Part I Overview Information

Department of Health and Human Services

Participating Organizations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), (http://www.ahrq.gov/)

Components of Participating Organizations
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations (OEREP), (http://www.ahrq.gov/about/organix.htm)

Title:  Small Grant Program for Conference Support (R13)

Note: The policies, guidelines, terms, and conditions stated in this announcement may differ from those used by the NIH.

Announcement Type
This is a re-issue of PAR-05-123.

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

NOTICE: Applications submitted in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Federal assistance must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) using the SF424 (R&R) forms and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

APPLICATIONS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED IN PAPER FORMAT.

This FOA must be read in conjunction with the application guidelines included with this announcement in Grants.gov Apply for Grants (hereafter called Grants.gov/Apply).

A registration process is necessary before submission and should be started at least two weeks in advance of the planned submission See Section IV.

Program Announcement (PA) Number: PA-06-074

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
93.226 (for all grants & Cooperative Agreements)

Key Dates
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Opening Date: November 21, 2005 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
Application SUBMISSION Dates(s): December 20, February 20, April 20, June 20 August 20, October 20, annually (beginning December 20, 2005 and ending October 20, 2008)
Peer Review Date(s): within 4 months of submission
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  within 5 months of submission
Date of conference: Within 12 months of start date of award
Conference Summary: Within 90 days after the conference dates
Expiration Date: New Date August 22, 2009 (per issuance of PA-09-231) (Changed to October 21, 2009 per NOT-HS-08-010) (Original Date: October 21, 2008)

Due Dates for E.O. 12372
Not Applicable

Additional Overview Content

Executive Summary

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), announces its continued interest in supporting conferences through its Small Grant Program for Conference Support. AHRQ seeks to support conferences that help to further its mission to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The types of conferences eligible for support include: 1) Research development - conferences where issues or challenges in the delivery of health services are defined and a research agenda or strategy for studying them is developed; 2) Design and methodology - conferences where methodological and technical issues of major importance in the field of health services research are addressed or new designs and methodologies are developed; 3) Dissemination conferences - where research findings are summarized and communicated broadly to organizations and individuals that have the capability to use the information to improve the outcomes, quality, access to, and cost and utilization of health care services; and/or, 4) Research Training, Infrastructure and Career Development-conferences where research faculty and students are brought together with users of research to develop, share and disseminate research products, experiences, curricula, syllabi, approaches or core competencies required to train individuals from multi- and interdisciplinary backgrounds or prepare developing or emerging research institutions to conduct and translate research related to fostering improvements in health care delivery in the US.

AHRQ is especially interested in supporting conferences that demonstrate strategies which include plans for disseminating conference materials and products beyond the participants attending the event. Such strategies might include, but are not limited to, submitting articles for publication, posting information on a Web site, and seeking formal opportunities to discuss conference information with others.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will use the conference grant (R13) award mechanism. AHRQ small conference grants are those with direct costs of $50,000 or less over the project period. Applicants may request full or partial support for conferences. Requests for partial support are encouraged and the peer review will consider the overall structure and design of the conference as well as the sub-component for which support is being requested. AHRQ encourages applicants to seek co-sponsorship of conferences.  As an applicant, you will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project.

Applications may be submitted by domestic (U.S.) public and private nonprofit organizations, including universities, clinics, units of State and local governments, tribes, foundations, and scientific or professional societies. An individual is not eligible to receive a grant in support of a conference. In the case of an international conference, the U.S. representative organization of an established international scientific or professional society is the eligible grantee. Grant funds may not be used to provide general support for international conferences held outside the United States or Canada. However, grant funds may be awarded to support specific aspects of an international conference held outside the United States or Canada.

Applications must be prepared using the SF 424 (R&R) research and related grant application instructions and forms Applicants must download the SF-424 (R&R) application forms and instructions for this FOA through the Grants.gov/Apply web site (see  http://www.grants.gov/Apply)

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY 301-451-5936.

Table of Contents

Part I Overview Information

Part II Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
  1. Research Objectives

Section II. Award Information
  1. Mechanism of Support
  2. Funds Available

Section III. Eligibility Information
   1. Eligible Applicants
          A. Eligible Institutions
          B. Eligible Individuals
   2. Cost Sharing or Matching
   3. Other - Special Eligibility Criteria

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
 1. Request Application Information
 2. Content and Form of Application Submission
 3. Submission Dates and Times
   A. Submission, Review and Anticipated Start Dates
     1. Letter of Intent
   B. Sending an Application to the AHRQ
   C. Application Processing
 4. Intergovernmental Review
 5. Funding Restrictions
 6. Other Submission Requirements

Section V. Application Review Information
 1. Criteria
 2. Review and Selection Process
   A. Additional Review Criteria
   B. Additional Review Considerations
   C. Sharing Research Data
   D. Sharing Research Resources
 3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Section VI. Award Administration Information
 1. Award Notices
 2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
 3. Reporting

