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Frequently Asked Questions about the Regional Medical Libraries for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Funding Opportunity

Questions and Answers


Personnel questions

  1. Who are considered senior/key personnel for the RML and the National Network Offices? Are biosketches required for all staff?

    Senior/key personnel are the PD/PI and other individuals who contribute to the scientific/programmatic development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation under the grant. Typically these individuals have professional degrees. Consultants and those with a postdoctoral role also may be considered senior/key personnel if they meet this definition. "Zero percent" effort or "as needed" is not an acceptable level of involvement for senior/key personnel.

    For everyone listed as a senior/key personnel in the application, a NIH Biosketch (using the new format, see //grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/faq_biosketches.htm#4384) must be submitted as part of the application. In addition, the PI/PD must include an active eRA Commons ID. Administrative staff performing business management, office, human resource, payroll, accounting etc. roles are normally not considered key/senior personnel from this perspective.

    In ASSIST enter the information for senior/key personnel into the Senior/Key Profile section. Follow the ASSIST instructions for completing these forms.

    Measurable Effort:

    The effort of PD/PI(s), faculty and other senior/key personnel devoted to a project expressed in terms of “person months” greater than zero. If consultants are considered senior/key personnel, they must have measurable effort expressed in person months.

    Person months:

    The metric for expressing the effort (amount of time) that PD/PIs, faculty and other senior/key personnel devote to a specific project. The effort is based on the type of appointment of the individual with an organization, e.g., calendar year (CY), academic year (AY), and/or summer term (SM); and the organization’s definition of such. The effort is expressed as a percentage of the total institutional appointment. See, Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Usage of Person Months.

    Other significant contributors (OSC):

    Individuals who commit to contribute to the scientific/programmatic development or execution of the project, but do not commit any specified measurable effort (i.e., person months) to the project. These individuals are typically presented at effort of “zero person months” or "as needed." Individuals with measurable effort may not be listed as Other Significant Contributors (OSCs). Consultants should be included if they meet this definition.

    Consultant:

    An individual who provides professional advice or services for a fee, but typically not as an employee of the engaging party. In unusual situations, an individual may be both a consultant and an employee of the same party, receiving compensation for some services as a consultant and for other work as a salaried employee. To prevent apparent or actual conflicts of interest, grantees and consultants must establish written guidelines indicating the conditions of payment of consulting fees. Consultants may also include firms that provide paid professional advice or services.

    Source - //grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/senior_key_personnel_faqs.htm#1660

  2. Should everyone with measurable effort be designated as senior/key?

    No. Only those who contribute to the scientific/programmatic development or execution of a project both substantively and measurably should be designated as senior/key.

  3. The PD/PI would like to designate in the application all personnel as senior/key. Should we do so?

    No. Keep in mind the term “senior/key” applies only to individuals who contribute to the scientific/programmatic development or execution of a project both substantively and measurably. If you misidentify personnel as senior/key, you will unnecessarily increase your burden for the preparation of the application, submission of Just-in-Time information, and annual reporting requirements.

  4. Is an eRA Commoms ID required for all senior/key personnel?

    An eRA Commons ID is required for the PD/PI at the time of application. Additionally, an eRA Commons ID is required for anyone in a postdoctoral role and the eRA Commons ID must be reported in the All Personnel Report in the non-competing progress even if the post doc is not senior/key.

  5. Where in the ASSIST application do I designate other significant contributors and include their biosketches?

    Other significant contributors should be listed on the Senior/Key Person Profile after all Senior/Key Persons, and their biosketch uploaded using the “Attach Biographical Sketch” upload feature. Other support is not required or accepted for other significant contributors since considerations of overlap do not apply to these individuals.

  6. Would the leader of a National Network Office report to an RML Director or Associate Director? What would an appropriate title leader of a National Network Office (Coordinator, Assistant Director, etc.)?

    No, the Project Leads for the 5 National Network Offices do not report to the PI/PDs of the RMLs. The National Network Offices are autonomous from the RMLs. Applicants can select titles that work in their organizational structures.

  7. Does the same person's biosketch need to be uploaded to all core components in the applications (you would have 4 copies of the PI's CV this way)?

    Only one Biosketch for each senior/key personnel needs to be included.

  8. Currently the Director has a small percent effort. Are you expecting a larger percent effort from the Director?

    The current contractual configuration of the RMLs may not necessarily work for this cooperative agreement. Refer to FOA section titled, Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award for PD/PI responsibilities.

  9. Other than the PI/PD are the definitions of other staff mentioned in the FOA?

    There are no definitions for staff other than the PI/PD. The applicant can define roles and responsibilities of other staff in the RML to best meet their regional and national needs. Applicants can define roles for National Network Offices to best meet Network needs.

  10. What are the criteria for the Core Lead for an RML core? What are the criteria for the Project Lead for a National Network Office?

    There are no NIH criteria for a Core Lead. The Core Lead has leadership responsibility for one or more RML cores. The specific roles, responsibilities, and qualifications are defined by the Applicant. Based on the Applicant’s organizational structure, an RML Core lead could be the PI/PD, Assistant Director, or other appropriate position. Information about the qualifications and responsibilities of the Core Lead (or any other position) can be included in the biosketch, in the budget justification section, and in the Research Strategy section.

