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  4. FAQ: Maternal and Child Health Secondary Data Analysis Research (MCH SDAR)

FAQ: Maternal and Child Health Secondary Data Analysis Research (MCH SDAR)

1. Where do I find application materials for the SDAR Program?

All application materials are available through Workspace on Grants.gov.

2. How can I download the complete application package for the HRSA-23-068 NOFO?

You can download the application by searching for the application number HRSA-23-068 on Grants.gov:

  • Click on the hyperlink for HRSA-23-068
  • Click on the last blue tab entitled "PACKAGE."
  • Scroll down and click on the "Preview" hyperlink under the "Actions" column.
  • Select the "Download Instructions" button in the right-hand corner. This will download the application.

3. What is Grants.gov?

Grants.gov is the web site that the U.S. Government uses to inform citizens of grant opportunities and provide a portal for submitting applications to government agencies. More information can be found on the Grants.gov website.

4. Is there anything that we need to do immediately to better prepare for our new grant application?

Yes, make sure that the Authorized Organization Representative at your organization has registered the organization and himself/herself in Grants.gov. In order to submit your application, your university and your Authorized Organization Representative MUST be registered in Grants.gov. When your Authorized Organization Representative registers in Grants.gov, they will receive a Credential User Name and Password, which will allow that individual to submit application forms in Grants.gov.

5. What are the top take-home messages about Grants.gov?

  • Make sure that the Authorized Organization Representative from your university/organization is registered in Grants.gov NOW. This process can take up to 1 month and it is better to complete it and have it out of the way before starting any grant application.
  • Read the instructions on Grants.gov carefully and allow time for corrections. Enter information in fields even if it is 0 or the form will remain incomplete.

Required fields are highlighted in yellow.

  • There are resources available on the Grants.gov web site to help you navigate this new system. Please visit Grants.gov to access these resources.
  • Some business practices will change with the introduction of the new SF-424 R&R Form:
  • With the HRSA SF-424 R&R, you will be reporting faculty and staff time in calendar month equivalents; and
  • Budget details about subcontracts will now be described in a section of the SF424 R&R Form called sub-awards.

6. Can I get a copy of the NOFO from the previous competition?

Past funding announcements are not shared in order to avoid confusion among potential applicants. You can find past NOFOs on Grants.gov but the criteria for the SDAR Program has changed. Follow instructions provided in this NOFO (HRSA-23-068). All applications for this competition will be reviewed and scored based on the instructions and evaluation criteria outlined in this NOFO (HRSA-23-068).

7. What types of institutions can apply?

MCH SDAR: Eligibility is limited to public or non-profit institutions of higher learning and public or private non-profit agencies engaged in research or in programs relating to maternal and child health and/or services for children with special health care needs (See 42 CFR § 51a.3(b)). Faith-based and community-based organizations, tribes, and tribal organizations are eligible to apply.

8. We are a foreign organization interested in applying for the SDAR Program. Are foreign entities eligible to apply?

The SDAR program (HRSA-23-068) is open to organizations that meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in the NOFO.

9. How do I know whether to apply to the SDAR grants?

The purpose of the 1-year grants are to support the analysis of large, pre-existing national data sets on questions in order to answer scientific questions related to the MCH field, including children and teenagers with ASD/DD. If you have a study question related to MCH health, including children and teenagers with ASD/DD, that can be investigated using such a large, pre-existing dataset, we invite you to apply.

10. The NOFO notes that the grant supports "applied research." What do you mean by "applied research"?

We define applied research as bringing basic research models and theories to application in practice – e.g., efficacy trials of new interventions, implementation studies, etc.

11. If I were to receive an SDAR award, what type of data would I receive from HRSA? Would it be data specific to the subject or would it be a large amount of data that I would need to sift through?

You are responsible for finding the particular data set(s) that will be used in the proposal. HRSA does not make data available to SDAR recipients. You are also responsible for making sure that you have or will have access to the national database and/or administrative records that you will use for your grant applications.

12. We are trying to apply for the announced grants, but our organization does not have an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement. What should we do?

According to the Uniform Administrative Requirements and the HRSA SF-424 R&R Application Guide, "any non-federal entity that has never received a negotiated indirect cost rate, (except a governmental department or agency unit that receives more than $35 million in direct federal funding) may elect to charge a de minimis rate of 10 percent of modified total direct costs (MTDC) which may be used indefinitely". The HRSA SF424 R&R also contains information on how to negotiate the indirect cost rate.

13. How do I know what my institution's indirect cost rate is?

Your institution's indirect cost rate is negotiated by the institution with the U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Your sponsored programs office will be able to provide further information about the indirect cost rate.

14. We are a university that would like to partner with the recipient of the Title V Block Grant, which is our state's department of health. Is the intended recipient of these awards the block grant administrator?

The recipient of the award is typically the PI's institution, which should meet eligibility criteria as given in the NOFO.

15. How do I know if the database I am considering for my analysis is appropriate for the SDAR Program?

The SDAR Program supports research projects that only use existing national databases and/or administrative records. You should highlight in your proposal how the dataset of choice will yield information that is of regional and national significance to MCH populations if applying to the MCH SDAR or to children and children with ASD/DD if applying to the Autism SDAR since this is part of the criterion on Public Health Impact that the external review committee will be assessing all proposals on. You should also include written confirmation that the proposed dataset for the SDAR project are available to the investigator, including information such as name of dataset, year of dataset, and date of data availability, and correspondence from the organization overseeing the dataset. See Criterion #4 in the NOFO for further information about how your application will be assessed for public health impact. Please visit our website to read about previously awarded SDAR projects and the data sets they have used.

