NIH eRA Commons Items of Interest – August 29, 2011

Forwarded from NIH Listserv. Please note description of upcoming
changes to eRA Commons interface, mandated use of Commons for no-cost
extensions and plans for Research Performance Progress Reports.

Happy Monday, -Greg

NIH eRA Commons Items of Interest – August 29, 2011

Good morning everyone, and good riddance to Irene! We are open for business at NIH, with all systems running normally, and we hope that those of you on the East Coast made it through the storm with little to no damage. We have some eRA Commons news for you, so let’s get started!

If you had the opportunity to attend any OER outreach events (regional seminars or small business conference) this year, you probably heard us mention that “Commons is changing.” What does this mean? Well, it’s a little too early to be able to show you what is changing, but here is some information about what you can expect.

In October, eRA Commons will undergo a “technical refresh.” As a part of this work, we’ll be able to update and enhance various sections of the system. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the upcoming changes:

Login Screens

We recently conducted a Commons Usability Study to determine what we can do to begin bringing Commons up to speed with the technology of the 21st century (Commons was “born” in the 1980s!) The study told us something we’ve suspected for awhile—the visual design of Commons could use some work. It will take time to refresh the look of the Commons as a whole, but in October you’ll see that we started the refreshing process with the login screens. In addition to having an improved look and feel, the login screens will provide eligible federated users with the ability to login to Commons using their home organization credentials. Stay tuned for more details.


Did you ever think that it would be so much easier to delegate tasks in Commons if all of the delegations were in one place? Well, come October, all available delegations will be located under one ‘Delegations’ tab on the top menu bar in Commons. Our documentation and communications teams will release FAQs, ‘How To’ steps, and other materials to help you when this change takes place. The Help Desk will be well informed and able to answer your questions about the new way to perform delegations.

Stay tuned for additional communications regarding the upcoming technical refresh of eRA Commons!

Additional Items of Interest:

Mandating Use of No-Cost Extension (NCE) in Commons

We have just released a guide notice (NOT-OD-11-098) detailing our plan to mandate the use of the No-Cost Extension feature in eRA Commons when you need to notify NIH that you will exercise your one-time authority to extend (without additional funds) the final budget period of your grant. The majority of you are already using NCE for this purpose, but the new policy requiring its use will go into effect on October 1, 2011. As of that date, NIH will no longer accept these notifications via other communication channels.

Implementation of Research Performance Progress Report

We continue to work hard on our plans to implement the federal-wide Research Performance Progress Report (Guess what? Another acronym! RPPR). While we are currently working on internal technical development, we plan to open a pilot of the RPPR feature in eRA Commons (which will replace the eSNAP feature) early next year. Full implementation of the RPPR will occur next summer. For more information, see the posted implementation plan: DHHS/NIH (and Other PHS Agencies).

If you managed to make it this far…thanks for reading our Commons Items of Interest! Should you have any questions about the above content, or any questions/topics you wish for us to address in a future Items of Interest, please feel free to send an e-mail to our communications team at

Best wishes,


Scarlett Gibb & Sheri Cummins
Customer Relationship Managers | eRA External Services – Commons & eSubmission
NIH Office of Extramural Research

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