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eRA News Archive




New Help Desk Ticketing Service Available Monday, Oct. 29

Sunday, October 28, 2012

eRA is moving to a new, sleeker help desk ticketing system tomorrow, Oct. 29, for our customers.  The new system will be more intuitive and customized to better meet your needs.  This system increases efficiency, provides better tracking and reporting of issues, and provides meaningful notifications to you.

You can access the new ticketing system through the link: /help/.

For tickets created before the switch to the new system, you will continue to receive messages from the old system until the issue is resolved or the Help Desk Team moves it to the new system. Note that the ability to submit tickets via email and telephone is not changing.

For more information on the new system, get the New Help Desk System PDF.

(Message below sent Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. ET)

Highlights of Updates & Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, October 18

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Highlights of eRA’s October Software Release
The following are highlights of eRA’s upcoming October 18-19 system-wide software release.

  • Use of Research Performance Progress Report  (RPPR) Expanded
    The use of RPPR is extended to all SNAP eligible progress reports and all Fellowships (F activity codes).  For more information about RPPR, please visit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) web page.
  • Progress Report Additional Materials (PRAM) Included in RPPR
    The Progress Report Additional Materials (PRAM) feature provides a means for the grantee to enter, review, and submit information in response to specific request(s) from NIH for additional materials or in response to non-compliant publications following the submission of an RPPR.
  • Principal Investigator (PI) Status Screen Updates
    A new status screen for Principal Investigators (PIs) will be included in the release.  The new interface will be more consistent with the screen Signing Officials see.  It will let the PI see all errors and warnings from submissions even after the application has moved forward in the review process.
  • xTrain Updates
    There are several changes coming to xTrain in this release. The major improvements are:
    • Fixes the PDFs of xTrain appointments to ensure that important data and signatures are included.
    • Enables the termination of appointments and fellowships when there is a change of institution. The name of the new institution, project title (if it has changed) and appropriate Business Official will be listed on the Termination Notice User Interface and PDF.
    • In the near future, PDFs of xTrain appointments that are missing important data and signatures will be regenerated with all the correct information.

Scheduled Downtime for October Release:
Please note that the eRA Commons will be unavailable from 9 p.m. (ET), Thursday, October 18 until 7 a.m. (ET) Friday, October 19 for deployment.

New Help Desk Ticketing Service Coming Soon

Thursday, October 4, 2012

eRA is moving to a new, sleeker help desk ticketing system for our customers.  The new system will be more intuitive and customized to better meet your needs.  This system will increase efficiency, provide better tracking and reporting of issues, and provide meaningful notifications to you.

The new system will replace the existing online ticketing system on Monday, October 29, 2012.

When you come to the new web page, you will be prompted to enter your email address (the one you use to communicate with NIH) and then you will see a new screen (see screenshot below).

Screenshot of new ticketing system
Figure 1: Screenshot of new ticketing system

The new system will offer more choices to categorize the help you are seeking, including multiple drill-down menus. For instance, you will first select the eRA Commons category, then you will have a number of sub-categories to choose from such as Account Questions, xTrain, or Progress Reports.  These options trigger related categories allowing you to quickly and specifically categorize the issue.   Not finding the right choices? No problem!  There is a rich text area to describe your issue as you see fit.  After describing the issue, you can also provide attachments and select your response preference, whether it be phone, email, or TTY.

To help speed up resolution of the issue, we encourage you to submit as much information as possible in the different fields available.

Finally, saving the ticket will ensure it is submitted and you will be given a confirmation number.

Additional features of the system include a Global Tickets pop-up message. This window will list widespread issue(s) affecting a large number of users. If you are experiencing the same issue, simply subscribe to the global ticket to be notified when the issue has been fixed. Yep, there’s a button for that! Note that if there is no global issue, the pop-up will not appear. You will need to have pop-ups enabled in your browser to view the Global Tickets window.

We will send an update when the new system is available.

Accessing eRA Commons from Bookmarks and Search Engines

Friday, September 7, 2012

For the past few weeks, the Help Desk has seen an increase in calls from customers who encounter the following error message when trying to log in: 

internal server error

eRA Commons has always had the policy of not supporting bookmarks. Commons does not support bookmarks for reasons of security. When you come to the Commons login page, it is not just a simple URL. When you come to the login page, you get:

eRA Commons URL

eRA applies more security to the session (the connection between your browser and the eRA Commons web site) than most web sites, primarily to protect your information.  Many of the values in this long string of characters are unique to that layer of security.  If a security key changes after you’ve added the site to your list of favorites or bookmark it, then the next time you visit the page, these values will no longer be valid and you will receive the error message. eRA is working on making the error message more informative than the current version.

