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(Previous discussion continued)
NIH Modular Grants revisited Charlie Hathaway (16 Dec 1998 11:45 EST)

NIH Modular Grants revisited Charlie Hathaway 16 Dec 1998 11:45 EST


Now that NIH has officially announced its modular grants system for
competing research grants under $250,000 per year,


 I am curious whether anyone (who has read the notice) sees any ways in
which this new approach could save a research administration office time
and/or grief.

For example, if NIH does not want to see detailed budgets at any point and
does not want to see Other Support pages until after peer review, AND given
the fact that only about 20% of the applications that leave an institution
will actually receive an award, does it make sense to do a lot of budget
and other support review on ALL applications at the time of submission?
Why not institute a policy whereby investigators anticipating an award
(good scores) will then submit all the other goodies to their research
administration offices?  They will be informed that it is in their best
interest to do this well before the proposed start date because NO ACCOUNTS

One argument against this will be that an investigator may submit a
proposal with a direct cost estimate that is based on facts and conditions
which are completely wrong and therefore is proposing a project that cannot
be undertaken.
I wonder how often such irreconcilable problems actually exist.  It seems
to me that all the adjustments to most budgets made before submission could
just as easily be made closer to the time of the award.

In discussions on this topic in the summer, many people whose institutions
submitted applications under the "trial" modular system were very
suspicious of if not amused by some of the features of the "actual" modular
system which were circulating via rumor.  The system now announced as
commencing for all applications 1 June and beyond for a full year "period
of comment" does in fact incorporate the rumors.

Finally, I have heard one NIH study section member say that there is no way
this system will fly because reviewers "need" to see budget details to
really evaluate the proposed investment of government funds.  This very
substantive criticism may also extend itself to the scientific community,
where many have relied on detailed budget justifications to explain budget
features AND certain aspects of the project proposed.  My understanding is
that NIH does NOT want to see the old page 4 info transfered to the budget
justification.  For example, the notice says:
NARRATIVE BUDGET JUSTIFICATION - Use a Modular Grant Budget Narrative
page...Under Personnel, List key project personnel, including their names,
percent of effort, and roles on the project. No individual salary
information should be provided."
In short, investigators may need to rethink long held ideas about preparing

Charlie Hathaway

Charles B. Hathaway, Ph.D., Director
Office of Grant Support
908A Belfer
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461
Phone: 718 430-3642     Fax: 718 430-8822