Why is NIH implementing the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)?
The RPPR resulted from an initiative of the Research Business Models (RBM) Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, a committee of the National Science and Technology Council. One of the RBM Subcommittee’s priority areas is to create greater consistency in the administration of Federal research awards. Given the increasing complexity of interdisciplinary and interagency research, it is important for Federal agencies to manage awards in a similar fashion. All agencies that support research and research-related activities are required to replace existing interim performance reporting formats with the RPPR.
How can we learn more about the RPPR?
NIH RPPR resources for grantees are posted at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/rppr/index.htm, and include an archive of the RPPR Training for Grantees Webinar and related Power Point slides, the RPPR Instruction Guide, Screen Shots of the R01-like RPPR, and a description of how the RPPR differs from eSNAP.
Will other agencies be using eRA RPPR module?
Other Public Health Service (PHS) agencies that will be adopting the NIH eRA RPPR module in the near future are: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. Each of these agencies will announce their schedule for implementation as their plans are finalized. All other agencies are responsible for implementing the RPPR in accordance with the OSTP/OMB Policy Letter; agency implementation plans are posted at: http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/rppr/index.jsp.
Are NIH grantees required to use the RPPR?
At this time, the RPPR is optional for NIH grantees to use when submitting progress reports for awards issued under the Streamlined Noncompeting Award Process (SNAP) provisions, and for Fellowship awards. Grantees should consult the Notice of Award to determine if the SNAP provisions are applicable. In the spring of 2013 NIH expects to eliminate the eSNAP module in the eRA Commons and all SNAP awards will be required to use the RPPR to submit progress reports. Similarly, NIH intends to abolish the PHS 416-9, NRSA Individual Fellowship Progress Report for Continuation Support, and require use of the RPPR for Fellowship progress reports.
When will the RPPR be available for non-SNAP awards?
NIH is currently working on implementation of the RPPR for non-SNAP awards and will keep grantees informed through the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Non-SNAP awards require a detailed budget in the annual progress report. The OMB RPPR Final Format requires use of the SF 424 R&R budget forms and NIH is working to accommodate electronic submission of the SF 424 (R&R) budget form and multi-project progress reports. Accordingly, at this time any progress report for an award that requires an annual budget submission (e.g., Training (T) awards, most multi-project awards such as P01, P30, P50) may not use the RPPR module and will continue to use the paper PHS 2590 until further notice.
Does the RPPR automatically save information that has been entered or uploaded when the user navigates to a different component of the RPPR or to a different Commons page?
There is no automatic save feature at this time, although NIH is aware that grantees have a strong preference for such an enhancement to the RPPR. Prior to leaving an RPPR component in which the user has entered or uploaded information, the user must click “save” which appears at the top and bottom left of each screen. Even if “save” was clicked, the system will display a warning message stating “You will lose any data entered or edited if you do not click the 'Save' button at the bottom of the page before leaving the page.” The message helps users avoid inadvertently losing information that they have entered.
Does the RPPR support non-ASCII characters such as Greek letters, mathematical equations, images, and “rich” text including bold, italic, underline, superscript, subscript, etc.?
Yes and no. RPPR data is either uploaded as text attachment PDF files, or entered directly into data or text boxes. Any PDF attachment uploaded to the RPPR may include non-ASCII characters, “rich” text, or images. A number of sections of the RPPR require a PDF attachment, including B.2. (accomplishments), and C.5. (other significant products that were developed).
Data fields and text entry boxes only support ASCII characters. Although the system will allow the user to enter non-ASCII characters in RPPR data or text entry fields, upon submission of the RPPR to the agency a PDF of the progress report is system-generated and the non-ASCII characters will not appear correctly. Accordingly, use only ASCII characters in data fields and text boxes and always review the final RPPR prior to submission.
How does a PD/PI obtain authority to submit a RPPR?