If you wish to bookmark a URL for Commons, keep it generic. Use  and manually add this URL to your list of favorites/bookmarks.

Similarly, some customers get to the eRA Commons login page using a search engine like Google.  Searching for eRA Commons, NIH Commons or variations thereof may get you to the login page.  But it may also present you with this message:

It Works!

The links provided by search engines are not always complete and do not define the location you are seeking well enough to get you to where you want to be. 

So in both of the scenarios above, it is not necessary to call the Help Desk immediately.  Try typing in or bookmark /  and click on eRA Commons button on the right side of the page:

right navigation eRA site screen shot

These will always safely and correctly get you to where you want to be.

Issue with Retrieving Documents Resolved

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The issue with retrieving documents from eRA modules, including QVR and the Grant Folder, has been resolved.

Thank you for your patience.

(Message below sent Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 3:20 p.m. ET)

Issue with Retrieving Document in eRA Commons

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Users are experiencing issues with retrieving documents from eRA Commons, such as application images. We are currently troubleshooting the issue and will provide an update as soon as possible.

eRA Commons Offline at 6 p.m. ET Tonight

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

eRA Commons will be unavailable at 6 p.m. ET tonight, Wednesday, August 1, due to emergency maintenance.

The maintenance is expected to take up to an hour and a half.

Changes to CCR Coming This Week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

An active Central Contractor Registration (CCR) is required to successfully submit an NIH grant application through It is also an NIH requirement to keep CCR information current and active from application submission through grant closeout (see NOT-OD-11-004).  Although CCR services are managed outside of NIH through the General Services Administration (GSA), we want to make you aware of upcoming CCR changes that could impact registrations requests or updates.

As announced in May 2012, General Services Administration (GSA) is launching the new System for Award Management (SAM) that combines eight federal procurement systems and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance into one new system.

PLEASE NOTE: The current CCR system will not accept any new records or updates to existing records after close of business Tuesday, July 24th. That means there will be no CCR updates to from Wednesday, July 25th until SAM goes live on Monday, July 30th. It takes at least a day after a CCR registrant receives the activation notice for their information to be available in

Per the Web site:

If you currently have an active CCR registration, you need not do anything until it is time to renew your current registration.  At that time, the following steps will occur:

  1. You’ll create a new SAM User ID and Password
  2. Your CCR/FedReg permissions will be verified via your email account
  3. Your CCR registration information (Entity Information) will be waiting for you in SAM

If your record was set to expire between June 16, 2012 and October 15, 2012, the expiration date will be extended by 90 days. You will receive an e-mail notification from CCR when your expiration date has been updated. You will receive standard e-mail reminders to update your record based on this new expiration date. Those e-mail notifications will come from SAM.

If a potential applicant has not been notified of their CCR registration’s completion by Monday, July 23rd, it is unlikely they will be able to submit an application in before SAM goes live on Monday July 30, 2012.

For more information on SAM, please visit the CCR web site and Note that NIH does not manage CCR, so all questions should be directed to the points of contact listed on the  web site.  You can also get more info from the blog page.

LikeThis Now Available to Signing Officials

Monday, July 23, 2012

The LikeThis tool, the thesaurus-based search tool, that was released in February is now available to Signing Officials (SOs) and those with the Commons roles of Trainee, Post Doc and Assistant. LikeThis is available as a link after logging in to eRA Commons.

See the Overview, User Guide and FAQs for more information about LikeThis.

Original message below sent Monday February 13, 2012 at 11:28AM.

eRA Commons Will Be Down for July Release

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Please note that the eRA Commons will be unavailable from 9 p.m. (ET), Thursday, July 19 until 7 a.m. (ET) Friday, July 20 for deployment.

We are sorry for any inconvenience.

RPPR for non-SNAP Grants for FDP Institutions

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

For pilot organizations and Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) institutions, a system error is currently allowing for the initiation of an RPPR on a non-SNAP award.  Per Guide Notice NOT-OD-12-083, the RPPR process can only be used for SNAP and Fellowship awards.  The error will be fixed by July 26, 2012.  Please do NOT initiate RPPRs for non-SNAP grants.

RPPR reflects the streamlined progress report information allowable for SNAP awards, (e.g. it lacks detailed budgets, IRB and IACUC approval dates, other support for all key personnel – regardless of change).  As such, the RPPR is not currently an acceptable format for a progress report for non-SNAP awards. You will need to submit your non-SNAP progress report using the standard paper process as described in the instruction guide for Non-Competing Continuation Progress Report PHS 2590 (Revised 06/2009)

We have received some RPPRs for non-SNAP grants and have identified a small number RPPRs initiated on non-SNAP awards.  For each of these progress reports we will work with the grantee directly to minimize the impact of this error; however, we may need to request information in addition to that provided in the RPPR to satisfy the progress report requirement for these non-SNAP awards. 

