Release Date:  October 2, 2000

PA NUMBER:  PAR-00-141 (This PA has been reissued, see PAR-05-123)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), formerly known as the 
Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), 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 build their capacity to participate in research activities 
and use the results of health services research.

This program announcement describes the procedures and criteria for the 
Program.  It updates and supersedes the "Small Grant Program for Conference 
Support," PAR-96-015, published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on 
January 26, 1996. 


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


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. 

For the purpose of this PA, AHRQ will make grants only to non-profit 
organizations, however, for-profit organizations may participate in grant 
projects through consortium arrangements or as subcontractors.  Organizations 
described in section 501(c)4 of the Internal Revenue code that engage in 
lobbying are not eligible.

Applicants may request full or partial support for conferences.  Where 
partial support of a conference is requested, 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 investigators and new investigators (as defined in the PHS 
398 application instructions) who are women, members of racial and ethnic of 
minority groups, and persons with disabilities to apply as Principal 


This Program Announcement will use the conference grant (Rl3) mechanism.  
Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed 
project will be solely that of the applicant.

The total direct costs awarded under this PA must not exceed $50,000 for the 
entire project period.  Applicants seeking more than $50,000 should first 
refer to the “AHRQ Health Service Research” PA 
( for information 
on AHRQ priority program areas and appropriate contacts.  Conference grant 
applications requesting  more than $50,000 direct costs must be sent in 
accordance with the “Health Services Research Conference Grants” PA (large 
conference grants), published in the NIH Guide May 31, 1991, and the 
application submission dates in the form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98).  Large 
conference grant applications are reviewed using a different procedure than 
the one described herein.  These program announcements are available from 
AHRQ’s web site: (Funding Opportunities) and from the 
AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse (See INQUIRIES).


Conference Objectives

AHRQ seeks to support conferences that help to further its mission.  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, and 
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.

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 out formal opportunities to discuss 
conference information with others.

AHRQ’s Mission

The mission of AHRQ is to enhance the quality, appropriateness, and 
effectiveness of health services, and access to such services, through the 
establishment of a broad base of scientific research and through the 
promotion of improvements in clinical and health systems practices, including 
the prevention of diseases and other health conditions.  AHRQ achieves this 
mission through health services research designed to (1) improve clinical 
practice, (2) improve the health care system’s ability to provide access to 
and deliver high quality, high-value health care, and (3) provide 
policymakers with the ability to assess the impact of system changes on 
outcomes, quality, access to, cost, and use of health care services.  

This Program Announcement (PA) expresses AHRQ’s interest in supporting 
conferences that focus on the Priority Program Areas identified in the “AHRQ 
Health Services Research - Program Announcement” available on AHRQ’s Web site 
at (Funding Opportunities).  That PA outlines broad 
research interests in the following areas: 

o  Support improvements in health outcomes.  Drawing from literature on 
variations in clinical practice and associated outcomes, the documented 
increase in the prevalence of chronic disease, and growing interest in the 
impact of different delivery modalities and financing arrangements on the 
outcomes of care, AHRQ seeks to support research to understand and improve 
decision-making at all levels of the health care system, the outcomes of 
health care and, in particular, what works, for whom, when, and at what cost.

o  Strengthen quality measurement and improvement.  AHRQ is interested in a 
broad array of research topics, including studies to develop valid and 
reliable measures of the process and outcomes of care, causation and 
prevention of errors in health care, strategies for incorporating quality 
measures into programs of quality improvement, and dissemination and 
implementation of validated quality improvement mechanisms. 

o  Identify strategies to improve access, foster appropriate use, and reduce 
unnecessary expenditures.  This area focuses on issues pertaining to the 
types of health care services Americans use, the cost of these services and 
sources of payment, determinants of access to care, and whether particular 
approaches to health care delivery and financing, or characteristics of the 
health care market, alter behaviors in ways that improve access and promote 
cost-effective use of health care resources.

AHRQ has identified, as a special focus of research across each of the major 
program areas, those health issues related to the following 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.

