NIH eRA eSubmission Items of Interest August 2012

Transition from CCR to SAM

I am SAM. 
SAM I am.

I take the place of CCR, 
but never Green Eggs & Ham.

Transitions are hard
No one’s to blame
It’s a brand new system
Not just a new name.

Try me, try me! 
You will see!
I am better than I was on August 3.

Another little tribute to Dr. Seuss in recognition of the transition to the System for Award Management (SAM). We know firsthand that technical migrations can be a challenge.   Now that the dust is settling, let’s reflect on what we can learn from the transition.  

We are reminded that you must start the registration (and registration renewal) process early!  And by early we mean months, not weeks and not days (sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it?). Of the thousands of applications we received for the August 5th deadline, the vast majority were processed without issue.  And based on the research done by the eRA Help Desk, it seemed that those were from applicants who had started their CCR and registrations/renewals well in advance of the deadline.  Some folks were not so lucky and were caught in transitional limbo, leading to frustration with the SAM site and many calls to the SAM and eRA Help Desk.

Accordingly, the folks at General Services Administration (GSA), who manage SAM, have been working hard to improve the system.  We are seeing improved performance and better reliability.  For a site that is getting something like 3 million hits a day, that is very good news indeed. 

But the best advice we can give is to start early and if you do have a problem, contact the SAM Help Desk right away. If you started early and technical problems threaten your on-time submission, follow our system issue procedures.

Like Your Guidance Counselor at School: New and Improved Summary Statements

Do you remember taking the SATs when you were in high school? I do. It was an interesting day when my guidance counselor called me to her office…”Joe, I have your SAT scores, and I thought we should discuss them.”  “OK,” I replied.  I was told I had a cumulative score of 1256.  “AWESOME!” I yelled. That was WAY above 100, so I figured this was like an A+++++++…etc.

Sadly, this was not the case.  I had no point of reference for the SAT scoring system, so I had no idea I was below marginal (it was those darn “Tree is to car, like hippopotamus is to _______.”  What? Really? I have no idea!).  I wonder if the scores you receive on your applications can have the same effect?  What makes a good score?  Does this mean I will get the money?  What do I do with this information? 

The good folks here at NIH have been working hard to answer those question and make it easier to interpret the outcome of review. eRA has added a new hyperlink to summary statements located right below the impact scores and percentile on the summary statement that takes applicants to a web page titled ‘Next Steps.’  This page includes information on what kind of guidance the Program Officer can provide to you, as well as answers to several frequently asked questions like those mentioned above.


Revised Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Regulations (42 CFR Part 50 Subpart F & 45 CFR Part 94)

Institutions are required to implement the requirements under the 2011 revised FCOI regulation by August 24, 2012.  The purpose of the regulation “is to promote objectivity in research by establishing standards that provide a reasonable expectation that the design, conduct, and reporting of research performed under NIH grants or cooperative agreements will be free from bias resulting from Investigator financial conflicts of interest.”

What this means for you is for any grant awarded after on or August 24, 2012, you are required to use the 2011 FCOI Report form and processes to report an identified FCOI to the NIH. These can be accessed via the FCOI module in eRA Commons.  For more information, please visit our Financial Conflict of Interest page and our FAQs to 2011 Revised Regulation on the NIH FCOI webpage.