OMB No. 0925-0534 Exp: 08/2007
Survey of NIH Program and Grants Management Staff Logo


Evaluation of the Modular Grant Application Process


Survey of NIH Program and Grants Management Staff

Sponsored by:

National Institutes of Health

Office of Extramural Research


Introduction

This survey of NIH program and grants management staff is part of a larger study evaluating the modular grant application process. The purpose of the evaluation is to gather information about your opinions and experiences with the modular grant application process. Results will be used to help improve communication and training about the process as well as improve various aspects of it. This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Office of Extramural Research. You have been selected to participate in this important study. Your feedback is critical. Even if you have limited experience with the modular grant application process, your opinions are still very important to us.

The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete. Most of the survey items ask about the modular grant application process. However, NIH is also taking this opportunity to ask your opinions about Just-in-Time procedures. When responding to this survey, please keep the following definitions in mind.

Modular grants: The modular grants program began in 1999. It is for grants of $250,000 or less in direct costs per year. Direct costs are requested in modules of $25,000 and applicants are not required to include detailed budgets in their applications.

Just-in-Time: Once an award (either modular or nonmodular) is likely to be made, applicants are asked to submit missing IRB or IACUC approvals, along with Other Support pages that provide detailed information about funding from other sources.

When responding to questions about one topic (either the modular grant application process or Just-in-Time procedures) please try to think only about that topic. Keeping these two separate when responding to questions will help NIH better understand the unique problems and benefits of each.

There are no right or wrong answers, so you should respond by giving the answer that best describes your own situation. While we would like you to answer all the questions in this questionnaire, you may skip any questions that you do not wish to answer. Even if you feel you must skip a question, your answers to other questions will still be important to us.

Your participation is entirely voluntary, and if you choose to complete the survey, all of your responses will remain completely confidential and will not be linked to your name. All study results will be aggregated and will not be used to rate or report on NIH Institutes, Centers, or Study Sections.

Thank you very much for your participation.

A. ABOUT YOU


This section asks for information about you and your involvement in the modular grant application process.

A1.   Do you currently, or have you in the past, managed modular grants as part of your portfolio?

Yes - Do you currently, or have you in the past, also managed nonmodular grants as part of your portfolio?
 
Yes
No
No
 
A2.   Are you a program or grants management staff person at NIH?

Program staff
Grants management staff
 
A3.   How many years have you worked as a program staff person or in grants management?

 
A4.   Which NIH Institute/Center (IC) do you work for?

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC)
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD)

B. KNOWLEDGE AND ASSESSMENT OF THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS


NIH is concerned that some aspects of the modular grant application process may present difficulties for you and other NIH staff in your same position. Therefore, we would like you to identify the modular grant elements that you think need clarification. Below is a list of actual key features of the modular grant application process. Please check one box for each line that indicates how well you understand these features.
B1.  

Features of the modular grant application process This feature is clear to me This feature is not clear to me I have never heard about this feature
a.   There is no routine escalation for future years
b.   One or more additional modules may be requested during a particular year to cover an unusual cost fluctuation (such as a piece of equipment)
c.   Additional narrative budget justification is needed for any variation in the number of modules requested
d.   A separate form labeled "Other Support" does not appear in the modular grant application
e.   Narrative budget justification is needed only for personnel and consortium/contractual arrangements
f.   Individual salary information is not required for personnel
g.   Total consortium/contractual costs need to be estimated for each year, rounded to the nearest $1,000
h.   The total cost of the consortium/contractual arrangement is included in the requested modular direct cost total
i.   Indirect costs are not calculated on equipment
j.   Biographical sketches need to be prepared for all key personnel
k.   Biographical sketches should include the goals of current or recently completed research projects (federal and non-federal support
l.   Modular grant awards are eligible for administrative supplements (i.e., noncompeting supplemental funding)
m.   All forms for modular grant applications are available on the NIH website
n.   Some form pages are different for a modular grant application than for a nonmodular grant application
 
B2.   Before taking this survey, had you ever heard of the following goals of the modular grant application process?

Yes No
a.   Reduce administrative burden/staff time for NIH program staff
b.   Reduce administrative burden/staff time for NIH grants management staff
c.   Focus the efforts of NIH program staff on the scientific content of the grant application
d.   Reinforce the grant-in-aid philosophy (i.e., the government’s assisting in carrying out the research endeavor) as opposed to the contract mentality (i.e., buying research dollar-for-dollar)
e.   Accommodate principal investigators’ need for flexibility
f.   Eliminate budgetary negotiations between PIs and NIH program staff
 
B3.   In your opinion, to what extent has the modular grant application process achieved the following goals:

Not at all To some extent To a large extent Don't know/Can't rate
a.   Reduce administrative burden/staff time for NIH program staff
b.   Reduce administrative burden/staff time for NIH grants management staff
c.   Focus the efforts of NIH program staff on the scientific content of the grant application
d.   Reinforce the grant-in-aid philosophy (i.e., the government’s assisting in carrying out the research endeavor) as opposed to the contract mentality (i.e., buying research dollar-for-dollar)
e.   Accommodate principal investigators’ need for flexibility
f.   Eliminate budgetary negotiations between PIs and NIH program staff
 
B4.   Do you think there are other reasons for the implementation of the modular grant application process?

