Grants.gov Workspace: Lessons Learned and Helpful Tips
On January 1, 2018, Grants.gov retired its legacy Adobe-based grant application packages and launched Workspace, its new web-based application development and submission system. Since implementing new policies and procedures in anticipation for this change, including our mandatory two-business-day internal deadline, the Office of Sponsored Programs has successfully submitted 17 proposals to four different federal agencies using the new Workspace system for Grants.gov submissions, and several more are in process.
Since January 1 we have identified some particular quirks with the Workspace system and learned valuable strategies for using Workspace more effectively. In this special issue of the OSP Newsletter we share this important information – the first section describes lessons learned for ALL Workspace applications, and the second section describes those specific to PHS applications. We will continue to share Workspace tips both in the OSP Newsletter and the OSP website as we move forward.
For more information about Workspace, we recommend using the resources available on the Grants.gov website. If you have specific questions, please contact Ann Shiras, Pre-Award Specialist and Workspace Lead, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 229-3077.
For All Workspace Applications
Mandatory Internal Deadline for Grants.gov Applications
Although most Grants.gov applications have been completed smoothly, OSP has experienced issues with specific forms, and our two-business-day internal deadline has made this transition considerably less stressful than previous submission system changes by providing us with sufficient time to review, research, and correct problems. The internal deadline remains necessary in order to provide OSP with sufficient time to work around problems and resubmit if necessary, with less risk of missing the sponsor deadline. We sincerely thank the UWM research community for adhering to the internal deadline and working with OSP to ensure your applications are submitted correctly and without errors.
Application Filing Name
Unless the Sponsor guidelines require otherwise, please use our Grants.gov naming convention for the Application Filing Name: PI Last Name_Agency Abbreviation_WISPER Record Number-Pre-Award Specialist Initials (e.g., Shiras_NIH_MIL107732-AS). This helps OSP Pre-Award staff to search for Workspaces and track the emails associated with your Grants.gov submission status. Note that the Application Filing Name is different from your Project Title. The Project Title is entered separately on the forms submitted to the Sponsor.
Creating A Workspace
You must enter an Application Filing Name to Create a Workspace. If you have not started a WISPER record, you can use the file convention PI Last Name and Agency Acronym (e.g., Shiras NSF), then update it later by selecting Edit Name. If you Copy a Workspace to start a new one, remember to change the Application Filing Name.
Starting A Workspace
To begin a new Workspace, first complete the SF424 or SF424 R&R form. The information entered in these forms populates information in the other forms in the Workspace. See the sample SF424 R&R form on the OSP website. Please add your Pre-Award Specialist as a Participant of your Workspace – this will enable us to review your proposal using our own Grants.gov login.
Downloading Workspace Forms
If you use the Download option to complete individual forms offline, you must use an Adobe Reader compatible with the forms.
Preparing Workspace Forms
There are several options for preparing most of the Workspace forms: Webform, Download, Upload, and Reuse. Use the Download option to view Attachments made to forms (see below for additional options for NIH proposals.) You will be prompted to answer questions about Locking or Unlocking forms as you work on them. When multiple team members are working on the forms in a Workspace, please consider when it is appropriate to Lock or Unlock the forms and coordinate this among the team members.
For Workspace Owners there is a Reopen option available after an application is submitted to the sponsor. Please use Reopen only when submitting a Changed/Corrected Application. Once reopened, the Workspace status returns to Forms Passed and it cannot be changed back to Submitted/Agency Received. OSP is tracking Workspace activity closely, and we need Submitted Workspaces to maintain Submitted status in Grants.gov. This also reduces possible confusion when searching for Proposals in Progress during review. You can still Download and View the forms that are part of a Submitted proposal. Once the funding opportunity deadline has passed, the Reopen option is no longer available.
For PHS Applications Only
Human Subjects and Clinical Trial Information Form
For PHS submissions (e.g., NIH), the answers to the Human Subjects questions on the Research and Related Other Project Information form drives the information requested on the new PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trial Information form. Note that the Preview version of the Human Subjects/Clinical Trial form may not appear the same as the Download version during proposal preparation.
Issues with Subforms associated with the Human Subjects Form (Study Records) have been reported by UWM users and by the national community of university research administrators. NIH has two videos that walk you through the Human Subjects Form and the associated Subform: NIH Human Subjects Information Using Grants.gov Workspace (about three minutes) and PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information Form Walk-through (about 9.5 minutes). Please work with your Pre-Award Specialist if you encounter problems with this form. NIH also has some very helpful resources regarding Clinical Trial Requirements.
Grantor Image and Preview Grantor Validation
Currently for NIH submissions only, the Grantor Image and Preview Grantor Validation options become available when all the forms have a status of Passed. These two options allow you to preview the assembled image that will appear in the NIH eRA Commons and the expected results from the Commons validation checks. This means no longer having to wait until after the submission to NIH for those activities! Our experience to date has been that both the Grantor Image and the Grantor Validations match what will result in eRA Commons, so please take advantage of both of these options before clicking Complete and Notify AOR.
Mandatory Internal Deadline for Grants.gov Workspace Applications
Starting January 1, 2018, you will no longer be able to download PDF application packages for Grants.gov submissions. All new Grants.gov applications MUST be initiated through the new Workspace system. PDF packages will be discontinued on January 1.
Recent testing of Workspace by UWM Pre-Award staff and colleagues at other institutions have revealed some technical complexities, and extra time will be required to ensure submissions are submitted properly.
