eRA News

eRA Update: Issue with RPPRs Has Been Fixed

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The issue affecting Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPRs) in eRA Commons that prevented users from checking for errors and submitting completed RPPRs to the agency has been fixed.

Original message sent Thursday, December 08, 2016 at 3:22 p.m. ET.


eRA Alert: Temporary Issue with RPPRs

Thursday, December 08, 2016

An issue has been identified that is affecting Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPRs) in eRA Commons. 

Users cannot currently check for errors on an RPPR prior to submission, nor can users submit a completed RPPR to the agency.

We have identified the cause of the issue and plan to fix this today.

We are sorry for any inconvenience.


eRA Information: Quarterly Release Date for Commons, ASSIST and IAR Moved to Jan. 18, 2017

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

eRA’s winter release will be moved  to Wednesday, January 18, 2017, a day earlier than scheduled.

The date was moved to ensure functionality will be available for users on Thursday, the day before Inauguration Day.

During this system-wide release, eRA Commons, ASSIST, IAR and related services are scheduled to be unavailable starting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18 and ending no later than 7 a.m. on Thursday, January 19.

NOTE: You can review all the release and maintenance dates by checking eRA’s Deployment and Maintenance Calendar, which is updated on a regular basis. You can add this calendar to your own calendar by clicking on the  icon on the calendar page.


eRA Enhancements: New Features for xTRACT Coming December 8, 2016

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

In a software release scheduled for Thursday, December 8, 2016, several new features will be added to xTRACT. xTRACT is the Extramural Trainee Reporting And Career Tracking system and is accessed via eRA Commons. It allows applicants, grantees and assistants to create research training tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications.

Features

  • Ability to copy data from a recently prepared RPPR RTD into a Renewal RTD 

When working with a Renewal Research Training Dataset (RTD), xTRACT users will now be able to copy Participating Trainee and Program Statistics data from a recently prepared RPPR RTD for that same training grant.  If an RPPR RTD for the grant’s final non-competing period has already been started, then the data will be copied from that.  Otherwise, if an RPPR RTD for the grant’s previous non-competing period is available, the data will be copied from that RTD instead.

The option to copy data will be offered when the Renewal RTD is first initiated.  Users will also have the option to copy each type of data (Participating Trainee or Program Statistics) when editing the RTD, whenever visiting each of the corresponding data entry sections.

  • Ability to copy data from a recently prepared Renewal or RPPR RTD into an RPPR RTD

When working with an RPPR RTD, xTRACT users will now be able to copy Participating Trainee and Program Statistics data from a recently prepared RTD for that same training grant.  A copy can be performed from the previous year’s RPPR RTD for that grant. Also, when preparing the RPPR RTD for the final non-competing year, there will be an additional option to copy from the next Renewal RTD for that grant (provided the Renewal RTD has been started).

The option to copy data from a recent RTD will be offered when the RPPR RTD is first initiated.  Users will also have the option to copy each type of data (Participating Trainee or Program Statistics) when editing the RTD, whenever visiting each of the corresponding data entry sections.

  • Improved Performance of Preview/Finalize RTD  

The amount of time required to preview or finalize an RTD has been improved.  When choosing either one of these options, results should appear more quickly than before.

Fixes

  • Adjustment to the auto-population of Faculty Research Support, from NIH and Other Agency Sources

Faculty Research Support from NIH and Other Agency grants are automatically populated in xTRACT, based on award data that we have on hand (and cannot be edited).  However, there have been some occasions when an NIH/Other Agency grant has not been listed – even though it seems like it should have appeared.  Often when this occurred, it was because of a short delay in funding the most recent noncompeting year for the research grant in question, making it appear that the grant was not active at the time that the RTD was being prepared.  An adjustment has been made to account for this sort of timing, so that any such awards are correctly included in the listing of NIH/Other Agency Research Support for that faculty member.

  • Applicants and Entrants Section

Some users had noted cases where multiple occurrences of the same “Prior Institution” would appear on rare occasions, after entering these in the Applicants and Entrants section.  This problem has been resolved.

Following the release, please look for details and screenshots in the Online Help for xTRACT (and accessible through the question marks on xTRACT screens). 


eRA Final Reminder: Update Your Browsers by Nov. 30 to Continue Using eRA Modules

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This is a final reminder that on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, eRA is updating access to all its publicly-accessible websites to use ‘https only’ secure connections per federal mandate (OMB M-15-13, dated June 8, 2015). Please update your browsers to continue using eRA Commons, ASSIST, IAR and iEdison.

NOTE: This update will not impact System-to-System connections or security certificates.

Original message below sent Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 8:26 a.m. ET.


eRA Information: Final RPPR To Be Used Effective Jan. 1, 2017

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Final Research Performance Progress Report (F-RPPR) will replace the Final Progress Report (FPR) for grants closeout, effective January 1, 2017.  The F-RPPR will be available for use in eRA Commons on January 1, 2017.

 

NOTE: For small businesses, the new F-RPPR will be in effect at least 2 months later, due to the unique final reporting requirements that they face under the SBIR/STTR policy directive.

 

What This Means for You

If you have a final progress report due, and you wish to use the old FPR format of an uploaded document, you must submit the FPR before January 1, 2017. NIH will no longer accept any of the old format FPRs on or after January 1, 2017.

The Format

The format of the Final RPPR is very similar to that of the annual RPPR. The notable differences being the F-RPPR does not have sections D (Participants), F (Changes), and H (Budget). The F-RPPR does have a new section: Section I (Outcomes). 

Project Outcomes (Section I) will be made publicly available, allowing recipients the opportunity to provide the general public with a concise summary of the public significance of the research.

Final RPPR Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deadline Remains Unchanged

The deadlines for submitting a Final RPPR remain the same – no later than 120 days from the project end date.

The Effect on Delegation to Submit RPPR

NIH will maintain the business rule that allows the Signing Official (SO) to delegate the submission of the Final RPPR or Interim-RPPR to a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI).

More Information

See Guide Notice NOT-OD-17-022.  Visit the NIH RPPR web page, and check out November’s eRA Items of Interest article Please Call it “Final RPPR”.


eRA Update: eRA Commons and ASSIST Connection Issue Has Been Resolved

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The issue affecting user connections to eRA Commons, ASSIST, iEdison and related services has been resolved.

Original message sent Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 10:51 a.m. ET.


eRA Alert: eRA Commons and ASSIST Users Experiencing Connection Issues

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The eRA Service Desk has received reports that users of eRA Commons, ASSIST, iEdison and other related services are inadvertently being logged off or unable to log in. The problem has been identified as an NIH wide issue.

We will provide more information when it is available.

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.


eRA Update: Issue with Entering Publications for Trainees in xTRACT Has Been Resolved

Monday, November 21, 2016

The issue keeping users from adding publications for Trainees in xTRACT has been resolved.

Original message sent Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 4:22 p.m. ET


eRA Alert: Temporary Issue with Entering Publications for Trainees in xTRACT

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Users are unable to add publications for Trainees in xTRACT currently, because of an issue with PubMed searches.  Most users add their citations by searching for them in PubMed first.

The issue is being addressed and should be resolved shortly.  We will update you as soon as we are informed it has been fixed. 

We are sorry for any inconvenience.


eRA Reminder: Please Update Your Browsers by Nov.30 to Continue Using eRA Modules

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Just a reminder that on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, eRA is updating access to all its publicly-accessible websites to use ‘https only’ secure connections per federal mandate (OMB M-15-13, dated June 8, 2015). Please update your browsers to continue using eRA Commons, ASSIST, IAR and iEdison.

NOTE: This update will not impact System-to-System connections or security certificates.

Original message below sent Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 8:26 a.m. ET. 


NIH eRA Items of Interest — November 2016

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Please Call It “Final RPPR”

And not “FRIPPER!” It just starts the earworm of the theme song from ‘Flipper’ burrowing into my mind...

If you were lucky enough to attend the NIH Regional Seminar conference in Chicago last month, you may have heard Scarlett Gibb, Customer Relationship Manager for eRA Commons, discussing the new Final RPPR.

Tentatively scheduled for required use as of January 1, 2017, the Final RPPR report will replace the current Final Progress Report for Closeout. As you know, the Final Progress Report is not strictly formatted, and basically has some half a dozen topics that need to be addressed, including a statement of progress; list of significant results, inclusion report, if applicable; list of publications; as well as any award specific instructions. The report is then uploaded as a PDF through eRA Commons and submitted to the agency by the signing official. 

As part of Uniform Guidance (UG), we transitioned to the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) back in October of 2014.

So, come 2017, the RPPR format will be extended to the Final Progress Report. One of the differences between RPPR and the Final RPPR is that not all sections will be part of the final report. For example, Section D – Participants; Section F – Changes; and Section H – Budget will not be part of the Final RPPR. Plus, instead of a PDF upload, the information will be entered into RPPR-like screens. The new screens will include a new Section I – Outcomes.

The transition date from the current Final Progress Report Process to the Final RPPR will be a strict one. The anticipated plan specifies that if you have a progress report due, and you want to use the old format, it must be submitted prior to January 1, 2017. Any final progress report submitted after January 1, 2017 will need to be submitted as a Final RPPR. Any other submission format will be rejected and you will need to resubmit in the Final RPPR format.

This is just an introduction to what is coming so you can be ready. And now a brief musical interlude… “They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning, No-one you see, is smarter than he, and we know Flipper…”

The World is Not Flat, But Status Is (or Can Be)

How many of you remember this little guy from your high school biology class? Oh, wait, look whom I’m asking!  But flatworms aren’t alone in being flat. Now your Status Results screen can be flat too!

You may remember that early this year, January 22, to be exact, we introduced a new view of the Status Results screen for Principal Investigators (PIs). This new design grouped applications and awards into families. These groups can be expanded with a click, or left collapsed, giving you a more concise view of your data. The design is responsive, adjusting to various window sizes, and recently color coded to provide the most recent status of an application.