16. Does the SDAR program allow the use of administrative records?

Yes, administrative records can be used for this grant. The SDAR Program supports research projects that exclusively utilize existing national databases and/or administrative records. You should highlight in your proposal how the administrative records will yield information that addresses a critical problem or barrier to progress the field of MCH, since this is part of the criterion on Public Health Impact that the external review committee will be assessing all proposals on.

17. The NOFO mentions that the applicant must provide information on data availability. What information should I include in my application?

The external review committee will look to see if the database is appropriate to the study when reviewing proposals. You should also include written confirmation that the dataset is available to you, including information such as name of dataset, year of dataset, and date of data availability, and correspondence from the organization overseeing the dataset. See Criterion 4 (Impact) in the NOFO for further information about how your application will be assessed for public health impact. Please visit our website to read about previously awarded SDAR projects and the data sets they have used. It is not the reviewer's responsibility to know about the availability of the applicant's proposed dataset. The application should clearly describe the availability of the dataset, and if this is not described successfully, the reviewer may reduce the application's score accordingly.

8. Does the HRSA-23-068 competition allow for multiple principal investigators (PIs), also known as project directors (PDs)?

Yes, multiple applications from an organization are allowable. In order to expand our research grant portfolio, an individual cannot serve as the PD or PI on more than one active HRSA/MCHB/OER/DoR-funded grant. A PD/PI on an active MCHB/OER/DoR-funded research grant is expected to have no more than 10 percent time as a co-investigator on an existing HRSA/MCHB/OER/DoR research grant. HRSA allows one PD/PI to be named on the face page of the SF-424 R&R application, who will serve as the key point of contact. The application can include co-investigators as key personnel on the project. If selected for funding, the new awardee will need to verify that percent time across all federally-funded grants does not exceed 100 percent.

19. If the data set we plan to use includes data from only one or several states, will this qualify as a national data set for the SDAR Program?

If no existing national database adequately addresses your research question or specific population, then the best available data set can be used. In the NOFO we ask you to explain why your data is appropriate for your study question, you will want to explain why a state or regional level dataset is the best. In all cases, the NOFO requires that "findings will be generalizable and of regional and national significance to MCH populations." Highlight how findings from your proposed project will have regional and national significance on MCH populations. Funding decisions are based on scientific merit as determined by the external review committee, and on availability of funds.

20. Is there a requirement regarding minimum or maximum effort for the PI?

The NOFO does not specify any minimum or maximum time requirement for the PD/PI, but applicant PDs/PIs should allocate and devote sufficient time to justify their commitments to the project. You must demonstrate in the proposal how the time devoted by the PD/PI meets the review criteria and how the proposed PD/PI's allocated time would potentially be sufficient for the success of the project. Additionally, current PD/PI of an active HRSA/MCHB/Office of Epidemiology and Research (OER)/Division of Research (DOR) award can serve for no more than 10 percent time on a new proposal.

21. Is it possible for postdoctoral fellows to apply as PI for the SDAR Program if they are affiliated with a university?

Postdoctoral fellows are allowed to serve as PD/PI on the SDAR grant. Who may or may not serve as PD/PI depends on the rules of your institution.

22. Can someone who is currently a PI on a grant funded by another agency be a PI on an SDAR grant?

Yes, a PI on another (non-HRSA/MCHB) agency's grant can be a PI on an SDAR grant; however, if selected for funding, the new recipient will need to verify that percent time across all federally funded grants does not exceed 100 percent.

23. We have more than one investigator in our institution planning to apply to this NOFO. Is more than one application per institution allowable?

Multiple applications from an organization with the same Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) are allowable if the applications propose separate and distinct projects. For example, different investigators (or research teams) from the same institution can apply for the same funding opportunity.

24. Which format should we follow for the biographical sketch?

Please use the MCHB biographical sketch form (DOCX). Please note that even though the document has an OMB clearance number, it is not a standard form and your response counts against the page limit.

25. Are there page limits for the submitted application?

Yes, the total size of all uploaded files included in the page limit may not exceed 60 pages when printed by HRSA. Any pages that go over the limit will be deleted and the modified application will be sent to the review committee.

26. What counts towards the page limits?

The page limit applies to the:

  • Project and budget narratives
  • Attachments
  • Letters of commitment and support required in application guide and the NOFO
  • Biographical sketches

The page limit does not apply to the following:

  • Standard OMB-approved forms (including the new Project Abstract Summary) that are included in the application package
  • Indirect Cost Rate Agreement
  • Proof of Non-Profit Status

Preliminary studies can be included in the Approach section of the Research Strategy, if applicable, and would be included in the six-page limit as described above. If an application exceeds required page limitations, the pages over the limit will be deleted.

27. Does the Specific Aims section have a page limitation?

No. However, this section typically runs three to five pages.

28. Where do I include the staffing plan?

The staffing plan information is included in the budget narrative attachment that should be uploaded into the budget form Box K.

29. I am resubmitting my application, yet I have made substantial revisions to it. Does this still count as a resubmission?

MCHB does not treat resubmissions differently than new, original applications. All applications whether new or otherwise, will be reviewed equally. Applicants should follow the standard NOFO submission guidelines as they are outlined in this NOFO.

30. When will you announce your other research NOFOs?

Please join our listserv to receive an alert whenever our NOFOs are released.

31. Whom should I talk to if I have further questions?

For programmatic questions, contact the program officers listed in the NOFO via email.

For budget questions, contact the grants management specialists listed in the NOFO via email.

32. Can I ask the program officer listed in the NOFO to read my proposal for their comments and suggestions?

No. Though questions are welcome throughout the open competition phase, please be aware that the point of contact/project officer has no authority to determine the validity or success of your proposal. The project officer cannot provide feedback or guidance on your draft proposal. Your proposal will be reviewed by an independent review panel comprised of experts in the field.

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