Only a Signing Official (SO) may delegate authority to a PD/PI to submit a progress report for SNAP progress reports only. The steps for the SO to follow are detailed below:
Login to eRA Commons
Select the Admin menu tab from the Commons navigational bar
Select the Delegations option from the Admin menu
The My Delegates screen opens. If applicable, the My Current Delegations area of the screen displays a table of your existing delegations. If you have no current delegations, the table will indicate ‘No records were returned.’
Select the link called Institution Delegation
The Institution Delegations screen will open, displaying Current Submit Progress Report Delegations in a table at the top and Candidates for Submit Progress Report Delegation in a table at the bottom
The Candidates for Submit Progress Report Delegation table displays all users in your institution who are eligible to be granted Submit Progress Report authority
In the Candidates for Submit Progress Report Delegation table, mark the Submit Progress Report checkboxes next to the users to whom you wish to grant Submit Progress Report authority
Verify that you have selected the appropriate users and select the ‘Grant Delegation(s)’ button
The Institution Delegations screen will update to display a certification and acceptance agreement
Read the statement and verify that you are granting the delegate(s) the ability to answer the same statement on behalf of your institution by clicking the ‘I Agree’ button to confirm the delegation(s)
How does the PD/PI delegation work in the RPPR?
When the PD/PI is the current reviewer and has been delegated Progress Report Authority by the SO, the PD/PI will have the option to submit the report. As indicated above, the SO may delegate Progress Report Authority for SNAP awards only.
Who can enter data/information into the RPPR, and who can submit the RPPR to the agency?
The SO, Administrative Official (AO), PD/PI or a Commons Delegate may edit, save, view and route the RPPR. Only the SO or PD/PI with Progress Report Authority may submit a RPPR.
What is the “recipient ID” field on the Cover Page at A.4.? Will the recipient ID appear on the Notice of Award?
The Recipient ID field is for grantee use only. It allows the grantee to record an internal tracking number or identifier for its own use. It is not a mandatory field and NIH will disregard the information. The Recipient ID entered on the RPPR will not appear on the Notice of Award or be retained in any NIH database or system. It will reside only in the PDF of the RPPR generated by the system upon submission to the agency.
Are the “major goals of the project” requested in B.1 identical to the specific aims as listed in the competing application?
Major goals are the equivalent of specific aims. However, if NIH approved changes to the goals prior to award or during the reporting period, list the revised goals and objectives and explain any significant changes in approach or methods from the agency approved application or plan in B.1. The first non-competing year that an RPPR is submitted you must enter or cut and paste the major goals into the B.1 text box. In subsequent years, the major goals entered the previous year will prepopulate in B.1 and you will not be able to edit them. If the major goals have changed, you indicate in B.1.a that the major goals have changed you will be provided with a text box in which to enter the revised goals. Therefore the major goals from the previous year will appear in B.1 and the revised goals will display under B.1.a.
Can the major goals be submitted as a PDF attachment?
No. For each question in the RPPR NIH determined whether the response must be entered as data in a field, text in a text box, or provided as a PDF uploaded file. In some instances discrete data is required in order to store it in NIH systems for later analysis and reporting (e.g., E.4. dollar amount spent in foreign countries). In other instances, text boxes with a maximum number of characters are used to systematically enforce a limit on the amount of information provided. In other cases, PDFs are required because of the potential need for the grantee to provide a large amount of information (e.g., a new human subjects section). For the major goals, a text box with a limit of 8,000 characters is permitted and should prove more than sufficient. NIH’s recommended length is up to one page.
Why is there a limit of 8,000 characters (approximately 3 pages) for most text boxes but an NIH recommend length that is less (e.g. up to one page)?
Representatives from research agencies implementing the RPPR met to develop a government-wide RPPR Data Dictionary to define the structure of all of the data elements that may be collected in the RPPR. For those items where NIH adopted a text box the data dictionary standard is 8,000 characters (approximately 3 pages). NIH adopted this standard to be consistent with other agencies, but would prefer that grantees be more concise and provide less detail than allowed in 3 pages. Consequently NIH provides “recommended lengths” throughout the RPPR. The recommendations are not systematically enforced; they are agency preferences and guidance for grantees. The only systematic enforcement for text boxes is the limit of 8,000 characters as stated in the instructions.
