New ERA for NIH's grants system

The National Institutes of Health will upgrade its research grants application and processing system to an object-oriented architecture using Java 2 Enterprise Edition.

NIH has awarded Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego a five-year contract to update the NIH Electronic Research Administration system.

ERA is NIH's infrastructure for conducting interactive transactions, said Cheryl Campbell, SAIC's corporate vice president of program management. NIH awarded $13.5 billion worth of grants to scientists in fiscal 2000.

One of the project's goals, Campbell said, is to unify two existing systems:

  • ERA Commons, a research administration portal for NIH's external grant holders

  • Information for Management, Planning, Analysis and Coordination II, an application for managing grants within the NIH community.

  • The J2EE architecture will create a Web front end to NIH's grants programs that's more functional than the largely paper-driven process still in use, Campbell said.

    NIH had been looking for a contractor operating at Capability Maturity Model Level 3 as defined by Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute, Campbell said.

    The agency also wanted the contractor's project manager to be certified by the Program Management Institute Inc. of Newtown Square, Pa., and to have experience with the Rational Unified Process software development methodology.

    SAIC's partners on the ERA project are Turner Consulting Group of Washington and Altum Inc. of Reston, Va. The contract?which has one base year and four one-year options?has a ceiling of $10 million per contractor.

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