Section VII. Agency Contact(s)
 1. Scientific/Research Contact(s)
 2. Peer Review Contact(s)
 3. Financial/ Grants Management Contact(s)

Section VIII. Other Information - Required Federal Citations

Part II - Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

1. Research Objectives

Purpose

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), announces its continued interest in supporting conferences through its Small Conference Grant Program. AHRQ small conference grants are those with direct costs of $50,000 or less over the project period. This Program is intended to complement and promote AHRQ's core research by providing a mechanism for Agency stakeholders and others to (1) develop health services research agendas and identify strategies and mechanisms for studying them, (2) discuss and develop consensus around health services research methodological and technical issues, (3) disseminate health services research information for formulating or evaluating health policy, managing health care programs, and using or purchasing health services, and (4) develop partnerships with stakeholder organizations and building their capacity to participate in research activities and using the results of health services research.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement describes the procedures and criteria for the Program. It updates and supersedes the "Small Grant Program for Conference Support,”  PA 05-123, published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on June 15, 2005.

See Section VIII. Other Information – Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

Conference Objectives

AHRQ seeks to support conferences that help to further its mission to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The types of conferences eligible for support include:

1) Research development - conferences where issues or problems in the delivery of health services are defined and a research agenda or strategy for studying them is developed;

2) Design and methodology - conferences where methodological and technical issues of major importance in the field of health services research are addressed or new designs and methodologies are developed;

3) Dissemination conferences - where research findings are summarized and communicated broadly to organizations and individuals that have the capability to use the information to improve the outcomes, quality, access to, and cost and utilization of health care services; and,

4) Research Training, Infrastructure and Career Development-conferences where research faculty and students are brought together with users of research to develop, share and disseminate research products, experiences, curricula, syllabi, approaches or core competencies required to train individuals from multi- and interdisciplinary backgrounds or prepare developing or emerging research institutions to conduct and translate research related to fostering improvements in health care delivery in the US.

AHRQ is especially interested in supporting conferences that demonstrate strategies which include plans for disseminating conference materials and products beyond the participants attending the event. Such strategies might include, but are not limited to, submitting articles for publication, posting information on a Web site, and seeking formal opportunities to discuss conference information with others.

See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

Section II. Award Information

1. Mechanism of Support

This funding opportunity will use the conference grant ( R13 ) award mechanism. As an applicant, you will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project.

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process. Applications submitted in modular format will be returned without review.

Use the SF424 (R&R) Budget Component described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Package and Instructions Guide.

2. Funds Available

The total direct costs awarded under this Funding Opportunity Announcement for conferences must not exceed $50,000 for the entire project period.  AHRQ encourages applicants to request partial conference support.

Conference grant applications requesting more than $50,000 direct costs must be sent in accordance with the “AHRQ Grant Program for Large Conference Support” PA (PA-03-117) for large conference grants, published in the NIH Guide May 8, 2003.  Also see “Budget Limitation on AHRQ Large Research and Conference Grant Applications (NOT-HS-04-007), published in the NIH Guide August 5, 2004.

Large conference grant applications are reviewed using a different procedure than the one described herein. These Funding Opportunity Announcements are available from AHRQ's web site: http://www.ahrq.gov/ (Funding Opportunities).  

Because the nature and scope of the proposed conferences will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary. AHRQ small conference grant awards typically average $25,000.  Although the financial plans of the AHRQ provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are contingent upon the availability of funds and the receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

 Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

1.A. Eligible Institutions

You may submit (an) application(s) if your organization has any of the following characteristics:

For the purpose of this FOA, AHRQ will make grants only to non-profit organizations. For-profit organizations may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only. Organizations described in sections 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying are not eligible.

Applications may be submitted by domestic (U.S.) public and private nonprofit organizations, including universities, clinics, units of State and local governments, tribes, foundations, scientific or professional societies. An individual is not eligible to receive a grant in support of a conference. In the case of an international conference, the U.S. representative organization of an established international scientific or professional society is the eligible grantee. Grant funds may not be used to provide general support for international conferences held outside the United States or Canada. However, grant funds may be awarded to support specific aspects of an international conference held outside the United States or Canada.

Applicants may request full or partial support for conferences. Partial support is encouraged and the peer review will consider the overall structure and design of the conference as well as the sub-component for which support is being requested.

1.B. Eligible Individuals

Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed conference is invited to work with their institution to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ programs.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

AHRQ does not require cost sharing for applications submitted in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement.

3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Not applicable.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

Registration and Instructions for Submission via Grants.gov

To download an Application Package and Instructions for completing the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) Forms for this FOA, link to http://www.grants.gov/Apply/ and follow the directions provided on that site.

A one-time registration is required for institutions at both:

The Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) should work with their institutions/organizations to make sure they are registered in the NIH Commons.

Several additional separate actions are required before an applicant can submit an application through Grants.gov. See "Preparing for Electronic Submission" at http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/preparing.htm.

