The NIH has issued notice NOT-OD-09-003 to limit applicants to a single amendment (-01A1) of grants submitted for the first time after January 25, 2009.
NIH announces a change in the existing policy on resubmission (amended) applications (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/amendedapps.htm). Beginning with original new applications (i.e., never submitted) and competing renewal applications submitted for the January 25, 2009 due dates and beyond, the NIH will accept only a single amendment to the original application. Failure to receive funding after two submissions (i.e., the original and the single amendment) will mean that the applicant should substantially re-design the project rather than simply change the application in response to previous reviews. It is expected that this policy will lead to funding high quality applications earlier, with fewer resubmissions.
(As a brief history lesson for the young'uns, it was not so long ago that the limit to only two revised versions was adopted. )
They don't want to drag out the A2 applications for those applications for which the original has been submitted prior to the deadline, either.
Original new and competing renewal applications that were submitted prior to January 25, 2009 will be permitted two amendments (A1 and A2). For these "grandfathered" applications, NIH expects that any A2 will be submitted no later than January 7, 2011, and NIH will not accept A2 applications after that date.
In case you still didn't get the message that the NIH is taking this one seriously, there will be no gradual roll-out or piloting as with some other recent initiatives.
This policy applies to all applications, including applications submitted under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, Career Development Awards, Individual Fellowships, Institutional Training Grants, Resource Grants, Program Projects, and Centers. Currently no amendments are permitted for applications received in response to a Request for Applications (RFA) unless it is specified in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, in which case only one amendment will be permitted.
Uncertain. I've been a critic of the way that reviewers use the revision process to triage their grant application scoring. In my view, unrevised original applications are discriminated against because reviewers feel that the PI should get some extra consideration on the "last chance for this proposal". I think that reviewers should try to get serious about grants the first time. They should recognize when revision is necessary to improve the resulting science, when the revision will result in a better application but no change in the science, etc.
This move will certainly cut one round out of the process but I'm not sure it goes far enough. The typical reviewer behavior will still be present. I would be very happy to be wrong and to see reviewers recognize the spirit behind this new limit and get more serious about the original applications.
It will be very interesting to see what will happen during 2009 when applications that can go as far as the A2 are being pitted against those with the new limits.