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AHCPR Small Project Grant Program

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NIH Guide, Volume 25, Number 5, February 23, 1996

Program Announcement


PT: 34; K.W. 0730050, 1014006

Health Services Delivery
Grants Administration/Policy

Application Receipt Dates: Ongoing Announcement

Agency for Health Care Policy and Research


The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) was established to improve the quality, appropriateness, and effectiveness of health care services and access to these services.

These purposes are achieved by supporting research and by promoting improvements in clinical practice and in the organization, financing, and delivery of health care services.

AHCPR announces a program of small grants, designed to take advantage of time-dependent opportunities; reduce the costs of developing applications for small research projects, including demonstrations and evaluations; and shorten the time and burden of the review process.

Applicants should review the notice of Program Emphases for the AHCPR Small Project Grant Program before submitting a grant application.

This announcement replaces the printed grant announcement (AHCPR Publication No. 96-R051) that was published in March 1996.

Healthy People 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000," a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas. AHCPR urges applicants to submit grant applications with relevance to the specific objectives of this initiative. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report: Stock No. 017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report: Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325, telephone: 202/512-1800.

Eligibility Requirements

Applications may be submitted by domestic, nonprofit organizations, public and private, including universities, clinics, units of State and local governments, nonprofit firms, and nonprofit foundations.

AHCPR encourages women, members of minority groups, persons with disabilities, and new investigators to apply as Principal Investigator.

Projects can be self-contained or part of a larger effort. However, projects presented as subcomponents of a larger effort must be sufficiently distinct to be reviewed and evaluated on their own merits.

The aims of the proposed project must be distinctly different from those of any pending grant application or funded research project submitted by the Principal Investigator. The request may not be used to supplement currently supported projects, provide interim support for projects under review by the PHS, or obtain funding as a competing continuation of a small grant. Requests for support for dissertation research will not be considered under this small grant program. Applications to support dissertations should be submitted for consideration under the AHCPR Small Grant Program for Health Services Dissertation Research.

Mechanism of Support

The Program Announcement (PA) will use the small research grant (R03) mechanism. Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed project will be solely that of the proposed Principal Investigator. The total direct costs must not exceed $50,000 for the entire project period. An application that requests more than this amount will be returned to the applicant. Support will normally not exceed 24 months.

Research Objectives


The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) was established by Congress in 1989 to improve the quality, appropriateness, and effectiveness of health care services and access to such services. Title IX of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act gives AHCPR flexibility in review procedures for awarding grants with direct costs of $50,000 or less. Such grants are called "small grants." AHCPR uses the small grant authority to support three kinds of activities: conferences, doctoral dissertations, and small project grants (including research, demonstrations, and evaluations).

Purpose and Scope of Activity

This program announcement describes the AHCPR Small Project Grant Program, which provides support for focused research projects, developmental studies, and high-risk projects. These projects include: research, evaluation, demonstrations, and pilot studies.

The AHCPR is also interested in projects that involve collaborative efforts between medical and public health organizations.

Focused Research Projects

Projects can be descriptive or involve the testing of hypotheses. Projects must be discrete; that is, only projects that can be completed within the budgetary and time constraints imposed by the small grant program are eligible for support. Other projects can include: opportunistic, quantitative analysis of existing secondary data; policy research; evaluations of demonstrations or programs; case studies; historical, legal, or ethical analysis; or primary data collection and analysis.

Developmental Studies

Developmental projects can involve feasibility studies or pilot projects. They can also include formative or exploratory activities such as construction or modification of a survey instrument, research to test the design of a large-scale study, and collection and analysis of quantitative or qualitative information for the purpose of hypotheses generation.

High-Risk Projects

High-risk projects involve the study of a novel issue or problem or the application of a novel methodological approach. These projects might employ techniques or theories from other fields, not traditionally linked to health services research. Such projects have the potential for providing new insights into methodological or substantive issues. Because these projects may be groundbreaking, there is also a greater probability that they may not achieve the desired or planned outcome.

Inclusion of Women and Minorities in Research Study Populations Involving Human Subjects

It is the policy of AHCPR that women and members of minority groups be included in all AHCPR-supported research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification are provided that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy resulting from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law 103-43) supersedes and strengthens NIH's previous policies (Concerning the Inclusion of Women in Study Populations, and Concerning the Inclusion of Minorities in Study Populations), which were in effect since 1990 and which AHCPR had adopted. The new NIH policy contains provisions that are substantially different from the 1990 policies. All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the NIH Guidelines on the Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research, which was published in the Federal Register on March 28, 1994 (FR 59 14508-14513), and printed in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on March 11, 1994, Volume 23, Number 10. AHCPR follows the revised NIH Guidelines, as applicable.

Applicants may obtain copies of the guidelines from the sources listed above or from the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse, listed under "Application Procedures." AHCPR program staff may also provide information concerning this policy (select "Inquiries").

Application Procedures

There are no set deadlines for submission of the Small Project Grant Program applications; rather, they are accepted on an ongoing basis.

The research grant application, Form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95), is to be used when applying for these grants. State and local government agencies may use Application for Federal Assistance, Form PHS 5161-1 (rev. 9/92), and follow these submission requirements for copy submission.

Application kits are available at most institutional offices of sponsored research and may be obtained from:

Division of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910
Bethesda, MD 20857-7910
Telephone: (301) 435-0714

For AHCPR support, applicants should obtain application kits and materials from:

AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 8547
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8547
Telephone: 800-358-9295
TDD service: 888-586-6340

Mark the "Yes" box and enter "Small Project Grant Program" in Section 2 on the face page of the application.

