NIH Cloud Platform Interoperability (NCPI) Effort Project Solicitation Announcement, March 2023
March 2023: Solicitations are now open for NCPI interoperability projects.
The schedule, details, and instructions for submitting proposals for NCPI interoperability projects are available in the Solicitation Announcement. The template referred to in the Proposal Submission Information section (on page 2) of the Solicitation Announcement is available here.
Please check the solicitation requirements, including the Eligibility Information of the announcement to ensure that your institution/organization is eligible to submit proposals.
The key dates for the proposal process are:
- Publication date: March 3, 2023
- Letters of Intent (LOI) Due Date: Monday, April 3, 2023 by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.
- Proposal Questions Due Date: Monday, May 1, 2023 by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.
- Proposal Due Date: Monday, May 15, 2023 by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. Late submissions to this ROA will not be accepted.
- Earliest Start Date: July 31, 2023
Answers to Questions received about the Solicitation are provided in the Solicitation FAQ. This FAQ will be updated periodically.
If you have any questions about this solicitation request, please email the NCPI Administrative Coordinating Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2023 Interoperability Solicitation FAQs
This section contains answers to questions received about the current Solicitation Announcement for Interoperability Projects. It will be updated periodically as new questions are received and answered.
Date of last update: 05/04/2023.
Question: How many interoperability awards are expected to be distributed?
Answer: NIH has not specified a limit to the number of interoperability projects to be awarded. They will evaluate submissions and make funding decisions for those that have the most merit according to the evaluation criteria in the Announcement. Per the solicitation announcement, “NIH will make all funding decisions” and they will communicate their decisions to the ACC.
Question: Are there limits to the amount of cloud credits that can be budgeted in a proposal?
Answer: There are no limits to the amount of cloud resources requested, although these should be justified by the proposed work. Cloud costs should not be included in your budget; however, the estimated need for and cost of cloud credits should be noted in your proposed work plan.
FAQ3 (modified 05/03/2023)
Question: Which institutions/researchers are eligible to submit?
Answer: The requirement is for at least two NCPI partner systems to be actively involved and funded in each proposal. In addition, the lead PI should be from a current NCPI system. Other institutions may be partners on the proposal. Each participating institution should contribute a separate budget file as part of any jointly submitted proposal.
Question: Can the announcement be shared with investigators not included in the Invitation email?
Answer: Yes, please feel free to share the solicitation with colleagues and collaborators. Note the requirement to partner with existing NCPI systems on the previous question. Please share the link to this page, where we will continue to provide updates and additional FAQs.
Question: Is it a requirement that all collaborating institutes on the proposal be current NCPI partner systems?
Answer: Per Eligibility Section of the Solicitation (page 4), proposals must involve at least two current NCPI partner systems. In addition, the lead PI should be from current NCPI system. Additional partners who are not currently part of NCPI would be welcome to participate in the proposal as well.
FAQ6 (modified 05/03/2023)
Question: Is it a requirement that the lead PI be from a current NCPI partner system?
Answer: Yes. The lead PI should be from one of the five current NCPI systems. Also, the applicant should provide institutional attestation that the applicant can serve as PI; The Contact of the PI of the system should endorse the applicant as PI of the interoperability project.
Question: Is a researcher, not associated to a NCPI system, limited to only participate in one proposal for this
current call for proposals, or can the researcher collaborate on multiple proposals?
Answer: There is no limit to the number of proposals any particular PI or NCPI system can participate in. All system partners participating in a given interoperability project must work together to compose a proposal. This includes NCBI staff for proposals that involve dbGaP/SRA. Each system may participate in multiple interoperability projects. NIH encourages and expects systems and platforms to prioritize the proposals in which they participate based on the potential for substantive involvement and the potential impact on the performance and mission of the system.
FAQ8 (modified 04/24/2023)
Question: Can a proposal be submitted, even if a Letter of Intent is not submitted?
Answer: Yes, a researcher does not have to submit a Letter of Intent to still submit a proposal. Letters of Intent help NIH with review planning activities. If you missed the Letter of Intent deadline, you are still eligible to submit a proposal on or before the May 15th deadline.
FAQ9 (modified 04/24/2023)
Question: Can you clarify whether the expected total budget is for $500k in direct costs over two years or $500k per
year for two years?
Answer: The expected total direct costs is $500K or less per year, not including requests for cloud credits. The project period/duration can be up to 2 years. Requested budgets above $500k per year should be commensurate and justified by the number of participating platforms and the complexity of the proposed scope. The total budget is for the entire duration of the proposed project period – not budget per year.
