eRA News

eRA Information: Scheduled Downtime For Ext-UAT and Commons Demo on Friday, May 1

Friday, April 24, 2015

eRA is embarking on a long-term project to ensure high availability of its modules and databases in the event of a disaster or an unexpected outage.

 

eRA will be upgrading its data infrastructure for the External User Acceptance Testing and Commons Demo environment Friday, May 1, 2015. This process will involve downtime of approximately 8 hours starting at 9:00AM EST and will result in Ext-UAT and Commons Demo being unavailable during that time.

 

Please note that this process will not affect the production environment.

 


eRA Information: Scheduled Downtime For eRA Commons and ASSIST on Saturday, May 23

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 

eRA is embarking on a long-term project to ensure high availability of its modules and databases in the event of a disaster or an unexpected outage.

 

eRA will be upgrading its data infrastructure over the Memorial Day weekend in May. This process will involve downtime of approximately 8 hours starting at 9:00AM and will result in eRA Commons and ASSIST being unavailable during that time.

 

We are informing you of this downtime now so as to give as much advance notice as possible for your planning purposes.

 

We will send a reminder closer to the date.


Highlights of eRA Commons’ Upcoming Release & Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, April 16

Monday, April 13, 2015

Scheduled Downtime for April Release:

eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, April 16, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, April 17, 2015. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality that have been added to the system.   The following are highlights of this release; check out the eRA Commons release notes and the ASSIST release notes for more information on features and fixes. Release notes will be available shortly after the release.

Highlights of eRA Commons’ April Software Release

Updates in eSubmission Using ASSIST

NIH has made several changes to enhance the Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) module:

  • ASSIST Supports Zip/Postal Code of 10 Characters
    • The Zip/Postal Code field on the R&R Cover has been modified to accept 10 characters (i.e., 9 digits and a dash).

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH has added several new features to eRA Commons:

  • Unilateral Closeout
    • Modifications to Status–Closeout Search Screen and Results for Unilateral Closeout
      • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a directive to Agencies on new policies for closeout of grant awards. NIH has revised its policies and procedures to align with the OER Policy Announcement 2014 regarding the guidance on implementation of HHS GPAM Chapter 1101 (Closeout), including Unilateral Closeout.
      • As a result of this directive, the Status Closeout screens have been modified.
        • Two new statuses have been added to the Closeout Status search parameter on the Closeout Status search screen to limit search results to these grants. 
          • In Unilateral Closeout
          • Unilaterally Closed
        • The Status Result – Closeout Search screen will include the following links for grants unilaterally closed or in the process of being unilaterally closed. The links open the Closeout Status screen.
          • In Unilateral Closeout
          • Unilaterally Closed
  • Financial Conflict of Interests (FCOI) Updates
    • Administrative Supplements Removed from Search Results
      • In FCOI Module, Grantees can no longer initiate Financial Conflict of Interest reports for Administrative Supplements.
    • Modified for Institutions with an Inactive FCOI Official
      • Commons will now verify that an organization’s FCOI official on record continues to maintain an active Commons FCOI account within that organization before emails are sent to that person. If the official is no longer with the organization, or if the account’s roles no longer include FCOI, the following will occur:
        • The Signing Official (SO) will be copied on the communication
        • An active FCOI official will be copied on the communication. Commons will select the first FCOI official, alphabetically in the organization. All emails going out to Grantees will include the following note:

You may be receiving this email communication since the FCOI official originally responsible for this FCOI report appears to be no longer affiliated with your organization or does not currently have the FCOI role.  Therefore, please forward this communication to the appropriate FCOI official within your institution that is currently responsible for reporting identified FCOIs to the Agency. 

  • Federated Login Update
    • Principal Investigators (PIs) logged in as Federated users will see the same features and modules in Commons as they do when logged in with Commons credentials.
  • Institution Profile (IPF) Update
    • Institution Profile Modified for Animal Welfare Assurance Number Management
      • The Office of Lab Animal Welfare (OLAW) and eRA are collaborating to improve the capture and validation of Animal Welfare Assurance Numbers. The Institution Profile in Commons has been modified to support this collaboration.
      • Institutions are no longer able to add or edit the Animal Welfare Assurance Number field. This field, located within the About the Institution panel of the Institution Basic Information screen, will display all assurance numbers for the institution as passed to Commons from OLAW system.
  • New Just-in-Time (JIT) Features
    • JIT Feature Modified for Genome Data Sharing Certifications
      • The Just in Time (JIT) screen has been modified to allow the upload of an Institutional Certification for Genome Data Sharing.
  • New xTrain Features
    • PIs and PI Delegates Can Recall TNs Regardless of Last Reviewer
      • PIs can now recall Termination Notices (TN) at any time, regardless of the current reviewer, as long as the TN has not been submitted to the Agency.
    • xTrain Communications Display Grant Extension
    • Grant numbers within all xTrain communications now include the grant extension number (e.g., 01A1) if one exists.
  • No Cost Extension (NCE) Update
    • In the January system-wide release, a free text field was added to the No Cost Extension form as a place for grantees to provide justification for the extension as required under HHS Uniform Guidance.
      • For this release, the field has been removed to provide time for the development of a more elegant and user friendly option for meeting this requirement.

