The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) commissioned a process evaluation of the Large-Scale Collaborative Project Awards initiative, commonly known as the Glue Grants program, to assess program design, management and implementation. The Glue Grants program was launched in 1999 to facilitate collaboration among groups of independently funded investigators in order to solve complex biomedical research problems. The process evaluation focused on three main areas of interest: program planning and design; consortium-level implementation and management; and program-level implementation and management. Data was collected from Glue Grant Principal Investigators (PIs) and NIGMS staff members using a series of semi-structured interviews. Additional data sources included internal NIGMS planning documents, Glue Grant funding opportunity announcements, application materials, annual progress reports submitted by the PIs, NIH databases, and a book chapter authored by Glue Grants program staff members.
The Glue Grants' program-level objectives were not clear. The types of problems that would be most amenable to solution via the Glue Grants were not well-defined and the specific outcomes that were to be achieved through the integration of investigators were not apparent to program participants. As a result, the program's implementation was not entirely consistent with program objectives. Evaluators determined that challenges existed at the program level regarding the program's implementation and management, such as those associated with the ten-year timeframe of the grants, peer review of the Glue Grants due to the size and scope of the grants, and NIGMS' approach to managing the Glue Grants as cooperative agreements. Evaluators presented four recommended options: discontinue the grants program; maintain the program and continue to fund and manage the grants as individual cooperative agreements; transform the grants from a mechanism into a true initiative with clear goals and consistent, centralized management process; build a smaller program around NIGMS' priorities and the core functionality provided by the grants.
Report Title: Process Evaluation of the Large-Scale Collaborative Project Awards (Glue Grants) of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Agency Sponsor: NIH, National Institutes of Health
Federal Contact: Rosanna Ng, 301-496-5367
Performer: IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI)
Record ID: 9426 (Report issued March 31, 2010)