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Varied Experiences

NIH Grant Submission Computer compatibility and investigator reluctance blamed for the long delay in agency's move into the digital age. The Internal Revenue Service began accepting electronic transmission of federal income tax forms in 1986. This time- saving option has become quite popular, and by 1994 was used by some 14 million taxpayers. Yet at the National Institutes of Health--which funds some of the most scientifically sophisticated researchers in the world--grant proposals are, for the

Liane Reif-lehrer

NIH Grant Submission Computer compatibility and investigator reluctance blamed for the long delay in agency's move into the digital age.

The Internal Revenue Service began accepting electronic transmission of federal income tax forms in 1986. This time- saving option has become quite popular, and by 1994 was used by some 14 million taxpayers. Yet at the National Institutes of Health--which funds some of the most scientifically sophisticated researchers in the world--grant proposals are, for the most part, still being submitted and processed on paper. Why is NIH taking so long to move into the electronic age?

The answer, report researchers and NIH officials, is, in part, that electronic submission of a complete government grant application is fraught with difficulties. In addition to the technical problems that have been encountered in attempts to produce a paperless grant application submission process--such as incompatibilities among computer systems--there are human factors. For example, some...

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