 

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above. However, customers can always email the eRA Help Desk at that time; commons@od.nih.gov (for eRA Commons support).


eRA Information: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Wednesday, April 8

Monday, April 06, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Wednesday, April 8, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in preparation for the spring system-wide software release starting on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 9 p.m. ET. As part of our standard practice before each quarterly software release, we update the Ext-UAT and Commons Demo environments with the changes that will take place in production the following week. 
 
We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
 
Please note that this process will not affect the production environment.

eRA Information: New RPPR Error Message for Inclusion Enrollment Data

Friday, March 13, 2015

When submitting a Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) that includes Inclusion Enrollment data, grantees may encounter a new error message. The new error message reads:

Section G. Special Reporting Requirements: (ID: 201320)
G.4.b Inclusion enrollment data must be provided in the IMS format and saved for record(s) # <IDR number>. Please navigate to G.4.b of the RPPR, click the Inclusion link, select the appropriate IDR, click “Edit Cumulative” and update the enrollment data in that format. Click save and update the next IDR or return to the RPPR if done. (ID: 206731)

This error results when data in the RPPR has come from the old NIH inclusion data system.  RPPRs with inclusion data must be submitted using the new Inclusion Management System (IMS) format. This data cannot be directly transferred to the new format and must be entered manually in IMS.

Please see Release Notes on the steps to manually convert the data to IMS.
Please see Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-078 for more information.

eRA Communications
Division of Communications and Outreach
NIH Office of Extramural Research


eRA Information: NIH 2015 Regional Seminar Registration Now Open

Thursday, February 19, 2015

eRA is delighted to announce that NIH’s Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration will take place May 6-8, 2015 in Baltimore, MD.  The NIH Regional Seminar provides a comprehensive overview of the NIH grants process over the course of 2 days, including policies & process guidance, on-line tools and resources, the eRA Commons, Peer Review, Public Access, animal & human research, and so much more!  This seminar is ideal for administrators, researchers, and anyone new to working with NIH grants, or those wanting to hear the latest from NIH experts.  For more information, visit the NIH Regional Seminar-Baltimore website at http://regionalseminars.od.nih.gov/baltimore2015/.

In addition to the 2-day seminar on May 7 & 8, we’d like to also highlight four optional workshops on Wednesday, May 6 (eRA workshops included).  Please note that optional, pre-seminar workshops require an additional registration fee.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Administrator’s Boot Camp: Getting Started with NIH   NEW IN 2015!
Session(s):  Afternoon only 1:00-4:30pm

If you are an administrator that has never applied for funding, then join your peers for this new, introductory level workshop on the pre-award process from a policy perspective.  Starting from the very beginning of the pre-award process through the time of award, topics will include registration, identifying funding opportunities, using the application guides, and understanding the Notice of Award.  Presenters will also provide suggestions of related sessions that participants should consider attending during the 2-day seminar for further details on a particular topic.  Participants will walk away with a better understanding of key pre-award activities, timelines, considerations, and the resources to help them once they return to their office. Agenda

Audience:  Specifically designed for grant administrators at applicant organizations with no previous experience applying for NIH awards..

*To participate in the Administrator’s Boot Camp, attendees must also be registered for the 2-day Regional Seminar.

electronic Research Administration (eRA) Workshops:    NEW FORMAT IN 2015!
Session(s):  Two workshops are offered this year by eRA.  Each is designed for ½ day, but are offered both morning and afternoon (9:00am-12:00pm or 1:00-4:00pm). 
Attendees may choose to register for one or both workshops.

Grant Application Preparation & Submission (3 hours)
eRA Commons Account Administration & Post-Submission Processing (3 hours)

Through a combination of presentations, live demos, and discussions, these workshops take participants through all NIH pre- and post-award electronic touch points, from submitting a grant application all the way through grant closeout. The sessions are designed to be interactive, and participants are encouraged to bring questions and share their experiences. Agendas

Audience:  Administrators and PIs who have little experience working with the NIH grants process.

*To participate in the eRA Workshop(s), participants must also be registered for the 2-day Regional Seminar.