    The Project Leads for the NN/LM DOCLINE Coordination Office (NDCO), the NN/LM Web Services Office (NWSO), the NN/LM Training Office (NTO), the NN/LM Evaluation Office (NEO), and the NN/LM Public Health Coordination Office (NPHCO) should be different from the PD/PI of the RML since the Offices function autonomously for the benefit of the entire National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The specific roles, responsibilities, and qualifications for the Office Project Lead and all office staff are defined by the Applicant.

  11. Other than the PI/PD are the definitions of other staff mentioned in the FOA?

    There are no definitions for staff other than the PI/PD. The applicant can define roles and responsibilities of other staff in the RML to best meet their regional and national needs. Applicants can define roles for National Network Offices to best meet National Network needs. Use the senior/key personnel biosketches to provide detailed information about staff qualifications. Roles and responsibilities can be presented in the Budget Justification section.

  12. Who are the RML administrative staff?

    This is determined by the applicant. You can indicate these positions in an organization chart and describe responsibilities in the budget justification section.

  13. Who makes up the National Network Steering Committee?

    The Steering Committee will be the RML PI/PDs, Project Leads from the NN/LM DOCLINE Coordination Office (NDCO), the NN/LM Web Services Office (NWSO), the NN/LM Training Office (NTO), the NN/LM Evaluation Office (NEO), and the NN/LM Public Health Coordination Office (NPHCO), Network Scientific Officers from the NNCO, and chaired by the NNCO Head.

  14. Can the PI be different for each core or should the same PI for the overall component be listed for all cores and offices?

    You can only have one PI/PD for each RML and a separate Project Lead for each of the 5 National Network Offices. See also Personnel number 6.

  15. How are the reporting requirements impacted by the number of senior/key personnel?

    On an annual basis all NIH awardees submit a Research Performance Progress Report. In this report awardees list the amount of time senior/key personnel devoted to the project and provide a list of any changes to other external support for these staff members. See also Programmatic number 1.

  16. Can support personnel be shared with other non-RML activity library units? Would something like the following be acceptable? Senior Accountant: 20% effort on RML work, 80% effort on non-RML work and Executive Assistant: 20% effort on RML work, 80% effort on non-RML work.

    Yes both support and senior/key personnel can have part time appointments with the RML or the 5 National Network Offices. Funding of the person’s salary must be apportioned to the different sources as well. For example, Senior Accountant: 20% effort on RML work (20% salary paid from grant funds), 80% effort for non-RML or National Network Office work funded from other source(s).

  17. Can the associate director of the RML be less than 1fte on the RML cooperative agreement and the rest of the 1fte as PI/PD on an office cooperative agreement?

    Percent effort for PI/PDs, Core Leads, Project Leads (National Network Offices) can be determined by the applicant.

  18. Will annual orientations for new NN/LM staff at NLM be continued?

    This is to be determined.

  19. Under the current contract the Director of the library is considered the PI for the subcontract and is not paid. Under the cooperative agreement can we continue the practice of not paying the PI?

    Yes the PI of a subaward does not need to be paid from subaward funds. However, the subaward institution cannot be required to contribute any support (cost share) for the subaward activities. The guideline regarding cost sharing is that NIH cannot require the awardee to contribute any costs towards a grant project (i.e., cost share). However, the awardee or subawardee can voluntarily contribute funds/resources to award activities. This happens quite frequently. The difference is that required cost sharing is not permitted but voluntary cost sharing is allowed.

  20. Could the librarian whose salary is covered or partially covered by the subaward be the PI for the subaward?

    Certainly.

  21. From my understanding, all senior/key persons must submit a Biosketch; however only the PI/PD is required to have an eRA Commons ID at the time of submission. Please confirm that senior/key persons can leave the eRA Commons ID field blank in their Biosketch submissions.

    Yes, you only need the PI/PD to have an eRA Commons ID at submission. However, you may be requested during the award negotiation phase (when your application is selected for an award) to submit eRA Commons IDs for all senior personnel. If awarded you will definitely need to have eRA Commons IDs for all senior personnel for the annual report. It is a good idea to obtain eRA Commons IDs sooner than later. You obtain these from your University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

  22. How should budget(s) and staff allocation(s) be recorded if an institution is applying for the base RML award and national office(s). For example, it’s possible that two support staff are budgeted at 100% effort for the RML. Those same staff might be used to provide support two national offices. Is it possible to propose these staff at 100% for the RML and also 10% and 10% for the offices with the understanding that, should offices be awarded to the RML, the effort allocation would change to 80%, 10%, and 10%?

    Staff that will be employed by the RML can also work in the proposed national office(s). To make it clear to reviewers and NIH staff, briefly mention this plan for adjusting time allocation for the proposed shared staff in the budget justification for the office(s).

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Budget questions

  1. Do we submit a 1 year or 5 year budget? Is there any guidance for preparing a budget?

    Applications will include a detailed yearly budget for the 3 cores and every proposed National Network Office for the 5 year period. A budget summary in the Overall section of the assembled application will be automatically compiled from the detailed budget data collected.

    Budget forms and instructions are part of the online application package for ASSIST. Applicants must use these online forms. Budget information is also included in the Application Guide. Your university will also have guidance in preparing budgets for NIH applications. Work closely with your university’s office of research and sponsored programs when preparing this application.

    Currently NIH only supports grant budget development online ether through ASSIST or Grants.gov. Some applicants find it useful to have a budget development tool that they can use offline and share evolving budgets with colleagues and administrators. Since the NIH SF424 budget format has been used for many years, a large number of universities and other organizations have created budget instructions, templates, and work sheets for their faculty and staff. There may be materials designed specifically for your university. Contact your grants and sponsored programs office to see if they have developed a template or recommend a budget template or worksheet based on the current NIH SF424 format. These materials often include formulas and other time saving features customized for your institution. The grants and sponsored programs office should have guidance on how to create a budget. They also might be able to put you in contact with someone at your university who has NIH grant budget expertise.