Applicants must follow the specific instructions in the research grant application, Form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) when preparing the application, with the following changes:

The section entitled "Research Plan" must not exceed 15 pages in length. Applicants determine the appropriate length of the areas that must be addressed in the "Research Plan," but the statement must not exceed the 15 page limit.

In listing references, only literature immediately relevant to the application may be cited. The reference list is not counted as part of the 15 pages.

No appendices should be included with the application except for survey instruments. These should be attached if they are judged to be crucial for the review of the project. The instruments will not count as part of the 15 pages.

Submit a signed and typewritten original of the grant application, Form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95), including the checklist and five signed photocopies (in one package) to:

Small Grants: Research Projects
Agency for Health Care Policy and Research
2101 East Jefferson Street, Suite 400
Rockville, MD 20852-4908

This announcement pertains only to applications for grants of $50,000 or less in total direct costs. Applications requesting support in excess of $50,000 in total direct costs must be completed in accordance with instructions in the Form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) and sent to the following address:

Center for Scientific Review
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040, MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD 20857-7710
Bethesda, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)

Review Considerations

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness and relevance to the AHCPR mission by staff. Incomplete applications and applications proposing research in areas outside the mission of the Agency will be returned to the applicant without further consideration.

AHCPR Small Project Grant Program applications are reviewed typically by three experts. AHCPR selects reviewers on the basis of knowledge and expertise in areas germane to the application. Federal reviewers may be used when the expertise of a Federal employee is consistent with the science and topic of an application.

The reviewers' assessment of technical merit is only one of the factors taken into account by AHCPR when funding decisions are made.

Statements summarizing the review of applications recommended for approval are prepared by AHCPR staff. These statements are used by the Agency in making funding decisions and are sent to the applicant.

For applications that are to be given no further consideration, only minor editing of the reviewer comments is provided before the information is sent to the applicant. Summary statements are usually completed within 8 weeks after receipt of applications.

Applications not selected for funding under AHCPR's Small Project Grant Program cannot be resubmitted. At AHCPR's discretion, efforts may be made to resolve problems in applications that hold real promise.

Applicants should not assume on the basis of efforts to resolve these problems that AHCPR is committed to making an award.

Review Criteria

The review criteria for AHCPR grant applications are:

  • Significance and originality of the project.
  • Organization of the project.
  • Qualifications and experience of the investigators.
  • Appropriateness of approach, methods, and data.
  • Availability of data, when appropriate.
  • Adequacy of facilities and resources for the project.
  • Human subjects involvement and protection (when appropriate).
  • Representation of women and minorities (when appropriate).
  • Appropriateness of the budget, including other sources of funding.

Award Criteria

AHCPR sets aside funding each fiscal year for the Small Project Grant Program. The amount of the set aside is dependent upon the availability of funds.

In making funding decisions for small grants, the reviewers' assessment of technical merit is important, but this alone does not determine what will be funded. AHCPR takes into account additional factors in making decisions. These include the focus of the project, potential significance of the study, and the overall contributions the project will make to the field of health services research.

Special consideration is also given to new investigators.

The earliest possible date of award is 3 months after the receipt of the application by AHCPR.

Special Requirements

Allowable Costs and Nonallowable Costs

Expenses allowed under the AHCPR Small Project Grant Program follow the guidelines described in the Application for a Public Health Service Grant (Form PHS 398; rev. 5/95) with some exceptions.

Direct Cost Expenditures

Equipment. Small grant projects may not use grant funds for the purchase of equipment.

Supplies. Grant funds may be used for the purchase of supplies up to a limit of $1,000. These supplies must be received and used during the project period.

Federal Employees. Grant funds may not be used to cover the cost of travel or any payment to a Federal employee.

Alterations and Renovations. Grant funds may not be used to support facility alteration or renovations of any kind.

Indirect Cost Expenditures

Indirect costs are allowable and will depend on the institution's IDC rate. This cost is the most recent rate established with the appropriate Federal cognizant agency.

Conditions of Acceptance of Award

To receive an award, applicants must agree to submit an original and 2 copies of an abstract, executive summary, and full report of the research results in the format prescribed by AHCPR no later than 90 days after the end of the project period. The executive summary should be sent at the same time on a computer disk which specifies on the label the format used (WP5.1 or WP6.0 is preferable).

Applicants must also agree to notify AHCPR when a manuscript based on research supported by the grant is accepted for publication and the expected date of publication.

Applicants must agree, as well, to notify AHCPR of any plans to publish or otherwise release significant findings from the project supported by the grant.


AHCPR welcomes the opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants. Written and telephone inquiries concerning this announcement are encouraged. The following contacts may provide further guidance for specific program areas:

Primary Care, Access, and Public Health
Kelly Morgan
Telephone: (301) 427-1570

Outcomes and Effectiveness Research
Joanne Book
Telephone: (301) 427-1488

Cost, Financing, and Market Forces
Steven B. Cohen, Ph.D.
Telephone: (301) 427-1406

Organization and Delivery
Irene Fraser, Ph.D.
Telephone: (301) 427-1410

Information Dissemination
Christine G. Williams
Telephone: (301) 427-1360

Computerized Health Information Systems and Standards
J. Michael Fitzmaurice
Telephone: (301) 427-1227

Fiscal Matters
Mable L. Lam
Telephone: (301) 427-1448

Authority and Regulations

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, Numbers 93.180 and 93.226. Awards are made under authorization of Title IX of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 299-299c-6) and Section 1142 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320b-12). Awards are administered under HHS and PHS grant policies and Federal regulations 42 CFR 67, Subpart A; and 45 CFR, Parts 74 and 92. This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or to the Public Health System Reporting Requirements in PHS Circular 93.01.

The Public Health Service strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and promote the nonuse of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, The Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.

Current as of October 1999

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