NIH Announces Plans to Transition to Electronic Submission of Multi-Project Applications

Notice Number: NOT-OD-12-161

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

  • December 17, 2014 - See Notice NOT-OD-15-044. ASSIST To Become an Option for Submission of Applications for Most Competing Grant Programs in 2015
  • May 30, 2013 - See Notices NOT-OD-13-074; NIH to Require Use of Updated Electronic Application Forms for Due Dates on or after September 25, 2013 & NOT-OD-13-075; NIH Announces an Adjustment to Transition Timeline for Electronic Submission of Multi-Project Applications.
  • December 5, 2012 - See Notice NOT-AG-12-019. Notice of Intent to Publish a Request for Applications for NIA Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers (P50).
  • November 30, 2012 - See Notice NOT-OD-13-011. Initial Electronic Submission Process for Multi-Project Applications Webinar.

Key Dates
Release Date: September 28, 2012

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


This Notice announces NIH's plans to make changes to the application process for multi-project applications. These changes include: 1) transitioning multi-project applications from the paper PHS398 grant application to the Standard Form 424 Research and Related (SF 424 R&R), and 2) simultaneously transitioning to electronic submission of these multi-project applications.


Since 2005, NIH has been transitioning its grant programs to electronic submission of applications through the fed-wide portal,, using the SF 424 (R&R) form set. In 2010, NIH completed the transition for all its grant programs, except NIH’s complex, multi-project applications.

To meet NIH’s long standing goal of receiving all grant applications electronically, NIH and the program management staff worked together to develop an online application system called ASSIST (Application Submission System and Interface for Submission Tracking) to accommodate electronic submission of NIH’s multi-project applications. ASSIST will allow users to develop and store their applications in a secure online environment. The system will also provide many of the features that have been requested by users over the years, such as error checking the application against both and many agency business rules before submission, providing the assembled application for viewing before submission, allowing applicants access control by component (subproject), and more. The Program Management team plans to leverage this collaborative effort to develop an online forms capability for the entire federal grants community.

Organizations that use system-to-system solutions to transmit applications via data stream to rather than using the forms will be able to send multi-project applications through using the same interfaces they do now. NIH and have made technical information on multi-project applications available for systems developers so they can plan for any system adjustments they need to make to accommodate these applications. 

NIH expects that electronic submission of these applications will streamline many aspects of the grants administration process for both applicants and NIH staff.

NIH Transition Plan

NIH plans to transition all multi-project applications to electronic submission using the SF 424 (R&R) form set by January 2014. The transition will be done by activity code, in the same way NIH has completed previous electronic application transitions. As each activity code transitions, all applications submitted in response to funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for programs with that activity code will require electronic submission. The pilot will include FOAs representing a variety of activity codes, however.

Initial plans/milestones are as follows:

  • November 2012 — Launch ASSIST and begin issuing a series of pilot funding opportunity announcements of varying activity codes that will require electronic submission for due dates between January and September 2013.
  • September 25, 2013 — All applications submitted in response to FOAs with the following activity codes intended for September 25, 2013 due dates and beyond will require electronic submission: P01, P20, P50, R24, U24, U19.
  • January 25, 2014 — All applications submitted in response to FOAs with the following activity codes intended for January 25, 2014 due dates and beyond will require electronic submission: G12, P30, P40, P41, P42, P51, P60, R28, U10, U41, U42, U45, U54, U56, UC7, UM1.

NIH will continue to communicate transition plans as they evolve and will provide the community with ample notice of impending events. 


Please direct all inquiries to:

Grants Information
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
Phone: 301-945-7573