  2. In the R&R Budget Form, it appears that first you enter Sr/Key Personnel, then you enter Other Personnel. Can you please confirm this?

    Yes the R&R Budget Form is split between SeniorKey Personnel and Other. Senior and key personnel are the PD/PI and other individuals who contribute to the scientific/programmatic development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation under the grant. Other would be other paid personnel who are not senior and/or key personnel. Administrative staff performing business management, office, human resource, payroll, accounting etc. roles are normally considered Other in the budget.

  3. Does the $1.3 million annual cost for an RML include direct and indirect costs?

    Yes the $1.3 million annual cost does include direct and indirect costs. The National Network Offices have separate total budget levels listed in the funding announcement.

  4. Will any outstanding balances in year one be allowed to carry into year 2 with prior approval?

    There is no automatic carryover with cooperative agreement grants. Unobligated balances will be either allocated to continue targeted RML or Office activities, new project activities, or used as an offset for the following budget year.

  5. Would you expand on how we do multi-year subawards when carry over is not automatic?

    The funding period for this grant program is five years. A subaward can be initiated for any part of a year or for as long as five years. If a subaward continues past the end of an annual funding period, the subaward costs for the next year will be incorporated into the next year budget, similar to salaries and other expenses planned in the next year. This is very common for awards that extend over multiple years. Your institution will have procedures for managing such subawards.

  6. Are we allowed to have annual escalation or inflation in the budget proposal to cover salary and other increases?

    No, budget escalation or annual inflation has not been permitted for the past 4 years for NLM grants. Do not include escalation or inflation in your budget projections. Plan for a flat annual budget for both RMLs and National Network Offices. Annual salary increases will need to be accommodated through other adjustments in the annual budget.

  7. Do funds for the 5 National Network Offices come out of the $12 million?

    Yes, $12M covers the RMLs and National Network Offices.

  8. Is it possible for a RML or National Network Office to receive additional funds from an outside source? Can an outside organization contribute to the work of a RML or National Network Office?

    Yes, additional funds can be obtained by an RML or National Network Office from Federal, State, or private sources. The funds, however, cannot be co-mingled with federal funds from an accounting perspective and the tasks funded by the additional funds must be used for complementary activities, or totally new activities. However, the additional funds cannot be used to replace federal funds as they were approved and the federal funds cannot be used to support activities that were not part of the approved original or amended award plan. Outside organizations are highly encouraged to contribute to the work of an RML or Office.

  9. I’ve been looking for things like budget forms, but cannot find them. Am I missing something?

    See Budget number 1.

  10. Will payment continue being cost reimbursement?

    The fiscal procedures for the UG4 mechanism are handled the same way virtually all NIH grants are handled with the awardee institution. Contact your university grants and sponsored programs office to learn about your institutions internal fiscal management procedures. Refer to //grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch7.htm, Cost Considerations under the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

  11. The SF424 Application Guide states that separate budgets are required for sub-awardees that perform a 'substantive portion of the project'. What is the threshold defining a substantive portion?

    NIH does not have a threshold for “substantive portion of the project”. However, your university will have rules and guidelines regarding subawards.

  12. What is the indirect cost rate for awards under RFA-LM-15-003?

    Indirect cost determination must follow current federal guidelines, Uniform Guidelines and OMB implementation, which state that agencies will award F&A costs based upon the Federally established rate agreement for the university. The rate used is the Other Sponsored Activities. Work with your university on how this rate applies.

  13. Will indirect costs be required for all subcontracts and all amounts?

    Yes, subawardees are always entitled to their full Federally-negotiated rate. Work with your university on how this rate applies at your organization.

  14. RFA-LM-15-003 encourages the use of subawards to Network members "to help achieve regional outreach, education, and technology goals." How should subawards be reported in the budget areas of the NIH ASSIST application? Do we only need to provide the figure in the "Other Direct Costs subcategory, Subawards/Consortium/ Contractual Costs," or does a detailed budget need to be included in the Optional Form, R&R Subaward Budget?

    Subawards are an important tool for an RML and major subawards should be negotiated as part of planning for this application. For example, a subaward could be negotiated with another organization to host a proposed National Network Office. In that case it would be very important to include this subaward in an R&R Subaward Budget. There are likely to be other much smaller subawards that are proposed, but not negotiated, for example with other libraries in your region. If the subaward negotiations are complete then you would include them using the R&R Subaward Budget. However, perhaps many planned subawards are in early stage of negotiation or exist only as a plan, in this case the budget for the subawards would be included as a single sum entered into the “Other Direct Costs” budget category as a custom item named “Future Subawards”. Be sure to provide a thorough justification for these funds in the Budget Justification section.

  15. If we have a Subaward/Consortium (as ASSIST calls them) to include in our application, what documents from the subawardee are required to be submitted in the application? In the ASSIST instructions, the only reference made to subawardees is in the Budget module - does the subawardee submit only a budget and budget justification, but *no* statement of work or Research Plan or other documents?

    You must follow the SF424 Instruction Guide as well as the ASSIST instructions when completing the application. Each subaward requires a completed subaward budget and justification. The justification does include a description of work to be accomplished, but perhaps not as detailed as the paprerwork you must complete for your University. You can complete all of this information in the online form or download, complete offline and then upload a subaward budget form into ASSIST.