Are there format restrictions that apply to files that are uploaded?
Only PDF files may be uploaded, and the maximum size per PDF is 6 MB. The only location in the RPPR where the user may upload multiple PDFs in response to one question is G.1. Special Notice of Award and Funding Opportunity Announcement Reporting Requirements.
I am concerned that 700 characters is not enough space to report activities associated with a Revision or Supplement (item B.3. Competitive Revision/Administrative Supplement). Where do we put this information if 700 characters is insufficient?
Under B.3 the user is provided with 700 characters to describe the specific aims for each Revision/Supplement, and 700 characters to describe the accomplishments for each Revision/Supplement. These descriptions will of necessity be brief, and NIH strongly encourages concise responses. If the Notice of Award requires more extensive reporting you may provide additional information in the uploaded attachment for G.1, Special Notice of Award and Funding Opportunity Announcement Reporting Requirements.
Is a change in Other Support required for those individuals we have identified as senior/key personnel under D.1 Participants, or only for those personnel identified in the Notice of Award?
Under D.2.c Changes in Other Support, you should provide updated active support for the PD/PI and for those individuals considered by the grantee to be senior/key to the project. Senior/key personnel are defined as individuals who contribute in a substantive measurable way to the scientific development or execution of the project, whether or not a salary is requested.
Why doesn’t the RPPR ask for IRB and IACUC approval dates?
When NIH adopted the Streamlined Non-competing Award Process (SNAP) one of the provisions for SNAP awards was that IRB and IACUC approval dates were not required as part of the SNAP submission. With the implementation of the RPPR NIH is expanding this provision to all awards regardless of SNAP designation. The expansion will affect non-SNAP awards when a progress report is submitted using the RPPR. It remains an institutional responsibility to ensure that these reviews are conducted in accordance with all Federal requirements. The Federal-wide (human subjects) and Animal Welfare Assurance numbers will continue to be maintained in the Institutional profile section of the eRA Commons. IRB and IACUC approval dates must be submitted to the NIH upon request.
Are we required to report any publication resulting directly from the award, or only those covered by the Public Access Policy?
You must report any publication, or manuscript accepted for publication in a journal or other publication during the reporting period resulting directly from the award, even if it is not covered by the Public Access Policy.
We have publications appearing as “non-compliant” in C.1.under “All publications associated with this project in My NCBI.” We would like to uncheck the box associating the publication with the progress report so as not to submit a progress report with a publication that is not in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. What are the implications of unchecking the box?
All publications arising from an award during the reporting period must be reported regardless of the public access status of the publication. Information in the RPPR must be complete and accurate.
The system will allow the RPPR to be submitted with non-compliant publications. However, the system will provide a Warning message, and following submission to the agency the PD/PI will receive an automated email requiring verification that all publications are in compliance with the Public Access Policy no later than two weeks prior to the start date of the next budget period. The AO and SO indicated on the Cover Page of the RPPR will receive copies of this email. The deadline of two weeks prior to the start date of the next budget period should provide sufficient time to bring the publication(s) into compliance and report that to NIH. The SO may respond either by using the new PRAM link on the eRA Commons Status page (see PRAM below), or in an email to the Grants Management Specialist .
How do PD/PIs submit their publications to PubMed Central (PMC) so that they are compliant with the NIH Public Access Policy at the time the RPPR is submitted?
See the NIH Public Access Policy page.
Often publications are associated with 2 or more reporting periods. Shouldn’t we report them for each reporting period?
You are only required to report a publication one time per award.
Can we manually add publications in C.1 Publications? If not, can we include them in the uploaded PDF for B.2 Accomplishments?