And now a new feature has been added. A set of buttons in the upper right corner lets you toggle between the newer look (Grouped View) and a more traditional look (Flat View).  In the Flat View you will see all of your applications and awards listed, organized in the traditional manner of columns: Application ID, Grants.gov Tracking #, Proposal Title, etc.
 
So not only is the world round, but now you get the best of both of them…Well, in Status Results anyway!

O Browser! My Browser! 

My work is not yet done!
 
They say I must upgrade as fast as I can, otherwise Commons may not run.
 
The time is near, warnings I hear, November 30th fast approaching,
 
HTTPS to be secure, my browser I must be preparing; 
 
But O Chrome! IE! Firefox!
 
Supported you are by this Fed Versions I must check else my browser be dead.
 
Just a little nod to Walt Whitman as a reminder to check that you are using a compatible browser as eRA transitions to meet federal security guidelines. For more information, see the communication sent on October 26, 2016.
 
 
A recent addition to eRA Commons has been the Prior Approval feature. Currently found on the main navigation bar, Prior Approval supports two     processes that have gone electronic: The request for withdrawal of an application (see Guide Notice NOT-OD-16-143); and the request to a granting agency to submit an application with direct costs of $500K or more per year (see Guide Notice NOT-OD-17-005). This latter process is sometimes referred to as a $500K request. These electronic processes through Commons are currently optional and not yet required.
 
To help you understand how each of these work, we have released two new tutorial videos on our eRA Videos page. On the page, look for the eRA Commons: Prior Approval link. This will take you to the section of the page for the two videos.
 
The videos themselves are shared from YouTube. But please do not bookmark the YouTube links. Since these videos will eventually be updated, the YouTube URLs will become invalid. To make sure you always have access to the latest tutorials, you can bookmark the eRA Videos page for all our videos, or the specific section (in this case, the eRA Commons: Prior Approvallink), or you can even link to the specific part of the page for each video:
 

So call the gang together, pop some popcorn, and enjoy these latest releases!

 


eRA Enhancement: Redesigned Section in RPPR to Help Grantees Categorize Products Developed Under a Grant

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Grantees filling out a Research Performance Progress Report in eRA Commons are expected to list significant products developed with their grant in Section C of the RPPR, namely websites, technology and other products.
 
The product sections of the RPPR have been redesigned recently to help grantees better categorize the products arising from their grant.  A new scrollable menu lists 14 product categories under which to list the product(s): Audio or video; data or databases; research material; educational aids or curricula; evaluation instruments; instruments or equipment; models; physical collections; protocols; software; survey instruments; interventions (e.g. clinical or educational); new business creation and other.
 
After entering a description for one or more reportable products in a text box, the grantee can then select appropriate categories for the product using a scrollable menu.  Grantees are not limited to a single category per product; please select as many categories as appropriate for the product being reported. 
 
In addition, grantees can turn to a new resource ‘Guide to Categorizing Products in RPPR’s Section C’ to find definitions, examples and distinctions to help them decide which categories are appropriate for their product(s). For instance, videos developed to elicit behavioral change, such as counseling or motivational videos, or to instruct patients, may also meet the definition of clinical intervention.
 
Figure 1: Screenshot of a subsection of RPPR Section C, displaying the scrollable menu on the left.
 
This menu can be found in all three subsections of Section C: websites (C.2), technology (C.3) and other products (C.5). Grantees who do not have a product to report can click on the ‘Nothing to Report’ checkbox.

eRA Information: Please Update Your Browsers by Nov. 30 to Use eRA Modules; New Security Mandated For Websites

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

eRA has been working on strengthening the security of its modules, web services and websites to the federally mandated ‘https only’ secure connection required for all federal agencies.

The ‘https’ connection offers “the strongest privacy and integrity protection currently available for public web connections,” the Office of Management and Budget wrote in mandating federal agencies adopt this standard by the end of 2016.

Effective November 30, 2016, all eRA modules (eRA Commons, ASSIST, IAR and iEdison), web services and websites will use ‘https only’ secure connections. 

What This Means for You

You may need to update your web browser to continue using eRA modules:

  • With this policy, some browser versions will no longer work.
  • Here is a list of browsers and versions that will still work properly following the update:

These three are also the browsers eRA uses to develop and test its modules for browser compatibility, as listed in the eRA Browser Compatibility statement. While lower versions are listed below, we encourage you to upgrade to the versions listed in our browser compatibility statement above to ensure you have an optimal experience when using eRA modules.

These four are the other browser versions that will work with the security upgrade, but are not included in the in the eRA Browser Compatibility statement:

More information is available at https://https.cio.gov/ and OMB M-15-13.


eRA Enhancements: eRA Commons’ Upcoming Release and Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

 

Scheduled Downtime for the October Release:

eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, October 20, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, October 21, 2016. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality have been added to the system.   

Highlights of eRA Commons’ October Software Release

  • New Non-Research Tab Has Been Added to the Top Navigation
    • As part of the expansion of eRA services to other federal agencies, the Non-Research tab has been added for recipients of SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) non-research grants.
    • The new tab is located after eRA Partners.
    • Only those of you who also receive SAMHSA non-research grants will need to access this tab to manage post award amendments.
  • SAM Registration Expiration Data Displayed
    • The expiration date for institutions’ System for Award Management (SAM) registration will now be displayed on the Institutional Profile,
    • The SAM registration needs to be renewed yearly and is required to successfully submit a federal grant application to Grants.gov.

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above. 

 


NIH eRA Items of Interest - October 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Prior Approval – $500K

approvedA principal investigator (PI) needs to seek prior approval from the NIH before submitting a grant application with direct costs of $500K or more for a single budget year.

NIH has been developing a way to provide you with an option to electronically submit these prior approval requests through eRA Commons. And effective Sept. 15, this option is a reality.

Here is how it works:

The Invite to Initiate a $500K Request
The PI will reach out via email or phone to the Program Official at the Institute/Center (IC) with whom they have been working concerning the $500K request, per current practice. The PO can then choose to invite the PI to initiate the prior approval request through eRA Commons.  The initiation of the request will trigger an email notification to the PI and to the email address listed for receiving the Notice of Award (NoA) on the Institutional Profile screen.

PI Action
Upon being notified, the PI will go into eRA Commons and go to the Prior Approval tab along the top navigation menu. The PI will find two options and should click List my Requests.  The PI will find the $500K Request under the column Request Type, with a status of “In Progress PI,” and should click the “Modify” link.

The Prior Approval Request $500K screen will open. The screen is pretty straightforward with a few required fields, such as Project Title, FOA number, and Anticipated Submission Date.  The PI will need to provide a short justification (just 500 characters) for the request, with up to 10 supporting documents allowed. Depending on the business processes of the institution, the PI can route the request to the SO for review, or submit directly to NIH.

SO Action
Since the notice to submit the prior approval request is sent to the NoA address as well, the SO should login to eRA Commons and go to the Prior Approval tab. SOs should use the Search for Requests button and select the $500K Request under the Request Type drop down. The SO has the ability to view the request, or if they choose, recall it, thus giving them the ability to modify it and submit it.

Next Steps
If the request is approved by the Program Official at the IC, the PI will receive an email from the Program Official.  When the error free application is received by NIH, this application will be matched with the $500k approval from the IC and the application will move through the normal process.

For the moment, this is an option for the submission of $500K requests. However, as we continue to move from all paper processes to a formal electronic environment, this option may become a requirement as we seek solutions that provide accountability, transparency and improved reporting capabilities.

There are other features (status and history), which you can read about in the Prior Approval section of the eRA Commons Online Help.

For more information, please see Guide Notice NOT-OD-17-005.
Also, coming soon will be two new video tutorials on Prior Approval. One focuses on the request to withdraw an application, and the second demonstrates the process of $500K requests as described above.

Password and Login Issues

PW-KittneStopTrue story: I woke up the other morning and received an alert that one of my bank accounts had dipped below the minimum threshold. That’s not supposed to happen. I panicked.

I went to log in to see what was happening. With hands shaking, blood pressure rising, fear running down my spine, I was greeted with “Invalid password. ACCESS DENIED!” Then I freaked!  Then my dog freaked. And my wife? She just walked away (such a smart woman). Then I remembered that I had recently changed that password. Whew!

Oh, passwords… such a necessary scourge.  You need a certain number of characters; special characters; numbers; capital and lower case letters; they expire every 32 seconds; you can’t use the last 311 passwords; etc.  But where would we be without them? 

And of course for eRA Commons, we have similar requirements for passwords. So is it any wonder the most frequent calls to the eRA Service Desk are about passwords and trouble logging in? Not really.

So some colleagues and I got together and developed a kind of troubleshooting support document for login issues, cleverly titled, ‘Having Trouble Logging in to eRA Commons?’ This walks you through the four most common issues related to logging into eRA Commons. And then on the back (also cleverly titled, ‘Additional Information and Resources Concerning Login Issues’) is a list of other errors, Password Guidelines, and how to contact the eRA Service Desk.

For example, did you know your Commons password has to have a minimum of 8 characters, BUT it cannot be more than 16 characters? Or that you cannot use any of your previous 24 passwords? See, helpful information.

Take a look, download it, and share it with friends and colleagues. Hopefully it can help you avoid a moment of panic! And as it turned out, my panic was only kind of justified.  My A/C company errantly charged me twice for my service contract. The issue was resolved by 9AM. And my wife came back.

eRA Information: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Friday, October, 14 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Friday, October 14, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET in preparation for the fall system-wide software release. 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.

These changes will be implemented to production starting on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 9 p.m. ET.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


eRA Enhancements: Electronic Requests for Withdrawal of Applications Now Available Through eRA Commons

Friday, September 09, 2016

A new feature was added to eRA Commons during a software release yesterday, Thursday, September 8, 2016. This feature provides Signing Officials the capability to electronically submit a request to withdraw an application.

