NEW! MBL Rate Agreement Information

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is pleased to announce the successful negotiation of a new rate agreement with our federal cognizant agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The agreement, dated December 23, 2015, specifies the F&A rates to be applied to sponsored awards from federal and non-federal sponsors. Click here for more detailed information:  Rate Agreement MBL Community Letter

Notice on Salary Limitation on Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts

Notice on Salary Limitation on Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts

Notice Number: NOT-OD-16-045

Key Dates
Release Date: December 24, 2015

Related Announcements
NOT-OD-16-044

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Purpose

This Notice provides information regarding the salary limitation for NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards and extramural research and development contract awards (referred to here as grants). For FY 2016, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113), signed into law on December 18, 2015, restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Executive Level II salary is currently set at $183,300, increasing to $185,100 effective January 10, 2016.

Background

Every year beginning 1990, Congress has legislatively mandated a provision limiting the direct salary that an individual may receive under an NIH grant. For FY 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235), signed into law on December 16, 2014, restricted the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Executive Level II salary was $183,300. This information was published December 30, 2014 in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts (NOT-OD-15-049).

For the purposes of the salary limitation, the terms “direct salary,” “salary,” and “institutional base salary” have the same meaning and are exclusive of fringe benefits and facilities and administrative (F&A) expenses, also referred to as indirect costs. An individual’s institutional base salary is the annual compensation that the applicant organization pays for an individual’s appointment, whether that individual’s time is spent on research, teaching, patient care, or other activities. Base salary excludes any income that an individual may be permitted to earn outside of the duties to the applicant organization.

NIH grant/contract awards for applications/proposals that request direct salaries of individuals in excess of the applicable RATE per year will be adjusted in accordance with the legislative salary limitation and will include a notification such as the following: None of the funds in this award shall be used to pay the salary of an individual at a rate in excess of the applicable salary cap. Please see the salary cap summary and the time frames associated with salary caps at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm.

Implementation of salary limitation for NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards and extramural research and development contract awards:
No adjustments will be made to modular grant applications/awards or to previously established commitment levels for non-competing grant awards issued with FY 2016 funds.

NIH competing grant awards with categorical budgets reflecting salary levels at or above the new cap(s) that are issued on or after the January 10, 2016 effective date, will reflect adjustments to the current and all future years so that no funds are awarded or committed for salaries over the limitation.

For awards issued in those years that were restricted to Executive Level II (see Salary Cap Summary, FY 1990 – FY 2016), including competing awards already issued in FY2016, if adequate funds are available in active awards, and if the salary cap increase is consistent with the institutional base salary, grantees may rebudget to accommodate the current Executive Level II salary level and contractors may charge at the higher level. However, no additional funds will be provided to these grant awards and the total estimated cost of the contract will not be modified.

An individual’s base salary, per se, is NOT constrained by the legislative provision for a limitation of salary. The rate limitation simply limits the amount that may be awarded and charged to NIH grants and contracts. An institution may pay an individual’s salary amount in excess of the salary cap with non-federal funds.

The salary limitation does NOT apply to payments made to consultants under an NIH grant although, as with all costs, those payments must meet the test of reasonableness and be consistent with institutional policy.

The salary limitation provision DOES apply to subawards/subcontracts for substantive work under an NIH grant or contract.

Competing grant applications and contract proposals that include a categorical breakdown in the budget figures/business proposal should continue to reflect the actual institutional base salary of all individuals for whom reimbursement is requested. In lieu of actual base salary; however, applicants/offerors may elect to provide an explanation indicating that actual institutional base salary exceeds the current salary limitation. When this information is provided, NIH staff will make necessary adjustments to requested salaries prior to award.

Questions & Answers

1. Q: If a grant award (competing or non-competing) has already been issued in FY 2016, will an adjustment be made?
A: No adjustments will be made. However, rebudgeting is allowable.

2. Q: Can I rebudget grant funds or charge contracts issued in prior years (see Salary Cap Summary, FY 1990 – FY 2016) funds to allow for the 2016 salary cap increase?
A: Yes, provided funds are available and the increase is warranted. Prorated figures should be used for the applicable months, i.e., the $185,100 level is effective beginning January 10, 2016.

3. Q: If an application/proposal fails to provide needed salary information, will an adjustment be made based on the new rates?
A: No adjustment will be made if an application fails to provide adequate information regarding the individual’s actual salary level.