We apologize for the inconvenience, appreciate your patience as we work to correct the error, and value your feedback as we transition to the RPPR.

eSNAP Due Date Issue

Thursday, June 14, 2012

As of June 14, 2012, eRA Commons is displaying eSNAP due dates of the 1st of the month for many grants. Consequently, the eSNAP eligible grants are showing as being ‘OVERDUE’ in the system, despite actually being due on the 15th.

What you should do: First, don’t panic – this is a system issue. We have not changed our standard practices. You can still submit your eSNAPs in Commons by the 15th and be considered ‘on-time’.  It is not necessary to contact your grants management or program official to discuss the issue.

The staff is currently looking at short and long term solutions to the issue.  As soon as we know more, we will provide an update.

Changes Coming in Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We would like to make you aware of upcoming changes to the Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) module that will be available with eRA’s June 19-20 software release.  The new features to the FCOI module in eRA Commons are to accommodate the requirements of the 2011 Revised Regulations.

The new module will require an additional four pieces of data not previously required in the 1995 Regulations:

  • Categorizing via drop down menus individual Significant Financial Interests (SFI) entities.
  • Description via text box or uploaded PDF of why the scenario is a conflict of interest.
  • Submission of the plan to manage the conflict.
  • Verification that you are compliant with the regulations and if not what is the mitigation plan.

For those who submit reports, additional features will include the ability to revise reports and see the history of a report.

For more information, please visit the Financial Conflict of Interest page and the FCOI documents page (new user guide to be posted in conjunction with June 19th release).

Issue with Notice of Award Notifications

Monday, April 23, 2012

Notice of Award (NoA) announcements generated since Friday, April 20, 2012 have the word “REVISED” added to the grant number.  This is the result of a small defect that is affecting NoAs released Friday, April 20 with an issue date of Monday, April 23 for NIH and eRA’s partner agencies.

If you received an initial grant award that shows “REVISED” incorrectly, do not be alarmed. This is a misprint on the document only.  Everything else about the award including the financial transaction is being processed correctly.

We are looking into a fix for the problem and will provide more information when available.

eRA Commons Offline During Sat, April 28 Maintenance

Monday, April 23, 2012

eRA Commons will be unavailable from 11 a.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 28, due to a planned upgrade of eRA servers.

New Features Coming April 19-20 for eRA Commons

Friday, April 13, 2012

Next week, eRA Commons will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, April 19 until about 7 a.m. ET Friday, April 20 for the eRA system-wide software release.

New Features

  • Electronic submission of Change of Institution (Type 7) applications – This process allows an institution to turn over an active grant to another institution. It is an open pilot, meaning that you have the choice to use the electronic process or the traditional paper process.  There are two parts to the Change of Institution submission.  The institution holding the grant must complete a Relinquishing Statement through eRA Commons that states it is giving up the grant and identifies the receiving institution. The receiving institution must submit an application via using the Parent Funding Opportunity Announcement listed at Please look for an NIH Guide Notice next week.
  • Electronic submission of Successor-in-Interest (Type 6) Applications – Also in an open pilot, this process is similar to Change of Institution (Type 7) Applications.  It applies in cases where an organization is taken over by another organization through a merger or corporate change. Please look for an NIH Guide Notice next week.
  • Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) – The RPPR was sparked by a federal mandate to create a progress report in a standard format across federal agencies so that recipient reporting is standardized.  The RPPR begins as a limited pilot, with seven institutions volunteering to test the procedures.  We anticipate a wider pilot over the summer and going to full production in 2013.  Additional information can be found on the Research Performance Progress Report Web page and NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-12-083.

New Fixes

  • Various fixes for the Administrative Supplement (Type 3) system which is currently in open pilot.
  • A fix for users experiencing difficulties in adding the role type of “Other” to the All Personnel section of the eSNAP.

Help Desk Phone Lines Issue Resolved

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

We have been informed that the issue with the Aspect phone system has been resolved. The Help Desk phones have been restored to full service.

Please revert to the normal practice of submitting tickets online at

Thank you for your patience.

(Message below sent Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. ET)

Help Desk Phone Lines Down; Submit

Tickets by Email

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Aspect, a phone system used by several NIH Help Desks, is having problems. The eRA Help Desk is one of those impacted; users will get a busy signal if they call. Phone company engineers are working on the issue.

