Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Hawai'i Hall 209
Members in Attendance: Jennifer Herring, W. Steven Ward, Patricia Donegan, Gerard Russo, David Duffy, Bruce Shiramizu.
Guests: Chris Helm, Jennifer Pavelec, Charles Miller, (all from ORS), and Robert Bley-Vroman (SEC)
Members Excused: Patricia Lorenzo
Senate Executive Committee Liaison: James Tiles
David Duffy called the meeting to order at 3:05 pm.
Summary: Most of the meeting was taken to discuss the management of the Office of Research Services (ORS) and the development of electronic submission of NIH grants. There was a brief discussion at the end of the meeting concerning a patent conflict on genetically engineered Taro, and on a resolution by the SEC regarding the President McClain's decision on the UARC.
Chris Helm began by presenting an update of how ORS is improving the system enterprise. He stated that it was his vision to develop a new electronic system for all ORS related activities, including ways for fiscal officers (FOs) to follow receivables and payments, which have become a huge problem of accrual over the years. Chris envisions FOs having a "dashboard" of pending duties on their screens to follow each order through to completion, rather than the current method of having to follow each order with its own series of e-mails. Next, ORS is developing a web-based program called "Info-Ed" through which principle investigators (PIs), FOs and ORS officials can follow the progress of grant submission. This is just now beginning, and will take at least a year to implement. But by its completion, PIs should be able to electronically pass all forms through the department chairs, and deans to ORS.
Jennifer Pavelec discussed the Info-Ed system in greater detail. It will contain six modules and may contain a seventh. These are:
She said that ORS was now set to submit NIH proposals electronically through Grants.gov, but PIs still need to route the ORS forms with actual signatures. Full electronic implementation will not come until at least 18 months.
Through the ensuing discussion the following facts were brought out that concerned the committee.
1. The First NIH Grants will be submitted electronically very soon: The next common deadline is May 1, and there are others that will come before this date. Most UH faculty are not yet prepared for electronic submission of grants and there will be a very steep learning curve. The Committee on Research (CoR) was concerned that some application opportunities will be missed because there has not yet been a strong enough education in this new technology.
2. There will be two different phases of methods for electronic submission over the next 18 to 24 months that further confuse the issue: Currently, PIs will have to submit NIH grants electronically, without using Info-Ed, and with routing their signatures manually. In the final implementation, the entire process will be electronic through Info-Ed. This means that PIs will have to learn two different methods of electronic submission. The CoR is concerned that this additional confusion will also lead to missed grant opportunities.
3. ORS currently is understaffed, and does not have help desks available for this pending confusing time: The CoR was gratified to hear Chris Helms' immediate response to our concerns. He said ORS will develop a clear "How To" sheet to distribute to all faculty, and hire some students that can be trained to answer faculty questions. The website will also be updated for electronic submission information.
In general, the CoR was very encouraged by the new development of ORS, and we understand that the difficulties the faculty will face in the next two years are a necessary transition. Jim Tiles asked that one of us address the Faculty Congress next week in an effort to help alert the faculty to these changes.
David Duffy brought up an issue that concerns a patent conflict on genetically engineered taro that was developed at UH. The Chancellor will soon be asked to make a decision about this. Robert Bley-Vroman volunteered to pass a message to the Chancellor that the CoR was willing to assist her on this difficult decision if she needed scientific expertise.
Jim Tiles informed the CoR that the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) was planning to introduce a resolution that expressed concern at Dr. McClain's decision to manage the UARC at the system level rather than the Manoa level. The SEC feels that the System is too closely associated with the workings of UH-Manoa, and that the Chancellor's office should have more authority.
The minutes from the last meeting were submitted. The next meeting will be April 5, and will be held at the IBR since the Hawaii Hall room has been taken over.
The meeting was adjourned.