All publications must be entered into the PD/PI’s My NCBI account using the bibliography management tool My Bibliography. The publications will then automatically appear in the RPPR under C.1. It is not possible to manually add publications in C.1. Publications listed in other parts of the progress report are not captured electronically and will not be listed as resulting from the award in RePORT. To manually add citations in a My NCBI account see the response to the next question.
We have a project that has generated publications that have been accepted for publication, but neither manuscript has actually been published so they are not available to link from My NCBI. If I answer “yes” to C.1. “Are there publications or manuscripts accepted for publication in a journal or other publication…?” then I get an error because the publication is not in My NCBI. The system doesn’t allow me to submit the RPPR with an error.
You may add the citation manually to My NCBI by clicking the Add Citation button in My Bibliography, and selecting “manual citation’. Enter the details, including the journal, and specify the paper as ‘in press’. This will make the paper available in the RPPR selection window.
My NCBI will continually look for the paper in PubMed, and seek your permission to update the “in press” record with the publication details once the paper is published.
How do I report publications that I did not author but resulted from the award during the reporting period (e.g., by post-doc trainees working in my lab)?
You may put citations into the “Other Citations” collection in My NCBI. The RPPR will display all publications from the My Bibliography and the Other Citations collections. The Other Citations collection was created expressly to allow the PI to maintain additional lists of publications (e.g., the results of a search on a specific topic, publications by other authors, etc.).
Where can I find general training materials for My NCBI and My Bibliography?
Why is NIH asking that person months be rounded to the nearest whole month in Section D.1? Doesn’t this lack of specificity cause confusion for the grantee and for the agency?
Rounding effort to the nearest whole person month is the new federal standard promulgated for interim progress reports by OMB in the RPPR Final Format. In competing applications grantees will continue to identify person months using a decimal for the purpose of determining salary requests and identifying overlap, and also will need to continue to maintain separate institutional systems for effort reporting and payroll purposes as required by applicable cost principles. However, for interim reporting purposes the new standard allows a reasonable variance of 0.5 and is expected to generate less confusion than requiring the level of granularity provided by the 10th or 100th decimal.
Although by NIH definition PD/PI effort must be greater than zero, in rare instances where the PD/PI has 0.4 person month or less, the grantee will need to report zero person month in the RPPR.
The instructions for D.1 indicate that we should report the PD/PI and each person who has worked at least one person month on the project. Since we are rounding to the nearest whole month, if someone has worked 0.8 person months should that individual be reported as working one (rounded) person month?
No. The first question to ask when determining who should be reported under D.1. is “are they either the PD/PI or have they worked at least one person month during the reporting period?” If an individual meets one of those criteria, include the individual in D.1 and THEN round their effort to the nearest whole person month. Someone who worked 0.8 person month did not work at least one person month so should not be reported.
If person months are rounded to the nearest whole month, how will we know if a PD/PI or other individual named on the Notice of Award has a reduction in level of effort of 25% or more?
Under D.2.a, the agency explicitly asks whether there will be, in the next budget period, a reduction of 25% or more in the level of effort from what was approved by the agency for the PD/PI or other senior/key personnel designated in the Notice or Award, or a reduction in level of effort below the minimum amount of effort required by the Notice of Award. Note that reporting personnel under D.1 is primarily retrospective – it covers personnel who worked on the project during the reporting period. A reduction in level of effort of 25% or more for the PD/PI and other personnel named on the Notice of Award requires prospective prior approval of the agency. Answering “yes” to the D.2.a level of effort question constitutes a prior approval request to the agency to reduce level of effort by 25% or more in the next budget period.
How should Other Support be prepared for the RPPR? Should the current grant be included in the Other Support document?