After the successful submission of an error free application, the Signing Official (SO) has two business days to reject an application. After those two days, the SO must contact the Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR) to request to withdraw the application. This latter process can now be accomplished electronically through eRA Commons.

The submission of an electronic request for withdrawal is available as long as the application has not gone to review and the summary statement posted. At that point the application cannot be withdrawn.

Features

  • The Initiation of a Withdrawal Request Can Be Done by the SO or PI
    • The SO is the only person who can request that NIH withdraw an application.
    • The PI can request that the SO do so by initiating the withdrawal request through Commons, providing justification (required) and relevant supporting documentation (a maximum of 10 pdfs of up to 5 MB each can be uploaded).
    • The PI must then route the request to an SO at their institution for review and submission to NIH.
    • The SO may make the withdrawal request even if the PI has not initiated the request.
    • The SO may check the status of the withdrawal request by contacting DRR.  
  • A New Navigation Tab, Prior Approval, Added to Commons
    • The Prior Approval tab opens a new screen that allows both PIs and SOs to initiate requests or review for existing requests.
    • To initiate a Withdrawal Request, from the Initiate a Prior Approval Request drop down, select Withdrawal. The system will display grants eligible to be withdrawn.
    • The List my Requests screen will display:
      • The request ID (system generated ID number)
      • Request Type
      • Prior Approval Status (In Progress PI, In Progress SO, Submitted to Agency)
      • Application ID
      • Project Title
      • Action (Modify or View depending on status)
  • SOs Have the Ability to Search for Requests
    • For the SO, the List My Requests option will display any requests that are pending their approval.
    • SO can also use the Search for Requests button to find those withdrawal requests that have been submitted or have a status of “In Progress PI,” which means the PI has initiated the withdrawal but may still be working on it, and has not routed it to the SO.
  • Automated Notifications
    • Upon submission, both the submitting SO and PI will receive notification.
    • Upon approval of withdrawal by DRR, the PI will receive a notification. The SO will see the application status has changed to Withdrawn, and will see the withdrawal confirmation in the Correspondence section of the Status Information screen in eRA Commons

NOTE: Applications with a status of “To be Paid” or “Awarded” cannot be withdrawn in this manner.

For more information concerning Prior Approval for Withdrawals, please see Guide Notice NOT-OD-16-143 and the Prior Approval section in the eRA Commons online help.


eRA Enhancements: Improvements to xTRACT To Be Implemented August 18, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In a software release scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2016, several new features will be added to xTRACT. xTRACT is the Extramural Trainee Reporting And Career Tracking system and is accessed via eRA Commons. It allows applicants, grantees and assistants to create research training tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications.

 

Features

  • Publication citations may now be searched and imported from Pubmed.

When entering publications for a participating trainee, xTRACT now provides users with the ability to search Pubmed using either the Pubmed identifier, the author name, or publication title.  The ability to enter a full citation manually (instead of searching Pubmed) is still available as well, for any occasion where the user may require it.

 

  • Access for delegated assistants (users with ASST role) is expanded.

Assistants may now perform the following on behalf of their PIs:

  • Initiate the Research Training Dataset (RTD) for New Applications
  • Finalize an RTD
  • Unfinalize an RTD

 

  • Sections labeled “NIH Support” are now labeled “NIH and Other Agency Sources of Support on Record.”

This labelling more accurately reflects xTRACT’s ability to present grants from some other (non-NIH) agencies for selection, when citing support information for faculty and trainees.

 

  • Table 4’s column labeled “Funding Source” now interprets the funding agency.

When previewing and finalizing the PDF of the RTD, any sources selected from the xTRACT database will display the funding source accordingly:

  • If the funding is affiliated with the NIH, displays "NIH"
  • If the funding is affiliated with the AHRQ, displays "AHRQ"
  • If the funding is affiliated with any other agency or HHS Operating Division, displays "Other Fed”

 

  • Computed means across all years are now displayed to one decimal point.

In Table 6B the calculated mean value for Counts were previously rounded to the nearest whole number. These values are now computed to one decimal point precision and rounded to that decimal place. 

 

  • Bookmarks now included in PDFs.

When previewing and finalizing the output PDF, bookmarks are now included to provide navigation to the beginning of each training table.

Fixes

  • Corrects an earlier defect in Table 8 generation, where the same source of support might occasionally be cited twice for the same training year.
  • Improved performance/response time when navigating to the list of Participating Faculty for an RTD. 

Following the release, please look for details and screenshots in the Online Help for xTRACT (and accessible through the question marks on xTRACT screens). 


eRA Enhancements: eRA Commons’ Upcoming Release and Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, July 21

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Scheduled Downtime for the July Release:

eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, July 21, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, July 22, 2016. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality have been added to the system.   The following are highlights of eRA Commons’ upcoming July software release.

Highlights of eRA Commons’ July Software Release

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH has added new features to eRA Commons:

  • New ASSIST Tab for Signing Officials (SO) and Principal Investigators (PI)
    • As part of the top navigation menu, an ASSIST tab will be available to SOs and PIs
    • The new tab will be located between the Status tab and the Prior Approval tab
    • Selecting the tab will launch ASSIST in a new window and automatically authenticate the user, providing immediate access to ASSIST
  • New RPPR Feature for Publications
    • When selecting/deselecting publications for RPPR submissions, users will see a gold lock icon next to those publications which cannot be removed from the RPPR
    • To remove the grant affiliation from the publication with a gold lock, users will need to contact the NIHMS help desk through their web form, which is accessible at http://www.nihms.nih.gov/

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above. 


eRA Information: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Monday

Monday, July 18, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Monday, July 18, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in preparation for the summer system-wide software release. 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. These changes will be implemented to production starting on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 9 p.m. ET. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Please note that this process will not affect the production environment.


NIH eRA Items of Interest — July 2016

Friday, July 01, 2016

Who’s Who? AMS Answers That Question

So here is a challenge for research administrators… How do you get a list of all the people affiliated with your institution that:
Have an eRA Commons account
Have a role of PI, and/or
Have a role of IAR?
It’s enough to make your eye twitch (see pic) and your brain hurt. Or at least it was.

Now as part of eRA Commons, on the Account Management tab you can search for just this kind of information. But wait, there’s more!

Not only can you search for this information, you can export it as well! When you go to the Admin tab>Accounts>Account Management, eRA Commons will open a new window. Here, under AMS (Account Management System), you will see two options: Manage Accounts and AMS User Reports. It is the AMS User Reports that will make your life infinitely easier.
AMS User Reports allows you to search for users affiliated with your institution based on eRA Commons roles. That would be all 19 eRA Commons roles, scientific and administrative. The search is inclusive, meaning that if you search for, say an Account Administrator (AA) and an Assistant (ASST), the results will include users with either one of those roles or both of those roles.
Once the results are returned, the system defaults to showing 10 results per page, but this can be changed to 25, 50 or All. And unlike account searching that is limited to returning a maximum of 500 results, there is no limit to this search. It is already restricted to only search your institution, not all of eRA Commons.
Now how do you get those results in some kind of shareable format? Easy. You will also see two buttons: Export to Excel, and Export to PDF. Awesomely self-explanatory here… clicking either of these buttons will download the results in the format selected. BOOM! Done! (mic drop).

FCOI Confusion?

Christmas morning growing up was always a huge event, like for so many kids. In our house, my two older brothers and I would wake up well before dawn and anxiously await for our parents to roll out of bed. Then when we got the OK, we would race down the stairs. Santa always left our presents in individual piles, one for each of us. When I was 5 years old, I remember being so confused because the piles for myself and my oldest brother were small and consisted of socks, underwear, a toothbrush, etc. While Sean’s pile was almost as high as the tree and was made up of an Erector Set, Hot Wheels, GI Joes, etc. and no socks, and no underwear.
And sometimes we do this to you too. We surprise in the most unexpected ways. Which sometimes leaves you confused. Case in point, we recently added a new field to the Institutional Profile form for Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) email address. This is found in the Institution Contact Information section. In most institutions, the people responsible for addressing financial conflicts are less directly involved in the grant process and so, over the years we had received numerous requests to have a place to put an email address for those folks. So, we did.
Now it is a required field, and we needed to put something in there for all the preexisting institutions at the time of the update. After some debate and discussion, it was decided that the field would be prefilled with the same email address as the Notice of Award (NoA) email field.
Here comes the surprising and confusing part. Some of you are now asking why your NoA folks are getting FCOI emails. And now you have the answer. The fix however, is easy. Update your Institutional Profile form with the desired email address for Financial Conflict of Interest related communications, and then sigh a deep breath of relief.
Just as I did when my parents, momentarily astounded, said that Santa must have made a mistake as they quickly rearranged the piles for a more equitable distribution of toys. Of course, Santa’s mistake was not realizing my brother Sean would sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and rearrange the piles!

Blowing into the Windy City: NIH Regional 2016

What? So I like cartoons (and dinosaurs). Don’t judge me.
NIH is hitting the road again! This time in the Windy City, Chicago, IL , October 26-28, 2016. After a wonderful regional seminar in Baltimore in May, we are ready to do it again. This time I am looking forward to deep dish pizza, maybe a Cubbies game, or seeing The Bean! Registration for Chicago is as easy, so sign up soon! The agenda is full of great learning and sharing opportunities, and, of course I will be there with a bunch of wonderful NIH staff who will also be conducting the ever popular 1:1 sessions. Like the loveable troupe of intelligent dinosaurs that come from the past to educate folks of modern day, we come to help you learn about NIH’s grant processes. And we promise to fill up on our Brain Grain

Have a wonder July 4th Holiday!

 


eRA Update: Issue with PRAM Functionality Resolved

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The issue preventing the successful submission of Progress Report Additional Materials (PRAM) requests has been resolved.

