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Modular Grant Applications

Appendix E:
Modular Grant Applications

When total direct costs do not exceed $250,000 per year in any year of a project, you will use a modular grant application to request in $25,000 increments rather than compiling a detailed budget using separate budget categories. Modular application, review, and award procedures will apply to all competing individual research project grants (R01), small grants (R03), exploratory/developmental grants (R21) and Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15).
Unsolicited, investigator-initiated applications requesting more than $250,000 in any year should follow the traditional application instructions and applicable NIH policies.
The modular grant is designed to concentrate the focus of investigators, their respective institutions, peer reviewers, and NIH staff on the science that NIH supports, rather than on the details of budgets. Through its simplified budget reporting features, the modular grant application also addresses the broader NIH goal of reducing the length of time between application receipt and grant award. These goals are consistent with the understanding of the research grant award as a grant-in-aid.

A.  Documentation No Longer Required

· DETAILED BUDGET for the initial budget period (corresponding to form page 4 of PHS 398) and budget for the entire proposed period of support (corresponding to form page 5 of PHS 398).
· OTHER SUPPORT pages of PHS 398.

B.  Required Changes

BUDGET JUSTIFICATION PAGE should include the following information: (for samples see

-Total direct costs for the entire period of support should be at the top of the page.  Total direct costs requested for each year should be listed next. Routine escalation for future years is no longer permitted. Typically, the number of modules requested will remain constant through the entire budget period. 
-Personnel: the role of ALL personnel should be described by position, role, and level of effort. This includes consultants and any "to be appointed" positions; however, individual salary information should not be given.
-Consortium and Contractual Costs should be provided with an estimate of Total Costs (Direct plus F&A) rounded to the nearest $1,000. For each key individual/organization listed, the role and percent effort should be provided. Whether each collaborating Institution is foreign or domestic should be indicated. The total consortium/contractual costs should be included in the overall requested modular direct cost amount.

Variation in the number of modules requested in different years should be described and justified, without providing additional budget information. For example, purchase of equipment in year 1 may result in a greater number of modules being requested in year 1 than in subsequent years.

C.  New Features
Information on research projects relevant to the submitted application (ongoing or completed during the last three years) of the Principal Investigator and other key personnel is a new feature of modular grant applications and consists of a section added to each BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. This information includes major goals and responsibilities for each project. It will provide reviewers information on the individual's relevant research experience. The page limit for the BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH has been increased from 2 to 3 pages to accommodate the extra information. For a sample BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, see:

D.  Still Required
All other components of the application are still required (for example, CHECKLIST, IRB and IACUC information or approvals, GENDER, MINORITY, AND CHILDREN SUBJECTS information).

E.  Reviewing Modular Budgets
As part of the modular application initiative, NIH has changed the focus of budget review from an examination of annual categorical budgets to an evaluation of the total resources needed to complete the project. Reviewers should consider the entire proposed research project and the total direct costs needed to complete the project in the recommended period. Based upon the reviewer's understanding of the research proposed and the costs and services associated with such research, the annual recommended budgets should be in modules of $25,000. In addition:
Budget adjustments must be made in modules. If in the judgment of the reviewers, the amount requested is too large for the work proposed, the number of modules should be reduced. These reductions do not have to be based on reductions of specific items, but rather can be made generally based on overall funds requested.

If changes in staffing, percent effort, specific aims, consortium arrangements, etc. are recommended, but a cost in modules can not be estimated, recommendations should be described in the budget section without assigning an amount. Institute staff will request the specific budget information and will adjust the budget at the time an award is made.

Reviewers should not address scientific and budgetary overlap issues during the initial review. NIH staff will address these issues. If your application is considered for an award NIH staff will request complete and up to date Other Support information.  The Institute's scientific and grants management staff will review this information and make any necessary administrative and/or budgetary adjustments.

F. Reviewing Non-Compliant Grant Applications
If a non-modular budget (with incorrect face page and completed form pages 4 and 5 of the PHS 398) is submitted, reviewers will disregard the details of the budget or excessive budget narrative, and will make budget recommendations in modules.

If too little information has been included in the budget narrative, e.g., omission of percent effort of key personnel, the SRA will request this information from the applicant.

The submitted budget was not compliant with the new modular grant application procedures as announced in the Dec. 15, 1998 NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Information on the preparation and format of a modular budget is available at: