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Re: Response to GEPPS posting BOB (01 Sep 1999 16:12 EST)

Re: Response to GEPPS posting BOB 01 Sep 1999 16:12 EST

Thanks for the very useful up-date on GEPPS.  The CFF has shown
flexibility by extending the deadline.  The system should be very
useful for application submissions and is a good parallel to the
development of eRA systems at the Federal level.   I have a couple
of points to mention as the system proceeds.

First, while this may be true only at large universities, I suggest
that it is not the faculty who will actually use the system.  They
are busy with their research, teaching, and clinical duties.
Rather it is their support staff and the central university grants office
staff who will do the processing.  The system developers assumed it
was the faculty who would do the nitty gritty work and did not
open the system sufficiently to the administrators.  There is
a weakness in that faculty support staff are to use the faculty
members access code instead of having their own.  The system
should be open to support personnel to carry out all the

Second, in a related vein, by not having the system open to
administrators, it is difficult for them to learn the system.
Moreover, there should be some on-line "simulation" of the
system to provide a training mechanism.  I wonder,
even if faculty wanted to use the system, would they
have the time to learn it as it is.  Perhaps it could be made
more open to administrators so they can both learn it and
demonstrate it to other users.

Third, it may be that the confusion over by-passing the
central grants office arose in a comparison to how Fastlane
works.  In that system the faculty (or more likely some one
on their staff) "sends" the file to the central office for review and
dispatch to the sponsor.  GEPPS seems to allow the faculty and
their staff to send the application directly to the sponsor.  While
follow-up with a paper copy is a good stopgap measure, a fully
electronic system with central grants office approval seems to be
the optimum situation.  In the meantime, would it be possible for
the central grants office to view and even obtain data from
the electronic version?

Another place for problems is that GEPPS differs markedly from both
NIH and NSF in that those organizations went directly to the
central grants office at each user site and engaged those people
in the system first.  GEPPS seems to have neglected the central
office and tried to engage the individuals least ready to use
such a system.  The first our central office heard of GEPPS
being required by CFF was when departmental research
support staff contacted us for help.  Help we had difficulty
giving as per my two earlier points on access and training.
Perhaps private sponsors such as CFF and ACS do not
realize the relationships between faculty and the central
grants office as well as the Federal agencies do.  Teaching
them of this is a task that RAMS might well take on.

I would hope that GEPPS becomes more central
grants office friendly and more open to research administrative
staff.  From the what I could figure out about the system,
not being a PI myself, it seems well organized and has great
potential to bring eRA into the private sector.  If it
were modelled more on the Federal eRA systems I think
it would be fully successful.  Given RAMS expertise in
the whole grants process I have confidence that we can
expect contiuous improvement in GEPPS.


Robert Beattie
Senior Project Representative and
Manager of electronic Research Administration
Division of Research Development and Administration
The University of Michigan

--On Wed, Sep 1, 1999 4:03 PM -0400 Marilyn Keyes <xxxxxx@RAMS.COM> wrote:

> This is in response to Nancy Dean's e-mail about the foundation commons
> site, GEPPS (Grantmakers Electronic Proposal Processing System).
> We especially appreciate Nancy's alert about a porn site having the .com
> version of GEPPS. This information has caught us and the GEPPS Consortium
> (the American Cancer Society, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation) unaware,
> as the .com site was a private web page until quite recently. The move to
> a new name -- -- had already started, and
> this pushes it to top priority.
> The goal of the consortium is to bring the electronic grants submission
> process to the private community, just as it is being done for the federal
> community. Research and Management Systems, Inc. (RAMS), has built the web
> site for the Consortium and provides its support.
> does, in fact, require organizational approval for
> any grant application. Because currently the electronic submission process
> cannot provide a way to attach signatures, a paper copy containing
> signatures MUST be received by the deadline in order for the grant to be
> considered. The Consortium highly values the work of
> research administrators in providing assistance to faculty and researchers
> in the grant management process. The site states that GEPPS provides the
> "Ability to submit secure proposals from PI's with appropriate Research
> Office approval." If a PI submits an electronic submission and does not
> follow that with a cover sheet with all appropriate signatures, the
> application will not go forward.
> Recently CFF made a decision to require electronic submission along with a
> paper copy submission, and is the route used for
> electronic submission.
> ACS does not require the electronic process and is providing it as an
> alternative for applicants beginning to learn how to use the web for doing
> business.
> If using electronic submission, you must have either Adobe Acrobat
> Exchange (3.0) or Adobe Acrobat (4.0) -- one or the other of these
> software systems is required to save information in the .pdf format and
> to work with the Acrobat forms that make up the application. Adobe
> technology was chosen because it enables the PI to download the
> application form from the site, work on the
> application off the web as convenient, copy it, circulate it, and upload
> the finished application. There were some early problems using Adobe
> Exchange 3.0 that have been cleared up. We apologize for problems anyone
> incurred trying to use 3.0 in the past and have been assured by recent
> applicants that 3.0 can be used successfully.
> has a FAQ and staff available for assistance at all
> times to help applicants with the electronic submission process. We can't
> claim a perfect record, but consider customer service our #1 priority.
> Additionally, we provide users with the ability to provide specific
> suggestions on making the process easier, and have implemented some great
> ideas submitted by our user base.
> Please let us know of any suggestions or comments. The URL for feedback is
> Marilyn Keyes
> Vice President, Research and Management Systems, Inc. (RAMS)
> 301-975-0103   Fax 301-975-0109
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