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eRA Commons News

eRA Commons Items of Interest - January 24, 2008

Just a month ago, we rolled our eSubmission listservs into new listservs for general eRA Commons information (NOT-OD-08-024). In that short time we have nearly doubled our subscription base! We’d like to welcome all our new subscribers and hope you find our periodic updates informative and relevant to your electronic grant administration activities with NIH.  As always, we encourage your feedback.

Scheduled Downtime this Weekend
The eRA system (including eRA Commons, eRA eXchange for electronic application processing, and Internet Assisted Review) will be unavailable for a 12-hour period from 12:01a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, Jan. 27 to noon for mandatory vendor changes/upgrades. This downtime also affects the External User Acceptance (Ext-UAT) environment used by system-to-system electronic submission solution providers and others for testing. For grant applications submitted around this period, remember that weekends do not count in either the electronic submission viewing window or the error correction window.

Adobe-based Electronic Applications
We continue to prepare for the transition to’s new Adobe-based application forms. We are working with to address several issues that currently prohibit NIH from moving forward with the new forms. We still hope to post a few Funding Opportunity Announcements with Adobe-based packages this Spring. As long as the forms and systems perform correctly, a full transition to the new forms will follow.

New eRA Commons Status Codes
Some of you have asked about the new status codes that are displayed in the "Current Application Status" column when viewing the "List of Applications" in the new Status screens. In response to your inquiries we have posted a list of the old status codes and their new, more descriptive replacements at: (PDF - 33 KB).

eRA System to Allow Multiple Active Applications
Initiatives to expedite review and provide quicker feedback to applicants (e.g., special deadlines for AIDS applications and New Investigators responding to reviewer feedback in the previous round) are changing how NIH handles grant applications. The eRA system supporting NIH grant administration must adapt to these evolving business practices. The current eRA system software only allows one active application in the system at a time and automatically withdraws earlier versions when a subsequent version is received. It is now common to receive an amended version of an application (marked as a resubmission on the electronic form) before the previous one has made its way completely through the council/advisory board and funding decision processes at NIH.

Following a software update in February, the eRA system will allow Multiple Active Applications (MAA). The system will keep all versions (e.g., 01, A1, A2) of an application active and will provide an internal "MAA" flag for each application in an active cluster. If any version of an application in a cluster is awarded, all other applications within the cluster will be automatically withdrawn without any additional action by applicants or NIH staff.

FSR Reminders
We are pleased to report a smooth transition to the mandatory use of the electronic FSR system in the eRA Commons for all Financial Status Reports to NIH (NOT-OD-07-078). Most grantee institutions were prepared for the change. However, some institutions that have not previously needed eRA Commons accounts and are now closing out their older grants, are confused by account requirements. For these institutions, we offer these reminders:

  1. Grantee institutions must be registered in the Commons
  2. Institutional officials must also have a Commons Profile
  3. A Commons-registered institutional official must hold the FSR Role. This is a separate role that can be assigned by an accounts administrator. Only someone with this role is able to submit the electronic FSR to NIH
  4. In some small institutions or businesses the same person may hold multiple roles (e.g., Principal Investigator, Signing Official, Accounts Administrator and also the person needing to submit the FSR). A single Commons account can have multiple roles. However, there are some cases when multiple accounts must be created (e.g., the PI role and SO role should not be combined on the same account). The eRA Commons Help Desk can provide advice on role assignment.

eSNAP Tip from the eRA Commons Help Desk
Around the middle of each month the eRA Commons Help Desk gets an increase of eSNAP calls….more calls around deadlines – not a huge surprise. The most common eSNAP inquiry this month is related to a recently identified software issue where the error message "One of the fields under the months devoted should be more than 0" is triggering inappropriately. Even if numbers greater than zero in the calendar fields are shown in the Edit Business -> Key Personnel screen, under some conditions our system is not recognizing the values and triggers the inappropriate error message. This seems to be especially prevalent when all effort is recorded as "Calendar" months.

We will be addressing this software issue as soon as possible. In the meantime, the Help Desk has asked us to pass this tip along. We have found that changing the months of the first person (the PI) to 'Academic', clicking 'Save & New' and then changing the months back to calendar (as originally entered) forces the system to recognize the values and the error goes away.

Regional Seminars
Registration for the 2008 NIH Regional Seminars is now open (NOT-OD-07-076).

- March 25-26, 2008 – San Antonio, Texas. This two-day seminar will be hosted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

- June 19-20, 2008 – Chicago, Illinois. This two-day seminar will be hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The seminars provide a unique opportunity to interact with key NIH experts in extramural program funding and grants administration and cover topics ranging from opportunity identification and application preparation through post award administration. eRA-related sessions include: Interacting with NIH Electronically, A Walk Through the SF424 (R&R) and How Well Do You Know the eRA Commons. Presentations are targeted towards research administrators, new and experienced investigators, post docs and trainees. In addition to the formal presentations, a team of experts will be available to answer your specific Commons and electronic submission questions at the eRA booth.

But wait, there’s more! As an added bonus, you have the opportunity to register for an additional day of eRA Workshops in the following areas:

- eRA Commons Administration Basics (targeted for Account Administrators)
- eRA Commons Status for Administrators
- xTrain (targeted for Administrators and Program Directors of training grants)
- eRA Commons for Principal Investigators and their Delegates

Scarlett Gibb & Sheri Cummins
eRA Commons Customer Relationship Managers
NIH Electronic Research Administration

This page last reviewed: June 9, 2008