commons to access their account and view the explanatory letter.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Grants Info
Office of Extramural Research (OER)
National Institutes of Health
Telephone:  301-435-0714
Email:  grantsinfo@nih.gov

or

Division of Receipt and Referral
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
National Institutes of Health
Telephone: 301-435-0715
Email: csrdrr@mail.nih.gov

– See more at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-095.html#sthash.uqTGslBJ.dpuf

For additional information please contact the MBL Office of Sponsored Programs