Several of the steps of the registration process could take up to two weeks. Therefore, applicants should immediately check with their business official to determine whether their institution is already registered in both Grants.gov and the NIH eRA Commons.  

Note: For some conference applications, the PD/PI identified is not an employee of the applicant organization.  For other conferences, the PD/PI is an employee of the applicant organization.  Therefore, for electronic receipt, applicants have the following two options:

a)   Conference applicant organizations/institutions can name a scientific director who is an employee of the organization/institution and register that individual in the Commons.  It is important to note that only the named scientific director at the institution will be able to access the Summary Statement, priority score, etc.  If the applicant names someone else to be the scientific director for the conference, the applicant organization is responsible for sharing that information with the other individual (PD/PI).

b).  Conference applicants/institutions may continue to use an "affiliated" individual as the PD/PI.  In this case, the applicant organization will need to officially affiliate the PD/PI with the conference organization in the Commons. 

Following are the steps to affiliate a PD/PI to an institution:

1) PD/PI gives Commons user ID and email address to the administrator of the new institution. (The email address must be the one that is contained in the Personal Profile for the PI.)

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

3) Administrator selects "Administration" tab and then "Accounts" tab.

4) Administrator selects "Create Affiliation" tab.

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

Note: The account cannot have any other roles attached to it other than the PD/PI.

1. Request Application Information

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application forms and instructions for this FOA through the Grants.gov Apply http://www.grants.gov/Apply Web site.

Note: Only the forms package directly attached to a specific FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA), although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.

For further assistance contact GrantsInfo, Telephone (301) 435-0714, Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY 301-451-5936.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Prepare all applications using the SF424 (R&R) application forms and instructions in accordance with the Application Guide. The SF424 (R&R) application is comprised of data arranged in separate components. Some components are required, others are optional. The forms package associated with this announcement in Grants.gov APPLY will include all applicable components, required and optional. A completed application in response to this announcement will include the following components:

Required Components:
            SF424 (R&R) (An application cover component)
            Research & Related Other Project Information
            Research & Related Senior/Key Person
            Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations
            Research & Related Budget

            PHS398 Cover Page Supplement
            PHS398 Research Plan
            PHS398 Checklist

Optional Components:
                PHS398 Cover Letter File

 Additional Instructions

The following instructions are to be used in conjunction with the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide accompanying the SF424 (R&R) application form:

SF424 (R&R) Cover Component.  Enter the title of the conference or scientific meeting on line item 11.   

Research and Related Project/Performance Site Locations. Enter the site of the conference or meeting as the Performance Site.

Research and Related Other Project Information Component:   Enter Abstract on line item 6.  The proposed date for the conference should be included in the abstract.

Research and Related Senior/Key Person:  Personnel are defined as the PD/PI and those responsible for the scientific planning and organization of the meeting.  Attach a biographical sketch for PD/PI, Co-Chair, key personnel, and confirmed key speakers.   

Research and Related Budget:  Enter the direct costs requested. Provide a narrative justification for each proposed personnel position, including role and proposed level of effort. Include information regarding efforts to obtain funding for this conference/meeting from other sources.

Allowable Costs: Salary (in proportion to the time or effort spent directly on the conference/meeting); rental of necessary equipment; travel and per diem or subsistence allowances; supplies needed for conduct of the meeting (only if received for use during the budget period); conference services; publication costs; registration fees; speakers’ fees.

Non-allowable costs: Purchase of equipment; transportation costs exceeding U.S. carrier coach class fares; visas; passports; entertainment; tips; bar charges; personal telephone calls; laundry charges; dues; honoraria or other payments for the purpose of conferring distinction or communicating respect, esteem or admiration; patient care; alterations or renovations; facilities and administrative costs/indirect costs. Please also refer to the PHS Grants Policy Statement for additional information regarding costs.

PHS 398 Research Plan Component.  Submit one attachment, which may not exceed 10 pages, under the Research Design and Methods section (line item 5). Note that this section will be called “Conference Plan” in the system-generated Table of Contents. Letters of agreement from key speakers and participants should be attached at line item 13.  The Human Subjects Sections (Items 6-10) of the PHS 398 Research Plan do not apply to conference grants; therefore, do not complete these items.

Describe plans for the appropriate involvement of priority populations (as defined in Section IV.6)  in the planning and implementation of the proposed meeting. Estimate the expected size and composition of the audience, as well as the method of selection. Describe plans for publicizing the meeting and publication of the proceedings. If this is one of a series of periodic meetings held by a permanent sponsoring organization, briefly describe and evaluate the last meeting in the series.

Use this section of the application to describe the objectives, specific program, and logistical arrangements for the meeting. Describe the format and agenda, including the principal topics to be covered, problems to be addressed, and developments or contributions the meeting might stimulate. Provide a detailed justification for the meeting, including the scientific need, timeliness, and usefulness of the meeting to the scientific community. Describe the composition and role of the organizing committee, and provide the names and credentials of key participants in the meeting, including the basis for their selection and documentation of their agreement to participate. Describe the expected product(s) resulting from the conference, including how these products would be disseminated beyond those attending the conference.  Describe plans for evaluating the conference’s success.