  16. If subawardee needs to submit documents other than a budget and budget justification, where in the application should these documents be attached? Should we attach the non-budget subawardee documents in an Appendix, or in the Other Attachments area of a core, or...?

    The only document required for a subaward is the R&R Subaward Budget Form that can be completed online, or completed offline and then uploaded.

  17. The Administrative Core budget instructs to streamline the Admin budget so that "the majority of RML funds are available for supporting access to biomedical health information, outreach and educational activities." Are the Access to Biomedical Health Information and Outreach/Educational Activities cores weighted equally during review? That is, should these two areas be funded equitably, with similar amount FTE and programming (50/50 between these two cores)? Or can an RML place heavier emphasis on one core over the other (more like 70/30)?

    The review criteria are presented in Section V of the funding opportunity announcement. It is the responsibility of the applicant to prepare a plan that adequately addresses these criteria. The plans should be designed for the RML to meet regional needs and participate fully as an RML partner in the National Network. Funding and resource allocation decisions and should be based on these considerations. There is no preset weighting of components in regards to peer reviewers determining an overall merit score for an application.

  18. If our submission for an RML budget is over $1.3 million how will this affect its review and award?

    The budget is not part of the scoring criteria for peer reviewers, but is reviewed by NIH.

  19. Can our specific coordinator and financial manager be included as personnel or are these people supposed to be covered by institutional F&A?

    The new Uniform Guidelines (UG) allow for administrative costs (assume administrative staffing) as direct costs if they are deemed by the grantee to be “allocable”, and meet the definition below, and can be directly identified with the project and its cost objectives. You do not need permission from NIH to add them to your budget. However, your university may have rules how such administrative costs are allocated. Adequate justification for these positions must be provided in the Budget Justification section.

    200.413 Direct Costs makes consistent the guidance that administrative costs may be treated as direct costs when they meet certain conditions to demonstrate that they are directly allocable to a Federal award.

    Allocability: A cost is allocable to a specific grant, function, department, or other component, known as a cost objective, if the goods or services involved are chargeable or assignable to that cost objective in accordance with the relative benefits received or other equitable relationship. A cost is allocable to a grant if it is incurred solely in order to advance work under the grant; it benefits both the grant and other work of the institution, including other grant-supported projects; or it is necessary to the overall operation of the organization and is deemed to be assignable, at least in part, to the grant. A cost is allocable as a direct cost to a grant if it is incurred solely in order to advance work under the grant or meets the criteria for closely related projects determination.

  20. Are general purpose equipment allowable costs for RFA-LM-15-003? This would include staff workstations, training laptops/projectors, exhibit laptops/monitors/displays, and/or if applicable, equipment for RML training room, etc. that would be used to fulfill programmatic areas of the proposal.

    Yes. The new Uniform Guidelines (UG) allow for costs as direct costs if they are deemed by the grantee to be “allocable”, meet the definition in the question above, and can be directly identified with the project and its cost objectives. You do not need permission from NIH to add them to your budget. However, your university may have rules how such administrative costs are allocated. Adequate justification for these positions must be provided in the Budget Justification section.

  21. We have travel honorariums for our consortium. Can these be listed as “other direct costs” or are they considered “participant support costs”?

    If included as part of your application, include as other direct costs. Be sure to carefully explain these costs in the Budget Justification section.

  22. How is equipment defined ($1K or $5K lower limit)?

    NIH defines equipment as items greater than $5K. In an application all equipment and other supplies need to be adequately justified in the Budget Justification section of the application. All equipment requests are carefully evaluated during the peer reviewer and grant negotiation stages.

  23. Will the RMLs be required to staff national exhibits? If so, how many should be budgeted for each year? Should expenses related to the exhibit program (renting and furnishing exhibit space at conferences) be included under the Other Direct Costs, Equipment or Facility Rental/User Fees subcategory? Or is this subcategory specific for long-term leased property?

    Applicants should consider adding any regional and/or national meetings to their application that will add the greatest impact for promoting NLM products and services. The NNSC will make the final selection of any national meetings. These fees can be listed in the Other Direct Costs, Equipment or Facility Rental/User Fees subcategory. Be sure to carefully describe these fees in the budget justification section.

  24. The Budget (Administrative Core) states “The budget should include travel expenses for all RML administrative staff to attend the annual NN/LM all hands meeting on the Friday preceding the Annual Medical Library Association meeting.” If only 2 are being listed as Senior/Key personnel in the Administrative Core, does this mean these are the only 2 required to attend the all hands meeting? Additionally, we have administrative staff such as a business manager that is not designated as Senior/Key personnel, would this person need to be at the all hands meeting? We also have additional Senior/Key personnel that are listed under the Support Access Core and the Outreach/Education Core; would they not be required to attend the all hands meeting?

    The RML and Office PIs will decide which staff will attend the NN/LM all hands meeting on the Friday preceding the Annual Medical Library Association meeting. In general, this will include staff that are active in the work of the RML or Office but not administrative staff unless the PI thinks administrative staff need to take part.

  25. Can we submit key positions without personal names?

    In the application budget you can list the position as TBD (To Be Determined). In the budget justification you can briefly describe your situation.

