Paper To Go Away

Rich Holdren
Rich Holdren, Associate Vice President for Research, Oregon State University

SINCE MY ARRIVAL at Oregon State University in February 2000, there has been a constant background of concern about the state of many of the university’s administrative support structures. Back then, proposals were submitted in paper copy, as were virtually all of the non-fiscal compliance protocols such as Institutional Review Board protocols or Animal Care and Use Proposals for IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee), and we didn’t have organized, consistent systems dealing with other federally required non-fiscal compliance activities.

Several years ago, we installed a web-based proposal routing and submission system called Cayuse. Admittedly, Cayuse is not (yet) perfect. Multi-institution, collaborative proposals to NSF currently require double entry. Conflict-of-Interest declarations have gone web-based, but many of the other widely used compliance functions such as IRB,  IACUC, and Diving and Small Boat Safety remain paper-based.

Fortunately, a new day is dawning for OSU.

We are in the final stages for the acquisition of a web-based, electronic research administration system that will allow you all to craft, edit, submit, track and archive your compliance documents. The initial applications of the system are expected to roll out this academic year. Our goal is to have the full implementation, involving all of the non-fiscal compliance systems, to be online and running within three years.

We have also gone “21st century” with our international and export compliance. Within less than a year, information about federal restriction or concerns about foreign travel will be readily available to all in the university community at the touch of a few key strokes.

And improvements are not going to be limited to web-based access to forms and processes. As most of you have heard, the Office of Post-Award Administration has recently been transitioned to the Research Office. Vice presidents Ford and Adams have formed a task force to examine how the continuum of Sponsored Programs, Post-Award and Business Centers can be structured to create a faculty-friendly, efficient proposal and grants management system.

There is a lot of work to be done here and we are just getting started. We will be forming a faculty consultative group to interface with the working group(s), and we will ask Dan Edge, Faculty Senate president, and Anne Nolin, Research Council chair, to both sit on the oversight task force and help assemble the faculty consultative group. We anticipate this to be a year-long process, and we aspire to make incremental improvements in the grant-management processes as we go along.

So stay tuned. Changes are coming and hopefully you will find these to be improvements over the systems we currently have in place.

George R. (Rich) Holdren is Associate Vice President for Research at OSU.