Colleague got rejection email from NCI (NI/ESI) with 14% – “project not congruent with program objectives” – yikes.
Well then. Thank you for accepting primary assignment. Thank you for wasting the time and effort of the applicant and the SRG. Thank you for discouraging this ESI/NI. With Varmus’s new approach to cherry-picking awards above the 10th percentile (for ESI/NI), I can understand a 14th percentile being passed up if it fell in an area already well funded or outside a current high-priority topic of investigation or in the pile of a PO with lesser lobbying skills (or too many exceptional applications) etc. … and perhaps this was the intended meaning … but the statement as worded suggests the research focus was beyond the scope of the program that accepted the application, and it is certainly not useful in conveying to the PI how he/she could make 14th percentile science more relevant to program. I think Enhancing Peer Review needs to go back to school on this one, especially if such categories of rejection are likely to become more commonplace in a time of dwindling budgets.