The narrative portion may not exceed 10 pages in length and must include all material related to the project justification. A conference agenda or draft agenda, should be added in the PHS 398 Research Plan Component (line item 15).

PHS 398 Checklist Component. The checklist is required; however, no information regarding F&A should be included as this is not an allowable cost for this mechanism.  

3. Submission Dates and Times
Applications must be received by the receipt dates described below.

3.A. Submission, Review and Anticipated Start Dates

Opening Date: November 21, 2005 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov
Application SUBMISSION Dates(s): December 20, February 20, April 20, June 20 August 20, October 20, annually (beginning December 20, 2005 and ending October 20, 2008)
Peer Review Date(s): within 4 months of submission.
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: within 5 months of submission.
Date of conference: Within 12 months of start date of award
Conference Summary: Within 90 days after the conference dates

3.A.1. Letter of Intent
Not applicable

3.B. Sending an Application to AHRQ

To submit an application in response to this FOA, applicants should access this FOA via http://www.grants.gov/Apply and follow steps 1-4. Note: Applications must only be submitted electronically
PAPER APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Two steps are required for on time submission:

1) The application must be submitted to Grants.gov by the submission date (see “Key Dates” below.)

2) Applicants must complete a verification step in the NIH eRA Commons within two business days of notification from NIH. Note: Since email can be unreliable, it is the responsibility of the applicant to periodically check on their application status in the NIH Commons.

3.C. Application Processing

Applicants are reminded to follow the submission dates cited in this FOA. Applications must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application submission date(s) described above (Section IV.3.A.) If an application is received after that date, it will not be reviewed.

Upon receipt applications will be transferred from Grants.gov to the NIH Electronic Research Administration process for validation. Both the Project Director/ Principal Investigator (PD/PI) and the Signing Official for the organization must verify the submission via Commons within 2 business days of notification of the NIH validation.

There will be immediate acknowledgement of receipt of applications via both Grants.gov and the Commons. Information related to the assignment of an application to the Scientific Review Group is also in the Commons.

Upon receipt applications will be evaluated for completeness by AHRQ staff. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

The AHRQ will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. The AHRQ will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed. This does not preclude the submission of an application already reviewed with substantial changes, but such application must include an Introduction addressing the previous critique. Note such an application is considered a "resubmission" for the SF 424 (R&R).

Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of human subjects is not required prior to peer review of an AHRQ application. The “AHRQ Revised Policy for IRB Review of Human Subjects Protocols in Grant Applications” was published in the NIH Guide on September 27, 2000. (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-hs-00-003.html).

The Funding Opportunity Announcement is also available on AHRQ's Web site http://www.ahrq.gov/  (see Funding Opportunities).

4. Intergovernmental Review

This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the PHS Grants Policy Statement.  The Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/index.html (See also Section VI.3. Reporting.)

6. Other Submission Requirements

Priority Populations

The Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999 (See http://www.ahrq.gov/hrqa99a.htm) reauthorized the Agency and directed AHRQ, in carrying out its mission, to conduct and support research and evaluations, and to support demonstration projects, with respect to the delivery of health care in inner-city and rural areas (including frontier areas); and health care for priority populations, which include low income groups; minority groups; women; children; the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life health care.  To implement this directive, AHRQ published a notice in the NIH Guide on February 28, 2003, establishing a new Agency policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations in health services research (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-03-010.html). Applicants under this FOA should address the requirements of including priority populations as specified in the Notice. 

Publication Transmittal: General AHRQ Requirements

In keeping with the Agency's efforts to translate the results of AHRQ-funded research into practice and policy, grantees are to inform the AHRQ Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) when articles from their AHRQ supported activities are accepted for publication in the professional literature. Grantees should also discuss any ideas about other dissemination and marketing efforts with OCKT staff. The goal is to ensure that efforts to disseminate research findings are coordinated with other Agency activities to maximize awareness and application of the research by potential users, including clinicians, patients, health care systems and purchasers and policymakers. This is critical when outreach to the general and trade press is involved. Contact with the media will take place in close coordination with OCKT and the press offices of the grantee's institutions. In cases when products are created (such as annual or final reports, Web-based tools, CD-ROMs), grantees will be asked to submit to OCKT a brief plan describing how the product will be publicized. An OCKT staff person will be assigned to each product and will coordinate the implementation of the plan, especially issues related to printing and electronic dissemination, and outreach to the media.

Assessment of AHRQ Grant Programs

In carrying out its stewardship of research programs, the AHRQ may request information essential to an assessment of the effectiveness of Agency research programs. Accordingly, grant recipients are hereby notified that they may be contacted after the completion of awards for periodic updates on publications resulting from AHRQ grant awards, and other information helpful in evaluating the impact of AHRQ-sponsored research.

