Learn more with our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I get a login account?

Contact the SPARS Help Desk to request a new account. The SPARS Help Desk is available Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST, and they can be reached by:
              Toll-Free Number: 1-800-685-7623
              Email: SPARSHelpDesk@mathematica-mpr.com

NOTE: Requests for grant access accounts must come from a Project Director, Alternate Project Director, Authorized Representative, GPO, or other SAMHSA staff. Access to training can be requested by grant staff.

I have an issue, but I’m not sure if I should contact the Help Desk or the Technical Support Request System (TSRS). What is the difference?

Grantee Project Directors and GPOs can use the Technical Support Request System (TSRS) to ask for more in-depth and tailored training and technical support to address complex questions or concerns about the collection, submission, and analysis of data in SPARS.

How is SPARS different from my previous systems?

SPARS includes the same functionality as the previous systems, plus improved usability and additional features. The table below lists the previous functionality and how you can access them now.

Previous SystemSPARS NameSPARS Location
Services Accountability Improvement System (SAIS)Click on SPARS-CSAT under Quick Links on the SPARS homepageQuick Links > SPARS-CSAT
TRansformation ACcountability System (TRAC)Click on SPARS-CMHS under Quick Links on the SPARS homepageQuick Links > SPARS-CMHS
Prevention Management Reporting and Training System (PMRTS)Click on SPARS-CSAP under Quick Links on the SPARS homepageQuick Links > SPARS-CSAP
GDTA GET TASPARS Technical Support Request SystemTechnical Support > Technical Request System
GDTA Performance Learning LibrarySPARS Resource LibraryHelp > Resource Library
GDTA Online Learning CenterSPARS TrainingHelp > Training


I encounter an "Invalid Key" error when I attempt to set up my new user account.

Generally, this error message occurs due to a delay (more than 72 hours) in verifying a new user account using the SPARS verification email. Contact the Help Desk to reset your account and send a new verification email.

I am having issues entering a password on a mobile device.

The password field on a mobile device may not allow data to be entered because of the size of the screen. You can try maximizing your screen or using a full-size monitor instead of a mobile device.

While SPARS supports mobile devices, we recommend that users sign in or change their password using a regular desktop monitor.

I don't remember the answers to my security questions, which are needed to reset my password.

Contact the Help Desk to reset your account. After accessing SPARS, you can then change your security answers within your profile.

Since the answers are case sensitive, we suggest using all lowercase in the answers.

I'm having a problem setting up my password using the "Confirm Account Creation" and "Reset password" links.

This is possibly due to Microsoft Outlook settings. Some IT departments will disable links from untrusted sources.

Click the "If there are problems with how this message is displayed, click here to view it in a web browser" option and try clicking on the link again.

I did not receive the account confirmation email.

Check your Junk or Spam folders for emails coming from donotreply@samhsa.hhs.gov. If it is not there, check with your IT contact for emails being filtered. An organization's firewall could be filtering out the email. It is likely that your Mail Server cannot verify the information.

Where can I get a copy of the GPRA Tool, QxQ Guide, or codebooks?

These documents, along with some others, are available under the “Data Collection Tool Resources” section, found on the Home page of SPARS. Use the checkboxes on the left pane to search for the appropriate document. Additional documents are located in the Resource Library found under the Technical Assistance tab.

Is the Inactive Date for new grants always 6 months after the Grant End Date? What about for existing grants?

Yes, the Inactive Date is 6 months after the Grant End Date. This should be the case for existing grants.

What should be used for the Target Start and Deactivation Dates if none are specified for new grants?

Enter a Target Start Date of four months past the Start Date. Enter the Deactivation Date one month past the End Date, unless a SAMHSA staff person changes that to, for instance, three/ months past the End Date.

How does the deactivation date work?

When a grant ends, you have 90 days to submit your final report. When the Deactivation Date is set for 30 days after the End Date, you can only access the data, reports, and data download for 30 days. This leaves you 60 days to work on your final report without being able to access your data, reports, and download.

Setting the default Deactivation Date for 90 days instead of 30 allows you to add data (collected prior to the end date) and access reports and downloads for 60 additional days. After the Deactivation Date, no data can be added and you cannot view reports or produce downloads.

