The stone-written commandments of NIH proposals have long included, “thou shalt request prior approval when requesting more than $500,000 in direct costs (excluding consortium F&A costs) in any one year of an unsolicited proposal.” As an aside: did you know you’re supposed to request that approval no later than 6 weeks before submission?
Since the inception of this rule in the dark ages of 2002, these requests were required in writing or by telephone. You now have the option of making the request by webform in a new “Prior Approval Module” through eRA Commons (NOT-17-005). Of important note: you must request the form to be “opened” by your Program Officer before it will be accessible. Once it is available, you complete the form and submit. As another aside: the word “option” appears to be used loosely here; it’s along the lines of being volun-told).
The logic behind the Prior Approval Module appears to be subsequent management of such requests. The module allows PIs and GCOs to amend, modify and withdraw previously submitted requests as proposals shape up differently in the days leading to deadlines. The module will appear between the “ASSIST” and “RPPR” tabs on your login screen:
If you have not yet contacted your Program Officer for access to the module, you will receive an error message (“We are sorry, you are not authorized to access this function”). Not sure whether to request the limit stretch, or just not sure what to do next? Drop us a note and we’ll be happy to help you sort through!