AHRQ encourages conference planners to disseminate tools, data, and research 
results either developed or supported by AHRQ, for example, the Consumer 
Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS), the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 
(MEPS), data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), 
Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs), U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 
and the National Guideline Clearinghouse.  Depending on the particular 
conference design and topic and goal, possible dissemination avenues for AHRQ 
products could include the inclusion of relevant AHRQ material(s) in the 
conference notebook or briefing packet or display table at meeting, or 
participation by an AHRQ topic expert in panel discussions/presentations.


Data Privacy

Pursuant to section 924(c) of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 299c-
3(c)), information obtained in the course of any AHRQ-study that identifies 
an individual or entity must be treated as confidential in accordance with 
any promises made or implied regarding the possible uses and purposes of the 
data collection.  In the Human Subjects section of the application, 
applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of such  
identifying information.  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.

The grantee 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     

The application of these confidentiality and security standards to 
subcontractors and vendors should be addressed as necessary.

Rights in Data

AHRQ grantees may copyright 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 research materials, data bases, 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 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.

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

The following directions apply only to applications for conference grants of 
$50,000 direct costs or less.

Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 
4/98). The application can be obtained at  State and local government 
applicants may use the form PHS 5161-1, Application for Federal Assistance 
(rev 5/96), and follow those requirements for copy submission.  Application 
kits are available at most institutional offices of sponsored research and 
from the Division of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources, National 
Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20982-
7910, telephone (301) 710-0267, e-mail  AHRQ applicants 
are encouraged to obtain applications materials from the AHRQ Publications 
Clearinghouse (see INQUIRIES).

Applications will be accepted at any time, but will be reviewed on one of six 
scheduled review dates during the year.  These review dates are scheduled for 
the second week of February, April, June, August, October, and December.  To 
be reviewed on one of the scheduled dates, applications must be received at 
least 40 business days (approximately 6 weeks) before the scheduled review 
week date. 

The PA title and number must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the 
application form and the YES box must be marked.

The PHS 398 type size requirements (p.6)  will be enforced rigorously and 
non-compliant applications will be returned.

The complete signed, typewritten original of the application including the 
Checklist and 5 signed copies in one package must be sent to:

Office of Research Review, Education, and Policy
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Attn: Ann Bacon
2101 East Jefferson Street, Suite 400 W
Rockville, Maryland 20852

Specific Application Instructions

The proposed date for the conference must be included on page 2 of the 
application as a part of the conference description.

The proposed location and facilities for the conference must be described on 
page 2 of the application under the section entitled “Performance Site(s).”

The narrative portion of the application will substitute for the Research 
Plan described in form PHS 398 (Rev. 4/98).  The narrative portion should be 
responsive to the “Application Review Criteria” outlined  in this PA, and 
describe the following: 

o  General purpose of the conference, including how the conference might 
impact on the quality, appropriateness, and effectiveness of health services, 
access to such services, and how it might address issues related to priority 
populations described in the review criteria,

o  Planning process, including who assisted (or might assist) to plan the 
conference and the criteria for their selection,

o  Topics selected for discussion, including how health services research 
findings will be incorporated if the purpose of the conference is to 
disseminate information,

o  Format for the conference,

o  Proposed (or confirmed) speakers and discussants, including the criteria 
for selecting such,

o  Expected product(s) resulting from the conference, including how these 
products would be disseminated beyond those attending the conference,

o  Expected participants, and

o  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, if available, should be added as an appendix.

Although policies governing study populations are not directly relevant, 
applications for AHRQ-supported conferences will be expected to demonstrate 
consideration of the following 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.  Consideration for priority 
populations should be reflected in the design of the agenda, selection of 
topics and speakers, attendees, and the final product associated with the 
conference, whether it is a research agenda or conference proceedings.


Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness and 
responsiveness to the PA.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications or 
applications not following form PHS 398 instructions will be returned to the 
applicant without further consideration.  Applications that are complete and 
responsive to the PA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by 
an appropriate review group. 

Reviewers may also take into consideration the extent to which the applicant 
responds to any suggestions provided by AHRQ prior to submission of the 

Review Criteria

Conference Topic

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

2.  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.

