The NIH eRA Commons freely provides visitors information about various aspects of NIH grants administration business processes. In addition, the Commons is comprised of a number of secure interfaces that require grantee organization registration and user accounts to be established. Following logon by account holders, it is through these secure interfaces that grants application-related information is collected and provided.
Although a great deal of information is collected from NIH grant applicants, awardees, and grantee organization staff, only select parts of it are ever made available beyond the NIH grants policy and/or administration offices. Within those offices, and on this Web site, the user's personal privacy and the confidentiality of their work will be protected. Specifically:
Personal identification information (names, addresses, etc.) will be collected as part of the grant administration process specified by policy. That information is used only by NIH staff in the processing and administration of grants applications and awards. As with paper-based submissions, the information is made available to other than NIH staff only under FOIA and Privacy Act procedures.
All application-related information including research project plans and narrative summaries of progress will be viewed and used only by NIH staff. Any release to information to other parties will be subject to FOIA procedures.
Aggregate information -- statistical information about the types and numbers of grant applicants that are received may be published or used by NIH for statistical and analysis purposes. Every effort is made to protect individually identifiable information. If grant application or award information is published by category, for example, categories will not be so specific as to permit identification of any single application.
Under no circumstances will NIH ever give, sell, or transfer any personal or application-related confidential information to any third party.
Survey or personal information may be collected in order for the NIH to provide grants administration-related information to specific users. (e.g., registration for e-mail notifications by NIH and establishment of professional profiles for individual users).
"Cookies" are used within the Commons interfaces for security and customization. A "cookie" is a file placed transiently on the user's hard drive by the Commons software to allow for monitoring of user progress through various Commons screens. This monitoring assures that the user does not gain access to the secure interfaces, unless they have properly logged on, and that only the appropriate screens are displayed. Monitoring also prevents any other users from gaining access to those screens being occupied. Cookie files are not tracked after a user leaves the site. The information is not saved in the Commons database, nor is it monitored except for security purposes. Cookies are not used within the unrestricted portions of the Commons.
Information about research subjects or about patients in clinical studies is only exchanged between the NIH and any specific user following logon to a secure Commons interface. Such information is never made available on or through any unrestricted Commons interface.
If files are read or downloaded from the Commons site, only the user's domain and IP address are collected (e.g., cc.nih.gov), the date and time the Commons site was visited, and the IP address of the computer from which the Commons was accessed. Such information is used for statistical purposes, and also as a security check. For instance, in some cases users must both have a login and password, as well as gain access to the system from a previously specified IP address.
Aggregate information is collected on which pages visitors access. The NIH may use this type of information to improve performance and to design of enhancements to the site.
The NIH eRA Commons is sometimes monitored by NIH Office of Extramural Research staff for security purposes. Use of the Commons constitutes authorization by the user for security monitoring.
When inquiries are E-mailed to the NIH, the question/comment and the E-mail address information are stored so that an electronic response can be composed and sent. Unless otherwise required by statute, the NIH does not identify publicly who sends questions or comments to the Commons site. Information will not be obtained that will allow the NIH to personally identify any particular user when they visit unrestricted Commons sites, unless they chose to provide such information.
If a Commons user links to another (non-Commons) site from any NIH Commons pages, the NIH is not responsible for information that may or may not be gathered from the linked site.
Any questions about NIH privacy policies as they relate to the NIH Commons should be addressed to the Commons administrators at: firstname.lastname@example.org.