Questions & Answers – RFAs

Should we fill out the entire PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form including the attachments (Recruitment and Retention Plan; Inclusion of Women, Children, and Minorities; Study Timeline; Protection of Human Subjects), or do you just want the form fields like the inclusion enrollment report, without the attached documents? We need the entire form including attachments.

Regarding RFA-2019-01 Costs of Educating Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, a) Is this meant to be a national analysis of Part B educational records or one state? You may analyze one state or more than one state or the entire U.S.

b) Where would this Part B data be found? It is my understanding that most states do not track Part B for deaf children specifically – rather just disability as a whole. Similarly for 504 plans, most states do not track 504 plans either. Guidance on which specific database the RFA would like analyzed would be very helpful! You need to determine what resources are available for your population of interest. It our understanding that Part B data is online for all or most states, but we cannot give you advice on how to find the data needed for a successful project.

c) A final manuscript “prepared in collaboration with the CDC” – can you clarify what this collaboration looks like? Who determines the final interpretation of the data? If your application is successful, then a technical advisor/project officer from CDC will be assigned to you, and will check in regularly on the progress. Although the CDC staff do not directly engage in the research, many are experts in the field and can provide valuable advice and resources to the research team.  Also, CDC staff can contribute to manuscripts, if mutually desired.  This is not a requirement, but in some cases it is beneficial to the team and to the project to have a co-author from the CDC.

Useful Q&A from the 2018 Funding Cycle

Is a Table of Contents required for the DRDC applications? No.

I have more Personnel than will fit on Form Page 4  (Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period).  How should I handle this?  Please save a copy of the Word version of the form and add rows as needed. If possible, you could also reduce the row heights, especially in sections where you do not have any funds requested. You can also reduce the row heights in the Personnel section to make more room.

Are there any set requirements for font/size of included tables and figures in the proposal? No, there are no set requirements regarding tables and figures, except that they must fall within the page-limit for the research strategy. Although you are allowed to use a smaller font size for tables and figures than is required for the rest of the Research Strategy, you should ensure that they are readable. Some reviewers choose to print out the application rather than viewing them electronically.

Are the DRDC RFAs one-time opportunities or do you plan on re-issuing them next year? We do expect that the DRDC will have more grant opportunities available next year, but we do not what the content of future topics will be.  Every year, the NCBDDD decides on its research priorities and decides about the topics to fund through the DRDC.

Within the Human Subjects and Clinical Trials form, there is another form that must be extracted and then uploaded back into the main form. This extracted form is where the pages having to do with enrollment and subject protection are attached. Do each of these documents need to have a page number in the bottom center of the page? We are concerned that when we put all of these documents together in one pdf that the attachments in this document won’t be view-able. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. This is a new form for everyone, and we just ask that you do your best to follow the instructions. This part is not scored, so if you make errors or if something is lost in the conversion to pdf, then it won’t count against you. My best advise is to put this section at the back of your application, and then don’t worry about page numbers. If you get the grant, and some additional details regarding human subjects are needed, we will ask for them at that time.

Would you please elaborate on whether there are any parameters regarding the indirect cost rates to be charged to the DRDC grants? You are allowed to use your institution’s negotiated F&A rate for your proposal; however, the funding limit is set to include both direct and indirect costs. For example, if you are applying for a $150,000 grant, and your institutional F&A rate for research is 50%, then you could put in a budget for $100,000 Direct Costs and $50,000 Indirect Costs.

Does the budget for the RFAs need to begin on September 30th or can they begin on October 1 of each year with a stop date on September 30th? Our grant years have always begun on Sept 30 in one year and ended on Sept 29 in the next year. This is because the CDC uses funds that must be expended before the end of their fiscal year; thus, they obligate the funds on the last day possible. This means that our subcontracts have to follow the same calendar and cannot be changed. As a practical matter, you can propose a budget that uses calendar months, beginning with October 1, 2018; but please keep in mind that the subcontract dates will begin and end as described above.

Is there a Facilities form/document required as part of the application packet? Not at this point. If you are successful in getting one of the grants, we may ask for that before we issue the sub-contract.

I am interested in applying for an award, and I would like to speak with the program officer if possible to make sure I understand the requirements for the proposal, and to ensure that my proposal meets the intended purpose of the award. I could not find contact information on the website to identify an appropriate point of contact. Is there someone I could talk to? As part of our cooperative agreement with the CDC, we have been designated to be the contact point for all applicant questions. The DRDC will only answer written questions, and cannot take any telephone calls. We consult with CDC as needed to answer the queries personally and in a timely manner, and we also post all questions and answers on the DRDC website. This is done to assure a fair process for all applicants, and it mirrors the procedures most federal agencies use for their grants.

Are tables and figures to be included in the page count for the Research Strategy? Yes, we have changed the instructions from previous cycles. The tables and figures need to be included in your research strategy within the set page limit. They should NOT be included as appendices.

