Finding the Right Announcement

May 6, 2020

This notice is a reminder to the NIH and AHRQ applicants and recipient community that applicants must use FORMS-F application packages for the due dates on or after May 25,2020. For those submitting application packages for due dates on or before May 24, 2020 you need to still use FORMS-E.

Please be aware the FORMS-F for the “most commonly accessed” Parent Announcements are now available. See below:

For a listing of All Parent Announcements (For Unsolicited or Investigator-Initiated Applications), you can click on this website:

Please make sure you are using the most current application. In other words, pay attention to the announcement’s expiration date.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the SOM Research Administrative Services (RAS) office at

“Oh, What a Complicated Web We Weave” for Proposal Submissions

Be aware there has been several changes when it comes to the proposal submission processes. See below:

If you have any questions regarding which proposal submission to use, you can contact

NIH Fiscal Operations and Interim Salary Cap Guidance

NIH continues to operate under a continuing resolution through November 21, 2019, meaning that NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level), as they have in past years. See NIH Guide Oct 4, 2019 for details.

They have also issued interim guidance (NOT-OD-19-099) on salary limits for NIH grants and cooperative agreements. The direct salary limitation follows Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale, which is currently $192,300. The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award predoctoral and postdoctoral stipend levels and tuition/fee are described in NOT-OD-19-036.

If you need guidance on applying the NIH salary cap in your proposals, here is the website:  under “Budget” then select “Accounting for the Salary Cap”. If you have any questions, feel free to email

Is this the Right FOA for Me?

NIH advertises available funding for grant support through funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). One can search for an announcement specific to their area of interest/expertise or apply to one of the generic NIH parent announcements.  FOAs can be accessed via the federal-wide portal – Grants.Gov or via the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.

Please be sure to read the FOA very carefully as there may be additional instructions that refer you to select a specific “companion funding opportunity” within the Parent Announcement.  For example, applications that include clinical trials must be submitted in response to an announcement that allows clinical trials; the same applies to applications that do not allow clinical trials. 

You want to avoid a situation where you’re close to completing the application only to find out the “error” that keeps arising is the result of downloading the wrong application.  If you want to know more about “Understanding the Funding Opportunities”, NIH has a website that provides you with some great tips to be aware of.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the SOM Research Administrative Services (RAS) Office via

RAISE THE CAP (salary that is…..)

Please check your budgets! The Office of Personnel Management has recently released new salary levels for the Executive Pay Scale.

Effective January 6, 2019, the salary limitation for Executive Level II is $192,300.

If you are awarded with a budget that did not include the new cap, you’re welcome to rebudget using the new cap within the limitations of the award, but no new funds will be given by the agency. If you’re in the process of working on proposals for any upcoming deadlines, now is a great time to revise those budgets and any associated cost sharing.

As always, drop us a note at with any questions, and take a look at the notice for more details.

Collaborations Across Campus

There is encouragement from federal sponsors and Wayne State University’s (WSU) Office of Vice President for Research to conduct more team science research.  With this movement towards team science, we’re seeing more proposals with other Schools/Colleges/Institutes such as CLAS and Engineering to name a few.  Reminder, when building budgets and rosters, the personnel section should include every WSU person working on the project.  This allows the participating departments to see what faculty/staff are committed to projects outside of their primary departments.  Submitting within 3 – 7 days of the deadline will allow ample time for E-Visions departmental approvals, before moving on to Sponsored Programs as the final approver.

Don’t’ Let These Characters Stop The Show

Discussing usage of the mathematical inequality symbols; <, >, ≥, ≤ , within NIH application text fields.

  •  In early 2015 NIH released a notice informing the  grant seeking community  of the support for the full  Unicode Character Set, in the free-text form fields.

According to the above notice and guidelines the mathematical inequality symbols are included within the acceptable/supported Unicode Character Set. However, it has come to our attention that usage of these particular symbols may delay if not prevent the successful submission of an NIH application.  While the use of these symbols will not result in error notices within the University’s Cayuse system, the problem is encountered when the application is routed from to eRA Commons.    

So, when entering text where these symbols may be used it is suggested that their meaning be written in longhand, i.e.

                              < ( Less than), (Less than or equal to), etc.

Trick or Treat: Gift or Grant?

Just as no trick goes unpunished and no treat is without corollary, no amount of money or material enters our fair University without strings attached.  So how does one determine which course of action to take when receiving a resource?  The first step is to figure out what it is, exactly, you are receiving!  These guidelines below may help:



Gifts, to paraphrase Executive Order 04-5, are contributions received for use in furtherance of the WSU’s mission that are not in exchange for some service, product or property rendered by WSU (the donor may, however, place restrictions on the contribution and still classify as a gift).  A full text definition of a gift as given by Executive Order 04-5 is available here, and is upheld in APPM 1.7.6 – 1.4.

Who Needs To Know About Your Gift: Communicate with the Office of the Provost and the Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs; any gifts solicited either verbally or in writing from corporations, foundations or individuals must receive prior approval from these two entities.  Once received, a gift check (which must be made out to Wayne State University) should then be brought to the Dean of Students Office.



Executive Order 04-5 similarly defines a “grant” as “a contribution received by the University for either restricted or unrestricted use in furtherance of the institution’s mission that typically comes from a corporation, foundation or other organization, not an individual.”  The similar definitions leave all sorts of gray areas, but the trick here is to determine which subdivision the grant falls into:

  • NON-SPECIFIC Grants are those received by the university that do NOT result from a specific grant proposal.  This type of grant that many institutions may opt to designate as a gift for internal accounting purposes.
  • Who Needs To Know About Your Non-Specific Grant: Just like gifts, the Office of the Provost and the Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs need to know of the solicitation ahead of time, and the Dean of Students Office must receive the check.
  • SPECIFIC Grants are those received by the university that DO result from a specific grant proposal submitted by the university (or department therein).  There is a defined contribution of university resources or services as a condition of the grant, and an accounting of the use of funds and results is almost always a requirement (any and all research grants meet this requirement).
  • Who Needs To Know About Your Specific Grant: Wayne State University’s Sponsored Program Administration office must be the entity through which you submit for any specific grants.


But wait… what about CONTRACTS?

Contracts are also defined within Executive Order 04-5, as well as APPM 1.7.6 as “an agreement between the University and another entity to provide an economic benefit for compensation. The agreement is binding and creates a quid pro quo relationship between the University and the entity.”  While university policy is to determine the intent of awarding party when determining contract or grant classification, it is helpful to consider the nature of the intended result of the contract: is there a promise to absolutely deliver a product/service in exchange for consideration (i.e. money)?  If so, it’s probably a contract. If, on the other hand, resources are being granted on the basis of reasonable hopes a task can be accomplished (i.e. a hypothesis-based project), it’s likely a grant.

Who Needs To Know About Your Contract: The Office of the Vice President for Research must review any contract before it is signed; additionally, it is recommended that the division of Technology Commercialization be the first contact if the contract involves the School of Medicine, due to the likely scientific nature and plausible discovery associated therewith.  SPA’s Contract division will be responsible for the administration of executed contracts, but will also assist in negotiation procedures before finalization.


The treats of funding aren’t without their tricks to processing, but come and knock on RAS’s door if you need a little help in your determination.  Happy Halloween!


(*UPDATE* This “Gift or Grant” matrix may help you in determining whether you are dealing with a gift or grant.)