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NIH Client Data Management System


National Institutes of Health


The NIH client supports over 350 grants and supplements per year across multiple programs. All incoming materials—grant applications with appendices, grant supplements, annual progress reports, supplemental grant reports—must be logged in (i.e., records maintained of receipt date), distributed to appropriate Program Directors (PDs) for review and approval, and, subsequently, properly filed so they can be found easily when Program Directors or staff need to retrieve them to compile various periodic and ad hoc reports. In collaboration with the client, NOVA developed and implemented process and productivity improvements to manage program files and systems across and within the client’s organizational units. This included:

  • Providing services to develop effective grants management and grants tracking processes
  • Providing assistance researching NIH databases of grants using Query, View, Report (QVR), IMPAC II, and other databases of importance for grants management and tracking
  • Developing, monitoring, and maintaining programmatic databases
  • Generating specific programmatic reports from programmatic databases
  • Continuing enhancements to the Data Management System (DMS).

Systematizing grant and program files, documents, and correspondence required a thorough understanding of: (1) grants management processes required of Program Directors; (2) grants administration processes required; (3) information technologies for scanning paper documents; (4) relational databases for effectively storing and retrieving documents; and (5) analytical and reporting systems to facilitate client staff quickly identifying and retrieving information to perform grants monitoring and reporting.

NOVA Approach

NOVA assisted Client leadership and Branch Chiefs in developing a comprehensive Data Management System that collected data from a variety of NIH grant databases, including IMPAC II through QVR and eCommons, and included data entered from grantee annual progress reports and supplemental Excel data information sheets. The DMS linked administrative and research outcomes data as well as maintained and produced reports for client programs. This information is used for Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) reporting as well as portfolio analysis and program evaluations.

The DMS defined various data structures within a Microsoft SQL server relational database hosted on NOVA’s secure server to support a broad spectrum of quantitative and qualitative data analysis by NOVA’s evaluation researchers in collaboration with client staff. During implementation of the DMS, NOVA performed historical and current data imports from existing data systems and performed quality assurance and quality control procedures on all imported data—both from historical databases to identify missing and/or incorrect data, as well as from current data (e.g., grantee supplemental Excel spreadsheets) to identify duplicate, missing, and potentially erroneous data when compared with IMPAC II data and data from prior years. This information was brought to the attention of appropriate PDs for verification of issues and requests to grantees for corrections.

NOVA maintained the DMS on a secure server and data environment that underwent comprehensive assessment in accordance with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Security Control Assessment that addressed each of the 111 security controls included in the NIST 800-52A template. NOVA received an Authority To Operate (ATO) from NIH. NOVA provided continuing expertise to support maintenance and enhancements to the DMS and continued to provide a secure hosting facility for the system in accordance with NIST, Department of Health and Human Services, and NIH system and data security regulations and requirements.


  • Systematic administrative efforts performed by NOVA included abstracting relevant information from annual progress reports to include in DMS database tables. Examples included number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals along with titles, journal names, and other relevant information; number of individuals trained and level of trainees (e.g., undergraduate, doctoral, postdoctoral); number of pilot programs undertaken and completed and area of research, education, or outreach; next year’s requested budget by primary line items; and other useful information for Program Directors and the Director to report on overall portfolio progress.
  • NOVA assisted in standardizing management through use of the DMS for grant and program files, documents, and correspondence across the client programs. This included extracting applications submitted electronically, assisting PDs in verifying eligibility of candidates, notifying candidates of application receipt, extracting data from applications and developing data spreadsheets, and preparing supplement evaluation documents for PDs.
  • NOVA staff entered funding recommendations into the DMS database; entered information from trainees’ into the DMS; and assisted PDs in preparation of budget estimates and used DMS-prepared tabular, graphical, and contextual reports for decision making.