Having Technical Difficulties? Here’s How to Meet the Submission Deadline

Funding News Edition: April 19, 2023
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Here are a few reminders on what you can do if you run into technical hiccups when submitting a grant application.

Ensure You Use the Right Software Version

Are you using the correct version of the Adobe forms and Reader or Acrobat? Are you sure that everyone who opens your files uses a compatible version of Adobe Reader or Acrobat? If not, the application file may be corrupted. Check using Grants.gov Adobe Software Compatibility.

For Connectivity Issues, Work With Staff at Your Institution

For technical problems that are due to connectivity at your institution or a local submission system (e.g., a system-to-system solution) issue, work with your institution’s technical support staff and send the application when the issue is resolved. Note that NIH is under no obligation to accept applications that are late for these reasons.

Best Case Scenario

Ideally your institution will submit your application at least 1 week before the due date. That should provide you with more than enough time to make corrections stemming from failed validations or content-related upload errors.

If you run into obstacles, follow the NIH Office of Extramural Research’s guidance on Dealing With System Issues.

For Errors Related to the Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Policy

If you get the message “The Data Management and Sharing Plan” attachment cannot be submitted for this application, first verify that the DMS Policy applies to the notice of funding opportunity (formerly called funding opportunity announcement).

  • If the Policy does apply, contact the eRA Service Desk for assistance. 
  • If the Policy does not, remove any attachments from the Other Plan(s) field of the PHS 398 Research Plan, PHS 398 Career Development Award Supplemental, PHS Fellowship Supplemental, or PHS 398 Research Training Plan form (whichever form is included).

As another example, say you get the error message “Data Management and Sharing Costs” can only be entered on one of the lines in Section F Other Direct Costs within the same budget period. 

  • In this case, you’ll need to verify that every budget period of the R&R Budget form has no more than one Other Direct Cost entry in section F labeled “Data Management and Sharing Costs.”

For additional examples, see the February 7, 2023 issue of Extramural Nexus.

Difficulties Accessing Grants.gov and Other Systems

If you have issues accessing systems, e.g., Grants.gov, Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST), System for Award Management (SAM), that you feel have impacted your ability to submit on time to NIH due dates, follow the guidelines for Dealing With System Issues; examples include:

  • Significant Grants.gov service interruption on deadline day lasting multiple hours.
  • Failure of Grants.gov to process an application within half a business day.
  • Significant eRA service interruption on deadline day lasting multiple hours.

Events that would not be considered “System Issues” include failure to:

  • Follow funding opportunity instructions.
  • Complete required organization or investigator registrations prior to deadline.
  • Correct Grants.gov or eRA identified errors/warnings by the deadline.
  • Failure to notify the eRA Service Desk of submission issues by deadline or application image issues within application viewing window.

Note that NIH will not penalize applicants who experience confirmed issues beyond their control with federal systems.

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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