We would ask users to please submit their service requests via email at until the problem is resolved.

Try the New LikeThis Search Tool Available Through eRA Commons

Monday February 13, 2012

Principal Investigators, have you ever wanted to see what NIH has awarded in your area of interest? Would you like to find out which study section reviews the applications similar to the ones you are proposing?

If so, we encourage you to explore LikeThis (beta), a new search tool linked to the eRA Commons! You can enter a scientific abstract or access your own applications or grants and then click on LikeThis to get a listing of similar grants and/or publications.

No need to worry about your proposed research strategy being seen by others.  The LikeThis beta version requires a Commons login, so any information you enter is confidential.
After you log into Commons, you will find the link along the right side of the home page at the bottom of the Additional Links section.

Here are some helpful resources — an Overview, a User Guide and FAQs to navigate LikeThis.

So go ahead and use the LikeThis tool and send us your feedback or questions to the LikeThis mailbox.

In case the new tool makes you want to sing, go ahead and get your beat box on…

Ya wanna find new ideas for research on the fly?
Do it LikeThis!
Wanna find a grant like yours in just one try?
Do it LikeThis!

Planning to submit some grant applications?
You can look for the right study sections.
Avoid all the other frustrations!
Find it LikeThis!


Password Changes and Upcoming Password Expiration for Accounts

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hurry, don’t delay, time is literally ticking away on your eRA Commons password!  In October the eRA Commons moved to establishing a new NIH/Agency Log-in process.  As a result of this change, passwords for the accounts within eRA Commons were given an expiration date of February 22, 2012.

To avoid the lines, you will want to change your password as soon as possible.
Do it now and enjoy these awesome benefits:

  • No waiting!  All lines are open!
  • Avoid future regret and disappointment!
  • Get a FREE confirmation message on your computer screen when you have successfully changed your password!
  • Ensure access to your account – especially if you have a submission in progress or are planning a submission in the near future.

Are you new to eRA Commons? Have you recently changed your password? If your account was created, or you have changed your password since October 08, 2011, then you are OFF THE HOOK! You need not change your password.

Please be sure you review the password policy and you must change your password from within eRA Commons.

This password policy and login procedures can  also be reviewed in the eRA Commons User Guide on page 24, or on the eRA Commons Basic Tasks Step by Step page.

This will affect all users with eRA Commons accounts, so please make sure that you spread the word to others in your organization/institute with Commons accounts.

Submission of Administrative Supplements Pilot Begins Feb. 1; January 19 Downtime for eRA Commons

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

eRA will deploy software updates to enhance various sections of Commons as part of its January system-wide release this week. The updated functionality will be available to users Friday, January 20.

eRA Commons will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, January 19 until about 7 a.m. ET Friday, January 20 to deploy this release.

The highlight of this release is:

Submitting and Tracking Administrative Supplement Requests Electronically
As you may be aware, NIH is piloting two programs for the electronic submission of administrative supplement (non-competing Type 3) requests, one through a "streamlined system" in the eRA Commons and one through for the benefit of researchers at system-to-system institutions. The open pilot programs will begin on February 1, 2012 (See NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-12-024).

eRA will be implementing changes to provide grantees the ability to create, edit, and submit an electronic version of the administrative supplement request using the eRA Commons. Whether submitted through the eRA Commons or through the portal, users will be able to track the administrative supplement requests in eRA Commons.

These new options are open to all grant types (with the exception of complex grants) and we encourage anyone already planning to submit a supplement to try it.  It is fast and easy.  Submitting through eRA Commons streamlines the process since you will find much of the application pre-populated with information from the parent grant data while you are guided step by step through the rest of the application.  Submitting through allows users to leverage the same process used for competing grant application submissions – an especially nice feature for system-to-system users.

Not yet ready to try it?  Not to worry. The traditional “paper” process is still available if you wish. 

The electronic submission of administrative supplement (non-competing Type 3) requests is the next step in moving to a fully electronic submission process. 

Maintenance Downtime for eRA Commons Saturdays, Jan. 7 and Jan. 14

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

eRA Commons will be unavailable from 10 p.m. Saturday, January 14 until 5 a.m. Sunday, January 15.  This downtime is required for critical security and performance patching to eRA systems to enhance IT security and increase network reliability.

This maintenance is in addition to our regularly scheduled maintenance this upcoming weekend, starting at the usual time of 10 p.m. Saturday, January 7 until 5 a.m. Sunday, January 8.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please Note: eRA posts the 2012 Maintenance Schedule on the eRA Web site. Users should check these calendars regularly for updates.

This page last updated on September 12, 2013
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