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eRA Commons Enhancements & System Downtime – April 24th

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 7:50am

eRA Enhancements: Highlights of eRA Commons’ Upcoming Release & Scheduled Downtime for Thursday, April 24

Monday, April 21, 2014


Scheduled Downtime for April Release:

eRA Commons and ASSIST will be unavailable beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, April 24, and will return to service by 7 a.m. ET Friday, April 25, 2014. When the system is available again, you will see new features and functionality have been added to the system.   The following are highlights of eRA Commons’ upcoming April 24-25 software release. These are just some of the many features being rolled out for this release; check out the release notes for more information on features and fixes.

Highlights of eRA Commons’ April Software Release

Updates in eRA Commons

NIH is making several changes to the Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) module to improve institutional reporting and promote compliance:


·         The FCOI Annual Report link in eRA Commons will appear closer to when it is due:

o    For ongoing projects:  The Annual Report link will appear 75 days prior to the next budget period start date, following the submission of an Original Report or Annual Report when there is a future noncompeting year pending within a current competitive segment.

o    For eRA Commons No Cost Extensions:  The Annual Report link will appear the day after the grantee takes action to extend the project via the Commons.

o    For Notice of Award (NoA) extensions:  An Annual Report link will not be available.  Instead, until eRA implements a change in the FCOI module, the NIH will send the grantee a “Request for Additional Information” asking the grantee to provide a status of the FCOI and any changes to the management plan, if applicable, prior to the issuance of the revised NoA. 


·         FCOI Signing Officials (SOs) Will Receive an Email Reminder That Annual Report is Due: 

o    An email reminder will now be sent to the FCOI SO, when the Annual Report link becomes available in the FCOI module (as described above). 


·         FCOI Reports to be Submitted under the Current, Active Grant Year:

o    When an FCOI SO enters a grant number for a grant year that is not the current, active grant year, a warning message will appear to allow the SO to select another grant year, if appropriate. 

o    Future Annual Reports will be submitted under the currently funded grant year (e.g., year 04) without regard to the grant year in which the Original Report was submitted (e.g., year 01).  This is a change to the way the system currently functions. 


·         Revised FCOI Reports May Be Submitted up to 150 days After Submitting an Original Report:

o    Revised FCOI reports are only needed following the completion of a Retrospective Review when the grantee needs to:

1)     provide new FCOI information that results in a change to a previously submitted FCOI report (e.g., an increase in value of a previously reported significant financial interest (SFI), discovery of a new SFI, or changes to the management of the FCOI, etc.) or

2)     provide a Mitigation Report if bias is found. 

o    Grantees should not submit a Revised FCOI report to notify NIH that either the Retrospective Review has been completed or that bias is not found. 

o    When the Original Report is submitted and the grantee indicates that the Retrospective Review is not completed, the system will allow the Institution to submit a Revised FCOI report up to 150 days after the Original Report’s submission date. 


·         New FCOI Roles in Commons Replace FCOI Delegations:

o    Two new roles have been added to Commons for those who work with the Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) module. Only an organization’s Signing Official (SO role) can assign these roles.

§  FCOI_ASST: Assign the FCOI_ASST role to those users in the institution who will assist in working on the FCOI reporting process. These users can initiate, edit, view, search, and delete forms.

§  FCOI_View: Assign the FCOI_View role to those users who need authority to search for and view FCOI information entered by the institution, but who will not need to perform any data entry or make changes to the information. These users will have read-only access to the FCOI report and data.


o    Only an organization’s Signing Official (SO role) can assign these roles.


Prior to this release, Commons users with the ASST role could be delegated the authority either to assist with FCOI tasks (FCOI Asst authority) or to view FCOI information (FCOI View authority). These new roles replace the former authorities, but provide the same levels of access to FCOI module. Starting with this release, SOs can assign a Commons user to one of the new roles and do not need to use the Delegation feature of Commons for FCOI purposes. 


NOTE: With this release, eRA has assigned current ASST users delegated with either of the two FCOI authorities (FCOI Asst and FCOI View) to the corresponding new role as described above. For these existing users, the SOs do not need to assign the new roles.


·         FCOI Corrections – A Change in Business Process when Grantees Identify Errors in Submitted Data:

o    Corrections to some FCOI report data can be made without NIH taking action to rescind the Original report and requiring the grantee to submit a new report.  Depending on the error, the options are:

§  Errors in the following data  can be corrected only by NIH rescinding the Original Report and requiring the grantee to submit a new report:

·         Grant Number,

·         Investigator Name with the conflict, and

·         Subrecipient information

When these corrections are needed, the FCOI SO should contact the Grants Management Specialist/Officer identified on the latest Notice of Award to ask NIH to rescind the FCOI report. 

§  Errors to the following data  can be corrected by NIH sending the Institution a “Request for Additional Information,” which allows the grantee to make the correction and submit the corrected FCOI report:

·         FCOI data (entity name and significant financial interest data)

·         Responses to the compliance questions (i.e., questions numbered 4, 5 or 6). 

When these corrections are needed, the FCOI SO should write to the NIH Grants Management Specialist/Officer identified on the Notice of Award to explain the nature of the error and the need to make a correction. 


  • Other FCOI Changes:
    • Only one revision will be allowed to the original FCOI report
    • Revisions to annual reports will no longer be accepted
    • If NIH rescinds any FCOI record, the entire FCOI record (original, annual and revised reports) will be rescinded


For more information on these changes in FCOI, please see Guide Notice NOT-OD-14-081, the FCOI Online Help (accessed by clicking on the question marks on the screens of the FCOI module) and the FCOI User Guide.


  • RPPR Open for all Type 5 Non-SNAP Progress Reports

Beginning on April 25, NIH will open up the use of the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) in eRA Commons for the electronic submission of annual progress reports for all Type 5 non-SNAP progress reports. For more information, please see the Submit Progress Report page, the Guide Notice NOT-OD-14-079, and the updated NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Instruction Guide.


  • Online Help Now Available from Within eRA Commons

o    Online Help for Account Management, used by authorized eRA Commons users to create and manage accounts, can now be accessed from specific Account Management forms within eRA Commons. The question marks for help will take you to the specific information for that form or topic. 

o    Federal Financial Report (FFR) also has new online help topics. FFR topics can be accessed from the Contents panel of the online help or by selecting one of the help  (‘?’) icons found on most screens.


Updates in eSubmission

·         Reorder Components in ASSIST

ASSIST now provides the option to set the order of different components within a component type. Previous to this release, components had to be created in the order in which you wanted them to appear in the final application image. You didn’t have a lot of options if you entered 6 projects and then decided that you wanted the fourth project to appear first. Starting with this release, the order of the components (e.g., Project-001, Project-002, etc.) can be controlled and modified before final submission.


Refer to the online help for ASSIST for more information regarding this and all ASSIST features.


NOTE: The ability to submit help tickets online will not be available during the downtime listed above. However, customers can always email the eRA Help Desk at that time; commons@od.nih.gov (for eRA Commons support).


eRA Communications

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NIH Office of Extramural Research


Questions? Please contact the eRA Help Desk. Check out self-help resources on the Help page before submitting an online ticket; or call Toll-free: 1-866-504-9552, Phone: 301-402-7469, TTY: 301-451-5939; or email helpdesk@od.nih.gov. The Help Desk hours are Mon-Fri, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET


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