Question: RTI is a member of Biodata Catalyst, is the organization (RTI) allowed to submit a proposal? This would
involve different people from RTI from the ACC team – none of the ACC team members would participate in the proposal
Answer: Yes. RTI can collaborate on Interoperability Projects. In their role as lead for the NCPI Administrative Coordinating center, RTI will be providing logistic support and technical expertise to NIH and will not influence funding decisions.
Question: Can someone propose multiple projects that relate back to a single overarching research objective? Does the
scientific research question need to be confined to a single proposal or can it be spread across multiple?
Answer: It’s understood that a single scientific use case may motivate multiple technical approaches. There may be more than one interoperability project addressing the same scientific use case.
Question: Can interoperability projects support integration with NIH’s Researcher Auth Service (RAS)?
Answer: Yes. Systems are encouraged to propose interoperability projects for RAS integration as needed.
FAQ13 (new 04/24/2023)
Question: How do you determine if a partner system is actively involved?
Answer: A partner system is involved if personnel from that system will participate in technical development activities and data from that system is part of the use case. The Solicitation Announcement lists current NCPI partners on page 3.
FAQ14 (new 04/24/2023)
Question: Do I need to update the Letter of Intent to reflect the latest announcement update that was communicated on
Answer: As described in the solicitation, LOIs will be reviewed by NIH staff for information and planning purposes only. As such, you do not need to resubmit an updated Letter of Intent. Your submission (due on Monday, May 15 by 5pm local time of applicant organization) can have the final budget you are proposing.
FAQ15 (new 04/24/2023)
Question: Is the preference to write one joint proposal, which will support the project’s overall vision for an
interoperable system, or to write multiple smaller proposals with budgets that comply with the announcement
Answer: If the proposal has multiple scientific goals that will all be served by the same technical scope – then this should be covered in one proposal. Regarding the budget (size of the proposal), it’s fine to write a bigger proposal to accomplish the goals of the research. NIH might ask to segment the proposed project into different aims or phases, so if it does need to be descoped, NIH and the NCPI ACC would potentially have a path to achieve this with the investigator.
FAQ16 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Do we need to name an actual person or a persona (hypothetical person) of someone who would benefit?
Answer: Per Page 3 of the Solicitation Announcement:
“The name of the researcher who proposed and would benefit from successful implementation of the use case. (This person should also be named as personnel on the proposal).”
This needs to be a real person – and not a persona – and this person would need to be named in the personnel description on the proposal. This person would benefit from the successful implementation of the use case.
While this guidance does imply that the use case is proposed by the researcher, the use case can technically be proposed by anyone within the team. However, a real researcher should be included as someone who would benefit from the successful implementation of the use case.
FAQ17 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Does NCPI require the 5-page max NIH Biosketch format?
Answer: Biographical sketches do not need to comply with the 5 page maximum NIH Biosketch format. This may be the format that NIH is most familiar with, but it would be your proposal team’s decision on whether to adapt to this format or propose with your own.
FAQ18 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Is there a minimum # of key personnel that we must include?
Answer: Per Page 4 of the Solicitation Announcement:
“A brief description of the teaming arrangements and personnel involved in the project including developers and researchers and the role they will play. At minimum, there should be two technical leads (one from each system) and one research lead for each project. (Additional information about personnel should be provided as biographical sketches in the appendix.)”
“Key personnel are expected to attend one in-person meeting for the NCPI per year. The budget request should include funds for travel, as appropriate.”
At a minimum, there would be three key personnel – two technical leads (one from each system) and one researcher. Also, per the guidance on page 4, these team members are expected to attend one in-person meeting for the NCPI per year. The budget proposed should include funds for travel, as appropriate.
FAQ19 (new 05/03/2023)
Answer: The Excel budget request template can be found on the Solicitation Announcement page of the NCPI public website. It can be directly downloaded from this page.
FAQ20 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Is the lead institution including collaborating partner’s indirect costs towards the overall direct cost
total? Or are they only to take into consideration the direct costs of each site for the overall $500K direct cost
budget limit per year and exclude the indirect costs?
Answer: The indirect costs of your collaborating partners would not be included in the overall direct cost total of your submission. Each collaborating institution/partner would independently submit a budget that would include their direct and indirect costs. Each collaborating partner would take into consideration only their direct costs for their site from the total direct cost budget limit per year and exclude the indirect, which is included in the Excel template as another item.
FAQ21 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Upon award, is it anticipated that all funding will be provided to the lead institutions so that subawards
will be issued by the lead institution to collaborating institutions?
Answer: If awarded, The NCPI ACC will provide separate sub-awards with each collaborating institution directly.
FAQ22 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Is the “Proposal Questions Due Date” of May 1st, a component of the application that is submitted
or is this for any final clarifying questions from sites regarding this announcement? Also, can we submit questions
after the May 1st deadline.
