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.