AHRQ expects grant recipients to keep the Agency informed of publications as well as the known uses and impact of their Agency-sponsored research. Applicants are to agree to notify AHRQ immediately when a manuscript based on research supported by the grant is accepted for publication, and to provide the expected date of publication as soon as it is known, regardless of whether or not the grant award is still active.

Specific Instructions for Modular Grant applications.

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process. Applicants for funding from AHRQ should ignore application instructions concerning the Modular Grant Application and Award Process, and prepare applications using instructions for the Research and Related Budget Components of the SF 424 (R&R). Applications submitted in the Modular format will be returned without review.

Plan for Sharing Research Data
Not applicable

Sharing Research Resources
Not applicable

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria (Update: Enhanced review criteria have been issued for the evaluation of research applications received for potential FY2010 funding and thereafter - see NOT-OD-09-025).

Administrative Criteria: Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by AHRQ for completeness and responsiveness. Merit Review Criteria are described in Section V.2 below.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened in accordance with standard AHRQ peer review procedures. Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications or applications not following instructions given in this Funding Opportunity Announcement will be returned to the applicant without further consideration.

As part of the merit review, all applications will:

The applications will be assessed based on the likelihood that the proposed conference will have a substantial impact. The application's overall score will reflect how well the following criteria are addressed in the application, with weighting for different criteria as appropriate for each application.

Applications submitted in response to a FOA will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

Conditions of Award

In addition to standard grant requirements, the grantee is required to comply with the following terms and conditions included in the Notice of Grant Award.

1. Agreement for up to 5 AHRQ staff to attend the conference without paying a registration fee.

2. Agreement to hold the conference within 12 months of the start date of the award.

3. The understanding that under no circumstance will support be provided for conferences held prior to the start date of grant award.

4. Agreement to submit an original and two copies of an executive summary and one-page abstract of the conference and summary of participant's evaluation ratings/comments, which includes discussion of what you learned and what you might do differently in the future, to AHRQ no later than 90 days after the dates of the conference. At the time of the award, the project officer will determine how many copies of the conference products will be required for distribution to AHRQ staff and other DHHS colleagues.

5. To the extent relevant to the particular conference design, topic and goal, agreement to dissemination germane AHRQ product(s).

6. Agreement to list AHRQ as a meeting supporter on conference materials, subsequent proceedings and references.

The application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Review Criteria

1. Significance.  Does this conference address an important problem? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced? What will be the effect of this conference on the concepts or methods that drive this field?

A. The topic selected must complement existing Agency research activities and interests.

B. The conference must relate clearly and directly to the field of health services research and its goal of developing and translating research to improve our health care system.

C. The conference topic and objective(s) must be succinctly and clearly stated, and reflected in all aspects of the conference proposal.

D. Conference sessions should include health services research related, but not limited, to issues such as:

E. The conference should address issues related to priority populations--low income groups; racial and ethnic minority groups; women; children; the elderly; individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and those who need chronic care and end-of-life health care; and individuals living in inner-city, rural, and frontier areas--to the extent appropriate to the conference topic.

F. The topic selected must be important to Agency stakeholders such as consumers and patients; clinicians and other providers; institutions; health plans; purchasers; and policymakers in all sectors (e.g., Federal, State and local governments; voluntary associations; international organizations; and foundations).

G. The products of the conference should have the potential to influence future research, policy, practice,  training of health services researchers, or enhance AHRQ's collaborative relationships.  

H.  Expected conference outcomes should have a national impact or make a significant contribution to a particular field. If the conference is state or regionally based, plans for a broad dissemination of conference materials and some indication of national relevance must be included.

2. Approach.   Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and evaluation plan adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the conference? This should be described in the narrative.

A. The conference must be for the purpose of one of the following: disseminate research results, formulate a research agenda, develop a research methodology or research training, infrastructure and career development.

B. If the meeting format includes a call for abstracts, the application should include a summary of the process for soliciting, reviewing and selecting research to be presented at the conference.

C. The conference format must support the conference purpose and facilitate expected outcomes.

D. The planning committee should include representation from the research and research-user communities, and include a process for outreach to a subset of the conference target audience. To the extent consistent with the conference design, topic and goal(s), the planning process also should include outreach to people of differing views, and outreach to representatives of one or more of the Agency priority populations.

E. Speakers selected or proposed, or criteria for speaker selection, must be appropriate for the session topic. A plan should be in place to identify other presenters if those originally sought are unavailable.

F. Evaluation of the conference results must be included in the design.

G. A draft agenda, with speakers, should be included.

3. Innovation.   Does the conference employ novel concepts, approaches or methods? Are the aims original and innovative? Does the project challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

4. Investigators.   Is the principal investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this conference? Is the conference proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and other researchers (if any)?

Conference planning staff and/or advisors must include persons with the requisite education, training and experience.

5. Environment.   Is there evidence of institutional support?

The applicant organization must have the institutional resources, infrastructure, and demonstrated capacity to support the proposed conference.