Therefore, OSP is implementing a mandatory internal deadline: Effective January 1, Grants.gov submissions must be completed and OSP notified no less than two business days (48 hours) prior to the sponsor deadline.
The internal deadline is necessary because there will likely be technical problems with the new Workspace system and thus additional time will be needed to resolve them.
A two business-day internal deadline provides OSP with sufficient time to work around problems and resubmit if necessary, with less risk of missing the sponsor deadline. Submissions received by OSP less than two business days prior to the sponsor deadline are at greater risk of missing the submission deadline if OSP does not have sufficient time to resolve technical issues.
To facilitate successful submission, all Grants.gov submissions must follow this process:
- Submissions must have all internal approvals completed in WISPER.
- Submissions must be marked as “Completed and Notify AOR” in Grants.gov by 4:30pm two business days before the sponsor’s submission deadline. For example, if your proposal is due Wednesday, it must be with OSP by 4:30pm on Monday.
- If your proposal is due on Monday, it must be with OSP by 4:30pm on Thursday.
- Submissions will be handled by Pre-Award Specialists on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will be given to submissions received by OSP two business days before the sponsor deadline. For submissions received less than two business days before the sponsor deadline, OSP will determine the level of service that can be provided before applications are submitted.
Even if you are just considering applying for a grant, please inform your Pre-Award Specialist so that they add it to their worklist and follow-up with you.
We appreciate your cooperation with this new policy as we transition to the new Workspace system. If you have any questions, please contact Tom Marcussen, Director, Office of Sponsored Programs at email@example.com or 229-4537.
Grants.gov Registration for Proposal Submission via Workspace
Effective January 1, 2018, all new Grants.gov proposal submissions will be prepared online via the new Grants.gov Workspace system. The current PDF Application Package will be discontinued at that time.
To create or participate in the preparation of a Grants.gov Workspace proposal, you must be registered in Grants.gov with an Organization Applicant Profile linked to UWM.
How to Register a Grants.gov Account for Workspace
- Click the Register link in the top-right corner of the Grants.gov banner.
- Click the Get Registered Now button on the Register page.
- Complete the Contact Information and Account Details. All fields with a red asterisk (*) are required.
- Email Address: When entering an email address, please keep in mind that all correspondence with Grants.gov will be sent to that email address.
- Username: Enter a username to log in to Grants.gov. It may only contain alphanumeric characters, question marks, periods, dashes, underscores, and the @ symbol. Your username cannot contain a space, nor can it only include numbers. Select a username you will remember.
- Password: The password you choose must contain at least eight (8) characters including: at least one (1) uppercase letter (A-Z); at least one (1) lowercase letter (a-z); at least one (1) number (0-9); and at least one (1) special character (e.g. ! @ # $ % ^ & *). Do not write down your account information.
- Secret Question/Answer: Enter a question only you would be able to answer and will be able to remember in the future. Do not write down your account information.
- Select whether to subscribe or unsubscribe from Grants.gov Communications. The Alerts are important messages about time-sensitive or major system changes. The Newsletter features training, system enhancement updates, and other resources to help the federal grants community.
- Click Continue.
- Click Send Temporary Code. A message from Grants.gov will be sent to your email account with the temporary code. This Temporary Code will be active for 96 hours only.
- Enter the code into the Temporary Code field and click Continue.
- Add an Organization Applicant Profile.
- Complete the Grants.gov account registration process.
- Under the How would you like to proceed? heading, select the Add Organization Applicant Profile.
- Enter the UWM DUNS Number: 627906399.
- Create a profile name that will distinguish this organization profile from any other profiles you may have within your Grants.gov account.
- Enter your job title for this organization in the Job Title.
- Click the Save button to complete the profile creation process.
OSP staff will be notified of your registration and will add the Manage Workspace Role to your account.
Contact your Pre-Award Specialist if you have questions or need assistance with this registration.
Create a Workspace
The following instructions explain how to create a Workspace on Grants.gov for a specific funding opportunity.
Creating a Workspace opens an online space where you can collaborate on individual application forms with team members. Only a user with the Manage Workspace role can create a Workspace. Upon creating the workspace, the user inherits the Workspace Owner access level, which permits the user to add other users (i.e., Workspace Participants) to that workspace.
A workspace can be created only if all of the funding opportunity’s forms are compatible with Workspace. If there are any incompatible forms, the “Create a Workspace” option will not be available.
How to Create a Workspace
- If you have the Manage Workspace role, log in to your Grants.gov Applicant account. Note: If you do not log in before locating the grant opportunity, you will be routed to log in before you can continue.
- Search for the grant opportunity for which you want to create a Workspace. Refer to the Search Grants help article for instructions on using the Search Grants tab.
- Click the Funding Opportunity Number link in the Funding Opportunity Number column.
- Click the Package tab on the View Grant Opportunity page.
- Click the Apply link in the Actions column for an opportunity that has "Yes" in the Workspace Compatible column.
- Either enter your email address to subscribe to change notifications for the package or select the "No, I do not wish to provide my email address" option.Enter the code into the Temporary Code field and click Continue.
- Click the Submit button.
- Look for the Application Filing Name field above the Create Workspace button and assign your Workspace a name. The Application Filing Name is required for creating a workspace.
- Click the Create Workspace button.
After creating a Workspace, the user is taken to the Manage Workspace page in Grants.gov. Note that creating a Workspace is an action that will be recorded in the Activity Tab as "Created."
For more information on using Workspace, review the Manage Workspaces and Manage Applicants help articles. If you have questions or need further assistance, contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your School/College/Division.