  26. The applicant must submit annual budgets for Years 1-5, and each year has three “sub-budgets” (separate budgets for the three cores). So for the entire application, the applicant should prepare 15 R&R Budget forms, correct? Similarly, each R&R Budget form requires a budget justification narrative. – So for the entire application, the applicant should prepare 15 budget justification narratives, correct? For persistent items in the budget, with persistent budget justification, is there a method to make a “master” budget justification to refer to, so it does not have to be repeated 15 times? (For instance, IDC will remain constant through the entire funding period, and through all cores. Does the applicant have to justify IDC in all 15 budgets?)

    Work with your University Grants Office in preparing the budget for this application they will have expertise and perhaps even tools for preparing budgets for NIH grants. Also see Budget Question 1 above. Carefully read all instructions. Since the UG4 is a 5 year grant you will prepare 1 budget for each of the 5 years. The yearly budget can be segmented into the 3 core areas so you can enter the data into the ASSIST system. The ASSIST software will then compile the data into a single budget. Examine the ASSIST online entry form. You should find that you enter IDC only once. You only need a budget justification for the first year of the budget.

  27. In the next grant can award money be given to another federal agency to do outreach - such as VA hospitals? Is that allowed?

    Yes, you can create a subaward with a VA Hospital.

  28. In the Budget section of this FAQ, the answer to question number one 1 states that applications will include a detailed yearly budget for the 3 cores, for the 5 year period; and the answer to question number 26 states that a budget justification is needed only for the first year (Y1). Since a budget justification is not required for Y2-Y5, does that mean that costs proposed in the detailed yearly budget for Y1 are repeated in the detailed yearly budgets for Y2-Y5?

    No. Propose budgets for each of the 5 years that are appropriate for the activities planned for that time period. Thus budget amounts in the various categories are likely to change from year to year. Yes, only present a budget justification for Year 1. Please also read the answer to Budget section question number 6. Do not include an annual escalation or inflation for each subsequent budget year. It is likely each project will need to adjust the amounts spent in each category to account for increases in some of the budget categories.

  29. Does the R&R Subaward Budget need to be completed for all five years?

    Yes, if the negotiated subaward will be for the entire 5 year period. Otherwise only include budgets for the years of the subaward.

  30. Does the R&R Subaward Budget justification narrative need to be completed for all five years?

    No, a budget justification is only needed for the first year of the award.

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Request for Application (RFA) related questions

  1. Our office of research has indicated to us that a cooperative agreement falls in the grants category not subcontracts. Typically grants allows for scientists to have independence over their work - not less. How do we best explain the oversight that NLM has indicated will take place to our office of research?

    Perhaps your office of research is referring to the NIH parent R01 grant rather than a cooperative agreement grant: A support mechanism used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities. The cooperative agreement mechanism has been used by NIH for decades involving thousands of grants. It is the most common funding mechanism for NIH national networks and similar programs. In Section IV of the funding announcement the Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award outlines responsibilities.

  2. In a cooperative agreement – do you know the extent of approvals/permissions we will need to go through? Such as, approval for consultants, technology purchases, etc…

    In a cooperative agreement NIH staff do not get involved in daily management decisions. In Section IV of the funding announcement the Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award outlines responsibilities. The operational policies and procedures will be developed in cooperation with the National Network Steering Committee.

  3. Will a special review committee review all applications? Who is on the committee? Will reviewers of the RML proposal also review the RML’s national office proposals?

    All applications will be reviewed by a NLM Special Emphasis Panel consisting of external experts (non-NLM) following standard NIH review quality assurance procedures for the RMLs and 5 National Network Offices. The review meeting will be in October/November 2015. There will be separate scores for the RML and the National Network Offices.

  4. What happens if an institution applies to host one of the national coordination offices and is not selected as an RML?

    The funding decision process first determines whether the RML application is selected for funding. Then a decision will be made on which 5 National Network Offices will be funded from among the 2016-2021 RML recipients. If an institution applies to host one of the 5 National Network Offices and is not selected as an RML then no part of the application will receive funding.

  5. Will the Scientific Review Group use the content of the NN/LM Workbook in the evaluation of proposals?

    No, the review committee will use the criteria located in Section V of RFA-LM-15-003.

  6. Where do the references go? Are they included in the page count for each core?

    References also called citations are uploaded as a separate document in ASSIST. They are not included in page count.

  7. The RFA implies we are to submit position descriptions. Where should we attach position descriptions in the ASSIST application? Would they be in an appendix, and referred to in the Research Plan?

    Include the position descriptions in the Appendix and refer to them in the Research Plan.

  8. The Application Guide says it's a good idea to submit a Cover Letter attachment addressed to the Division of Receipt and Referral. Should we do that, and if so, is there any special information we should include in it?

    A cover letter is not necessary for this application.

  9. What are the page limits for the components of this application?
    Component
    Page Limits
    Component
    Overall 6
    Administrative Core 6
    Support Access to Biomedical and Health Information Core 12
    Outreach and Education Core 12
    NN/LM DOCLINE Coordination Office 6
    NN/LM Web Services Office 6
    NN/LM Training Office 6
    NN/LM Evaluation Office 6
    NN/LM Public Health Coordination Office 6
  10. What can go in the appendix? Can the org chart and milestones/deliverables tables go there or are they included in the page count for each core?

    An appendix should not be used to circumvent the page limitations of the Research Plan. Essential information should be included within the body of the grant application. The appendices should contain supportive or supplemental information, e.g. organization chart and timelines/milestones should be in the body, whereas a long list of deliverable items can be placed in an appendix. The appendix is uploaded as a separate document in the application.