Original message sent Monday, June 20, 2016 at 11:53 A.M.


eRA Information: NIH Maintenance This Weekend May Affect Connectivity in eRA Modules

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

NIH will be conducting required maintenance on all of its systems this weekend, Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on both days. As a result of this NIH-wide maintenance, eRA systems may experience intermittent connectivity issues. Users logged in at the time of the maintenance may be affected and will need to log in again.

We are sorry for any inconvenience.


eRA Alert: Issue with PRAM Functionality

Monday, June 20, 2016

An issue has been found where users are unable to submit a Progress Report Additional Materials (PRAM) request. After clicking submit, the status remains “System is processing your submission” and no indication of a successful submission is displayed.  However, the PRAM is saved and will be available for submission once this issue is resolved.

The issue is being addressed and should be resolved shortly.  We will provide more information when it is available.

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.


eRA Enhancement: ASSIST’s New SAM Status Notification Coming May 24, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) will be upgraded on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. As part of the upgrade process, a new feature will inform users of their SAM registration status.

System of Award Management (SAM) is one of the required registrations for applying to and receiving federal grants. However, SAM registrations expire and need to be renewed yearly. As part of ASSIST, a pop-up message window will appear if the registration is going to expire within 14 days or has expired.  The pop-up message window will appear when an opportunity is initiated, and when the application status is set to “Ready to Submit.”

In addition to the pop-up message window, a new status button will be added to the initiation page for all new applications.  Users will be able to confirm the status of their institution’s SAM registration by clicking this button.

SAM Registration Status button

Should you have questions concerning the SAM registration, you can get additional information at www.sam.gov.  SAM help is provided by the Federal Service Desk at fsd.gov.

 

NOTE: All eRA systems will remain available during this upgrade process. 


eRA Information: Highlights Coming to eRA Commons’ xTRACT

Friday, April 29, 2016

xTRACT, accessed via eRA Commons, allows applicants, grantees and assistants to create research training tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications.

Features

The features below were highlighted in the April 11, 2016 communication. For detailed information on these changes, please go to: https://era.nih.gov/news_and_events/news_eRA.cfm#04112016

  • Bold Trainee Names: Users will have the ability to “bold” the trainee name within a publication citation, enabling them to comply with the instructions for table 5 (publications). This will be accomplished by using HTML bold tags ( <b>name</b> ) when entering the name of a trainee in the list of authors for a publication.
  • Editable selection fields: When adding institution names and departments on post-training positions and for prior institutions for Applicants and Entrants, users will have the ability to type in the name and save the information directly to the field.
  • User Interface (UI) improvements:  xTRACT will use type-ahead drop-down lists (also referred to as “predictive search”) in certain places. This means as the user begins to type in the field, the system immediately displays matching results, and thus reducing the time it takes to find the desired result.

In addition to the features listed above, the following improvements are scheduled for the Thursday, April 28, 2016 release:

  • Simplified Data Entry for Participating Departments and Programs: A single button is now available to add either a Department or a Program. When a Department or Program is added to the RTD, the list results now include a column to indicate specifically whether it is a department or program.
  • Revised Left-Navigation Options for Institution Data: The left-navigation menu is now simplified to exclude the “create” options.  The ability to create a new program is now provided within “Maintain Programs”.  Likewise, the ability to create a new funding source is now provided within “Maintain Funding Sources”.
  • Maintain Programs now presents the list of programs without requiring a search: The Maintain Programs screen is now pre-populated.  The search dialogue has been removed so whenever a user visits Maintain Programs, the entire list of programs for the organization is shown by default.  If desired, the list can be filtered to find specific programs using the “Filter” control at the top of the list.
  • Fields support additional digits: Both the Direct Costs on Faculty Non-NIH Research Support, and Months of Research Experience in Applicants and Entrants Section, now support an additional digit. Direct Costs has been expanded from 6 digits to 7, while Months of Research Experience has been expanded from 2 digits to 3.

Fixes

  • Same NIH grant support shows multiple times for the same faculty member in Table 4:  In some cases the same NIH grant support was showing up multiple times for the same faculty member, when table 4 was rendered in the PDF.  This problem has been resolved so that the support only shows once.
  • Population of NIH Research Support for faculty should exclude training mechanisms:  Per table 4 instructions, xTRACT should be excluding institutional research training grants, institutional career development grants, and research education grants when listing NIH Research Support for faculty. This problem has been resolved so that only research support is shown and the following activity codes are excluded: T15, T32, T34, T35, T90, TL1, TL4, K12, KL2, R25, R90, RL5, RL9, D43, D71.
  • In some cases, the awarded trainee positions in the Appointment page on the UI, and in the PDF for table 7 were showing incorrectly:  This has been resolved, and the number of awarded positions is now showing correctly in these cases.
  • In some cases, a large number of prior institutions in the Applicants and Entrants section was causing the Preview PDF to stall:  This issue has been resolved.

For more information about what’s new in xTRACT, check out xTRACT Online Help


eRA Update: Issue with PRAM Functionality Resolved

Monday, April 25, 2016

An issue affecting Progress Report Additional Materials (PRAM) links for both Agency PRAM requests and Public Access PRAM requests has been resolved.

Original message sent Friday, April 22, 2016 at 2:56 p.m.


eRA Alert: Issue with PRAM Functionality

Friday, April 22, 2016

An issue has been found when Principal Investigators (PIs) access Progress Report Additional Materials (PRAM) links for both Agency PRAM requests and Public Access PRAM requests. Clicking the link results in an error message.

The issue is being addressed and should be resolved shortly.  We will provide more information when it is available.

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.


eRA Enhancements: eRA Commons’ Upcoming Release Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, April 21

Monday, April 18, 2016

Scheduled Downtime for April Release:

eRA Commons, ASSIST and iEdison will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, April 21, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, April 22, 2016.

This release is focusing on multiple “behind the scenes” updates and fixes.

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above. 


eRA Information: Ext-UAT Changes: Do Not Create or Modify Accounts the Week of April 18

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Due to an upgrade of the eRA Commons user authentication service on Friday, April 22, 2016, we request that users do not create or modify accounts, including passwords in the Ext-UAT environment for ASSIST, System to System (S2S), Commons Demo, and iEdison during the week of April 18.  Any changes made during the week may be lost as result of updates to the user authentication service.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


eRA Information: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Tuesday April 12, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Tuesday, April 12, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in preparation for the spring system-wide software release. 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.

These changes will be implemented to production starting on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 9 p.m. ET.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


eRA Information: Highlights Coming to eRA Commons’ xTRACT

Monday, April 11, 2016

xTRACT, accessed via eRA Commons, allows applicants, grantees and assistants to create research training tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications.

The following features and improvements are scheduled for the Thursday, April 28, 2016 release of xTRACT.

  • Bold Trainee Names: User will have the ability to “bold” the trainee name within a publication citation, enabling them to comply with the instructions for table 5 (publications). This will be accomplished by using HTML bold tags ( <b>name</b> ) when entering the name of a trainee in the list of authors for a publication.

    For example, if the third name (John Q. Public) in this list is the name of the trainee:

    Adams, John; Jefferson, Thomas; Public, John Q.; Madison, James; Hancock, John; 1776; The Preamble; Declaration of Independence; Volume 1; pp. 1-15

    the user will input the data as:

    Adams, John; Jefferson, Thomas; <b>Public, John Q.</b>; Madison, James; Hancock, John; 1776; The Preamble; Declaration of Independence; Volume 1; pp. 1-15

When the training table is rendered as final PDF or in Preview, xTRACT will recognize the HTML syntax and make the name bold. Users are encouraged to update publication text for Table 5 to include this HTML syntax now so that when the release is complete, the tables will be correctly formatted with the desired portion of the citation in bold.

  • Editable selection fields: When adding institution names and departments on post-training positions and for prior institutions for Applicants and Entrants, the desired institution or department may not be part of the database to be presented as a selectable option. In these cases, when the user needs to cite these organizations, they will have the ability to type in the name and save the information directly to the field.

  • User Interface (UI) improvements:  xTRACT is getting updated to the contemporary web style seen in other parts of eRA Commons (see March’s eRA Items of Interest).  For example, xTRACT will use type-ahead drop-down lists (also referred to as “predictive search”) in certain places. This means as the user begins to type in the field, the system immediately displays matching results, and thus reducing the time it takes to find the desired result.


Participating Department and Programs Old style where a % was used to initiate a wild card search vs. New where adding characters narrows the search.


eRA Information: Ext-UAT for ASSIST, S2S Submissions, Commons Demo, and iEdison Will be Unavailable Friday Morning 7-9 AM

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) environment for ASSIST, System to System (S2S), Commons Demo, and iEdison will be brought offline from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday, April 8, 2016.

This is part of the standard testing environment maintenance window as noted at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/system_testing.htm

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.

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


eRA Update: Issue in xTRACT with Participating Departments/Programs Has Been Resolved

Friday, March 25, 2016

The issue in xTRACT affecting Participating Departments or Programs has been resolved. Please review your census data to ensure that it is complete and accurate.

Original message below sent Friday, March 25, 2016 at 10:44 a.m. ET


eRA Alert: Issue Discovered in xTRACT with Participating Departments/Programs

Friday, March 25, 2016

An issue has been discovered in xTRACT. If a Research Training Dataset (RTD) table is updated and Participating Departments or Programs are removed, the result will be a loss of previously entered census data.

The issue is being addressed and should be resolved shortly. In the meantime, please do not remove any Participating Department or Programs from any RTDs until further notice.

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause. Once we have confirmed the issue has been resolved, you will want to check any census data you have entered previously.  If you have discovered that you have been affected by this issue, you will need to reenter the missing data. 


eRA Enhancement: New Account Management Feature Planned for March 25 Software Release

Thursday, March 24, 2016

eRA will be performing software updates to the Account Management System (AMS) as part of a release scheduled for deployment tomorrow, Friday, March 25, 2016.  AMS is used by Signing Officials and other authorized staff to create, manage and search user accounts in eRA Commons.