Answer: The Proposal Questions Due Date is given as deadline to strongly encourage all interested applicants to submit their remaining questions by May 1st. Even though this is a stated deadline, the ACC will continue to answer questions after May 1st. However, the ACC does not guarantee that questions asked after the deadline will be answered before the Proposal Due Date (May 15th).
FAQ23 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Should the lead institution that is submitting the proposal include the subaward institutions in their Excel
Answer: No, each collaborating institution would independently produce a separate supporting budget that would include their direct and indirect costs. Also, each collaborating institution would take into consideration only their direct costs for their site from the total direct cost budget limit per year and exclude the indirect, which is included in the Excel template as another item.
FAQ24 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Should the lead institution submit the content requirements (as stated in the solicitation) as 1 proposal
package for all institutions including separate Excel budgets for each institution?
Answer: Yes, all collaborating institutions must work together to compose a single project proposal. Also, as stated in the budget section of the announcement (page 4), each project should submit separate Excel documents for each participating institution. The file name of the Excel document should reflect the institution name for each separate budget proposed.
FAQ25 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Should the Contact PI or the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) from the lead institution submit
the proposal including all budgets from the collaborating institutions?
Answer: Either the Contact PI or the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) can submit the proposal and corresponding budgets via email to email@example.com.
FAQ26 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Do the Evaluation Criteria and Review Questions, on page 5 of the announcement, also need to be submitted by
a business official or the contact PI at the proposal lead institution?
Answer: The Evaluation Criteria and Review Questions are not to be included/answered in the proposal; they are references for you and your team to keep in mind when preparing the proposal. Also, they reflect the elements NIH will consider when evaluating the proposal.
FAQ27 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: The announcement says that the proposal needs to include representatives of at least 2 different NCPI
members, does this mean full active co-I's/Senior Personnel involved in development, or can this be us submitting a
Scientific Use case that would access two different platforms with Letters of Support?
Answer: The proposal needs to include representatives of at least 2 different NCPI members. The announcement says (page 4): “A brief description of the teaming arrangements and personnel involved in the project including developers and researchers and the role they will play. At minimum, there should be two technical leads (one from each system) and one research lead for each project. (Additional information about personnel should be provided as biographical sketches in the appendix.)”, meaning full active co-I's/Senior Personnel involved in development.
FAQ28 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Is there any consideration of adjusting the submission due date beyond May 15?
Answer: Currently, the NIH is not planning to adjust the submission due date beyond May 15, 2023.
FAQ29 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Should we follow general NIH guidelines for formatting? Are there any specifics on margins, font, URLs,
general formatting that we should be aware of for this proposal submission?
Answer: You do not need to follow general NIH guidelines for formatting. This may be the format that NIH is most familiar with, but it would be your proposal team’s decision on whether to adapt to this format or propose with your own.
There are no specifics on margins, font, URLs, general formatting for this proposal submission.
FAQ30 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Who can provide answer questions regarding the purpose and scope of the opportunity?
Answer: Please direct your questions about the purpose and scope of the opportunity to NIH, as stated in the announcement, “Inquiries regarding the purpose and scope of this announcement should be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org”.
FAQ31 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Can you confirm that there’s one research lead per proposal, as opposed to one research lead per system or
one research lead per participating institution?
Answer: Yes, there should be one research lead per proposal/project. Also, at a minimum, there should be two technical leads (one from each system).
FAQ32 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Must the person responsible for the use case (if different than the research and/or proposal lead) attend
the NCPI meetings?
Answer: Investigators identified as key personnel are expected to attend one in-person meeting for the NCPI per year. It would be up to the project team to identify key personnel to attend the NCPI in-person annual meetings. The researcher who would benefit from the use case (if different from the research and/or proposal lead) does not necessarily have to be named as key personnel. But per the guidance on page 3 of the Solicitation Announcement, this person should be named as personnel on the proposal.
FAQ33 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: We are to budget travel for Key Personnel. Can you confirm where people will be traveling to and for how
many nights their stay is anticipated?
Answer: The location and number of nights of the in-person meeting have not been decided yet. For planning purposes, travel costs may be estimated based on the previously hosted 2-day workshops listed on the NCPI Public Website (https://anvilproject.org/ncpi/progress-updates). We are anticipating the next NCPI Workshop to be in the mid to late Fall of 2023. The location is tentatively Washington, DC, but you should estimate costs for East Coast, USA.
FAQ34 (new 05/03/2023)
Question: Where should citations/references be included? Should that be considered within the 10-pages limit for the
Answer: So as not to impose on the 10-page limit for the proposal narrative, citations may be placed in an Appendix. They may also be included in the proposal narrative, as either a separate section, or footnote, page limit permitting.
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- 2023 Interoperability Solicitation FAQs