How do I edit missing data?

Grantees can edit active grant data, regardless of the Interview Type. The only data that cannot be edited is administrative data in the Records Management section, which will stay grayed out on the Data Entry screen. For example, to add Section H data to a clinical discharge, navigate to the record and click on Section H, where "N/A" is in yellow (because those were the previous answers) and the other boxes are grayed out. To enter data, select the blank option from the drop-down menu for each question. The box to manually enter the health data should turn from gray to yellow.

In the Reports section, when I click on the “Print” or “Export” icon, nothing happens.

You probably have a pop-up blocker that is preventing you from printing or exporting your report. Use the following procedure to momentarily disable your pop-up blocker:

  1. Before you select Print, hold down the Ctrl key, and then click it. It is important that you keep the Ctrl key down until a new window or dialog box appears.
  2. Once the new window appears, you can let go of the Ctrl key.

Is there a lag when the system updates the reports? The data in the reports don't match the data download.

There can be a 24-48 hour lag between data entered into SPARS and that data being reflected in the online reports. If after 48 hours, you are still seeing discrepancies, please provide the Help Desk with more specifics of the problem (i.e., the report you are looking at and the data download you are looking at). We can then more effectively research the potential discrepancy.

Can the Help Desk change the status of a submitted quarterly report so that grantees can make edits? Or does the GPO need to mark that it needs revision?

Only the GPO can make changes to the status of a report, so grantees should request that their GPO change the status to “Requires Revisions” (for CSAP) or “GPO Disagrees” (for CMHS). Then they can go into the report, make their edits, and resubmit their report.

If a grant gets a No Cost Extension (NCE), do the emails automatically resume?

If the Help Desk is notified that a grant has received a NCE, the grant’s end date will be extended in SPARS. Users stop receiving emails within 6 months of their grant's end date.

What are the recommended system requirements for using SPARS?

SPARS supports all current versions of the following modern browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 11 (Version 11.0.9600.18449 and higher)
  • Google Chrome (Version 53.0.2785.143 and higher)
  • Mozilla Firefox  (Version 48.0.2 and higher)
  • Safari (MAC only, Version 10.0.3 and above; Safari is no longer supported on PC)

We recommend that these browsers be used for optimal results. We discourage using older versions of browsers and cannot guarantee that they will be fully supported by SPARS. There are known issues using the Microsoft Edge browser, so it should not be used.

A reliable, high-speed internet connection of 4 Mbps (download) or higher is recommended and the browser should be configured to accept session cookies and have JavaScript enabled.

What is the definition of substance abuse?

A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

  • Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)
  • Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating machinery when impaired by substance use)
  • Recurrent substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)
  • Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (Copyright 2000). American Psychiatric Association.

What is the data upload process for the three centers?

For CSAT – Only the SBIRT Services, ATR4, and ATTC programs can upload data to SPARS. All other programs must enter their data into the system manually.

For CMHS – All CMHS programs must enter their data into the system manually.

For CSAP – CSAP programs that enter their participant-level data into SPARS can use the Import feature or manually enter their data into the system.

Why did I not receive a data reporting notification email?

Typically, a grantee/GPO will receive monthly reminder emails (on the 16th of each month) about their performance if the intake or follow-up rates are below 80% (bad news) or above 100% (good news). The system-generated email will be sent only if they under- or over- performed for the grants that are not expired (at least 6 months out).

The system automatically stops sending notification emails for a grant whose expiration date is within 6 months of the email sending date. There will be no future notifications for the grant after this time period.

Where can I get a copy of the latest SPARS newsletter?

The newsletters are available in the SPARS Resource Library. To access:

  1. Click the Technical Assistance tab.
  2. Click the "Resource Library" button.
  3. Click the "General Resources" button and search for the appropriate newsletter.

What trainings are available to get started with SPARS?

To access the trainings below, click the Training tab in SPARS and search for the title in the Search Course field. Contact the Help Desk for additional information about available trainings.