The release will not require system downtime and is not expected to disrupt any of the eRA systems. Users should have full access to these systems throughout the release. 

New Feature in AMS Module      

  • Gives users the ability to run reports based on user roles via a new tab labeled AMS User Reports.

For details, please see the AMS Release Notes, AMS Online Help and AMS User Guide


NIH eRA Items of Interest - March 2016

Monday, March 07, 2016

Prior Approval…

Yes, you read that right.  Soon you, Principal Investigators (PIs), will have the power of requesting Prior Approvals electronically! Coming to eRA Commons, PIs will be able to seek prior approval from the granting agency via eRA Commons for submitting applications with direct costs of over $500K or more for any budget year. The request will be initiated and submitted before the submission of the grant application. The PI will need to provide justification for the request, along with a detailed budget that will be uploaded as a 10 page limit PDF.

PIs will also be able to initiate requests electronically to withdraw their applications. These requests will be routed to a Signing Official (SO), who can then submit them. Like the $500K request, they will need to provide a justification for withdrawing the application.

The hope is to add this functionality to eRA Commons by late spring. It is important to remember that the SO can still initiate and submit both types of request.

And wouldn't life be great if we all had this? It would save me the hassle of asking my personal SO (Spouse, Officer-in-charge)… "Hon… can I take the Harley to work?" "Hon… can I watch Star Wars again (for the 317th time)." "Hon… can I take a nap?"   

The More Things Change…

At this point you should be asking yourself, "Why is there a picture of Bootstrap Bill from the Pirates of the Caribbean in an article about change?"  Well, let me tell you…

You may be noticing some frequent changes, both minor and major, in the way eRA Commons looks and works. In the last year, we have introduced new layouts in such things as the Personal Profile screen; new mobility functionality; updated Federal Financial Report; and Grant re-assignment just to name a few.

And like Bootstrap, these changes have come slowly, little bits at a time, as the different development teams work with various aspects of Commons. Parts of Commons are still looking old, other parts are more updated and some are just plain awesome. The most recent iteration of the look and feel comes from a web framework called Bootstrap (and there it is!  The connection to Bill!) 

Bootstrap provides an increase in readability with visual friendly spacing; scalability, also called responsive design (this allows information on the screen to adapt to various display sizes, from full size monitors, to tablets, to smart phones); and intuitive functionality.

And like Bootstrap Bill, in the end, everything will look amazing! As each development team tackles the different components of Commons, the more it will all look, feel, and function the same. (Just like Bootstrap Bill, who stays aboard the Flying Dutchman with his son Will, and his skin problem cleans up nicely).

Changes in Security

Speaking of change, we continue to improve the security of important information that you are asked to provide as part of the grant process.

Part of this increased security deals with your personal information: specifically birthday and social security information.  After an account is created, the user is encouraged to complete the Personal Profile form for eRA Commons. This includes your birthday and the last four digits of your Social Security Number.

What happens now is that once information is added to the profile form and the form is saved, those fields cannot be edited. If that information needs to be updated, it will be necessary to call the eRA Service Desk to get the proper assistance to make the change.

We encourage people to complete these fields for both account identification reasons and reporting purposes. And in general, everyone should just make sure their profile is up to date for lots of different reasons.

From Blue Crabs to the Windy City: Regionals 2016

Once again, all your favorite NIH folks are hitting the road again! 

Our first stop is at Baltimore's Inner Harbor.  Optional full and half day workshops will take place on Wednesday, May 11, followed by 2-days of sessions on Thursday and Friday, May 12 & 13.

Space is limited and these workshops and seminars traditionally reach capacity early, so register for Baltimore as soon as you can.

If Baltimore in May doesn't work for you, or maybe you prefer Chicago deep dish pizza over blue crab with Old Bay Seasoning? No worries, join us in the Windy City, Chicago, IL, October 26-28, 2016.

Registration for Chicago is just as easy, so sign up soon!

The agenda is full of great learning and sharing opportunities, and, of course there will be the opportunity to meet with NIH staff for the valuable 1:1 sessions.

See You There!

~ Joe


eRA Alert: Ext-UAT for ASSIST, S2S Submissions and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Starting Today at 4 PM

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) environment for ASSIST, System to System (S2S) and Commons Demo will be brought offline at 4 p.m. today, Thursday, March 03, 2016.

The environment is being brought down to apply a critical software patch and is expected to be back in service by 11 p.m. tonight.

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.


eRA Update: PDF Generation Error in xTRACT is Now Resolved

Friday, February 26, 2016

The issue in xTRACT that was listing trainee names as faculty names in Training Table 8 has been fixed.

Original message below sent Thursday, February 24, 2016 at 4:18 p.m.


eRA Information: Ext-UAT for ASSIST and S2S Submissions Will be Unavailable Monday, February 29, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) environment for ASSIST and System to System (S2S) is scheduled to be offline Monday, February 29, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in preparation for Forms D release in March.  For more information on form changes please see Guide Notice NOT-OD-16-004.

Test Funding Opportunity Announcements will be posted at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/files/Forms_D.htm .

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


eRA Information: Error in PDF Generation Using xTRACT in eRA Commons

Thursday, February 25, 2016

xTRACT is the tool in eRA Commons that allows applicants, grantees and assistants to create research training tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications.

An issue has been discovered where trainee names are being listed as faculty names in Training Table 8.

We hope to have the issue fixed as soon as possible and will provide updated information.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.


eRA Update: eRA Commons Status Screen Now Available

Thursday, February 25, 2016

We have restored access for PIs and ASSTs to the eRA Commons Status Screen.  As we reported earlier, PIs can also access the mobile site at: https://m.era.nih.gov/cmb.

(Original message below sent Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 12:56 p.m.)


eRA Alert: eRA Commons’ Status Screen Unavailable to PIs and ASSTs, SOs Unaffected

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

eRA Commons’ Status Screen is currently unavailable to Principal Investigators (PIs)  and delegated Assistants  (ASSTs) through the normal eRA Commons login, however it remains available to the Signing Officials (SOs). Other eRA Commons functions remain operational.

The new mobile site for Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PIs) is not affected.  PD/PIs can access the mobile site at:

https://m.era.nih.gov/cmb

PIs can simply go to the eRA Commons mobile login page and provide their credentials as they normally would when accessing eRA Commons.

We hope to have the system returned to full availability soon. We will provide updated information as soon as possible.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.


eRA Information: Ext-UAT for ASSIST and S2S Submissions Will be Unavailable Thursday, February 18, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) for ASSIST and System to System (S2S) environments are scheduled to be offline Thursday, February 18, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in preparation for Forms D release later this winter (March).  For more information on form changes please see Guide Notice NOT-OD-16-004.

As part of the transition to Forms D, three of the new forms will be added to the Ext-UAT environment on Thursday. The three forms are:

  • PHS 398 Career Development Award Supplemental Form
  • PHS 398 Cover Page Supplemental Form
  • PHS Inclusion Enrollment Form

Test Funding Opportunity Announcements have been posted at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/files/Forms_D.htm .

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


eRA Enhancements: Highlights of eRA Commons' xTRACT Release Scheduled for Thursday, February 4

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

eRA Commons’ Extramural Trainee Reporting And Career Tracking (xTRACT) system will undergo a maintenance release this Thursday, February 4, 2016. These are just some of the features being rolled out for this release; check out the release notes, following the release, for more information on features and fixes.

NOTE: The maintenance process will not affect other aspects of the production environment for eRA Commons.

New Features

  • Subsequent Grants Updated for Trainee or Student When Training End Date is Entered
    • When a training end date is entered in the End Date (when Trainee Left Program) field on the Participating Trainee Detail screen for a participating trainee or student, the subsequent grants for that trainee or student are prepopulated from available NIH sources provided that no subsequent grants were previously entered for that trainee or student for that particular Research Training Dataset (RTD).
  • Added Feature for Uploading Non-NIH Funding Sources is now Available
    • A new feature in xTRACT for uploading non-NIH funding sources is accessed by clicking the Institution Data tab and clicking on the Upload Funding Sources hyperlink.
  • Commons User ID now Displaying in Participating Trainees List
    • Previously the Commons User ID was not always displaying in the Participating Trainees list for a Research Performance Progress Report’s (RPPR) RTD.
  • Non-NIH Sources of Support now Displaying Correctly in Preview PDF
    • Previously the non-NIH sources of support were being displayed incorrectly in the PDF when the Preview PDF hyperlink was clicked in xTRACT. These sources of support applied to any non-NIH sources of support under the Summary of Support During Training in the following tables:
      • Table 8A – Program Outcomes: Predoctoral
      • Table 8C – Program Outcomes: Postdoctoral
    • The correct abbreviations listed below now display: NSF  Other Fed  Univ  Fdn  Non-US  Other
  • Training Grant Search now Displaying Type 5 Grants Correctly
    • Previously when a Type 2 (competing renewal) grant application had been submitted and its status was Pending Review, the previously awarded Type 5 in the grant family was not appearing in the search results on the Search for Training Grants screen.  Consequently, if a user wished to start preparing for a resubmission of the competing renewal, there was no way to do so in xTRACT.
    • The preceding awarded Type 5 grant is now returned in the search results on the Search for Grants screen.
  • OTH Degree Text is now Displaying in the Training Table PDF
    • If a faculty member or trainee/student received an OTH (Other) type of degree, it is required to enter what type of degree was earned in the Other Degree Text field on various screens in xTRACT. This Other Degree Text was not being displayed where appropriate in the Training table PDF.
    • The Other Degree Text applies to any degrees listed in the following tables:
      • Table 8A – Program Outcomes: Predoctoral
        • Sections: Terminal Degree(s) received and Year(s)
      • Table 8C – Program Outcomes: Postdoctoral
        • Sections: Doctoral Degree(s) and Year(s) or Degree(s) resulting from Postdoctoral training and Year(s)
  • Doctoral Degrees now Appearing in Training Table 8C
    • Previously doctoral degrees were not appearing in the column labeled Doctoral Degree(s) and Year(s) in Table 8C whenever the doctoral degree earned date and the postdoctoral trainee’s entry program date were in the same month and year.
  • When Performing Training Grant Searches Assistants can now See all of their PIs
    • When performing training grant searches Assistants were not always seeing all of their Principal Investigators (PIs) as expected in their Delegator List in xTRACT.

eRA Update: URL for PI Mobile Friendly Status Screen Is Now Available

Friday, January 22, 2016

The technical issue that was making the PI mobile friendly status screen unavailable was addressed.