6. Budget.   Is the proposed project budget and the requested period of support reasonable in relation to the proposed conference? The budget must be adequate to support the conference design and must be justified.

Other resources necessary to produce the intended outcome should have been identified or obtained.

2.A. Additional Review Criteria:

In addition to the above criteria, the following items will be considered in the determination of technical merit

Dissemination Activities

1. Plans must have been made to disseminate conference products to an audience broader than the conference participants.

2. To the extent relevant to the particular conference topic, goal and format, the application should address opportunities for dissemination of germane AHRQ product(s), i.e., research findings and publications, databases, tools.

3. For applicants who have been funded by AHRQ within the past three years, evidence of dissemination and outcomes from previous conference(s) must be discussed.

Inclusion: The adequacy of plans to address the needs of both genders, racial and ethnic groups (and subgroups), and children as appropriate for the aims of the conference. Adequacy of attention to other populations of special priority to AHRQ (see discussion on Priority Populations in the section on Special Requirements, above, and Inclusion Criteria included in the section on Required Federal Citations, below.)   

Special Budget Requirements

Applications may request full or partial support for conferences. AHRQ can support up to $50,000 in direct cost with the small conference grant program.  AHRQ small conference grant awards typically average $25,000.  However, applicants are encouraged to obtain multiple sources of funding as a means of maximizing limited AHRQ funds. Where partial support of a conference is requested from AHRQ, peer reviewers will consider the overall structure and design of the conference as well as the sub-component for which support is being requested. Sources and amounts of other funding should be clearly identified. Applications must include a composite budget listing costs by category to be provided by other sources as well as costs for which coverage is being requested from AHRQ.

Allowable and Unallowable Costs

Expenses allowed under the Small Grant Program for Conference Support follow the guidelines described in the form SF 424 (R&R), and PHS Grants Policy Statement (April 1, 1994) Appendix 7. Areas of particular relevance to conference grants and exceptions to the general policies are described below.

Direct Cost Expenditures

a. Equipment. Grant funds may be used for rental of necessary equipment. Funds may not be used for the purchase of equipment. Rental expenses should be listed under the other expenses category.

b. Travel. Proposed per diem or subsistence allowances must be reasonable and will be limited to the days of attendance at the conference plus actual travel time required to reach the conference location by the most direct route available. Travel costs are limited to the extent provided for by formal institutional travel policy. If the grantee institution has no formal travel policy, the Department of Health and Human Services travel regulations shall be applied in determining the amount of travel chargeable to grant funds. Where meals and/or lodging are furnished without charge or at a nominal cost (e.g., as part of the registration fee), the proposed per diem or subsistence allowance must take this into consideration. Transportation costs for those attending and participating in the conference and paid with grant funds may not exceed economy class fares. U.S. carriers must be used where possible. For local participants in the conference, grant funds may not be used to pay per diem or expenses other than local mileage.

c. Supplies. Grant funds may be used for the purchase of conference supplies, provided the supplies are received and used during the project period.

d. Conference Services. Grant funds may be used for necessary recording of proceedings, simultaneous translation, and subsequent transcriptions.

e. Publication Costs. Grant funds may be used to pay for the publication and dissemination of conference proceedings.

f. Registration Fees. Registration fees, when paid by the grantee to other organizations on behalf of attendees, may be paid from grant funds, provided such fees cover only those allowable costs properly chargeable to the grant.

g. Entertainment and Personal Expenses. Costs of amusement, diversion, social activities, ceremonial, and related incidental costs such as bar charges and personal telephone calls of participants or guests cannot be charged to the grant.

h. Federal Employees. Grant funds may not be used to cover the cost of travel or any payment to a full-time Federal employee, except when that employee is on leave without pay status from his or her employing office.

i. Honoraria. Honoraria or other payments given for the purpose of conferring distinction on or to symbolize respect, esteem, or admiration may not be paid from grant funds. Speaker fees for services rendered, however, are allowable.

j. Alteration and Renovations. Grant funds may not be used to support facility alteration or renovations of any kind.

Facilities and Administration Costs (F&A) F&A costs (indirect costs) will not be allowed on grants in support of conferences.