4. Q: Does the NIH appropriation language link the salary cap to a Federal Executive Level or to a dollar level?
A: The link is to the Federal Executive Level pay scale (i.e., Executive Level I for FYs 2001-2011, Executive Level II for FYs 2012-2016).

5. Q: As the cap is linked to Federal Executive Levels, can grantees/contractors with ongoing awards rebudget/charge up to the various salary caps, based on the fiscal year of the award and the time the salary expense is incurred?
A: Yes, salary may be charged in accordance with the FY cap(s), as long as the levels are consistent with the individual’s institutional base pay. Please refer to the salary cap summary with times frames for existing salary caps, at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm.

6. Q: Will grantees be permitted to submit revised categorical budgets reflecting higher base salaries?
A: Not as a general rule. NIH policy for categorical budgets states that grantees should always reflect actual base salaries in the requested budgets or provide an explanation indicating that actual institutional base salary exceeds the current salary limitation. As a general rule, NIH will use the information available in the existing application and make adjustments for the salary cap based on information available at the time of award.

The following are examples of the adjustments that NIH will make when salaries exceed the current salary limitation:

Example 1. Individual with Full-Time Appointment (based on grant award/contract issued on or after January 10, 2016 with salary limitation of $185,100)

Individual’s institutional base salary for a FULL-TIME calendar year appointment $ 200,000
Research effort requested in application/proposal – 6 months (50%)
Direct Salary requested $  100,000
Fringe benefits requested (25% of salary) $   25,000
Subtotal $ 125,000
Applicant organization’s F&A (indirect) costs at a rate of 45% of subtotal $   56,250
Amount requested – salary plus fringe benefits plus associated F&A (indirect) costs $ 181,250
If a grant/contract is to be funded, the amount included for the above individual will be calculated as follows:
Direct salary – restricted to a RATE of $ 185,100
Divided by 12 months multiplied by 6 months (50%) $   92,550
Fringe benefits (25% of allowable salary) $   23,137
Subtotal $  115,687
Associated F&A (indirect) costs at 45% of subtotal $   52,059
Total amount to be awarded due to salary limitation $  167,746
Amount of reduction due to salary limitation
($181,250 requested minus $167,746 awarded) $ 13,504

Example 2. Individual with Half-Time Appointment (based on a grant award/contract issued on or after January 10, 2016 with salary limitation of $185,100)

Individual’s institutional base salary for a HALF-TIME calendar year appointment $  100,000
Research effort requested in application/proposal – 1.8 months (30% of 6 months)
Direct Salary requested $   30,000
Fringe benefits requested (25% of salary) $    7,500
Subtotal $   37,500
Applicant organization’s F&A (indirect) costs at a rate of 45% of subtotal $   16,875
Amount requested – salary plus fringe benefits  
plus associated F&A (indirect) costs $   54,375
If a grant/contract is to be funded, the amount included in the award for the above individual will be calculated as follows:
Direct salary – restricted to a RATE of $   92,550
Divided by 6 months multiplied by 1.8 months (30%) $   27,765
Fringe benefits (25% of allowable salary) $     6,941
Subtotal $   34,706
Associated F&A (indirect) cost at 45% of subtotal $   15,618
Total amount to be awarded due to salary limitation $   50,326
Amount of reduction due to salary limitation  
($54,375 requested minus $50,326 awarded) $    4,049

Example 3. Individual with a Nine-Month Appointment (based on a grant award/contract issued on or after January 10, 2016 with salary limitation of $185,100)

Individual’s institutional base salary for a nine-month calendar year appointment $   150,000
Research effort requested in application/proposal – 2.7 months (30% of 9 months)
Direct Salary requested $   45,000
Fringe benefits requested (25% of salary) $   11,250
Subtotal $   56,250
Applicant organization’s F&A (indirect) costs at a rate of 45% of subtotal $   25,313
Amount requested – salary plus fringe benefits  
Plus associated F&A (indirect) costs $   81,563
If a grant/contract is to be funded, the amount included in the award for the above individual will be calculated as follows:
Direct salary – restricted to a RATE of $  138,825
Divided by 9 months multiplied by 2.7months (30%) $   41,648
Fringe benefits (25% of allowable salary) $   10,412
Subtotal $   52,060
Associated F&A (indirect) cost at 45% of subtotal $   23,427
Total amount to be awarded due to salary limitation $   75,487
Amount of reduction due to salary limitation  
($81,563 requested minus $75,487 awarded) $   6,076

Inquiries

Division of Grants Policy
Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration (OPERA)
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
Telephone: 301-435-0949
Email: GrantsPolicy@od.nih.gov

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