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eRA Commons & eSubmission Items of Interest

eRA eSubmission Items of Interest - November 19, 2008

NIH Road to Adobe
Before heading home from work the other night, I decided to stop by a new shop that was in the general direction I was heading. I wasn’t sure of the shop’s exact location, so I plugged the address into my handy-dandy electronic navigation device (GPS) to chart my course. The roads soon became unfamiliar and when I saw the first “New Traffic Pattern” sign, I knew I was in trouble…I looked at my GPS and saw my little car icon drive right off the road. I heard “Recalculating,” in a frustrated little tone and my poor GPS couldn’t figure out what to do next. I ended up abandoning my current course until I could get a better idea of how to get to the shop and made my way back to the familiar roads that would take me home. It occurs to me that my little adventure parallels where we are with eSubmission…

NIH needs to get to a number of destinations:

eSubmission is a bit like my GPS. It needs to be equipped with the appropriate set of maps in order to successfully navigate to a destination. The route to Adobe-based versions of the current PureEdge application forms is fairly straight forward. It’s basically a remodeling of an old destination – the forms look a little different, but the mapping behind them hasn’t changed and our eSubmission system knows how to traverse them to process an application.

The paths to the remaining destinations listed are trickier. The form updates have been under development at and we have yet to receive and incorporate into our eSubmission system the new information that will allow us to get where we need to go. We had hoped to be able to knock off multiple destinations in a single trip to cut down on applicant and agency logistical burden. We now know we’ll need to make several trips to hit them all.

First destination – get to Adobe forms
Adobe-based application packages will be available for most opportunities by December 5. These packages, we’ll call “ADOBE-FORMS-A”, will contain Adobe-based equivalents of the PureEdge forms we currently use. This transition will allow our applicants to take advantage of the new Adobe forms and will provide a better solution to users with newer operating systems that were supported in PureEdge only through the use of the CITRIX service. This incremental transition also allows NIH and system-to-system solution providers a more realistic time frame to ready systems to accommodate updates to the forms. I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from system-to-system solution providers and the 20% of our applicants that rely on them. Since we will still need to accommodate the additional form updates, these packages will likely be used only through April 2009.

Future destinations
Beginning in March 2009, we will re-post application packages to align with the latest OMB and FFATA form updates (“ADOBE-FORMS-B”). We hope that these packages will remain for at least two submission rounds. This form set will position us to move forward with the Fellowship and Training transitions to electronic application submission. These transitions are dependent on our ability to process applications that use the updated forms.

Bringing More Grant Programs Along for the Ride
How does all this affect our scheduled transitions to electronic application submission for the Career Development (K), Fellowship (F) and Training (T) programs?

Career Development will transition as scheduled for the February 12, 2009 receipt date and will use the Adobe equivalent of the current PureEdge forms (“ADOBE-FORMS-A”).

The transition for the Training program is on schedule for a September 25, 2009 transition. The Training application packages, however, will include the OMB and FFATA form updates (“ADOBE-FORMS-B”).

Fellowships are currently scheduled to transition April 8, 2009. The delay in receiving updated forms from has forced us to shift our development schedules. We will now be working to accommodate the form updates during the timeframe we had planned to prepare our system for the F transition. This leaves us much less certain about our ability to meet our current transition date for Fellowships. A decision on when to transition Fellowships will be made very soon and communicated through the normal channels. Keep an eye on the NIH Guide.

Taking the Show on the Road
NIH has announced the dates and locations for the two 2009 NIH Regional Seminars on Program Funding and Grants Administration (NOT-OD-09-012). Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology will co-host the first two-day event in Atlanta, Georgia April 16-17. University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno are the co-ambassadors for the second event to be held June 25-26 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Optional NIH electronic Research Administration computer workshops will be offered the day prior to each conference (April 15 & June 24). Scarlett and I are offering two courses at the 2009 Regional Seminars - “eRA Electronic Application Submission” and “Account Admin Basics & Post Submission Functionality”. These workshops are geared to folks new to the eSubmission process and eRA Commons. We’ll also be available at our eRA booth throughout the conferences to answer questions and hear about your experience with our services.

These are my favorite events of the year and I encourage you to consider attending. Registration for the first seminar and workshops in Atlanta has already opened. Space is limited and they tend to fill up fast.

We wish you all a Healthy & Happy Thanksgiving!

Take care,

Sheri Cummins & Scarlett Gibb
Customer Relationship Managers
eRA Commons and eSubmisssion
NIH Office of Extramural Research

This page last reviewed: November 20, 2008