Simplified Review Framework for NIH Research Project Grant Applications

NIH announces a new framework for the peer review of most research project grant (RPG) applications beginning with submissions for due dates on or after January 25, 2025. The simplified review framework is expected to better focus peer reviewers on the key questions needed to assess the scientific and technical merit of proposed research projects: “Should the proposed research project be conducted?” “Can the proposed research project be conducted?”

  • Factor 1: Importance of the Research (Significance, Innovation), scored 1-9
  • Factor 2: Rigor and Feasibility (Approach), scored 1-9
  • Factor 3: Expertise and Resources (Investigator, Environment), to be evaluated with a selection from a drop-down menu
    • Appropriate (no written explanation needed)
    • Identify need for additional expertise and/or resources (requires reviewer to briefly address specific gaps in expertise or resources needed to carry out the project) 

Peer review will no longer evaluate the following Additional Review Considerations: Applications from Foreign Organizations, Select Agents, and Resource Sharing Plans. These considerations will instead be administratively reviewed by NIH prior to funding. 

NIH Moving to Updated Application Forms

Concurrent with implementation of the simplified review framework, NIH is transitioning to updated application forms (FORMS-I)

  • FORMS-I application forms must be used for applications with due dates on or after January 25, 2025.
  • The updated forms and instructions will be available in the Fall of 2024.
  • See Forms-I Notice (NOT-OD-24-086) for more information

OMB Releases Revisions to Uniform Guidance

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issues guidance regarding government-wide policies for the award and administration of Federal financial assistance, often referred to as the Uniform Guidance. An updated version of this guidance was released in April 2024.  This becomes effective October 1, 2024.

While there are several changes the ones that primarily affect proposal budgeting are listed below:

Calculating Indirect Costs: Definition of Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) increases from $25,000 to the first $50,000 of each subaward that recipients can charge indirect costs on. 

De Minimis Indirect Rate: increases from 10% to 15% MTDC, the maximum rate that recipients may use for indirect costs without negotiating an alternative rate with the relevant Federal agency.  If you have a subrecipient that does not have a federally negotiated rate, they can now charge up to 15% MTDC indirect costs.

SRS will provide an update on the revisions to Uniform Guidance as well as other sponsor updates in their May AnSRS4U presentation on May 16 from 10 to 11:00am.   Register for the for Zoom session below:.

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.

When: May 16, 2024 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

NIH Guidance on Salary Limitation for Grants and Cooperative Agreements FY 2024

NOT-OD-24-057, released January 29, 2024

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Office of Personnel Management recently released new salary levels for the Executive Pay Scale. Effective January 1, 2024, the salary limitation for Executive Level II is $221,900. 

For active awards, including awards that have been issued in FY 2024 (continuation and new) that were restricted to Executive Level II, if adequate funds are available, and if the salary cap increase is consistent with the institutional base salary, recipients may rebudget funds to accommodate the current Executive Level II salary level.

NSF PAPPG NSF 24-1 New Version

NSF has announced that a revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 24-1) has been issued. The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted or due on or after May 20, 2024.

You can review the by-chapter Summary of Changes provided in the PAPPG. NSF presented information about these changes in a webinar on March 12that 2 PM EST. This can be watched on demand at

Please note this version of the PAPPG becomes effective on May 20, 2024, in the interim, the guidelines contained in the current PAPPG (NSF 23-1) continue to apply. 

Changes that affect proposal preparation

  • Biographical Sketch(es):  This section has been revised to remove the 3-page limitation for the biographical sketch. There is no page limitation for this section of the proposal.  The Synergistic Activities section has been removed from the biographical sketch. This information must now be submitted by individuals designated as senior/key persons as part of the senior/key personnel documents in
  • Mentoring Plan:  Proposals will require a mentoring plan for postdoctoral researchers or graduate students supported on the project. This page limitation for the Mentoring Plan remains one page.

New checkbox on the Cover Sheet to indicate if there are “Potential Impacts on Tribal Nations.”  NSF will not award projects that may impact Tribal Resources or Interests unless the project has prior written approval from officials designated by the relevant Tribal Nations(s).

Required Use of SciENcv to Prepare Biographical Sketches and Current and Pending Support – on or after October 31, 2023

A reminder, effective for proposals due on or after October 31, 2023, the National Science Foundation will require the use of SciENcv to prepare biographical sketches and current and pending support for senior personnel in applications submitted to NSF.  NSF encourages investigators to go ahead and start using SciENcv.  SRS hosted a presentation by the TAMU Libraries in May on how to create a biosketch and current and pending support using SciENcv.    A recording of this presentation is available via the SRS website at AnSRS4U – Sponsored Research Services (

National Institutes of HealthApplication Instruction Updates – Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Costs

Effective for applications submitted for due dates on or after October 5, 2023, NIH will no longer require the use of the single DMS cost line item. NIH recognizes that DMS costs may be requested in many cost categories.