  11. What types of letters of support are needed? Should we submit multiple letters of support from the same institution to address and be attached to each component (Admin-Core, Core, NNLM-Office), or just one overarching letter from that institution to be attached in the Overall component? How do we handle letters of support for National Offices?

    Most of these letters are actually letters of commitment from organizations outside you group who are agreeing to work on some task related to the RML or one of the 5 National Network Offices. A much smaller number would be letters of support by stakeholders regarding the value of the services performed in the past or proposed in the application. For the RML, you can provide a single letter of support from an agency to cover multiple core functions of the RML. Separate National Network Office letters of support should be attached to each National Office component since the National Offices are autonomous from the RML and have distinctly different missions. We do not provide sample letters. Letters of Support are uploaded as a PDF and do not count against page limits.

  12. FOA Letters of Support: What does this mean – an example would be helpful. “State how the applicant institution and any partner institutions anticipate participating in NIH programs using subcontracts.”

    A letter of support from the subawardee or partner to the Applicant states the subawardee’s or partner’s commitment to participate with Applicant in specific activities with the RML or one of the 5 National Network Offices. We do not provide samples.

  13. What is the definition of subcontract as used in this funding opportunity announcement?

    The correct term should be “subaward”. Awardees (the RMLs) must establish a subaward, or consortium agreement, with any outside organization that performs any substantial part of the grant supported program activities. Normal grant purchases and fee for service arrangements are not considered subawards. Each subaward must have a formal written agreement for meeting the programmatic, administrative, financial, and reporting requirements of a grant. NIH does not have a threshold for “substantive portion of the project”. However, your university will have rules and guidelines regarding subawards.

  14. Will a single letter of support stating support for the RML, the different cores and national offices be appropriate or should the RML and cores support letter be one letter and a separate letter be written for each the national offices proposal?

    You can provide a single letter of support or commitment from an organization or individual to cover the multiple core functions of the RML. Separate letters should be included for each of the national offices. The grant application should contain a signed letter from each collaborator to the applicant that lists the contribution he or she intends to make and his or her commitment to the work. These letters are often the primary assurance the reviewers have that this work will in fact be done. http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/writing_Application.htm. We do not provide sample letters.

  15. Please confirm that the Start and End dates for components (other than the Overall) should be May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2021.

    We plan on awarding RMLs and the 5 National Network Offices with these start and end dates.

  16. Will award notification occur before the May 1 2016 start date?

    Yes.

  17. In those regions where there is competition, will there be site visits? If, yes, how will they be conducted (in-person, remote, etc.)

    This is to be determined.

  18. Will there be site visit(s) to review the RML during the 5 year cooperative agreement? If yes, who will be traveling?

    This is to be determined.

  19. What evaluation mechanism will be used to evaluate the RML at the end of the 5 years?

    This is to be determined.

  20. In the current five-year contract, the RMLs were required to create a Small Business Subcontracting Plan. Is this applicable to RFA-LM-15-003, or is there a similar small business requirement in this cooperative agreement?

    There is no Small Business Subcontracting Plan or any similar requirement in RFA-LM-15-003.

  21. The Additional Review Criteria of the Overall section has the following included: “Does the overall organizational chart clearly present an overview of the performance sites, data analysis and data management functions and responsibilities of the Administration Core, Support Access to Biomedical and Health Information Core, and Outreach & Education Core?” However, the requirements of the Overall Research Strategy do not include an organization chart. This is reserved for the Administrative Core. Are organizational charts supposed to be included in both sections? How are we to reconcile this matter?

    Prepare only one organizational chart for all the RML components. Include the organizational chart for the RML in either the Overall or Administrative Core components. You can refer the reader to the Organizational chart as needed in the Overall, Administrative Core, or other core components.

  22. The review criteria for the Administrative Core contains a component that states: is the management plan for fiscal accountability and communication within the RML appropriate? Can you describe in more detail what type of fiscal accountability plan is expected?

    There is no expected or sample fiscal accountability plan. Each institution follows their own procedures that are in concurrence with federal grant guidelines. Work closely with your university grants and sponsored research office when creating a plan for managing your grant that will adhere to both federal and institutional guidelines. Sources of information on NIH Grants Policies are located at //grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm and //grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-087.html.

  23. Is the specific aims a separate component to the Overall, Administrative Core, Access Core and Outreach Core? Does each have 1-page for specific aims that is outside the page limit of the research strategy?

    CORRECTION: The specific aims for a core are described in a separate one page document that is uploaded separately. The research strategy section is a separate document with the listed page limits. Description of the specific aims for the core is positioned at the beginning of the research strategy section of the Core or component. It does not have to be a separate page. For example, the specific aims can be a half of a page and then you continue the description of Core research strategy on the same page. The specific aims are NOT outside the page limits of the research strategy.

  24. Does the above answer also apply to the National Offices in that the specific aims is a separate one page document that is uploaded separately and outside of the research strategy page limit?

    Yes, it does.

  25. Should the Overall component cover the optional components or does it discuss only the three main RML components?

    Do not discuss the optional components (National Offices) in the Overall component. The optional components will be scored separately and will not impact the Overall score of the RML.

  26. Is the project summary/abstract required for the overall section and all 3 cores?

    The response from an inquiry to NIH eRA Help Desk (//grants.nih.gov/support/index.html) is that items marked with a asterisk are required, other items are optional. Definitely include a full project summary/abstract for the Overall component. If it is a required for Admin, Support Access and Outreach and Education Cores then you can provide a very brief version to meet the requirement. However, the optional National Office components will be reviewed separately, thus including a project summary/abstract for optional National Office components would be useful.