Are investigators allowed to submit applications for more than one RFA? Yes.

Relevant Q&A from Previous Funding Cycles

Is it necessary for all project personnel to have an ERA Commons username?  At a minimum, the Principal Investigator for your project should have one.  If it is not possible for the PI to obtain an ERA Commons username before you submit your application, please have him or her apply for one and indicate that it is in process.

Can you please clarify if this would be a grant from the Disability Research and Dissemination Center or if it is considered a Subgrant under another federal award that you have been awarded and if so could you please confirm the sponsor? Successful applicants will be funded via a sub-contract from the University of South Carolina, which is the administrative home of the DRDC. The DRDC is funded through Grant#1U19DD001218 from the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Are we required to complete a budget justification for our application? Yes. Please see the PHS 398 Instructions and Form Page 5.  This form page is required to be included in your application packet and contains the budget justification. You will likely need to use continuation pages to fully justify your budget.

Are biosketches are required for Other Significant Contributors? They are not required, but we recommend including them, if available.

May I include the timeline in the appendix or must it be included in the Research Strategy?  Since the timeline is a required element of the research strategy, it needs to be included within the page limits specified for your application.  

Does DRDC require a fully approved IRB protocol prior to application submission? No, you do not need to have the protocol approved in advance. Please be sure to address the expected involvement of human subjects in your research, as instructed in section (f) of the “how to apply” page. It is also helpful if you indicate whether you expect the IRB to classify your protocol application as being Exempt, or if you expect it to undergo an Expedited or Full review. 

Will progress reports be required, if funded?  Yes. The DRDC Project Manager will instruct grantees on the timing and required elements for progress reports.  They will be required at least annually for the duration of the grant.

Are there margin requirements for the Research Strategy?  There are no set margin requirements, so you should use your best judgement. Keep in mind, however, that if your application makes the first cut, it will be sent in printed form to CDC for their full review. Thus, you would not want your text to be outside of the printable area.

Are applicants allowed to propose to use subcontractors for some project activities?  Yes. You may propose to use a subcontractor in your application. F&A costs for the first $25,000 of each consortium agreement may be included in your modified total direct cost base, which is used to calculate your overall F&A rate, as long as your institution’s negotiated F&A rate agreement does not expressly prohibit it. If you intend to establish a consortium agreement with a foreign institution or international organization, then F&A for the consortium is limited to 8%.

Is it allowable for a for-profit bidder to include a fee or profit in their proposed budget? If an entity has a  federally-negotiated indirect cost rate, it would be normal to use that rate to cover overhead costs, and to show that cost and calculation in the project budget.  If your organization does not have such an agreement in place, you could still ask for indirect costs (facilities and administration), but you would have to explain what it covers.  For non-governmental agencies, it is often the case that  their federally-negotiated rates are calculated as a percentage of salaries and fringe only, but it varies quite a bit from organization to organization. Other than indirect costs, a line-item for “profit” would be looked upon unfavorably.

What entities are eligible to apply for this funding? On the Research Overview & Grant Opportunities page, you will find links to each of the individual RFAs.  Each one is different and you should click the links to find the individual descriptions and to learn who is eligible to apply.

Regarding the budget, are applicants required to use the HHS salary cap if there are project personnel whose salaries exceed the cap?  Yes.

May I speak with someone at the DRDC by telephone to ask a few questions about the application process and areas that I should address in my research application? To be fair to all potential applicants, the DRDC will only answer written questions. We usually post questions and answers within a day or two of obtaining the answer.

Who is the CDC project officer for each RFA, and may I contact them regarding this opportunity? We have negotiated with CDC to be the contact point for all applicants. Part of that agreement is that we will get all questions in writing, and that we will post all questions and answers on the DRDC website. This is done to assure a fair process for all applicants, and it mirrors the procedures most federal agencies use for their grants. The DRDC is issuing the grants and we will answer your questions, with consultation from the CDC, as needed, in a timely manner.

How do I apply for one of the research funding opportunities? Refer to this page for instructions and the application form.

Will the budget be allowed to cover our negotiated F&A rate, and is there a cap or limit on the allowable indirect costs? There are no specific limits on indirect costs, rather there are maximum annual costs for each RFA.  These are posted on each RFA’s description page, and these amounts must cover the applicants direct and indirect costs for the project. Applicants should use their federally negotiated indirect (F&A) cost rates, if available.

Will the DRDC  take a percentage of the awards for administrative expenses? We are separately funded by the CDC for indirect costs related to the sub-awards.

Does the DRDC have its own federal ID or do we need the University of South Carolina’s federal ID? The DRDC does not have its own federal ID number. The University of South Carolina’s EIN is 57-6001153.

Please provide me with the CFDA number?  There are no CDFA numbers that are directly tied to the DRDC grant opportunities.