Most Recent message sent Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 11:43 a.m. ET


eRA Alert: URL for PI Mobile Friendly Status Screen Unavailable

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A technical issue is currently making the URL for the new mobile friendly PI Status Screen unavailable.

We are working diligently to address this issue and restore service.  We will provide more information once it becomes available.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Original message sent Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 4:11 p.m. ET


eRA Enhancements: Highlights of eRA Commons’ Upcoming Release & Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, January 21

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Scheduled Downtime for January Release:

eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, January 21, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, January 22, 2016. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality have been added to the system.   The following are highlights of eRA Commons’ upcoming January software release. These are just some of the many features being rolled out; check out the release notes, following the release, for more information on features and fixes.

Highlights of eRA Commons’ January Software Release

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH has added several new features to eRA Commons:

  • Principal Investigator (PI) Screens Redesigned for Status, JIT, and Closeout
    • The eRA Commons’ Status screen for PIs has been redesigned with a refined interface, a responsive design and grouping of information that is user friendly. Searches on the Recent/Pending eSubmissions and List of Applications/Grants screens will now provide a total count of applications/grants at the top of the screen. The results will be grouped by Application ID/Grant number and will be expandable and collapsible as needed.
    • Additionally, eRA has updated the look of both the Just in Time (JIT) and Closeout screens for PIs.
      • Both have been reconfigured to improve readability and flow.
      • Both now support “Drag & Drop” functionality to upload files while dynamically validating file size and format.

NOTE: Signing Officials will see this same functionality once the redesign of the SO Status Screen is completed later this year.

Also a condensed version of the Status screen for PIs is now available for use on mobile devices through a special URL — https://m.era.nih.gov/cmb. See eRA News for more information on this topic.

  • Electronic Signature of New Organization Registration in eRA Commons
    • The registration process for eRA Commons will be made less burdensome: Signing Officials will now be able to sign electronically instead of signing a hard copy and faxing the registration form to eRA.
  • New Functionality for Delegates
    • Delegates will benefit from new functionality within eRA Commons. If Status is delegated to an person from multiple PIs, the selection of the person for whom they are acting will remain throughout their connection to Commons unless they specifically change the Status setting.

Updates in ASSIST

Because of the upgrade in December 2015, there are no significant changes to ASSIST in this release. However, we would like to remind you of the powerful features that were added in that upgrade.

  • Copy Application with Attachments
    • The Copy application feature now includes attachments! When copying an application, you can choose to include all the attachments from the original version.

NOTE: When copying an application with attachments, ASSIST will show the status of the application as “Incomplete” until the copied version is saved. Be sure to click the Save button to update the status.

  • Transition of ASSIST Complete
    • ASSIST is now an option for:
      • all single and multi-project, competing grant applications;
      • single-project administrative supplements;
      • single-project, post-award successor-in-interest (type 6) requests; and
      • single-project, post-award change of institution (type 7) requests.

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above. 


eRA Information: eRA Commons and ASSIST Will Be Unavailable Saturday, January 16, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

eRA Commons and ASSIST will undergo maintenance procedures and are scheduled to be unavailable Saturday, January 16, from 10 p.m. to midnight.  We hope to have the systems up as soon as possible.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. If you feel this procedure has impeded your ability to submit an on time application, be sure to follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.


eRA Information: eRA Commons Status Screen for PIs Now Mobile Friendly

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Beginning on January 15, 2016, a new URL will be available to PIs for mobile access to their status information in eRA Commons.  The new URL will be:

https://m.era.nih.gov/cmb

This new mobile access means it will be significantly easier for PIs to track and manage grant applications and awards because the Status screen will be easily viewable on a range of devices such as tablets and smartphones. PIs can simply go to the eRA Commons mobile login page and provide their credentials as they normally would when accessing eRA Commons.

The mobile site is designed to provide the basic and necessary information PIs need to track their application submissions and awards. The status screen, resizable due to responsive design, provides a table of all their applications. The applications are grouped based on status, going from Received, Awarded, Pending, Withdrawn, to Not Funded. The column headings are Project Number, Status, Project Title and Date.

Each application can be expanded to show important information such as Priority Score, Percentile, Scientific Review Group (SGR) information and links to other resources, such as the application image and/or summary statement. There is also a Contact section that provides access to a PI’s assigned Scientific Review Officer (SRO), Grants Management Specialist (GMS) and Program Official (PO).

Additionally, at the top of the screen is a large search/filter field. When a PI simply starts to type in any information from any of the columns, the results will be dynamically updated as they type.


eRA Information: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Tuesday January 12, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Tuesday, January 12, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in preparation for the winter system-wide software release starting on Thursday, January 21, 2016 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: ASSIST Will be Unavailable Monday, December 21, 2015 from 9 p.m. - 12 Midnight EST

Friday, December 18, 2015

ASSIST will be updated from 9 p.m. to 12 midnight EST on Monday, December 21, 2015.  Although ASSIST will be offline during this time, eRA Commons and other systems will remain available. The following are features that will be rolled out for this release; check out the release notes for more information on features and fixes.

Updates to ASSIST

  • The Copy application feature now includes attachments! When copying an application, you can choose to include all the attachments from the original version.

NOTE: When copying an application with attachments, ASSIST will show the status of the application as “Incomplete” until the copied version is saved. Be sure to click the Save button to update the status.

  • The transition of ASSIST to support all single-project Activity Codes, will be complete as outlined in the transition timeline.
    • ASSIST is now an option for:
      • all single and multi-project, competing grant applications;
      • single-project administrative supplements;
      • single-project, post-award successor-in-interest (type 6) requests; and
      • single-project, post-award change of institution (type 7) requests.

eRA Information: ASSIST Will be Unavailable Thursday, December 10, 2015 from 9-10 p.m. EST

Thursday, December 10, 2015

ASSIST will be offline starting at 9 p.m. EST tonight for a short maintenance procedure.  Functionality should be restored by 10 p.m. EST.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please note that this process will not affect other production environments.


eRA Update: eRA Commons, ASSIST Intermittent Slowness Resolved

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Internet connectivity issues affecting NIH that caused intermittent slowness for eRA Commons and ASSIST users are reported to have been resolved.

If you continue to experience issues, please contact the eRA Service Desk, or if you feel this issue has impeded your ability to submit an on time application, be sure to follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.

Original message below sent Tuesday, November 24, 2015, 1:27PM.


eRA Alert: eRA Commons, ASSIST Experiencing Intermittent Slowness

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Some eRA Commons and ASSIST users may be experiencing intermittent slowness resulting in difficulty in connecting, or staying connected, to eRA Commons and ASSIST, due to Internet connectivity issues affecting NIH.

We hope to have the systems returned to full functionality soon.

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.


eRA Enhancements: Highlights of eRA Commons' xTRACT Release Scheduled for Thursday, November 19

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

eRA Commons’ Extramural Trainee Reporting And Career Tracking (xTRACT) system will undergo a maintenance release this Thursday, November 19, 2015. These are just some of the features being rolled out for this release; check out the release notes, following the release, for more information on features and fixes.

NOTE: The maintenance process will not affect other aspects of the production environment for eRA Commons.

New Features

  • Training Grant Search:
    • A new status message and animation appears to let the user know that the requested search is in progress.
  • Training Grant Search Results:
    • In addition to the “Prepare for RPPR” link, an additional link allowing the user to “Prepare for Renewal” is now provided for any unawarded type-5 grant, when that type-5 represents the final year in the current project period.
    • The Status column was including statuses for Research Training Dataset (RTD) types that did not always apply for a particular grant.  The Status column is now consistent with the types of RTD actions that are reflected in the Action column.

NIH eRA Items of Interest - November 2015

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Nom-nom-nom On Compliance Reports with PACR

So I am dating myself again, but does anyone else remember Pac-Man? With the catching, brain rotting music; action that was totally addicting, completely engaging, and absolutely frustrating (for me – I have the reactions of a sloth)?

While totally unrelated to the video game, other than the similar sounding acronym and the use of the Pac-Man font above, this is a way to introduce the topic of PACR.  eRA Commons has PACR.  PACR stands for Public Access Compliance Report and it is a user role within eRA Commons. Did you know this?

The PACR role has no privileges other than access to the Public Access Compliance Monitor. Like other Commons roles, Signing Officials (SOs), Account Administrators (AAs), and Administrative Officials (AOs) can assign this role to anyone with a Commons account, and the role may exist on its own or in combination with any other roles. 

The compliance monitor is a service for institutions to monitor public access compliance. It provides an institution with the current compliance status of all journal articles that are associated with awards made to the institution and that fall under the NIH Public Access Policy (see http://publicaccess.nih.gov/).     Users with an eRA Commons PACR role have the ability to access the compliance reports for their institution through the Public Access Compliance Monitor. The reports are organized by IPF (Institutional Profile File) number, the unique ID assigned to a grantee organization in the eRA system.

With compliance of your publications becoming increasingly more critical to the funding process, the PACR role is kind of like a power pellet in the video game.  It gives you the power to chase back those pesky ghosts (non-compliant publications) that threaten to devour your funding.   

You can find more information about public access for sponsored programs at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/sponsored-programs.htm.

An IPF number search can be done at

https://public.era.nih.gov/chl/public/search/ipfNumberByOrgName.era

NIH Public Access Compliance Monitor User Guide can be found at

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/utils/pacm/static/pacm-user-guide.pdf

NLM Technical Bulletin with additional information about the compliance monitor is available at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/jf15/jf15_public_access_compliance.html.

