while the three institutes should become full members of the NIH research community, they should also retain their independence and integrity. In addition, it recognized that the institutes' current review procedures were developed over time to meet the specific and complex needs of the alcohol, drug abuse, and mental health fields, and they provide optimal specificity for the wide array of neuroscience, behavioral, clinical, and service research responsibilities (Senate Committee Report 102-131).
In most ways, the review procedures utilized by the former ADAMHA research institutes are very similar to the procedures at NIH. Both NIH and ADAMHA have used a dual review system that separates technical and scientific assessment of projects from subsequent policy decisions concerning programmatic, scientific areas in which projects will be supported. In addition, the scientific review process is kept separate from funding to ensure that program officials are not involved in making determinations on the scientific merit of research applications. These operational procedures had evolved as part of overall development of PHS policies for extramural research grants—a joint activity of various PHS agencies.
Procedurally, the review process at NIH and ADAMHA are also very similar. All ADAMHA and NIH grant applications are mailed to the Division of Research Grants (DRG) in its role as the central receiving point for PHS research grants. In addition, DRG's major management and scientific data systems (IMPAC and CRISP, respectively) have always incorporated information about the ADAMHA research grants. The application form and basic instructions for submitting a research grant are the same for both organizations.
The major difference in processing grants is that at the former ADAMHA institutes, all grants are reviewed at institute-specific initial review groups (IRGs), while at the rest of NIH, most grants are reviewed by DRG study sections. At NIH, only the larger and more complicated grants (centers and program projects) are reviewed by institute-established special review groups (SRGs). In both cases, however, all grants receive their second-level review by the advisory council of a specific institute, and funding decisions ultimately are made by institute staff (with the director's approval).
The first level of grant review is conducted by technical experts, largely from outside the federal government, and is designed to evaluate competing applications based on scientific and technical merit. The second level of review is conducted by advisory councils to assess the quality of the first level review and to offer