Checks to Help Avoid Common NIH S2S Application Errors
Below is a list of NIH system errors identified as problematic.  In an effort to prevent these errors, Coeus validation rules were established, however validation rules unfortunately cannot be programmed for all situations.  Special attention must be given during application review at both the departmental and central office approval level.  If you have any questions surrounding what may or may not cause a “NIH Commons” systems error, please contact your OSP administrator anytime.
1.    Did you include the eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the R&R Sr/Key Person Profile form for all PD/PIs?

Including the eRA Commons ID for the PD/PIs is an NIH requirement and is critical to NIH’s ability to post the application.  Commons uses the Commons ID to link the application to the PD/PI’s profile. If the Commons system cannot identify the individual (s) an error will be given and the application will not be accepted.  OSP has implemented a Coeus validation rule that checks for all PD/PI’s to have the eRA Commons field completed, however Coeus cannot recognize if the eRA Commons ID is keyed incorrectly.   It is important to confirm by checking eRA Commons that all PD/PI’s eRA Commons user names are appropriately keyed in Coeus prior to submission.  This is a check OSP performs prior to releasing the application, but we need the departments help to ensure information is correct.  The easiest way to ensure information is correct is to follow these instructions to key the eRA Commons ID at the person level in Coeus. INSTRUCTIONS
Doing this will ensure that for every application the faculty member is included, the correct eRA Commons ID will be used.
By having the “AO” accurate in Commons, allows an individual to check all investigators eRA Commons ID’s.  This includes both internal investigators and external investigators.  To use Commons to verify eRA Commons ID’s please see the following instructions. INSTRUCTIONS
2.    If submitting a Multiple-PD/PI application, did you give all PIs the PD/PI role on the Sr/Key Person Profile form and include a Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan?

Only the PD/PI role is recognized by NIH as the correct designation for all PIs on a multiple-PD/PI application. Using the correct designation allows the system to flag the application as multiple-PD/PI and facilitates appropriate handling of the application as it flows through review and other post-submission activities. Co-PI or Co-Investigator roles hold no special meaning within NIH and should never be used with a multiple-PD/PI application. They are, however, valid roles on the form and you can use them for a single-PD/PI application.  If the applications contains multiple PD/PI’s, Coeus has a validation rule to ensure the narrative type “Multiple Leadership Plan” was included as narrative to be included with submission.  The system only performs this validation when the user has correctly entered the role of PD/PI for the investigators. 
3.    Did you provide the correct Federal Identifier number for a Resubmission or Renewal application on the SF424 (R&R) cover form?

It is required for all Resubmission and Renewal applications that the Federal Identifier number be entered.  This number is part of the “grant” number previously assigned by the agency.  Coeus uses the Sponsor Proposal No:XX field to capture this information.  The number entered will be the (2) letter institute identifier plus the (6) digit serial number.  For example CA123456.  One way to identify your correct Federal Identifier/Sponsor Proposal No is to find it in Commons.  If you are unsure, please contact OSP.
4.    Do your Direct Costs exceed $500K in any give budget period?
If you are requesting a budget of $500,000 direct costs or more for any year, contact the awarding contingent to determine whether you must obtain prior approval before submitting the application. If approval is needed, you must include a Statement to that effect and attach any required agency approval documentation to the cover letter. (See Policy on the Acceptance for Review of Unsolicited Applications That Request $500,000 or More in Direct Costs.)
If the budget exceeds 500K due to consortium F&A costs, see NOT-OD-05-004. This policy allows applicants to exclude consortium/contractual F&A costs when determining compliance for any application when a direct cost limit applies. The use of the SF424 (R&R) application with separately submitted subaward/consortium budgets allows NIH to take advantage of a system validation for this policy. When an application is submitted in response to a program with a direct cost limit, the eRA system will perform the calculation by taking the total direct costs requested by the prime/parent organization in their detailed budget, and subtracting all subaward/consortium F&A from each and every subaward budget attached. When the validation calculation equals or exceeds the respective direct cost limit, the application will receive a warning.
5.    Did you include all required attachments?

Often attachments are conditionally required based on how an applicant fills out specific questions. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Answering ‘Yes’  to the Human Subjects question on the R&R Other Project Information form makes the attachments in the (4) Human Subjects narrative required. Similarly, if you answer ‘Yes’ to the Vertebrate Animals question, then the Vertebrate Animals attachment is required.
  • If you have more than one entry on the R&R Sr/Key Person Profile form with the role of “PD/PI,” then the Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan attachment on the PHS 398 Research Plan form is required.
6.    Are all your attachments in PDF format? will allow other document formats, but PDF is an NIH requirement. Use simple PDF-formatted files for ALL attachments. See PDF Guidelines.
7.    Did you follow the page limits specified in the FOA and application guide?
8.    Did you include effort > 0 for all Sr/Key listed on the R&R Budget form?

It is not necessary to list every person from the R&R Sr/Key Person Profile form in the Sr/Key section of the R&R budget form. For the entries you do list, however, you must provide measureable effort using the Calendar Months OR a combination of Academic and Summer Month categories. Too little effort information (i.e., blanks or zeros in all three month categories) or too much information (i.e., providing non-zero values in Calendar Months and any other month category) will result in an error. For information about calculating person months, see
9.    Did you follow all special instructions noted in Section IV. Application and Submission Information of the announcement?

The Coeus and eRA validations will catch many, but not all, submission requirements. FOA-specific requirements are not typically system-enforced. Applications that do not comply with the instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.
And the most important Point to Remember:
Submitting early remains the best way to ensure successful submission.