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

4.  Conference sessions should include health services research related, but 
not limited, to issues such as: 
o  The quality, effectiveness, efficiency, appropriateness, and value of 
health care services, 

o  Quality measurement and improvement,

o  The outcomes, cost, cost-effectiveness, and use of health care services 
and access to such  services,

o  Clinical practice, including primary care and practice-oriented research 
topics and methodologies,

o  System strategies to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety, 

o  Health care technologies, facilities, and equipment,

o  Health care costs, productivity, organization, and market forces,

o  Health promotion and disease prevention, 

o  Health statistics, surveys, database development, and epidemiology,

o  Medical liability,

o  Market dynamics and its impacts on cost, quality and access,

o  Delivery system organization, 

o  Medical informatics,

o  Evidence-based medicine and practice and its implementation into care 
o  Systems re-engineering and other ways to improve health care systems to 
make them more effective and efficient,

o  Using information technology effectively and appropriately within 
different settings, and 
o  Disparities in access and quality.

5.  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.

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

7.  The product of the conference should have the potential to influence 
future research, policy, or practice, or enhance AHRQ’s collaborative 

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

Conference Design

1.  The conference must be for the purpose of one of the following: 
disseminating research results, formulating a research agenda, or developing 
a research methodology.

2.  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. 

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

4.  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.
5.  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.

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


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

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

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, 


1.  The budget must be adequate to support the conference design and must be 

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

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. 
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, application 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 
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 PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) 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 

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 

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.

k.  Meals.  When meals are an integral and necessary part of a conference 
(i.e., working meals where conference related business is transacted), grant 
funds may be used for such meals.  Food costs that are not integral and 
necessary to the conference (e.g., preconference registration refreshments, 
continental breakfasts, coffee breaks, and receptions) are not allowable.

Facilities and Administration Costs (F&A)

F&A costs (indirect costs) will not be allowed on grants in support of 


Applications will compete for available funds with other conference 
applications.  The following will be considered in making funding decisions: 
quality of the proposed project, availability of funds, and program priority.

Conditions of Award 

In addition to standard grant requirements, the following terms and 
conditions of award will be set prior to the issuance of a Notice of Grant 

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.


Time from review of application to earliest anticipated award date: 60 days
Date of conference:   Within 12 months of start date of award
Conference Summary:   Within 90 days after the conference dates

Potential applicants are reminded that no public announcement of AHRQ"s 
financial commitment can be made for a conference before the applicant 
receives a Notice of Grant Award.  Prospective applicants should allow 
adequate time for application submission and review and award processing in 
their plans for conference development.


Application materials are available from:

AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 8547
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8547
Telephone: 1-800-358-9295
TDD Service:    888-586-6340

The PA is available on AHRQ’s Web site,  (Funding 
Opportunities) and through the AHRQ InstantFAX at 301/594-2800.  To use 
InstantFAX, you must call from a facsimile (FAX) machine with a telephone 
handset.  Follow the voice prompt to obtain a copy of the InstantFAX table of 
contents, which has the document order number (not the same as the PA 
number).  The PA will be sent at the end of the ordering process.  AHRQ 
InstantFAX operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  For comments or problems 
concerning AHRQ InstantFax, please call (301) 594-6344.

AHRQ welcomes the opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from 
potential applicants.  Written and telephone inquiries are encouraged.  
Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues, including information on the 
policies of inclusion of women, minorities, and children in AHRQ-
supported projects to:

Sandra Isaacson
Director, User Liaison Program, OHCI
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
2101 East Jefferson Street, Suite 500
Rockville, MD 20852-4908
Telephone: 301/594-6668
FAX: 301/594-2035
Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

George “Skip” Moyer
Grants Management Specialist
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
2101 East Jefferson Street, Suite 601
Rockville, MD 20852-4908
Telephone: 301/594-1842 
FAX: 301/594-3210


Michelle Burr
Grants Management Specialist
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
2101 East Jefferson Street, Suite 601
Rockville, MD 20852-4908
Telephone: 301/594-1840
FAX: 301/594-3210

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, 
Number 93.226. Awards are made under authorization of Title IX of the Public 
Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 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.  This program is 
not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 
12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a 
smoke-free workplace and promote the non-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. 

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices

Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
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