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Frequently Asked Questions

Prepare to Apply
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Prepare to Apply

     Registration in Grants.gov
  1. What do I need to do before I can submit an application through Grants.gov?
    Grants.gov and eRA Commons registrations are required prior to application submission. Grants.gov registration provides the ability to submit applications electronically. eRA Commons registration allows NIH to receive applications electronically from Grants.gov and validate them against agency-specific business rules. It also provides a way for NIH and registered users to communicate electronically after submission. Assignment, review outcome and summary statement information is available through the eRA Commons.

  2. Does a Principal Investigator have to register in Grants.gov and eRA Commons?
    A Principal Investigator does NOT need to register in Grants.gov but MUST be registered in the eRA Commons prior to electronic submission of a grant application. The Principal Investigator (PI) registers in Commons through the organization’s Authorized Organizational Representative (also known as the Signing Official).

  3. When should applicant organizations begin the registration process?
    To avoid any potential processing backlogs due to last minute registrations, applicants are highly encouraged to start the registration process at least four weeks prior to the grant submission date. New businesses [i.e. those applying to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to complete the CCR registration] should start the process at least two months (eight weeks) prior to the grant submission date. If an applicant has started the eRA Commons registration process at least two weeks in advance of the submission date, NIH will consider it a “good faith” effort to prepare for electronic submission and the applicant will not be penalized for any NIH-caused registration processing delay. The applicant will, however, need to follow the established procedures for late submissions documented in the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-06-086.html and describe the reason for the late application in the PHS 398 Cover Letter component of the application package.
    Please note that Institutions/organizations must be registered with Grants.gov, as well. NIH will not make any allowances for submission delays due to incomplete Grants.gov registration.

    Also see FAQs on Submission Deadline.

  4. What is involved in the Grants.gov registration process?
    Applicant Organizations need to complete a one-time only registration process for Grants.gov that includes obtaining a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, registering in Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and registering in Grants.gov. Detailed steps for Grants.gov registration for both domestic and foreign organizations can be found at http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/preparing_grantsgov_reg.htm . In addition, registration information can be found at the Grants.gov Get Registered webpage: http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp. Also see Flow Chart of Grants.gov Registration Process (PDF - 25 KB)
    Please note that this is a one-time only registration for all Federal agencies using Grants.gov. So if your organization has already completed the Grants.gov registration process to submit electronically for another Federal agency, a separate Grant.gov registration is not necessary for NIH submissions.

  5. Part of the Grants.gov process is registering in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR). What is the CCR and how will an applicant organization know if they have already registered or have successfully registered in the CCR?
    Grants.gov requires that applicant organizations obtain a DUNS number and register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). CCR is a government-wide registry for vendors doing business with the Federal government. Grants.gov uses CCR to establish roles and IDs for those electronically applying for grants. In the future, the government anticipates requiring all grant applicants to use CCR whether applying for grants electronically or otherwise. To register in CCR, one needs a DUNS number. CCR registration is renewable annually. If your CCR has expired, you will not be allowed to submit grant applications via Grants.gov!
    To register in CCR:

  6. How will an applicant organization know if they are already registered or have successfully registered in Grants.gov?
    The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) of the organization should know if the organization has already completed the one-time only Grants.gov registration process. For more information on Grants.gov registration, see the Grants.gov Get Registered webpage: http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp

  7. My organization already has a DUNS number. Do we need to establish a different one for Grants.gov submissions?
    Your organization will need to determine if the already established DUNS number is being used for grant applications. Keep in mind that applications to the NIH have required a DUNS number since October 1, 2003. So most applicant organizations have already fulfilled this registration step.

  8. Grants.gov requires a DUNS and CCR Registration. I'm also a reviewer for NIH so now I'm required to have an individual DUNS & CCR registration as well. Will I use my individual DUNS on applications and my individual CCR registration?
    No. When submitting applications through Grants.gov, the DUNS number of the applicant organization and the CCR registration of the Authorized Organizational Official of the applicant organization must be used. The DUNS number used during CCR registration must also match the DUNS number in the organization's profile (Institutional Profile File) in eRA Commons.

  9. I seem to be receiving a lot of unnecessary email solicitations and spam after I registered at the Central Contract Registration (CCR) and obtained a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number for my organization as part of the Grants.gov registration process. How can I prevent this spam?
    If you do not want your name or company name included on this marketing list, D&B has asked that you contact them anytime at 1-866-705-5711 to request removal from that list. The D&B website states, “Any person included in the D&B database may ask to be excluded from business lists licensed for marketing purposes. For more information, contact D&B Customer Service.” To view full-length D&B policies, visit http://www.dnb.com/US/home/privacy_policy/index.html.

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     Registration in Commons
  1. What is involved in the NIH eRA Commons registration process?
    Applicant organizations submitting grants to NIH must complete a one-time, two-step registration in the NIH eRA Commons. For detailed steps, click on Detailed steps for Commons registration (PDF - 36 KB).

  2. Who needs to be registered in the eRA Commons--just the Grantee Institution, the Principal Investigator (PI), or all Senior/Key Persons?
    The applicant organization, Signing Official (SO) and the PI must be registered in the NIH eRA Commons.

  3. Do the PI and SO require separate accounts in Commons (even if the PI and SO are the same person)?
    Yes, both the PI and SO need separate accounts in Commons. Only an SO has the ability to 'reject' an application in Commons to address warnings or if the assembled application does not reflect the submitted application package due to eRA Commons or NIH system issues. If an SO is given a PI role, it overrides the SO’s privileges such as the ability to reject the application, submit eSNAPs or Just-In-Time information and request No Cost Extensions. Therefore, if you are the SO for your organization as well as a PI of the grant, you will need two separate accounts with different user names — one with SO authority and one with PI authority. When an institution is registered, an SO account is created. Log on to the account with the SO authority role and create another account with PI authority.