2.B. Additional Review Considerations
Not applicable

2.C. Sharing Research Data

Data Confidentiality

Pursuant to section 924(c) of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 299c- 3(c)), information obtained in the course of any AHRQ supported-study that identifies an individual or entity must be treated as confidential in accordance with any explicit or implicit promises made regarding the possible uses and disclosures of such data. There are now civil monetary penalties for violation of this confidentiality statute [42 U.S.C.299c-3(d)). In the Human Subjects section of the application, applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the identifying information to be collected. The description of the procedures should include a discussion of who will be permitted access to the information, both raw data and machine readable files, and how personal identifiers and other identifying or identifiable data will be restricted and safeguarded. Identifiable patient health information collected by grantees under this FOA will also be managed in accordance with 42 CFR Parts 160 and 164, federal regulations pertaining to the privacy of protected health information. These privacy regulations, developed by the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) became mandatory for covered entities on April 14, 2003. These regulations serve to limit the disclosure of personally identifiable patient information by covered entities and define when and how such information can be disclosed e.g., to researchers. Thus, for example, health care plans, will require either patient authorization of disclosures of identifiable information to be made to researchers or waivers of such authorizations obtained from an IRB or Privacy Board (defined in the regulations) satisfied that any identifiable health information will be appropriately safeguarded by the investigators. The HHS Office of Civil Rights is the enforcement body for this regulation. Additional information about the regulations, their implementation, and alternative methods of permissible disclosures to researchers (limited data sets with data use agreements, de-identified data sets, data about deceased persons, and data use to develop protocols) can be obtained from: http://www.aspe.hhs.gov/admnsimp/ or http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/.

The awardee should ensure that computer systems containing confidential data have a level and scope of security that equals or exceeds those established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III - Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published several implementation guides for this circular. They are: An Introduction to Computer Security: The NIST Handbook; Generally Accepted Principals and Practices for Securing Information Technology Systems; and Guide for Developing Security Plans for Information Technology Systems. The circular and guides are available on the web at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-12/. The applicability and intended means of applying these confidentiality and security standards to subcontractors and vendors, if any, should be addressed in the application.

2.D. Sharing Research Resources

Rights in Data

AHRQ grantees may copyright, unless otherwise provided in grant awards, or seek patents, as appropriate, for final and interim products and materials including, but not limited to, methodological tools, measures, software with documentation, literature searches, and analyses, which are developed in whole or in part with AHRQ funds. Such copyrights and patents are subject to a worldwide irrevocable Federal government license to use and permit others to use these products and materials for government purposes. In accordance with its legislative dissemination mandate, AHRQ purposes may include, subject to statutory confidentiality protections, making project materials, databases, results, and algorithms available for verification or replication by other researchers; and subject to AHRQ budget constraints, final products may be made available to the health care community and the public by AHRQ or its agents, if such distribution would significantly increase access to a product and thereby produce substantial or valuable public health benefits. Ordinarily, to accomplish distribution, AHRQ publicizes research findings but relies on grantees to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and to market grant-supported products. AHRQ's Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) wishes to be consulted in advance of publication in order to coordinate these issuances with other AHRQ dissemination activities. Important legal rights and requirements applicable to AHRQ grantees are set out or referenced in the AHRQ's grants regulation at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A (Available in libraries and from the GPO's website http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html).

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Generally, applicants should anticipate a 5 month timeframe from the application submission date to the funding decision.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

If an award is to be made, a formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document.  

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA  are at the recipient's risk. Notification will be made electronically to the designated administrative/institutional official. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All AHRQ grant and cooperative agreement awards are subject to the terms and conditions of the Public Health Service (PHS) Grants Policy Statement as part of the notice of grant award, found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/index.html. For terms of the award, see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/5award.htm#terms, and see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/5award.htm#fund for the award and funding process.

3. Reporting

Closeout Reporting Requirements  

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage your inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Inquiries may fall into three areas: scientific/research, peer review, and financial or grants management issues:

1. Scientific/Research Contacts:

Direct your questions about scientific/research issues, including information on the inclusion of women, minorities, and children, and other priority populations to:

Ruth Ann Hadley
Small Conference Grants Administrator
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: 301-427-1391
FAX: 301-427-1562
Email: rhadley@AHRQ.gov

Direct your questions regarding specific program matters to the offices listed below by specific program areas:

Public Health Preparedness
Sally Phillips, R.N., Ph.D.
Center for Primary Care, Prevention, and Clinical Partnerships
301-427-1571
sphillip@ahrq.gov

Data Development
Doris Lefkowitz, Ph.D.
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends
301-427-1477
dlefkowi@ahrq.gov

Chronic Care Management
David Atkins, M.D.
Center for Outcomes and Evidence
301-427-1608
datkins@ahrq.gov

Socio-Economics of Health Care
Claudia Steiner, MD, MPH.
Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets
301-427-1407
csteiner@ahrq.gov

Joel Cohen, Ph.D.
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends
301-427-1659
jcohen@ahrq.gov

Health Information Technology
Jon White
Center for Primary Care, Prevention, and Clinical Partnerships
301-427-1171
jon.white@ahrq.hhs.gov

OR

Carol Cain
Center for Primary Care, Prevention, and Clinical Partnerships
301-427-1622
carol.cain@ahrq.hhs.gov

Quality and Safety of Patient Care
Marge Keyes
Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
301-427-1333
mkeyes@ahrq.gov

Long Term Care
DEB Potter, M.S.
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends
301-427-1564
dpotter@ahrq.gov

William Spector, Ph.D.
Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets
301-427-1446
wspector@ahrq.gov

Pharmaceutical Outcomes
Scott R. Smith, R.Ph., Ph.D.
Center for Outcomes and Evidence
301-427-1511
ssmith@ahrq.gov