And what about those ghosts: Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and…. Clyde?  Really, Clyde? SMH.

eRA Commons Explores Mobility

Last week my oldest daughter turned 21. I can't believe it! So it got me to thinking about my childhood versus hers. She will never know the joy of leaving the house unlocked, just knowing it will be ok; phones that were actually attached to walls; cameras that took pictures, and just pictures; paper maps, and the challenge of refolding them; TVs without remotes; and the idea of a self-driving car being pure science fiction.  Technology: it is a wondrous thing!

And eRA Commons is also embracing new technology by making eRA Commons mobile friendly. While still in development, we are exploring the best way to provide you with easy access to critical grant information from any smart phone or tablet.

There are two approaches to provide this functionality to you:

  1. Develop dedicated applications (apps) designed to work with eRA Commons
  2. A flexible web-based tool

And like all things, each approach has its pros and cons. Based on the analysis by the development group and management, the team has chosen to use the flexible web based tools approach. The advantages to this approach are numerous, but here are two of the key ones:

  1. The developers create one application for web browsers vs. a minimum of 2 separate apps for specific operating systems (Apple and Android).
  2. No need to worry about licensing and other distribution issues of having to go through 3rd party application "stores."

The current mobile prototype interface provides Principal Investigators with the ability to track an application submission. They can view the status of the application, score and percentile information, Scientific Review Group (SRG) data.  Additionally they can review the grant image and view their summary statements. There are already discussions and plans for expanding the mobility functionality to Signing Officials to access reports, manage accounts, etc. Pretty exciting stuff! 

If you are a Principal Investigator and would like to help us fine tune the features, I invite you to contact Scarlett Gibb, Customer Relationship Manager for eRA Commons.  She will provide you with the necessary information to help test and provide feedback on this new interface.

And as I think of my daughter and my childhood, I realize my Dad never had a TV without a remote control. I was the remote control… "Joe, put on Bowling for Dollars!" "Joe, change the channel to Walter Cronkite." "Joe, turn the volume up."

So You Took a Train, or a Plane, or a Winnebago…and Now We Thank You!

I was once told that all good things end with a sunset. So here is a sunset from the 2015 NIH Regional Seminar in San Diego. Honestly, I took this picture from outside the hotel on Thursday night!

So, in review, how did we do?

  • Wow! We had 850 of you…of which, 147 were Early Stage Investigators or New.
  • Forty topics by 50 NIH/HHS staff were presented…filling many of the rooms we rented.
  • One full day of 4 optional workshops…going from workshop to workshop, some of you hopped.
  • Forty volunteers from 3 local universities*…worked hard each day, as if each one was Hercules!
  • Traveling from all over makes quite a story…17 countries, 48 states, and 1 U.S. territory!
  • One-on-One with the experts you got to meet…based on the numbers, you found that pretty neat.
  • Thanks to our attendees including investigators…post-docs, administrators, and a bunch of "others"!

We appreciate everyone joining us by the bay and helping to make the 2015 NIH Regional Seminar in San Diego such a great success.  Discussions were had, questions were answered, and viable suggestions were made.

We're working hard on the details for the 2016 NIH Regional Seminar(s), so keep an eye out for an announcement in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts as well as on the NIH Regional Seminar home page in the coming months.

*We deeply appreciate the time effort put forth by the volunteers from:

  • San Diego State University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of San Diego

eRA Information: Ext-UAT for ASSIST and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Friday AM, November 6, 2015

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) for ASSIST and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Friday, November 6, 2015 from 7 to 11 AM. for hardware update.   This is part of the standard testing environment maintenance window as noted at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/system_testing.htm

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 & Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, October 15

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

 

Scheduled Downtime for October Release:

eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, October 15, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, October 16, 2015. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality have been added to the system.   The following are highlights of eRA Commons’ upcoming October software release. These are just some of the many features being rolled out for this release; check out the release notes for more information on features and fixes.

 

Highlights of eRA Commons’ October Software Release

 

Updates in eSubmission

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

 

  • Diversity Administrative Supplements Now Require Credentials
    • When submitting Diversity Admin Supplements (Type 3) applications, all Senior/Key Persons are required to have valid eRA Commons credentials.
    • Failing to provide valid credentials for Senior/Key person will result in the following error message:  The eRA Commons Username <Credential> provided for <First Name> <Last Name> is not a recognized eRA Commons Account.
    • This error will result in the application being rejected for further consideration.

 

  • Updates in ASSIST
    • Fellowship applications (Fs) will be able to be submitted using ASSIST (see Target Timeline for Single-Project ASSIST).
      • ASSIST offers several advantages, including the ability to see errors and warnings before submission and to view the application in the NIH format before submission.
    • Ability to Submit Most Competing Programs
      • Starting in September, ASSIST was opened to most competing single-project applications (See NOT-OD-15-044 for more information).
      • The use of ASSIST is not required. It is provided as an option for submission.
      • Downloadable forms and institutional system-to-system solution also remain as options for submission.

 

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH has added several new features to eRA Commons:

 

  • eRA Help Desk Now eRA Service Desk
    • The eRA Commons Help Desk has been rebranded as the eRA Service Desk.
    • Commons users will see this change on screens, email notifications, web pages, and other resources.
    • The new name reflects the team's expansion to support ASSIST and other eRA services.

 

  • New Final Invention Statement Notification(s) to Institutions

Institutions will now receive email notifications that Final Invention Statements (FIS) are ready for acceptance by a Signing Official (SO) and submission to agency.

  • eRA Commons will send an initial email after a PI or SO has uploaded an FIS and it is in a status of Awaiting SO Verification.  This email will be sent to the Closeout Correspondence email address (as captured in the IPF), as well as the Announcement and Notifications email address (as captured in the IPF).
  • If after 10 days the SO has not submitted the FIS to agency, Commons will send a follow-up reminder email to the Closeout Correspondence email address.

The following parties are included on the notifications:

  • PI who created the FIS
  • NIH Closeout Center
  • Closeout Correspondence Email address
  • Announcement and Notifications email
  • Signing Official (only if an SO has uploaded information for the FIS)

 

  • Security Precautions added to DOB and SSN Fields
    • eRA has added extra security to the Personal Profile for the Date of Birth and Social Security Number (SSN) fields.
    • These two fields are now only editable if blank or filled with all zeroes.
    • Once populated, the fields will become read-only.

 

NOTE: Should you need to make changes to either of these fields on your Personal Profile, contact the eRA Service Desk for assistance.

 

  • Confirmation Checkbox Added to the Extension Screen
    • Users submitting a No-Cost Extension (NCE) will notice a new checkbox that verifies that the terms of the NCE have been read and are understood as follows:

By notifying NIH of this one-time extension of the period of performance, you certify that the extension is not: 1) being exercised merely for the purpose of using unobligated balance; 2) prohibited by the terms and conditions of the Federal award; 3) requesting additional Federal funds. Further, it does not involve any change in the approved objectives or scope of the project.

  • Selecting the checkbox enables the Confirm button for submitting the request. You must select the checkbox to confirm.

 

  • Introducing xTRACT
    • The xTRACT module will be available via the eRA Commons (See Overview).
    • It will allow applicants, grantees, and assistants to create research training tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications.
    • Initially, xTRACT will support the following training grant award mechanisms: T32, TL1, T90/R90, and T15 for both progress reports and grant applications.

 

NOTE: xTRACT can be used on a pilot basis for creating data tables for those mechanisms for Research Performance Progress Reports due Dec. 1, 2015 or later and applications submitted for the May 25, 2016 due date and after  (See Guide Notice NOT-OD-16-007).

 

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above.


eRA Information: eRA Introduces xTRACT on Oct. 16

Friday, October 09, 2015

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new module via eRA Commons that will allow applicants, grantees and assistants to create research training tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications.

Extramural Trainee Reporting And Career Tracking (xTRACT) will be available as a new menu option on eRA Commons on Friday, Oct. 16.

Initially, xTRACT will support the following training grant award mechanisms: T32, TL1, T90/R90, and T15 for both progress reports and grant applications. Note that xTRACT can be used on a pilot basis for creating data tables for those mechanisms for Research Performance Progress Reports submitted Dec. 1, 2015 or later and applications submitted for the May 25, 2016 due date and after.

 

Because xTRACT is being integrated with eRA Commons, some of the data for training tables and reports will be prepopulated, using xTrain appointment and related data. This data includes trainee names, selected characteristics, institutions, grant numbers and subsequent NIH and other HHS awards.  Plus, some of the data that is manually entered in xTRACT for one training table submission will be available for reuse in xTRACT, when preparing data for subsequent training table submissions.  This automation will significantly reduce the workload for those responsible for completing the information.

 

As part of NIH’s Biomedical Research Workforce (BMW) initiative, xTRACT will allow NIH and other agencies to capture data on the careers of trainees (students and post-docs) and provide more information on training program outcomes.

xTRACT will be available to eRA Commons users with the following roles: Signing Officials (SO), Principal Investigators (PI),  and Assistants (ASST) with the appropriate delegation.

For more information:

  • NOT-OD-15-112 — Advance Notice: NIH Anticipates Transition to New Research Training Data Table Formats in FY 2016
    • Look for additional guide notices to be published soon concerning xTRACT and other eRA changes.
  • http://acd.od.nih.gov/bwf.htm — Advisory Committee to the NIH Director: Biomedical Workforce Working Group

eRA Information: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable October 6, and October 8, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Tuesday, October 6 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. as well as Thursday, October 8th from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in preparation for the fall system-wide software release starting on Thursday, October 15, 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: ASSIST Now Available for SBIR/STTR and CRP Program Applications

Friday, September 25, 2015

SBIR/STTR and CRP in ASSIST

We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of ASSIST as a submission option for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Commercialization Readiness Pilot (CRP) Program applications.  See notice NOT-OD-15-156.

