NIH MODULAR GRANT APPLICATIONS:  MODIFICATIONS AND UPDATE

Release Date:  July 24, 2000

NOTICE:  OD-00-046

National Institutes of Health

Since the original announcement by the National Institutes of Health in 
December 1998 of Modular Grant Applications, about 25,000 applications (R01, 
R03, R21, R15) have been submitted in the new modular format.  We have 
received applications for four of the standard investigator-initiated rounds 
as well as many receipt dates for Request for Applications (RFAs) and Program 
Announcements (PAs). Throughout this period, we have received many 
questions/comments/concerns/inquiries to our e-mail address, 
grantsinfo@nih.gov and many hits to our modular grant website, 
https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/modular/modular.htm.

As we now move to the full two-year phase of this new application format, 
there is a need to modify and clarify some of our original instructions and 
guidance to applicants and applicant institutions.

This Notice addresses five issues regarding modular grant applications.

A.  MODIFICATIONS TO THE BUDGET NARRATIVE JUSTIFICATION PAGE

Provide budget narrative for ALL personnel by position, role, and level of 
effort.  This includes consultants and any “to be appointed” positions.

Discussion:  The original guidance requested budget narrative only for KEY 
personnel.  We found the definition used to identify KEY personnel varied 
widely from Institution to Institution.  Since personnel generally account 
for 65-70 percent of the direct costs of a grant award, providing a budget 
narrative for ALL personnel should be of great value to reviewers and NIH 
staff. In addition, this change will result in standard information for 
personnel in all applications. This modification is effective for all 
appropriate investigator-initiated applications and responses to RFAs and PAs 
submitted on or after September 1, 2000.  RFAs and PAs released prior to 
September 1 will have contained our earlier reference to KEY personnel, but 
this notification will apply to them as well. In the future, all RFAs and PAs 
to be released will reference the requirement for ALL personnel to be 
discussed on the budget narrative page.

B.  CONSEQUENCES OF SUBMISSION OF NON-COMPLIANT MODULAR GRANT APPLICATIONS

The modular grant application instructions require limited budgetary 
information and almost 95% of the applicants followed those instructions.  
Those applications that were not prepared according to the instructions have 
to date, been accepted for peer review.  Administrative notes have been 
placed on summary statements to alert applicants of their failure to comply 
with the new application instructions.  In order to ensure that all 
applications are treated in an equitable manner, the following new procedure 
is being implemented:

Effective for the receipt dates beginning September 1, 2000, applications not 
in compliance with the modular application instructions will be returned to 
the applicant institution by the Center for Scientific Review.  Applications 
revised and resubmitted to NIH in a timely manner may  remain in the intended 
review cycle.

An application will be considered NON-COMPLIANT if:

1.  The requested direct cost budget is not in modules of $25,000 for all 
years of support for requests up to $250,000 per year.

2.  A detailed itemized categorical budget is provided.

3.  The Budget Narrative Justification page includes an itemized 
justification for one or more of the following: equipment, supplies, travel, 
other expenses, etc. but the number of modules requested in each year is the 
same, or the information is not intended to explain the request for a 
different number of modules in one or more years.

4.  OTHER SUPPORT pages are supplied, in addition to or in the absence of the 
section in the Biographical Sketch identifying “Research Projects Ongoing or 
Completed During the Last Three Years.”

5.  The Biographical Sketch lists “Current and Pending Support” instead of or 
in addition to the required information.

C.  UPDATE ON THE INITIAL PEER REVIEW OF MODULAR GRANT APPLICATIONS

The first review cycle of modular grant applications generated a wide variety 
of opinions and reactions from applicants, reviewers, and Institutional 
sponsored research officials. Comments ranged from support and encouragement 
to serious concerns involving every aspect of the modular application 
process.  In order to respond to these comments, a MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION 
UPDATE: PEER REVIEW was prepared and can be found at the Modular Grant 
website

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/modular/modular_peer_review_update.pdf

This update has been distributed to all Center for Scientific Review (CSR) 
review groups, appropriate Institute scientific review groups, and to all 
Scientific Review Administrators. It includes information on the review of 
modular applications with respect to how budget adjustments are to be 
recommended, overlap issues,  preliminary data on the number of modules and 
direct costs requested, and most importantly, historical data on the pattern 
of direct cost awards for R01s by budget category.  We are continuing to 
monitor all aspects of the process as this, the first full fiscal year of 
implementation comes to a close.
 
D.  CLARIFICATION TO THE CHECKLIST INSTRUCTIONS

Applicant institutions should calculate the Facilities and 
Administrative(F&A) costs using the current negotiated F&A rate, less 
exclusions, for the initial budget period and all future budget periods. It 
is not necessary to list the exclusions on the Checklist nor anywhere in the 
application.

E.  REMINDERS FOR MODULAR GRANT APPLICATIONS

1.  Budget Narrative Justification page – this is not a Form page at
this time.  Use a blank sheet to recreate the sample.
2.  Include a letter of commitment or intent if there is a 
subcontract/consortium.

3.  Biosketches should be submitted for KEY personnel, including consultants.

4.  Follow the guidance included in the PHS 398 instructions regarding page 
limitations and font size.

5.  Any RFA or PA issued since December 1, 1998 that involves modular grant 
applications will state that fact.  Any appropriate active PAs released 
before that time will also require submission in the modular format.

6.  Reviewers will be instructed to disregard any budget or budget narrative 
justifications not in compliance with the modular application instructions.    


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