Clinical Prevention
Beth Edgerton, M.D., MPH.
Center for Primary Care, Prevention, and Clinical Partnerships
301-427-1638
eedgerto@ahrq.gov

Training and Career Development
Karen Rudzinski, Ph.D.
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
301-427-1529
krudzins@ahrq.gov

Questions regarding AHRQ priority populations should be directed as follows:

Minority Health
Francis Chesley, M.D.
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
301-427-1449
fchesley@ahrq.gov

Children's Health
Denise Dougherty, Ph.D.
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
301-427-1868
ddougher@ahrq.gov

Populations with Disabilities
Harvey Schwartz, Ph.D.
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
301-427-1552
hschwartz@ahrq.gov

Women's Health
Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo, M.D., Ph.D.
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
301-427-1550
rcorrea@ahrq.gov

Rural Populations Health
Lisa Dolan.
Center for Primary Care, Prevention, and Clinical Partnerships
301-427-1588
ldolan@ahrq.gov

Inner City and Low Income Populations Health
Francis Chesley, M.D.
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
301-427-1449
fchesley@ahrq.gov

Older Adult Health
William Spector, Ph.D.
Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets
301-427-1446
wspector@ahrq.gov

Populations Needing End of Life Care
Ronda Hughes, Ph.D.
Center for Primary Care, Prevention, and Clinical Partnerships
301-427-1578
rhughes@ahrq.gov

2. Peer Review Contacts:

Direct your questions about peer review issues to:

Ruth Ann Hadley
Small Conference Grants Administrator
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: 301-427-1391
FAX: 301-427-1562
Email: rhadley@AHRQ.gov

3. Financial or Grants Management Contacts:

Direct your questions about financial or grants management matters to:

Marc Pitts
Office of Performance Accountability Resources and Technology/DGM
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1704
FAX: (301) 427-1462
Email: Mpitts@ahrq.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Required Federal Citations

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children in Research Study Populations:
Women and members of minority groups are included in all AHRQ-supported or AHRQ–assisted research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification are provided that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the UPDATED "NIH Guidelines on the Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research," published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on August 2, 2000 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-od-00-048.html). A complete copy of the updated Guidelines is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_update.htm. To the extent possible, AHRQ requires adherence to these NIH Guidelines.

Investigators may obtain copies from the above sources or from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, listed under INQUIRIES, or from the NIH Guide Web site http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/index.html. AHRQ Program staff may also provide additional information concerning these policies (see INQUIRIES).

AHRQ also encourages investigators to consider including children in study populations, as appropriate.

Access to Research Data through the Freedom of Information Act:
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to provide access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. If no Federal act is taken, having the force and effect of law, in reliance upon an AHRQ-supported research project, the underlying data is not subject to this disclosure requirement. Furthermore, even if a Federal regulation action is taken in reliance on AHRQ-supported data under FOIA, 5 USC 552(b), disclosure of statutorily protected confidential identifiable data from such study is exempted from disclosure under "the (b)(3) exemption." It is important for applicants to understand the scope of this requirement and its limited potential impact on data collected with AHRQ support. Proprietary data might also be exempted from FOIA disclosure requirements under "the (b)(4) exemption", for example, if it constituted trade secrets or commercial information collected. NIH has provided general related guidance at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm which does not include discussion of the exception applicable to confidential identifiable data collected under AHRQ's authorities.

Should applicants wish to place data collected under this FOA in a public archive, which can provide protections for the data (e.g., as required by the confidentiality statute applicable to AHRQ supported projects, 42 U.S.C. 299c-3(c)) and manage the distribution of non-identifiable data for an indefinite period of time, they may. The application should include a description of any archiving plan in the study design and include information about this in the budget justification section of the application. In addition, applicants should consider how to structure informed consent statements or other human subject protection procedures to permit or restrict disclosures of identifiable data, as warranted.

Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information:
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued the last modification the "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information", on August 14, 2002. This regulation was mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 which governs the protection of individually identifiable health information. It is administered and enforced by the DHHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Mandatory compliance with the Privacy Rule (for those classified under the Rule as "covered entities") must begin by April 14, 2003 (with the exception of small health plans which have an extra year to comply).

Decisions about applicability and implementation of the Privacy Rule reside with covered entities. The OCR website (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/) provides information on the Privacy Rule, including a complete Regulation Text and a set of decision tools that may be used to determine whether a researcher is a staff of a covered entity. Project Officers will assist grantees in resolving questions about the applicability of HIPAA requirements.

Healthy People 2010:
The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2010," a PHS-led national activity for setting health improvement priorities for the United States. AHRQ encourages applicants to submit grant applications with relevance to the specific objectives of this initiative. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.

Authority and Regulations:
This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/, Number 93.226. Awards are made under Title IX of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 299-299c-7) as amended by P.L. 106-129 (1999). Awards are administered under the PHS Grants Policy Statement and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 67, Subpart A, and 45 CFR Parts 74 or 92.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


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