Grants.gov: Staying on Message
Signing up for funding opportunity announcement (FOA) updates from Grants.gov is a good idea, though recent messages have left some applicants scratching their heads. Here are some of the issues.
Nonspecific messages. When your FOA changes, Grants.gov sends out a standard automated message. You get the same message for any change, major or minor. An example of the former would be your grant application package now requires Version 2, and you must redo your application. See the sample message below.
Confusing messages. When Grants.gov sends you its form message because of the version switch, the system enters the open and close dates of the Version 1 application package.
This has led some applicants to believe that the FOA has closed. That is not so -- it simply means that Version 2 is ready and waiting for you to retrieve it.
Here's the body of the automated message verbatim:
A grant opportunity you have previously downloaded from Grants.gov has been changed. The grant opportunity for National Institutes of Health (title of FOA) has been changed. It now has the following:
- Opportunity Number:
- Opportunity Title:
- Opening Date:
- Closing Date:
You can download the new application package from (URL).
Adding to the confusion, the statement "You can download the new application package . . . " sends you to the Version 1 package! Don't go there. Once Version 2 appears, you should consider Version 1 to be as enticing as Bethesda in August.
Always go to the FOA page to see which version is the latest, and download the most current application package. For now, you'll use "VERSION-2-FORMS" if they are listed in the table in the FOA where the versions are on display. When Version 3, 4, and beyond roll around, it will be time to switch again.
Read more about the versioning issue in our previous article "Electronic Applications: Version Diversion."
Notice: Correction grace period has changed from 5 days to 2 days. How to Write a Grant Application: Timing Corrections Can Be Tricky -- NIAID Research Funding.
Message flooding. If you sign up for many opportunities, you'll receive a lot of messages. If you're relying on this system to alert you when Version 2 is out, that important message may get lost in the crowd.
The main point is this: Before you send your application, make sure you're using the correct version, giving yourself enough time to switch if needed.
Entries on NIAID's Funding Opportunities List are handy to use because they take you directly to the table in the FOA where the versions are on display. Click on "Elec." in the "Apply" column to access the FOA.
To get help outside NIAID, call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST.
For the NIH Commons help desk, call 301/402-7469, 1-866-504-9552 (toll free), or 301/451-5939 (TTY) Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.