Overview of electronic Research Administration (eRA)

Powering the Advancement of Science

Inna Faenson
eRA Director Inna Faenson

Developed, managed and supported by NIH's Office of Extramural Research, eRA provides critical IT infrastructure to manage the receipt, processing, review, award and monitoring of over $30 billion in research and non-research grants awarded annually by NIH and other grantor agencies in support of the collective mission of improving human health.  

eRA is often at the crux of important changes in policy and process. It is the largest research grants management system in the federal government in terms of the number of applications, accounting for over 50 percent of the grant applications received by Grants.gov, the fed-wide portal for finding and applying for grants.

eRA provides IT solutions and support for the full life cycle of grants administration functions for the NIH as well as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Veterans Administration (VA).

Here are some numbers that show the breadth and complexity of the eRA Program:

  • Used by over 206,000 external users in nearly 34,000 research institutions, both domestic and worldwide (FY 2016 numbers)
  • Used by 4,700 NIH staff as well as nearly 800 partnering agency staff
  • Processes over 97,000 grant applications each year
  • Administers more than 60,000 awarded competing and non-competing grants
  • Maintains patent and invention records for 32 federal agencies (see iEdison website).
  • Supported by 74 eRA federal staff and over 200 contractors, who are responsible for 66 custom systems that manage extramural grants processing, from receipt of grant applications to closeout and reporting
  • Manages about 238 terabytes of extramural data (FY 2016 numbers) (Note that one terabyte is equal to 1,000 gigabytes)
  • Recorded 17.3 million log-ins to eRA systems in FY 2016

eRA's focus is on supporting the mission of serviced agencies by providing tools to electronically manage and report on grants in a way that:

  • Maximizes efficiencies
  • Provides a strong and scalable infrastructure
  • Is responsive to evolving customer needs
  • Employs sound management controls

  • For institutional enquiries about obtaining eRA services and information on eRA's costing model, contact the eRA Program manager, Inna Faenson, at faensoni@od.nih.gov.
  • eRA is engaging in business process modeling, a process that can successfully be implemented for other complex enterprise systems. If you are interested in finding out more, here is a link to a white paper (PDF - 623 KB) on an undertaking by eRA, in collaboration with other Institutes across NIH, to model the Peer Review process.