Yes - Please specify 
No
 
B5.   Have you ever obtained information on the modular grant application process?

Yes
No
 
B6.   Below are possible sources of information on the modular grant application process. Please indicate whether you have obtained information from any of these sources. Check all that apply.

NIH web site/NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
NIH Office of Extramural Research staff
NIH program and/or grants management staff
NIH training
Other (please specify):

C. YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS

This section asks you about your experience with the modular grant application process. Please check the box that indicates how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.


Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Not applicable
C1.   The modular grants application process has impeded my ability to learn about how much different elements of a research project cost
C2.   The lack of a detailed budget helps me focus on the scientific content of the applications
C3.   The modular grant application process has negatively affected the working relationship between me and some of the other NIH staff who have roles in the review and award process
C4.   The modular grant application process allows me to focus on more complex grant mechanisms
C5.   The modular grant application process has not affected how well I can do my job
C6.   The modular grant application process saves time because cost analysis doesn’t have to be done
C7.   I am not comfortable recommending budget cuts or approving changes in scope without being able to view a detailed budget
C8.   The modular grants application process has resulted in more administrative supplements
C9.   Additional discussions and/or meetings must take place to make decisions about how the modular grant budget cuts will be handled
C10.   There are no "Other Support" pages so time is spent trying to find out this type of information
C11.   The roles and responsibilities of various NIH staff are not clear, resulting in multiple phone calls to find answers
C12.   Overall, the modular grant application process has reduced administrative burden for program staff
C13.   Overall, the modular grant application process has reduced administrative burden for grants management staff
 

D. YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS

This section asks your opinions about the modular grant application process. Please check the box that indicates how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.



Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Not applicable
D1.   Modular grants seem contrary to good administrative and fiscal stewardship
D2.   The modular grants application process facilitates getting the awards out to the PIs on time
D3.   Modular grants provide more flexibility for PIs than do nonmodular grants
D4.   PIs are letting the modular budget guide the science instead of the science guiding the budget
D5.   Since the modular grant applications only list total costs, new program and grants management staff should receive training on how to determine whether or not proposed costs are reasonable
D6.   In many of the modular grant applications the overall costs appear to be inflated
D7.   There appears to be no consistent policy across Institutes on how to cut modular grant budgets when making an award
D8.   Program and grants management staff don’t need to see a detailed budget to understand the proposed research project in a modular grant application
D9.   Listing dollar value totals for major categories (personnel, travel, etc.) would be a good compromise between a detailed budget and a modular budget
 
We are interested in your perceptions about the modular grant application process. For the question below, please check one box for each line that comes closest to what you think.
 
D10.   As a direct result of the modular grant application process, my perception is that:

Increased Stayed the same Decreased
a.   The average amount of funding requested has
b.   The average size of award (dollar amount) has
 
D11.   As a direct result of the modular grant application process, my responsibilities have...

Increased significantly
Increased slightly
Remained the same
Decreased slightly
Decreased significantly

E. YOUR SATISFACTION WITH THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS


We would like to know your general thoughts about and satisfaction with the modular grant application process. Please be as detailed as you like in your responses to the open-ended questions.

 
E1.   Overall, how satisfied are you with the modular grant application process?

Very satisfied
Satisfied
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
Dissatisfied
Very dissatisfied
 
E2.   Would you prefer the modular grant limit be higher than $250,000?

Yes - Why?
No - Why not?
Not sure/don't know
 
E3.   What aspects of the modular grant application process do you like?

 
E4.   What aspects of the modular grant application process do you dislike?

 

F. YOUR OPINIONS ABOUT AND SATISFACTION WITH JUST-IN-TIME

This section asks your opinions about and satisfaction with the Just-in-Time procedures (e.g., IRB and IACUC approval and Other Support information). Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.



Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Not applicable
F1.   In general, the Just-in-Time procedures make the application process more efficient for me
F2.   Just-in-Time procedures do not promote stewardship because NIH staff have to rush and push the PIs and/or institutional officials to get the necessary information
F3.   One of the best things about the Just-in-Time procedures is that NIH staff get updated/current information from PIs and/or institutional officials
 
Previously, program and grants management staff have identified some Just-in-Time aspects that are problematic. Please indicate how much of a problem the following aspects of the Just-in-Time procedures are for you.


A big problem Somewhat of a problem Not a problem
F4.   Explaining the difference to PIs between the information required in the submitted biosketch and the information previously needed as part of the Other Support pages
F5.   Following up with PIs by email, phone, or fax to obtain Just-in-Time materials (e.g., IRB/IACUC approval, Other Support pages)
F6.   Receiving and managing Just-in-Time materials from more applicants than will ultimately be funded
 
We would like to know your general thoughts about and satisfaction with the Just-in-Time procedures. Please be as detailed as you like in your responses to the open-ended questions.
 
 
F7.   Overall, how satisfied are you with Just-in-Time?

Very satisfied
Satisfied
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
Dissatisfied
Very dissatisfied
 
F8.   What aspects of the Just-in-Time procedures do you like?

 
F9.   What aspects of the Just-in-Time procedures do you dislike?