  27. For the application, are facilities and equipment entries required? If so, do we place these in only 1 core or repeat in all?

    See the instructions in SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for NIH and Other PHS agencies, Section 9.4.3 number 10 in the table. Facilities & Other Resources - Unless specific instructions are provided in the FOA, applicants have the option of including this attachment in the Overall Component, Other Components or both. User-defined bookmarks provided in the Facilities & Other Resources attachment will be included with the bookmarks of the assembled application image in eRA Commons. Please note the FOA does not have any more specific instruction about Facilities & Other Resources so the applicant can choose to include this only in the Overall section. However, the Facilities & Other Resources might be different for a National Office component and these optional components will be reviewed separately, thus including a Facilities & Other Resources in the optional National Office components would be useful.

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DOCLINE, ILL and document delivery questions

  1. If license agreements do not allow a library from providing document delivery to unaffiliated individuals does this disqualify the library from applying for the RML cooperative agreement?

    The application must address the required component, Support Access to Biomedical and Health Information Core. See review criteria: “Is the plan to provide biomedical and health information efficiently and effectively to a variety of users in a shared resources environment that spans both traditional interlibrary loan and other library mediated information services feasible?”

  2. Is there a way to print a system wide report that shows each DOCLINE LIBID's "status"? Such as Open, Closed, Not A DOCLINE Library, Borrow Only, etc.? Plus attach the following file layout information: Contact/People, File Layout: LIBID|Institution|Department|Contact Type|Name|Title|Area Code|Phone|Fax|email

    There are some pre-configured reports we can generate from the DOCLINE system. However, the status field is not an available field in such reports. Please contact us if you need specific DOCLINE information.

  3. Is there a time of day (or times during the day) and day of week when U.S. DOCLINE initiated "borrow" requests peak? Do time zone impacts have an influence?

    Typically, the number of borrow requests peaks on Monday and gradually decreases each day until Friday when the number of requests are lowest for the week. On a typical day, the number of borrow requests increases gradually from early morning to about noon Eastern Time when they peak. After noon Eastern Time, the number of requests gradually decreases.

  4. Is there a day of the week where there are MORE DOCLINE customer service questions submitted than other days?

    The number of customer service inquiries is usually lowest on Mondays and Fridays.

  5. Do customer service requests typically spike just after a version upgrade?

    There is often an 'uptick' in customer service questions after a new version is released. The number of customer service questions may 'spike' when a big, new feature is released or when a release reveals an issue or appears to cause something to stop working.

  6. Are there other reasons why customer service requests might spike?

    The number of customer service questions also increases slightly after the annual meeting of the Medical Library Association in May and after changes to PubMed or LocatorPlus.

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Programmatic questions

  1. Will there be annual reporting in the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) or will there be quarterly and annual reporting in the Outreach Contracts Report system?

    Yes, reporting will be required. An annual Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) will be required for each funded project. The National Network Steering Committee will be involved in ensuring the reporting procedures meet the needs of the NLM and NIH guidelines in an effective and efficient manner. We will ask for additional reporting of activities and outreach efforts; specifics TBD. See also Personnel number 15.

  2. There is no dictated network structure, but Resource Libraries are mention in the Support Access to Biomedical and Health Information Core. Is it assumed that every region will have Resource Libraries although they are not mentioned anywhere else in the RFA?

    A core requirement is to improve and support access to biomedical and health information regionally. In the past Resource Libraries were one of the mechanisms used by RMLs. Applicants need to address how they will achieve this core requirement.

  3. What is the level of specificity or activities for the "big data" component?

    The Network supports biomedical “big data” by providing assistance with creating data management plans and helping scientific researchers find appropriate data repositories to submit their data. The goal is to assist making data (especially NIH funded) discoverable, accessible, and citable. Plans should address training or other support for: locating and accessing data and software tools; standardizing data and metadata; data and software sharing; and the organization, management, and processing of biomedical big data.

  4. In the Organizational Workbook, under NN/LM Training Office, it states “Fixed training sites for conducting classroom training are located at the eight RMLs.” In the current five-year contract, RMLs were required to have a dedicated training room for potential NTC training sessions. The training room had specific equipment and student accommodation requirements. In the next funding cycle, are the RMLs expected to continue to maintain and equip training sites in anticipation for NN/LM Training Office classroom training, and should this be included in our Period 1 budgets?

    Applicants should consider partner resources when composing responses to the RFA in relation to collaborating with the National Training Office. Applicants should address the review criteria: Does the program propose to collaborate with the NTO to implement a regional education program.

  5. Can you please clarify the meaning of this second bullet under the reviewer criteria in the national centers’ proposal guidelines?: "Continuity of quality service for core programs of the NN/LM, and the design, implementation and evaluation of innovative future approaches."

    The goal is to seamlessly transition from current funding cycle to next funding cycle.

  6. In RFA Section 2, Overall Component, Research Strategy, the direction is: "Describe plans to use the tools and guidelines developed by the NN/LM Evaluation Office (NEO) to target and measure success. This section should not make reference to any NN/LM national office for which the Applicant is currently applying." Does that mean that if the RML is applying for the NEO, the RML proposal cannot suggest tools, guidelines and meaningful measures of success discussed in the NEO component of the application?

