Announcer: From the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland this is All About Grants.

Megan Columbus: Welcome to another edition of All About Grants. This is Megan Columbus in the NIH Office of Extramural Research. Today I have with me Dave Curren from NIH’s Division of Grants Policy. Welcome!

Dave Curren: Thank you, Megan. It’s great to be here joining you once again.

 Megan: Today we’re going to be talking about administrative supplements, and Dave is working on a number of initiatives to get information into NIH electronically. Administrative supplements are next on the list. Before we get too much into the process, can you tell us a little bit, Dave, about what is an administrative supplement?

Dave: An administrative supplement is a request for additional funds that are within the initial scope of the work and which may help you cover any unforeseen costs that you were not aware of when you first applied. It does not go through peer review. There’s no additional types of research or additional aims that you are adding. It’s just to do the work you’ve already committed to do.

Megan: So we’re taking these administrative supplements and you’re developing a more formalized process to get them submitted electronically. Can you tell us how that will happen through the Commons?

Dave: Exactly. Currently, there is no formal process for requesting administrative supplements. So what we are doing is we’re developing a set of processes so that an administrator or PI can go into the eRA Commons and fill out some information on the type of grant that they’re working on and what additional costs they need to have covered. And we can process that and allow grantees to track it through the system.

Megan: And the advantage of doing it through the eRA Commons would be?

Dave: There are a couple of advantages. One, we can pre-populate your request with all the information we already know about you and your award. And it also allows you to track the request as it goes through our system.  And it allows us to collect all of that information in a systematic way, which will actually allow us to save money and make the process easier for everybody.

Megan: So you’ve explained one way that grantees can submit administrative supplement requests to NIH and that’s through the eRA Commons. My understanding is that we’ve also built a way for those to be submitted through grants.gov if an institution chooses to do so. Why might an institution want to do that?

Dave: Some institutions have systems that submit applications directly through grants.gov, and we wanted to accommodate that by allowing administrative supplement requests to come through that way also.

Megan: So somebody submitting an administrative supplement now will have the option of submitting directly in a form base through eRA Commons. They can use their institutional systems if they have something developed to submit through grants.gov, but this isn’t actually for all supplement requests quite yet, right? So those large, multi-project, center-type applications we won’t be able to accommodate for another year or so is my understanding.

Dave: Correct. Applications for our larger project and center grants and our cooperative agreements, those are not yet available, but will be hopefully in the near future.

 Megan: So if somebody’s in any doubt about which method to use they could talk to their institutional officials who can help them?

Dave: Exactly. That person would be a great resource and could guide you through the process.

Megan: Alright, so we have a new process in place. And it starts out as a pilot. What does it mean to be a pilot?

Dave: During the pilot we are opening up the system for everybody to use, but you are not required to use it. We will still be accepting paper-based applications as we have done before.

 Megan: Does this change at all the interactions that I have with NIH staff? Should I be contacting NIH staff before I submit an administrative supplement request?

Dave: We still highly recommend you contact your program official first to understand what types of activities institutes and centers are willing to supplement and what type of resources may be available to you.

Megan: I know you’re involved in lots of other electronic transitions at the moment. Can you give us just a little bit of a hint at what might be coming up next?

Dave: In April, we’re hoping to debut new systems for submitting applications for changes of institution, as well as for successor-in-interest in name change situations.

Megan: Thank you for joining us today. For NIH and OER this is Megan Columbus.

Announcer: For more information on the administrative supplements pilot visit the OER homepage at grants.nih.gov and search for administrative supplements pilot.