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Among the myriad of responsibilities faced by research administrators, keeping up with federal policy changes has to be a priority. Research institutions rely on federal grants, and policy changes impact the regulations governing how, when and what’s needed for submissions.

As most of you know, every couple of years NIH does a major overhaul of grant submission form sets in order to keep pace with changing policy. For 2016, policy changes focus on improving the quality of scientific research in both rigor and reproducibility and associated changes to forms are being released in two phases.

Phase one includes a set of temporary validations and updated instructions for FORMS-C applications due between January 25 and May 24, 2016. Phase two will require the use of new application FORMS-D for submissions with due dates starting May 25 moving forward. Details on phase one can be found in NIH Notice NOT-OD-16-004, along with links to a bottomless rabbit hole of NIH Notices on related topics. However, the real questions are simple. What the heck are these “temporary validations” about and what do you actually need to know to get the right forms submitted on time?

Some of the policy changes being introduced this year are required to remain consistent across the entire funding year. Since FORMS-D was not scheduled to be ready in January, NIH released a set of temporary validations in order to get the new rules into the field at the beginning of 2016 using the existing FORMS-C.

Locating, understanding and applying new rules every couple of years is difficult enough without this added layer of complexity. If you’re using the Adobe forms to submit your proposals, it can be nerve-wracking to interpret new rules and hope for the best. There are so many other things to do! That’s where Cayuse 424 comes in so handy.

In the case of NIH notice NOT-OD-16-004, Cayuse 424 was already updated to handle phase one changes in our December 2015 release. Within the application, temporary validations show up on any proposal with a Sponsor Due Date that is BLANK or dated 01/25/2016 and beyond. A simple and effective way for customers to feel confident about meeting phase one requirements.

It’s safe to expect Cayuse 424 will include updates that address FORMS-D well before the May 25 due date. In fact, FORMS-D support will be available in version 7.0 of Cayuse 424, which is scheduled for release in early April. We begin preparing for and implementing changes like these well in advance of the deadlines so you can better focus on the important stuff, like making sure you get that budget draft in time to review it thoroughly.

NIH has already begun reissuing existing opportunities in the new FORMS-D version. This means a downloaded NIH opportunity may get you two proposal packages (one in FORMS-C and one in FORMS-D) depending on due dates. Fortunately there are really only two main things to keep in mind as you migrate through these phases:

• Look for the form version shown in both the “Competition ID” and “Competition Title” fields. If the proposal is due on or after May 25, you should choose FORMS-D.

• If you were already working on a proposal due on or after May 25th and a new opportunity package is released, the existing proposal must be transformed to utilize FORMS-D.

Mike Lauer at NIH rather nicely summarizes temporary validations and what is coming in FORMS-D in his October blog post. If you haven’t read this already, I highly recommend it. Staying in front of changing regulations and requirements is just one way we try to alleviate the administrative burden that too often gets in the way.

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