National Institutes of Health (NIH) multi-project or complex applications including most P and U series applications as well as a few other activity codes, are the last remaining NIH applications currently being handled via paper submission. They represent approximately 6% of the total application volume at NIH and have presented a significant challenge to completing the transition to electronic submission. Previous InfoEdge articles have alerted users to the project ongoing at NIH to transition multi-project applications from paper to electronic submission (e.g., National Institutes of Health – Electronic Submission of Complex Applications, Jun 2012), and this article provides an update on that project and describes InfoEd Global’s plan to support electronic submission of multi-project applications using Proposal Development (PD) for system-to-system (S2S) submission.
In Notice NOT-OD-12-161, NIH formally announced plans for this transition process, including development of a web application – called ASSIST – for preparing submissions. ASSIST will be used in lieu of an Adobe forms package for electronic submission of multi-project applications. NIH’s ASSIST web application will allow users to develop a multi-project grant application, which will then be submitted via Grants.gov’s S2S portal for retrieval by the NIH Commons. Grants.gov has enhanced its S2S portal with additional functionality to support receiving the large and complex application packages associated with multi-project proposals. NIH’s ASSIST web-based proposal development and submission system will be preferable for many over using Grants.gov’s Adobe forms application packages, which will not be available for multi-project applications
Starting in January 2013, NIH will initiate a pilot using the ASSIST system. NIH staff expect to publish a few opportunities for the January 25th deadline and a few more for the May 25th deadline that will require use of ASSIST rather than paper submissions, while applications for all other multi-project opportunities outside the pilot will continue to be paper-based. Assuming the pilot goes well, NIH anticipates that starting in September 2013, electronic submission will be required for all multi-project applications.
How will this transition affect InfoEd users? During the pilot phase, InfoEd users will treat proposals submitted electronically via the ASSIST system very much like those submitted on paper. If your institution processes all applications through InfoEd’s Proposal Development (PD) module to, for example, take advantage of having a single electronic review and approval process and one place to find records of that process, then you will likely want users to create a PD record, upload the PDF generated from the ASSIST system as an attachment – very much like they would upload documents associated with a foundation or other non-Grants.gov submission – and then submit that record through routing.
InfoEd’s PD module will be updated during 2013 to support electronic submission of NIH multi-project applications just as it supports submissions of all other NIH applications today. Support for multi-project application submission will be based on InfoEd’s updated budget tool. The first release of the new budget will include support for building complex budgets including subprojects in both Proposal Development and Proposal Tracking. A later release will include support for updated SF424RR forms and other features needed for submission of multi-project applications directly to Grants.gov via PD.