Since January 2015, NIH has been receiving a steady stream of single project applications using ASSIST and the feedback has been positive. ASSIST offers several advantages, including the ability to see errors and warnings before submission and to view the application in the NIH format before submission.

ASSIST an Option for Most Competing Programs

Throughout the rest of this year, we’ll be opening up ASSIST as a submission option for most competing single-project applications (NOT-OD-15-044). The use of ASSIST is not required. It is provided to you as another option for the submission of your application. We highly recommend you give it a try and take advantage of the many features it offers. Downloadable forms and institutional system-to-system solutions remain viable options for submission, as well. 

Fellowships in ASSIST Coming Very Soon

The fellowship activity codes (F’s) are scheduled to be available using ASSIST in October 2015 (see Target Timeline for Single-Project ASSIST Support).


eRA Update: Ext-UAT for ASSIST and Commons Demo Is Available

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) for ASSIST and the Commons Demo environments are available. The maintenance has been completed. For more information on updates to the Ext-UAT environments, please go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/system_testing.htm.


eRA Information: Ext-UAT for ASSIST and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Thursday AM, September 10, 2015

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) for ASSIST and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Thursday, September 10, 2015 from 7 to 11 AM. for hardware update.   This is part of the standard testing environment maintenance window as noted at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/system_testing.htm

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


eRA Alert: eRA Modules Experiencing Connectivity Issues

Thursday, September 03, 2015

eRA Commons, ASSIST, iEdison, and other eRA modules are experiencing intermittent connectivity issues.  Users may be presented with a “Error 500 Internal Server” message.

We hope to have the systems returned to full functionality soon. We will provide updated information as soon as possible.

We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.


eRA Enhancements: Highlights of eRA Commons’ Upgrade on Thursday, August 27

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

eRA Commons will be updated during regular work hours on Thursday, August 27, 2015. In what is referred to as a rolling deployment, NIH will update several aspects of the eRA Commons.  During this time, all systems will remain available. The following are just some of the features being rolled out for this release; check out the release notes for more information on features and fixes.

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH has added several new features to eRA Commons:

  • Federal Financial Report Re-Design
    • The look and feel of the interface for electronically creating and submitting Federal Financial Reports (FFR) has been modified to conform to eRA’s standards for user interfaces, including fonts, colors, and the banner.
    • Users with the FSR role will use the re-designed FFR module for all of their FFR needs: creating, viewing, editing, and submitting the reports.
    • Requirements for FFRs have not changed, but users will notice modifications to key features of the module including:
      • Optional one-click, pre-defined Quick Searches for frequently used queries
      • New action buttons
      • Viewable history of FFR records, without leaving the search screen
      • On-screen entry of indirect expenses within the long form
  • New Re-Assign Grant Feature in Status
    • Signing Officials (SO) now have the ability to re-assign grants to specific schools and departments within their institutions. The new feature titled Re-Assign Grant is found within the Status screen.
    • Certain rules apply for using this feature as follows:
      • The feature is available only to institutions of higher education
      • Only Commons users with the SO role have access to the feature
      • SOs can only search and select grants within their institutions
      • Only parent grants can be re-assigned
      • Any revisions and supplements associated with grants being moved will also be moved
      • Only grants for the current and future fiscal years will be available to move to other schools/departments
    • NOTE: If a department or school does not appear on the drop down list of available choices, you should follow the current procedure to update your organization’s information by submitting the request to the eRA Commons Help Desk

eRA Update: Document Upload in ASSIST Now Available

Monday, August 24, 2015

The issue mentioned below has now been resolved.  Documents can be successfully uploaded to applications in ASSIST. 

If you continue to experience issues, please contact the eRA Service Desk, or if you feel this issue has impeded your ability to submit an on time application, be sure to follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.

Original message below sent Monday, August 24, 2015 12:13PM


eRA Alert: Document Upload in ASSIST Not Available

Monday, August 24, 2015

An issue has developed preventing the ability to upload attachments to applications in ASSIST.

We are currently working on the issue and  hope to have the system returned to full availability soon. We will provide updated information as soon as possible.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.


eRA Enhancements: Highlights of eRA Commons’ Upcoming Release & Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, July 16

Monday, July 13, 2015

Scheduled Downtime for July Release:

eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, July 16, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, July 17, 2015. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality have been added to the system.   The following are highlights of eRA Commons’ upcoming July 16-17 software release. These are just some of the many features being rolled out for this release; check out the release notes for more information on features and fixes.

Highlights of eRA Commons’ July Software Release

Updates in eSubmission

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

  • Ability to Submit Training and Research Applications Using ASSIST
    • Applicants will be able to submit grant applications for additional activity codes — including training grants, R13, R15, and more — through ASSIST (see transition timeline).  Advantages that ASSIST offers applicants include the ability to:
      • See errors and warnings before submission.
      • Pre-populate of forms.
      • Preview the grant image before submission.
    • Applicants can choose between using ASSIST or continuing to use Grants.gov’s downloadable forms, or their own institution’s system-to-system solution.
  • New Enhancements in ASSIST for Multi Project Applications – Subaward Budget Forms
    • Applicants can download a subaward budget form, complete it, and then upload into ASSIST, or
    • The subaward budget forms can be completed online within ASSIST.

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH has added several new features to eRA Commons:

  • Expansion of the Federated Login Functionality
    • Federated Login is the ability for users to use their institutional user ID and password to access eRA Commons. This functionality has now been expanded to include users with the ASST role in eRA Commons.
    • This option is for organizations currently registered with InCommon and who work with NIH’s Center for Information Technology (CIT) to establish the relationship between your institution and eRA Commons. 
    • For more information on the Institution/Organization Log In functionality, review the October 17 Commons Release Notes, or the Commons Online Help System.
  • New Closeout Requirements for Federal Financial Report (FFR)
    • The eRA Commons link for the final Federal Financial Report will reflect that the deadline for submitting  the report is 120 days after the Budget Period End Date, for projects that ended on or after Oct. 1, 2014 
    • This is an increase from the previous 90 days for all final reports as part of the Closeout process (see video tutorial) and Uniform Guidance.
  • xTrain Notifications For Fellowship Now Available on the Status Information Screen
    • Reminders for fellowship terminations are sent 30 days prior to the project end date, 1 day after the project end date, and 30 days after the project end date.
    • These fellowship notifications will be viewable by the grantee on the Status Information screen.
    • NOTE: These notifications for National Cancer Institute (NCI) fellowships will not be available in Grant Folder until September 2015.

NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above.


eRA Update: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Downtime Now on Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

An internal power outage in our office building in Bethesda, Md., today has impacted our preparation time for the planned changes to the External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments.

Hence, we are rescheduling the downtime to Thursday, July 9, 2015. The environments will be offline from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in preparation for the summer system-wide software release starting on Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 9 p.m. ET.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


eRA Information: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday, July 06, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Wednesday, July 8, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in preparation for the summer system-wide software release starting on Thursday, July 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: Ext-UAT and Commons Demo Will be Unavailable June 25, 2015 from 8AM to 5PM ET

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The External User Acceptance Test (Ext-UAT) and the Commons Demo environments are scheduled to be offline Thursday, June 25 from 8AM to 5PM ET for upgrade procedures.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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


Uploaded Subaward Budget Forms Receiving Validation Error in ASSIST

Thursday, June 04, 2015

ASSIST users are receiving the following error when performing the ‘Validate Application’ action: 

The format of the application does not match the format of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). Please contact the Help Desk for assistance. … (000.6)”


Why it is happening 
ASSIST provides an option to ‘Download a Subaward Form’ for completion offline. The completed subaward budget form can then be uploaded back into the ASSIST application using the ‘Attach Subaward Form’ option.  ASSIST allows applicants to view and edit the attached subawards from within ASSIST.
Although the completed subaward forms appear to attach successfully, ASSIST is not correctly handling system calculations for sections of the subaward for which no data is provided.

The workaround
Access the attached subaward from within ASSIST. Click the ‘Edit’ button at the top of the screen and then the ‘Save and Release Lock’ at the bottom of the screen. Repeat for each budget period. This action will help ASSIST populate the calculated values correctly as $0. Validate the application again to confirm the error has cleared.
We will correct the issue in the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience.

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


eRA Update: Scheduled Downtime is Complete; eRA Commons and ASSIST are Available

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The scheduled downtime for the database migration has been completed. eRA Commons and ASSIST are currently available.

 

Thank you for your patience.


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

Monday, May 18, 2015

We would like to remind you that eRA is planning to migrate its databases to a new platform over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

 

The scheduled migration involves about 8 hours downtime for eRA Commons and ASSIST beginning at 9:00AM ET on Saturday, May 23.

 

We look forward to the long-term benefits the migration will ultimately bring to our customers.

 

(Original message below sent Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 9:01AM)


eRA Information: ASSIST Now Available for the Submission of R01s, U01s and Career Development Grant Applications

Thursday, April 30, 2015

We are pleased to announce that ASSIST is now an option for the submission of R01, U01s and all Career Development (All Ks except KM1 and K12) grant applications to the NIH (NOT-OD-15-098).

Since January 2015, NIH has been receiving a steady stream of R03 and R21 applications using ASSIST and the feedback has been positive. ASSIST offers several advantages, including the ability to see errors and warnings before submission and print the application in the NIH format before submission.

 

Throughout 2015, we’ll be opening up ASSIST as a submission option for most competing single-project applications (NOT-OD-15-044). The use of ASSIST is not required. It is provided to you as another option for the submission of your application. We highly recommend you give it a try and take advantage of the many features it offers. Downloadable forms and institutional system-to-system solutions remain viable options for submission, as well.

 

The Training activity codes (Ts and Ds), along with other research and related activities, are scheduled to be available using ASSIST in July 2015 (see Target Timeline for Single-Project ASSIST Support).


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!"