When preparing other support for the RPPR include the effort for the next year of the current grant. See http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/2590/2590othersupport.doc . The effort listed in the RPPR for personnel (D.1) is retrospective. Effort included in the other support should be prospective. For awards issued under SNAP, this is the only means to indicate actual effort for the next budget period. Including the effort for the next budget period of the current award enables NIH staff to review and calculate total support for the individual. Effort reductions of 25% or greater must be included in the response to question D.2.a. These instructions do not change the composition of other support submitted in response to Just-in-Time (JIT) requests for competing applications; other support for competing application does not include the effort requested on the application for which the JIT is being submitted.
We had a postdoc work on a project for more than one person month, but she has since left our organization and she does not have a Commons ID. Are we supposed to create one for her?
In this situation, report the post doc on the All Personnel Report, but select "Other" as the role and enter "postdoc who left institution without Commons ID."
F. Reporting Foreign Collaborations, Personnel, and Dollars
Why is NIH asking for new information about foreign collaborations and personnel, and dollars spent in foreign countries?
Global health research is a high priority for NIH. NIH maintains information on grants and R&D contracts awarded directly to foreign institutions; however, it is difficult to identify NIH collaborations with foreign researchers and investments under subawards to foreign organizations. Therefore, NIH is asking grantees to provide in the RPPR information about foreign collaborations and personnel, and dollars spent in foreign countries, to enhance our data regarding NIH investment in research conducted in foreign countries.
With regard to foreign affiliation of personnel in Section D.1, if we have a US sub-recipient with an office in a foreign country, would the individuals who work in that office have a foreign affiliation?
The response to question D.1 will be determined by the individual’s primary affiliation. If the primary affiliation is with a foreign organization, check yes unless the individual is working on the project solely while in the US. If the individual’s primary affiliation is with a domestic organization, check no.
Section E.4 asks for the amount of the budget being spent in foreign countries. Should we enter funds to foreign components paid via service agreements or contracts, or is this for subawards only? What if we are purchasing materials such as cell lines from a foreign country via a material transfer agreement?
The amount reflected in the response to E.4, should be the amount obligated for subawards. Costs for foreign travel or for purchasing materials, equipment, and service agreements should only be included in the response to E.4 if those costs are part of the first-tier subaward to a foreign organization.
If we are a foreign grantee, do we report the full amount of the award under E.4, or do we only report subawards with other non-US organizations?
If you are a foreign grantee, the amount reflected in E.4 for your country should be the award amount less subawards to organizations in any other country. Subawards to non-US organizations outside of your country will be reported by country under E.4. If you have more than one subaward to an organization in another country, report the aggregate amount for subawards to organizations in that country. Subawards to US organizations should not be reported under E.4.
In E.4, how should we report on subawards to foreign recipients if the funds are obligated but not yet spent?
The amount reflected in the response to E.4 should be the amount obligated during the reporting period.
What is meant by “foreign component” in G.9?
See definition of foreign component in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Each foreign component should be described separately, and briefly, in response to question G.9.
The PRAM feature allows the grantee to enter, review, and submit information in response to a specific NIH request for additional information or materials, following the submission of an RPPR. At this time PRAM may only be used for responding to automated eNotifications about noncompliant publications; in the future PRAM functionality will be expanded to include NIH IC requests for other additional information.
How do you find the PRAM link?
The PRAM link is automatically opened when the grantee submits a RPPR with non-compliant publications. The link will appear under “Action” on the “Status” page. Clicking the PRAM link will display the PRAM screen, and the grantee may provide verification that publications are in compliance with the Public Access Policy. The user may then Route the PRAM to a reviewer, the same way a RPPR may be routed to a reviewer. See the RPPR Instruction Guide, Section 5.10 for screen shots and additional information. Once Public Access PRAM has been submitted the PRAM link will close.
Who can enter data/information into the PRAM, and who can submit the PRAM to the agency?
The SO, AO, and PD/PI may edit, save, view and route the PRAM. Only the SO or PD/PI with Progress Report Authority may submit the PRAM to the agency. At this time a Commons Delegate may not enter PRAM information for the PD/PI.