Therefore, in line with NIH standard budget instructions, DMS costs must be requested in the appropriate cost category, e.g., personnel, equipment, supplies, and other expenses, following the instructions for the R&R Budget Form or PHS 398 Modular Budget Form, as applicable.  While the single cost line item is no longer required, NIH will require applicants to specify estimated DMS cost details within the “Budget Justification” attachment of the R&R Budget Form or “Additional Narrative Justification” attachment of the PHS 398 Modular Budget Form, pursuant to the instructions.

New Videos Available at AnSRS4U Express

AnSRS4U Express are short 5-to-7-minute videos on various research topics.   These videos are designed to give you the necessary information in a brief time frame.   Some recent topics that have been added to the TAMU Sponsored Research Services (SRS) webpage are as follows:  

  • Acknowledgement of Federal Funding
  • Is it a Gift or a Grant
  • Incoming Principal Investigator / Sponsored Project Transfers
  • Principal Investigator Departures / Project Transfers
  • Cost Transfers

These are located on the SRS website under the Resources tab at AnSRS4U Express – Sponsored Research Services (

NASA Requires Inclusion Plan for Selected Proposals

Inclusion Plan Pilot Study – A growing number of program elements in ROSES require an Inclusion Plan. Those that do so will indicate this clearly. In general, two pages are allocated for this plan but see individual program elements for the required proposal location and page limits for Inclusion Plans.

Inclusion is defined here as the full participation, belonging, and contribution of groups and individuals within an organization or endeavor. Note that inclusion is distinct and different from diversity. Inclusion requires that all individuals can participate fully, regardless of the diversity dimension, do their best work and advance, and feel welcomed, valued, connected, engaged, and supported to reach their full potential. The Inclusion Plan should focus on inclusion, not diversity or accessibility.

The Inclusion Plan shall clearly state goals for creating and sustaining a positive and inclusive working environment and describe activities to achieve these goals including

  • Identify barriers to creating a positive and inclusive working environment that are specific to the team carrying out the proposed investigation.
  • Address ways in which the investigation team will work to attenuate or reduce these barriers.
  • Describe roles, responsibilities, and work effort for all team members who will be participating in Inclusion Plan activities.
  • Show a timeline for completing or carrying out proposed activities.
  • Contain assessment mechanisms for evaluating progress towards achieving the proposed Inclusion Plan activities or goals.

Any funding requested for Inclusion Plan-related activities shall be explicitly identified and justified in the Inclusion Plan section and clearly identified in the proposal’s main budget. These will be assessed for reasonableness.  The Inclusion Plan will be assessed for adequacy, appropriateness, and completeness separately from the standard evaluation of the proposal.

NSF New Requirement for a Safe and Inclusive Work Environment

Effective January 30, 2023, with the implementation of the NSF 23-1 PAPPG, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has a new requirement which states that there must be a plan for a safe and inclusive work environment created and distributed to each participant, in advance of departure for an off-campus research activity. Off-campus or off-site research is defined by NSF for this requirement as “data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork or research activities on vessels and aircraft.”

At the time of proposal submission for each proposal that proposes to conduct research off-campus or off site, the Authorized Organizational Representative must complete a certification that the organization has a plan in place for that proposal.   Thus, prior to the submission of the proposal, Sponsored Research Services (SRS) will require the PI to certify that a plan has been created.  

Several solicitations from the Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO) and Geological Sciences (GEO) will soon require the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the review process.

As a reminder, this 2-page supplementary document must address the following four sections:

  1. a brief description of the field setting and unique challenges for the team;  
  2. the steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment, including processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture, e.g., codes of conduct, trainings, mentor/mentee mechanisms and field support that might include regular check-ins, and/or developmental events;   
  3. communication processes within the off-site team and to the organization(s) that minimize singular points within the communication pathway (e.g., there should not be a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone); and   
  4. the organizational mechanisms that will be used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment if they arise. 


Cayuse Learning Session Announcement

Cayuse Proposals is a tool that is designed for administrators and/or researchers to use for the preparation of proposals. Some researchers have requested training in order to access the system, upload documents, and in some instances, assist with preparation of their proposals. In response to these requests informational sessions for researchers will be offered.  As always, SRS Proposal Administrators will continue to provide full proposal preparation services. 

Please view the prerecorded session here.