Message from the Tri-Agency Presidents: Response to the CCV open letter

December 17, 2019

CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC received the CCV Open Letter on December 2, 2019. After considerable discussion internally, the agencies, in collaboration with the CCV Board, prepared the response below.

Dear Dr. Witteman,

On behalf of our three Councils, we wish to thank you and your colleagues for taking the time to prepare and submit your open letter concerning the future of the CCV. The Councils, in consultation with the CCV Board, have discussed your feedback at length.

We very much appreciate the concerns detailed in the letter. Given endemic issues with the user interface, the structure of the data model, and overall reliability, we recognize that the CCV as currently structured does not represent a viable long-term solution for the grants management needs of applicants and funders.

In the short term, however, simply abandoning and replacing the CCV does not represent a viable solution for the Councils. As you are aware, the current application is closely linked to the underlying infrastructure of existing tri-council grants management systems. These legacy systems are dated and need to be replaced. Investing resources to support an interim measure specifically for CV data would be costly, impractical, and compromise progress in advancing other critical tri-council projects and priorities.

In addition, there is a network of 25 organizations, including other research funders from the public and voluntary sectors, as well as academic institutions that use the CCV. We cannot speak for them in terms of their own grants management systems and interoperability with the CCV, but we will say that the Councils are not unique in the challenges we would face in replacing it. While we agree in principle that your suggested alternative approaches have merit, we believe that it is critical that we engage with the community more broadly on possible solutions and their prospective impacts on diverse stakeholders.

That being said, the Councils are committed to replacing the CCV through our recently launched Tri-Agency Grants Management Solution (TGMS) initiative that will see the implementation of a new and harmonized grants management system. Through TGMS, we believe that we will be in a position to alleviate the critical deficiencies you identified.

The TGMS initiative will provide the agencies with the opportunity to take a more holistic approach to the grants management process—including the development of a much needed revised CV module in a more harmonized fashion. Obviously, this will take time. Rest assured, however, that the Councils have committed the funding required to ensure the success of this integrated endeavour, and further commit to fully engage the research community throughout each step of the process, from design, to testing, and ultimately implementation, in order to ensure that the new CV data solution meets the needs of its users.

Beyond TGMS, changes and improvement are being implemented to the CCV in the short-term. For example, we recently (August 2019) updated the CCV environment to the latest software versions and upgraded the hosting of the CCV servers.  This will immediately address system performance issues and improve application reliability and stability. In addition, we are currently working on two enhancements to the existing CCV application. These include: 1) implementation of a more intuitive interface with simplified navigation, fewer clicks, better instructional prompts, and the ability to clone previous CCV submissions; and 2) ensuring compliance with Web Accessibility Standards and compatibility with screen readers, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Overall, we believe that given its broader scope and harmonized format, as well as the consultative approach we have envisioned, the progressive development of the TGMS initiative represents the most viable, long-term solution to ultimately replace the CCV. In this endeavour, we very much hope that we can count on the community to continue to provide input and the kinds of suggested modifications raised in your open letter that can assist us in developing the CCV replacement that the community truly needs and deserves.  

Respectfully yours,

Michael J. Strong
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Alejandro Adem
President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Ted Hewitt
President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Jointly administered by:

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