The NIA, like the rest of the NIH, is working to get back to normal after the 16-day government shutdown.
This has been an extremely difficult time, for you and also for us. The grant application and review process has been greatly affected by the shutdown. You may have been unable to access NIH staff, help desks, or electronic systems. Scheduled review meetings were cancelled, and review of your application may have been delayed. We all faced a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Most NIA staff were sent home when operations were suspended, barred from using any government system, including email.
We want to thank all of you for your patience and support during this period. Please know that we are working as hard as we can to get back on track. The NIA Director, Richard Hodes, asked us to get you this information as soon as possible. You’ll be hearing more from him in the coming weeks about how we are moving forward.
The Division of Extramural Activities is tracking the ongoing policy and guidance changes. Robin Barr, Division director, or I can apprise you of how these changes impact your NIA application. And of course, you may also hear from your Program Officer with specific information related to your grant. For NIA, here is a short list of effects we know now:
Ripple effects: the shutdown will continue to affect us all for some time.
Receipt. Review. Funding. Repeat. Anyone who has applied for an NIH grant knows this recipe for the grant cycle. The due dates for each step are carefully determined so we can fit in three grant cycles per year. Careful scheduling avoids overwhelming the people, resources, and systems needed to manage the hundreds of applications anticipated each cycle. Perturbation of any date can have a ripple effect—just like perturbing ripples on a lake. What happened this month was not a perturbation but more like a quake!
More detailed information about ripple effects at the NIA will be available over the coming weeks. Here’s a quick summary of NIH-wide changes from Sally Rockey, if you haven’t already seen it.
Receipt: submitting your application
October is the part of one grant cycle when most applications are received, and October grant application due dates will be rescheduled. The best place for information about new due dates is the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts 2013 Shutdown page, including:
- Revised Guidance on Resumption of NIH Extramural Activities Following the Recent Lapse in Appropriations, released on October 22, describes the rescheduling of October grant application submission deadlines and other details.
- Interim Guidance on Resumption of NIH Extramural Activities, published on October 17, explains, “By delaying due dates that occurred both during the lapse in funding and in the week following, applicants will have access to NIH staff and the help desks as they develop their applications.”
If you planned to submit an application in October, this means you have a little more time to perfect it. If you already submitted an application, you may have the opportunity to “refresh” it. (This Notice describes the circumstances under which applications can be refreshed.) Please keep a very close eye on the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts 2013 Shutdown page. If you have any questions about deadlines, call your Program Officer. We would hate to see you miss a revised deadline.
A special note to those interested in applying for the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00): our goal is limit the impact of the shutdown on your eligibility status. Please review this Notice and contact us to discuss your eligibility status.
October thru December is also a time when many reviews of grant applications take place. The 16-day delay in operations means that most applications not reviewed by October 1 must be reviewed later. This Notice explains, “Peer review meetings that were due to be held between October 1 and October 17 have been cancelled and are being rescheduled.” However, it is anticipated that most applications will be reviewed on a schedule that will allow their consideration at the January 2014 Advisory Council meeting, as described here.
If you are a reviewer participating in one of these meetings, or if your application is being reviewed, you will hear from your Scientific Review Officer about the new date of the meeting. (Read more about the kinds of information you can expect from a Program Officer versus a Scientific Review Officer.)
You may be familiar with the standard two-week hiatus in grant funding as the NIH “closes the books” on one fiscal year in preparation for the next. This has been extended.
Grantees who received a Notice of Award that included a restriction in the terms and conditions—even if subsequently resolved—should anticipate delays in removing this restriction. The normal reconciliation that occurs with each fiscal year has been delayed.
Questions? Please get in touch.
So again, we’re so grateful for your patience in the face of these challenges—we all are. As you’d guess, our staff will be receiving many phone calls and emails from grantees and applicants, and we will get back to you as fast as we possibly can.
You’ll be hearing a lot more from us over the coming weeks as policies are established for NIH and NIA. For up-to-the-minute information on changes affecting your grant or application, contact your Program Officer or the NIA Division of Extramural Activities. If we don’t yet have the information needed to answer your question, we’ll do the best we can to get it.
If you have questions of broad interest, please comment below.