  4. I have an Internet Assisted Review (IAR) account. Will this satisfy the requirement for an eRA Commons account?
    The Principal Investigator must have a PI role on the eRA Commons account in addition to the Internet Assisted Review (IAR) role. The PI should work with the Signing Official to verify that the PI has a PI role. For PIs who are selected for an Internet Assisted Review role, an IAR authority is automatically added to their account once a Scientific Review Administrator enables them for a meeting. All other reviewers who have never served as PIs only have IAR authority.

  5. Does a PI who moves to another institution have to register again in Commons?
    No. The second institution should affiliate the PI's Commons account with their institution. A PI's Commons account follows the PI throughout the PI's career. The steps to affiliate a PD/PI to the applicant organization/institution are:
  6. a. PD/PI gives Commons user ID and email address to the administrator of the applicant institution. (The email address must be the one that is contained in the Personal Profile for the PI.)

    b. Administrator logs into the Commons. (The administrator can be the Signing Official, Administrative Official, or the Accounts Administrator.)

    c. Administrator selects "Administration" tab and then "Accounts" tab.

    d. Administrator selects "Create Affiliation" tab.

    e. Administrator enters the Commons User ID and Email address into the appropriate fields and clicks "Submit."

  7. For consortium or subawards, do the sub-awardees need to be registered with eRA Commons and Grants.gov?
    Sub-awardees are not required to register. However, we do encourage them to be proactive and register to be ready to serve as primary awardees in the future.

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  1. What are the minimum hardware requirements for submitting grants electronically to NIH?
    Grants.gov, not NIH, specifies the hardware requirements since all electronic grant applications are submitted to Grants.gov and then retrieved by NIH.

    On the Grants.gov website, its Apply for Grants webpage states:

    In order to view the downloaded application package, you will need to install the PureEdge Viewer (Windows EXE File). There are basic system requirements for using the PureEdge Viewer. If you are a non-Windows user, please refer to this support page.

    The Grants.gov system requirements for Windows users are:

    Windows 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP
    500 MHz processor
    128 MB of RAM
    40 MB disk space
    Web browser: Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher, Netscape Communicator 4.5 - 4.8, Netscape 6.1, 6.2 or 7.

    Note: Grants.gov does not currently support Windows Vista.

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  1. What software do I need to have loaded before I can begin using Grants.gov?
    Applicants will need to download the PureEdge viewer free of charge from Grants.gov; see PureEdge Viewer on the Grants.gov website. The viewer will allow applicants to download application packages and guides.

    For NIH applicants, an application to create PDF files will be needed. On the Grants.gov Download Software webpage users will find a variety of PDF Conversion Tools for the applicant to use.

  2. What options are available to Macintosh users who rely on the Grants.gov form-based solution?
    NIH is anticipating the arrival of the new Grants.gov 2007 solution that is based on Adobe forms and is platform independent. In the meantime, please continue to use the following proven options for Macintosh users:

    • NIH-hosted Citrix┬« servers: allow non-PC users to prepare and submit applications using the PureEdge forms viewer. This service has been used successfully by many applicants.

    • PC-emulation software: commercially available products allow Mac users to run the PureEdge viewer.

    • IBM Workplace Forms (PureEdge) Viewer for Macintosh: Grants.gov provides access to an IBM PureEdge viewer that is compatible with Macs. There are some limitations to the viewer, so we strongly suggest that you read the available documentation carefully before deciding whether using the viewer is a good option for your specific circumstances. For information, visit Grants.gov's IBM Workplace Forms (PureEdge) Viewer for Macintosh.

    • Commercial Service Providers: offer a wide range of platform independent services - from low-cost, single transaction options through full scale, end-to-end grants management solutions. You should coordinate with your institutions' grants office to explore these options further.

  3. I am a Macintosh user. What tips should I keep in mind when using the Citrix server?
    The free Citrix server is available to non-Windows users to remotely launch a Windows session and submit completed grant applications. Keep these tips from the Grants.gov website and fellow applicants in mind when using Citrix:

    • You must download your Grant Application Package from Grants.gov prior to using Citrix and save it with an ".xfd" extension. The package can be downloaded to a non-Windows machine; it just cannot be viewed or worked on directly without Citrix.

    • If you close the Internet Explorer session you'll be disconnected from the server and you'll have to reconnect again. Data will be lost if you have not saved it.

    • If you fail to use Citrix for more than 20 minutes the system will time out and you will have to reconnect. Data will be lost if you have not saved it.

    • You must save your data often in case of loss of connection, or 20 minutes or more of idle time.

    • Save each version of your application with a different name.

    • Save your application with file names no longer than 8 characters; filenames should be simple with NO special characters.

    • A limited amount of users may access the Citrix Server at one time.

    • Log off when you are not working on your application package in order to maximize the use of this server.

    • Please be aware that you should wait until you are close to completing your application package before you attach any documents to keep the size of your file as small possible.

    • Some Citrix users have experienced problems sharing files on shared servers. If you are experiencing problems, save the application on your local computer.

    Macintosh System Requirements:
    OS X Version 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, or 10.4.
    128 MB of RAM
    10 MB Disk Space
    PowerPC Processor
    For information:
    Grants.gov website:

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  1. Can an applicant file using an SF424 (R&R) for a mechanism that has not yet officially transitioned (i.e., start using SF424 (R&R) now and stop using the PHS 398 entirely)?
    Applicants cannot submit applications through Grants.gov on the SF424 (R&R) for mechanisms that have not yet transitioned. NIH systems will not be ready to accept them.

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