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Grant supplements and supplement applications pose unique tracking issues for sponsored research administrators.  In this blog, we first provide a brief review of supplements and discuss the unique tracking issues associated with them.grant supplements

What is a Grant Supplement?

Grant supplements are a process through which new funds are requested for an existing grant.  There are two basic types of supplements, Revision Applications and Administrative Supplements.

  • Revision Applications, formally known as Competitive Supplements, are designed to fund an expansion of the original scope of work.
  • Administrative Supplements are used to fund items or activities that are part of the original scope of work but unanticipated at the time of the original application.

A “Diversity Supplement” is an example of a NIMH Administrative Supplement.  The NIMH Administrative Supplement Providing Research Experiences for Physicians and Medical Students from Diverse Backgrounds supports students from underrepresented background.

NIH provides more information about supplemental funding here: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/managing-your-grant/supplements.shtml.

Unique Issues Associated with Tracking Grant Supplements and Supplement Applications

The primary issues that complicate the tracking of supplements stem from the supplement’s existence within an existing award.  As a result of this situation, there are five data elements that affect the tracking of these grant supplements and supplement applications, and grants management software systems:

  • The supplement status (Pending, Active, Completed, and Not Funded)
  • Changes in key personnel effort
  • The agency number
  • Changes in funding
  • The budget period

Because a supplement is associated with an existing award, the status of the existing grant is always active.  However, depending on the state of the supplement in the submission process, its status maybe pending, active, completed, or not funded.  This has import implications when producing reports that combine both active and pending grants.  When the status of the supplement is pending, components of the same grant (the active budget period and the pending supplement) may appear in different sections of the reports.

In some cases, the supplement may cause a change in effort of key personnel.  If this is the case, and the supplement is still pending, reports will need to reflect this situation.  This is particularly important in the case of “Other Support Pages” and “Biosketches”, which are standard parts of an NIH grant application.  In these reports, the pending supplement with the added effort, is listed separate from the active award.  Note, there is no additional effort for key personnel on a “Diversity Supplement”.

In most cases, the agency number for the supplement is the same as the original grant except that a suffix such as “-S1 or –S2” is appended to the original agency number.

Additionally, when tracking funding associated with a supplement, the status of the supplement must also be considered.  For pending supplements, the requested amounts of direct and indirect costs need to be accounted for; whereas with awarded supplements, the received amounts are tracked.

In most cases, the start date of the supplement is after the start date of the original award while the end date is same.  For multi-year awards, the supplement usually starts and ends within one of the award budget periods.

Grants Management Software Systems for Tracking Grant Supplements and Supplement Applications

IT Works provides a Grant Management Software System that is specifically designed for tracking grants with supplements.  Our system is uniquely suited for use within complex research environments and generates a variety of reports, including NIH Other Support Pages, which include grants with active or pending supplements.  For more information about our systems, contact our sales team today.