AHRQ POLICY ON SUPPLEMENTAL AWARDS TO GRANTS

RELEASE DATE:  July 7, 2003

NOTICE:   NOT-HS-04-022 

Update: The following updates relating to this announcement have been issued:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (http://www.ahrq.gov) BACKGROUND The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is updating the Agency policy on grant supplement awards. Funded grantees can submit requests for two types of supplemental funds as described below. This policy update complies with the fundamental principle underlying the distribution of all federal research funding, which is to ensure that competition for grant funds is as open as possible. POLICY The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has recently updated its guidance on two types of supplemental awards to research grants, administrative supplements and program expansion supplements. Administrative supplements are funds requested by the grantee, which will be used to cover costs of activities that fall within the original scope of the approved grant project. Thus, this type of supplement is an add-on for costs that are of the same level, type, or quality of effort, which results from unexpected increases in current year costs. An example of an administrative supplement is when the cost to purchase data or equipment, as planned and approved in the research protocol, is higher than originally expected. Virtually all other requests for additional support are program expansion supplements, which are awards under an ongoing project to expand the project's scope. Program expansion supplements may be requested by the grantee or initiated by AHRQ. Examples of program expansion supplements are funds requested by an investigator to include additional research subjects or to expand the number of study sites. Requests for program expansion funds are subject to a requirement to undergo an independent, objective review for merit and to compete for available funds. Administrative supplements need not be competed by the awarding office. For both of these types of supplemental awards, funding requests for large research grant (e.g., R01, R18) supplements are limited by AHRQ to 20 percent of the approved Federal direct costs for the project period or $250,000, whichever is less. Small research grant (R03) supplement requests are limited by AHRQ to 10 percent of the approved direct costs for the project. For small grants, total cumulative funds awarded by AHRQ may not exceed $100,000. The updated AHRQ policy on grant supplements will take effect with the publication of this notice. Generally, the Agency provides funding each fiscal year to support supplemental awards. The amount of the set-aside is dependent upon the availability of funds. Administrative supplements are generally for one budget period, although multi-year requests may be approved on an individual basis with sufficient justification. Program expansion supplements may be for one or more years as justified and appropriate. All supplemental awards will be made consistent with the Agency's mission and research priority areas. Supplemental funds will not be awarded for activities performed prior to the funding decision nor for activities to be performed beyond the approved project period end date. In addition to administrative and general program expansion supplements, AHRQ supports a program in which grantees can request funds for minority supplements to grants. Minority supplements are a type of program expansion supplement, where the program goals are to expand research on topics relevant to minority health issues and to increase the number of minority health services researchers. Further details about the provisions of the AHRQ minority supplement program will be published in a separate policy notice. REVIEW PROCESS Requests for administrative supplements may be submitted at any time during the fiscal year. Grantee institutions should submit the request for administrative supplement funds using the face page, pages 4 and 5 (budget and budget justification) from the Application for Public Health Service Grant (PHS 398, revised May 2001, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html), and a brief rationale explaining the need for additional funding. The budget request should specify the period in which supplemental funds will be expended. The request must be signed by the principal investigator and the authorized institutional official. Administrative supplement requests will be evaluated by the AHRQ Grants Management Officer in conjunction with the Grant Project Officer. As noted in the section above, all requests for program expansion supplements will undergo a competitive review process in order to evaluate scientific and technical merit. There are no specific receipt dates for program expansion supplement requests. Although requests will be received on an ongoing basis, program expansion supplement funding decisions will be made in December, April, and July of each year. Grantee institutions applying for program expansion supplement funds should submit the request using the face page, pages 4 and 5 (budget and budget justification) from the Application for Public Health Service Grant (PHS 398, revised May 2001, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html). The request should include appropriate specification of the period in which supplemental funds will be expended. In addition, the application should discuss the following: o how the supplemental funds will be used to build upon the scope of the current project, including details of the expanded study methodology o revised project timeline if applicable (Note: if the timeline is revised, it may not exceed the approved project period end date) o how the supplemental funds will enhance and expand study results and outcomes o significance and importance of the supplemental funds to the project's research goals o relevance to AHRQ's research mission and goals The narrative may be up to 10 pages in length. The request must be signed by the principal investigator and the authorized institutional official. The scientific and technical review for merit of program expansion requests will consist of two types of processes, depending upon the dollar level of request. Requests for program expansion supplement funds that are less than $50,000 in direct costs will be evaluated by AHRQ staff along with the AHRQ Grants Management Officer. Requests for program expansion supplement funds that are greater than $50,000 in direct costs will undergo objective review by external reviewers. The AHRQ Grants Management Officer will also evaluate the request. General Review Criteria For all program expansion supplement requests, the review criteria are as follows: o appropriateness/fit of the supplement request to the original scope of the project; o consistency with the AHRQ mission and research priorities; o significance and originality from a scientific or technical viewpoint; o adequacy of the proposed methods; o availability of data or adequacy of the plan to collect required data; o adequacy and appropriateness of plans for organizing and carrying out the project; o qualifications and experience of the investigators; o reasonableness of budget and the time frame relative to the proposed work; o ability of the grantee to complete the additional work within the approved project period; o adequacy of the facilities and resources available; o representation of women, minorities, and AHRQ priority populations (as appropriate); o adequacy of the proposed means for protecting human subjects. Following the review process, a recommendation regarding funding will be made. APPLICATION SUBMISSION PROCEDURES: Requests for administrative or program expansion funds should be submitted to: Ms. Mable Lam AHRQ Grants Management Officer Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 540 Gaither Road, Room 4216 Rockville, MD 20850 For administrative supplement requests, investigators should submit the original and one copy. For program expansion requests, investigators should submit the original and five copies. INQUIRIES: AHRQ welcomes the opportunity to clarify issues or discuss questions from investigators about administrative or program expansion supplement funds. It is strongly recommended that investigators consult with their AHRQ grant project officer prior to submission of any application for supplemental funding. General questions about the grant supplement program can be directed to: Debbie Rothstein, Ph.D. Senior Advisor, Extramural Research Office of Research Review, Education, and Policy Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 540 Gaither Road, Room 2030 Rockville, MD 20850 Telephone: (301) 427-1525 E-mail: drothste@ahrq.gov Inquiries regarding fiscal and eligibility matters can be directed to: Ms. Joan Metcalfe Division of Grants Management Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 540 Gaither Road, Room 4214 Rockville, MD 20850 Telephone: (301) 427-1450 E-mail: jmetcalf@ahrq.gov AWARD CRITERIA Requests for grant supplements will compete for available funds with other similar requests for AHRQ support. The following will be considered in making funding decisions: assessment of technical merit, focus of the proposed supplemental work, potential significance of the work, fit with AHRQ priorities and overall program balance, contribution to the field of health services research, and the availability of funds.


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