National Institutes of Health – Electronic Submission of Complex Applications
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) electronic research administration group is working toward a new system to accept complex applications – program projects, centers, SCORs, etc. – electronically. When in place, the ~6% of applications received by NIH on paper today, will be transitioned to electronic submissions and NIH will have essentially migrated all application functions away from paper.
Complex applications presented a unique challenge because unlike other mechanisms, they essentially combine several individual proposals together into a single submission. The Grants.gov data model did not support nested proposals as it was originally designed. However, NIH is fully committed to supporting and using Grants.gov as their proposal submission portal and recognizes in particular the importance of that for institutions that have invested heavily in S2S systems like InfoEd. Kudos to NIH for this thinking!
The solution to this dilemma is the project in development currently. NIH is building a web-based proposal submission portal for complex applications that they expect to eventually turn over to Grants.gov. Initially, however, this will be operated by NIH staff. It will be used only for complex application submissions; all other applications will continue to be submitted through Grants.gov as they are today. S2S applications will be supported via submission to Grants.gov based on new forms and functionality that is being brought online currently.
A complex application is one that typically includes several components such as administrative cores, cores, and projects; they may also include career development, training or construction components in specific cases. The new NIH complex application model includes a single overall component and a variable number of other components of various types based on the specific opportunity.
InfoEd’s new budget fully supports subprojects, which are essentially proposals within a proposal that will form the basis for supporting complex applications. Each InfoEd subproject will represent a separate component with the InfoEd prime representing the overall component. One interesting feature related to budgeting is that while each component (core, project, etc.) will have its own unique budget, the S2S submission package will not include a summary budget. A cumulative budget will, however, be created by NIH systems on receipt of the XML package from Grants.gov.
Routing is another consideration – at least some institutions will want to route each subproject separately for departmental sign-off either to limit exposure of sensitive information or facilitate a speedier review process.
NIH’s current plan is to initiate a pilot with a single complex opportunity in January, 2013.