    Yes, the RML core application should not suggest tools, etc., that you might be proposing for the NEO. The 5 Offices, including NEO are autonomous from the RMLs. However, you may include tools, etc. from the existing OERC in your RML core application. This section in your application should not make reference to any National Network Office for you are applying.

  7. What does NSO stand for in Figure 1 [Organizational workbook pg 5]?

    Network Scientific Officer

  8. What are the definitions of the terms “resource library,” “subcontractor,” and “participating partner institution?” Please clarify the differences between these three groups within the RFA.

    A Resource Library is one type of "participating partner institution. The correct term for subcontractor should be subawardee. RMLs and the 5 National Network Offices can establish a subaward with any outside organization that performs any substantial part of the program activities. Each subaward must have a formal written agreement for meeting the programmatic, administrative, financial, and reporting requirements of the cooperative agreement. The RML can issue a subaward to any participating partner institution as well as other organizations.

  9. Are applicants allowed to identify and recruit resource libraries at the time of application in order to meet the requirements outlined for the research strategy in the Research Plan (Overall)? Also, will existing Resource Libraries automatically retain that status in the 2016-2021 award period?

    Applicants need to consider, not recruit, potential partners. Applicants are encouraged to understand regional needs. The goal is to have continued services as the Network transitions from contracts to grants. Current Resource Libraries will need to be considered for new partnerships in this new award mechanism.

  10. Is a Regional Advisory Committee required, or can respondents propose alternative mechanisms for soliciting feedback?

    A Regional Advisory Committee is not required, however, applicants should consider effective strategies and feedback mechanisms for their Region.

  11. Will the criteria of the Resource Library Agreements be similar to the current criteria?

    There are no criteria for resource libraries in the funding opportunity announcement. A core requirement is to improve and support access to biomedical and health information regionally. In the past Resource Libraries were one of the mechanisms used by RMLs.

  12. The FOA indicates the NNO will have greater involvement with the RMLs. How will this be different from the current program?

    A cooperative agreement mechanism is used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities. The cooperative agreement mechanism has been used by NIH for decades involving thousands of grants. It is the most common funding mechanism for NIH national networks and similar programs. An integral component of this agreement will be the National Network Steering Committee (see workbook for charter).

  13. An office is currently part of an RML that has competition. What happens to that office if the RML cooperative agreement is awarded to a different library in the region and no other RML has submitted a proposal for that office?

    This is to be determined.

  14. Several computing and networking questions related to Web services are answered in the Draft NN/LM Organizational Workbook (PDF File) - Last update: June 2, 2015. Go to Additional Supplements, NN/LM Web Services Office, Computing and Networking Related to Web Services.
  15. Would it be possible for entity other than a library, such as a not-for-profit organization, to serve as a National Network Office, such as the NN/LM Public Health Coordination Office (NPHCO)? What special steps or documentation would be needed to make such a proposal?

    In the Regional Medical Libraries for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (UG4) (RFA-LM-15-003) the National Network Offices are optional components accompanying a RML application. An organization cannot submit an application for one of the optional network offices without applying for an RML. However, as part of an RML application the applicant can include a subaward to another organization (such as a not-for-profit) to serve as an autonomous National Network Office. The process would be to enter into a formal subaward agreement with the applicant organization and complete the component for the proposed National Office according to the published instructions. By the way, the location of the subaward organization can be anywhere in the US since the National Office serves national, not just regional, needs. For example, a subaward to an organization for a NN/LM Public Health Coordination Office (NPHCO) located in Alaska can be part of an application from a university in Florida.

  16. If an RML or Office is moved from one institution to another, what would the timing of the wind-down and wind-up period look like. Would it be expected that the potential new location needs to be up and ready to provide service starting May 01, 2016? Will there be several months for this transition to ensure uninterrupted service?

    The specifics of the transition period are to be determined. Our goal is to have smooth transitions with little to no program disruptions.

  17. Regarding NIH Adobe Connect archiving services. What information is available from them regarding archived video storage capacity specifically for the RMLs and Centers? What is their current configuration and what are their plans for meeting growth?

    Currently, the 8 RMLs and 3 Centers use the National Institutes of Health Web Collaboration facility for NN/LM work-related web conferencing. Storage is provided by NIH. Specific plans for the future are to be determined.

  18. Is there anyway that we can get data on use of PubMed, MedlinePlus or other NLM resources for our region?

    The table below gives the number of unique page views by NN/LM region for MedlinePlus, including MedlinePlus en espanol, DailyMed and PubMed for the period January 1, 2015 to March 31, 2015.

    Region Number of MedlinePlus Page Views Number of DailyMed Page Views Number of PubMed Page Views
    Mid Atlantic Region 10,438,347 10,619,049 36,178,929
    Southeastern Atlantic Region 20,209,110 10,988,081 45,157,349
    Greater Midwest Region 9,918,455 6,917,223 39,520,006
    Midcontinental Region 4,911,779 8,439,304 12,407,091
    South Central Region 8,202,511 2,880,732 17,527,141
    Pacific Northwest Region 4,710,792 1,785,964 8,520,128
    Pacific Southwest Region 10,002,489 6,342,153 30,000,177
    New England Region 2,729,946 2,320,049 21,523,867
  19. Can you please provide clarification as to the exact US Department of Health and Human Services Information Policies the Web Services Office will be expected to implement and evaluate? There are several different DHHS policies and documents and it is necessary for NLM to guide us as to the specific expectation so that we can properly address this within the proposal.?

    Please see the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Information Policies at //www.hhs.gov/ocio/policy/index.html.

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