Human Research Protections Workshop: Getting through Human Research Reviews without Pain    NEW IN 2015!
Session(s) Offered:  Full day program 9:00am-4:00pm

This full-day workshop aims to provide participants with the knowledge and information necessary to have their NIH grant applications and research protocols pass review for human research protections. It will focus on clarifying confusions and providing participants with practical tips and solutions to problems and difficulties commonly encountered during such reviews. Agenda.

Audience:  Early-staged investigators and trial coordinators involved in human subject research.

*The Human Research Protections Workshop may be attended separately without registering for the NIH Regional Seminar.

Thursday – Friday, May 7-8, 2015
2-Day Seminar

This seminar is designed to help demystify the application and review process, as well as clarify federal regulations and policies so that attendees will be able to return to their institution with a much better understanding of the overall NIH grants process.  There are 3 tracks of sessions to choose from and attendees may choose from any of them throughout the seminar: Administrators, New Investigators, & All Interests.  Agenda.

In addition to the sessions, there are numerous opportunities to meet and interact with approximately 45 NIH and HHS policy officials, as well as NIH grants management, review and program staff representing numerous NIH institutes and Centers.  Throughout the 2-day seminar, there are also 1:1 opportunities to chat about specific issues.

Audience: Intended for those new to the grants process, including sponsored project officers and departmental administrators, investigators, faculty, graduate students, and others involved in the NIH grants process. Over the course of two days, it also provides an opportunity to those with more experience to obtain the latest updates on grants policies and procedures.

Register soon as space fills up fast and the attendance is limited!

eRA Communications
Division of Communications and Outreach
NIH Office of Extramural Research


eRA Information: Ext-UAT, Commons Demo Environments Will be Unavailable February 5, 2015 from 5 to 10 PM ET

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments, which includes non-production ASSIST, are scheduled to be offline tomorrow, Thursday, February 5, 2015 from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM for maintenance procedures.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please note that this process will not affect the production environment.


eRA Enhancements: Highlights of eRA Commons' Upcoming Release and Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, January 29

Monday, January 26, 2015

Scheduled Downtime for January Release:
eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, January 29, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, January 30, 2015. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality that have been added to the system.   The following are highlights of this release; check out the eRA Commons release notes and the ASSIST release notes for more information on features and fixes. Release notes will be available shortly after the release.

Highlights of eRA Commons' January Software Release

Updates in eSubmission Using ASSIST

NIH has made several changes to enhance the Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) module:

  • ASSIST Supports Single Project Applications
    • eRA will open ASSIST for R03 and R21 single project applications in late January.  As ASSIST becomes a viable option for other grant programs, additional Guide Notices will be posted. Note that use of ASSIST is optional for single project applications. See NOT-OD-15-044.
    • Subaward budget information can be completed within ASSIST or subaward budget forms can be completed offline and uploaded into ASSIST.
    • Online Help for ASSIST has been updated to include help for single project applications.
  • Enhanced Calculation of Indirect Budget Costs
    • eRA is implementing the new PHS Additional Indirect Costs form to gather the additional indirect cost information needed to correctly calculate the indirect costs for the applicant organizations, when entire components of a multi-project application are led by other organizations. This is an optional form that can be used with multi component applications, as the Funding Opportunity Announcement allows.

Updates in eSubmission Using PDF Forms

  • Single-project Applications
    • Added a direct cost limit calculation to the application image, so users can determine if their application falls within any direct cost limits of a Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH has added several new features to eRA Commons:

  • Extension Justification
    • NIH will be requiring an explanation for grantee-initiated extensions be provided in a new 2000 character limited text box, when requesting a No Cost Extension. The text box will make it easier and more convenient to provide justification for the extension.
  • New Security Confirmations
    • NIH takes security very seriously. To that end, the following new features are designed to ensure your personal information on the Personal Profile form remains protected:
      • A change to your Social Security Number, Date of Birth, or Contact Email Address will trigger a confirmation message to the original email address, alerting you to the change of information.
      • When changing either the Social Security Number or Date of Birth, the system will display a pop-up window confirming that you want to make the change.
  • New Project Title Limitations
    • Project titles can now support scientific characters such as Greek letters and/or mathematical symbols.  However, while eRA Commons will support the use of these characters, it will not be until February 2015 that Grants.gov will complete its systems upgrade to support these characters.  Please look for an upcoming Guide Notice for more information.
  • New Closeout Functionality
    • On the Institution Profile form, under Institution Contact Information, there will now be a new required field for Closeout Correspondence Email.
    • For existing institutions, the Notice of Award Email address will be automatically copied to the Closeout Correspondence Email field until it can be updated.
    • For closeout related roles (AO, PI and SO), emails sent to these users will also be CC'd to the Closeout Correspondence Email.
    • Federal Financial Reports will require comments when a revision is submitted.
    • Final Progress Report (FPR) submission can be delegated and for existing users with the RPPR submission delegation, the FPR submission delegation will be added automatically.
  • New RPPR Functionality
    • There is a new Recall button for Agency PRAM requests. Like other recall functionality, the last reviewer can recall the Agency PRAM (formerly IC PRAM) if the PRAM status is not "Submitted to Agency."
    • For complex (multi-project) applications, the new PHS Additional Indirect Costs form will be available for projects with an Overall Component and at least one subcomponent.
  • New xTrain Features
    • A new status for fellowships has been added: Proxy Termination. When a Proxy Termination is accepted by agency for a non-fellowship appointment, the status will now be displayed as Proxy Termination.
    • The Business Official (BO) will now have the ability to modify the stipend amount.  However, this is only available when the appointment period has been modified.
    • Reminders sent to Principal Investigators (PIs) for trainee terminations will be sent 30 days prior, one day after and 30 days after the termination date.
    • Automatic termination of trainees for accepted appointments prior to January 1, 2011.  In an effort to clean up legacy data, the system will automatically terminate appointments that were accepted by an institution prior to January 1, 2011.  The "Reset to Prior State" option will not be available for these appointments.  If you need assistance for an appointment that gets terminated as a result of this process, please contact the Help Desk.
  • Financial Conflict of Interests (FCOI) Updates
    • Enhancement
      • User will now be able to leave comments/text for question # 5 (Retrospective Review Completed? N/Y) on the original FCOI report. Comments will be visible to Agency users.
    • Critical Fixes
      • Annual report link will now be correctly displayed on FCOI search results screen. Annual report due date calculation will now correctly be based on the Original FCOI submission dates and all the related information will be based on latest submitted FCOI record (Revision or past Annual reports)
      • Based on policy, the system will not allow the user to submit an FCOI Revision if, on the original FCOI report, Question # 4 (Does this FCOI report include a failure to comply with the regulation? N/Y), is answered as 'Yes.'

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above. However, customers can always email the eRA Help Desk at that time; commons@od.nih.gov (for eRA Commons support).


Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Environments Available

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are once again available for use. The systems have been restored to normal operating status.


Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Wednesday, January 21, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in preparation for the winter system-wide software release starting on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 9 p.m. ET. As part of our standard practice before each quarterly software release, we update the Ext-UAT and Commons Demo environments with the changes that will take place in production the following week. 

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please note that this process will not affect the production environment.


Twas the Night of Submission

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas the night of Submission (not the night before) all through the laboratory,
Not a person was resting for the due date was mandatory.
The application was laid out with care,
All in the hope it would be submitted without a snare.

The PIs and SOs all wished they were in bed,
Seeing visions of awards in their heads.
The Dean in her office with the SRA nearby, considered a night cap,
But settled instead on a nice chocolate frappe.

When from the lab came such a clatter,
The SRA sprang from his chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the door he flew like a flash,
Flung it open he did with a clash.

The panic in the eyes of his staff scared him so,
A problem clearly was the cause of such woe.
Had a registration been missed? Maybe an improper budget year?
If they didn't get this right, it might cost him his career!

So together they looked through the forms lively and quick,
He saw in a moment a bad DUNS number was the trick.
More rapid than eagles his PIs each other did blame
As they realized their error and hung heads in deep shame.

"Now Come On Guys! Let's see what else is missin'!
On  DUNS, On SAM, no more errors we be wishin'!"
So from the top of the SF424 and through it all,
They scoured the application to avoid another stall.

They finished the review with a deep felt sigh,
They thought they were ready to give it a try.
So up to the top the cursor did flew,
To click SUBMIT was risky at best, they knew.

And then they waited, waited for proof,
Would the submission be good or would it be a goof?
At 4:58, the time had run down,
Success or failure would soon be found.

An email confirmation would quickly be afoot,
Warnings are OK, but errors make it all kaput.
A bundle of tension had crept up his back,
The SRA so nervous, he thought he would yack.

His eyes how they twitched, beady and nervous, and somewhat scary,
His cheeks like roses, his posture so wary,
His droll little mouth drawn up like a bow,
And his hair turning white, white as the snow.

The chime of an email made them all clinch their teeth,
The stress so high they could all barely breathe.
Legs and fingers twitched and shook like jelly.
If this failed, they would all have to move to New Delhi.

Taking a deep breath so he would not ralph,
The SRA clicked on the message despite himself.
With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
The message opened and quietly they all read.

They spoke not a word but went straight to the end,
No warnings, no errors, nothing to append!
It was all good, their bodies they unfroze,
They started to talk like they were submission pros.

The SRA sprang to his feet, shooting up like a missile,
With hoop and a holler he told his team "Go wet your whistle!"
They heard him exclaim has he ran out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"