For CSAT Services grantees:

  • CSAT New Grantee Overview
  • CSAT GPRA Tool On-Demand Course
  • CSAT Introduction to Follow-up Training
  • CSAT Advanced Follow-up Training

For CSAT Best Practices grantees:

  • SPARS CSAT Overview for Best Practices Non-ATTC Grantees
  • SPARS CSAT Overview for Best Practices ATTC Grantees
  • SPARS CMHS Overview for New Grantees
  • SPARS CMHS Demonstration Video
  • Understanding AGB Reporting Requirements and Data Entry in SPARS for New Grantees
  • IPP Data Entry Clinic

Additional key trainings for CMHS grantees providing direct services:

  • CMHS Services Overview
  • SPARS Child Services Data Collection for CMHS Grantees
  • SPARS Adult Services Data Collection for CMHS Grantees

Please note that CSAP trainings are program-specific.

For CSAP grantees who use the DSP–MRT:

  • DSP–MRT Training for CSAP OD Treatment Access Grantees
  • CSAP FR–CARA New Grantee Training
  • CSAP SPF–Rx DSP–MRT Data Entry Training
  • CSAP PFS DSP–MRT Data Entry Training
  • CSAP PDO DSP–MRT Data Entry Training
  • CSAP DSP–MRT Work Plans Data Entry Training
  • CSAP MAI Participant-Level Data Entry Training
  • CSAP MAI Grantee Quarterly Progress Report Refresher Training

How do I request Technical Assistance?

The SPARS Technical Assistance Request System is available for CSAT grantees and GPOs to request GPRA-related TA. CMHS and CSAP grantees do not have access to the TA request system.

Where can I find information on definitions for the GPRA performance measures?

In the CSAT Follow-up Change report, you can select the GPRA Measures link, which provides detailed information on the six GPRA measures captured in the tool, along with a validation matrix.

NOTE: If the grant does not have enough data for the report to calculate, the link will not appear.

In the Data Download section for CSAT, I clicked on “Yes” when it asked me if I wanted to proceed to download the records, but nothing happened. Where did my data go?

You probably have a pop-up blocker that is preventing you from downloading your data. Use the following procedure to momentarily disable your pop-up blocker:

  1. Go back to the screen where it asks you if you are sure you want to proceed.
  2. Hold down the Ctrl key and then click on the “Yes” button. It is important that you keep the Ctrl key down until a new window or dialog box appears.
  3. Once the new window appears, you can let go of the Ctrl key.

When is the CSAT Follow Up Rate Report sent to GPOs?

The Follow Up Rate Report that is sent to GPOs on or around the 15th of the month is only sent if the grant's end date is 6 months greater than the send date of the report. For example, for the GPO to receive the Follow Up Rate Report email on 5/16/2017, the grant's end date must be 11/17/2017 or later.

How is rate of change (regardless of tool) calculated across the client/tool episode of care for CSAT?

The rate of change is calculated as a percent. The formula is as follows:
Rate of Change for follow-up/discharge interview is the percent at the follow-up/discharge interview minus the percent at intake divided by the percent at intake; and then multiplied by 100 to calculate the percentage.

Rate of change is calculated in the online reports using the most recent episode of care (the active interview). Rate of Change is explained in the Intake to Followup Change Report document.

How do I request Technical Support?

To request data technical support, go to the SPARS website, click the Technical Support tab, and then click the "Technical Support Request" button.

GPOs and other SAMHSA staff must be associated with at least one grant to be able to request Technical Support (TS). It may take up to 24 hours for any new accounts or account updates to display in the TS system.

I received an "Access Denied" error when accessing the Technical Support Request System (TSRS)?

How can I edit a submitted Technical Support Request?

A Technical Support Request cannot be edited once it is submitted, but the GPO can add updates to it in the COMMENTS section.

For grantee organizations who have multiple SAMHSA discretionary services grants, should that client complete a NOMs interview for each grant program if they would benefit from services from both grants?

If a client is receiving services from each program, as in dollars are being spent from each program, then the client should be treated as an individual client for each program. This would mean duplicate data entry for the grants. In addition, there are different Section H questions depending on which program they are enrolled.

For CMHS grants, is the Annual Goals and Budget (AGB) used to report actual expenditures on an annual basis?

These are budget estimates. Focusing on one grant year at a time, consider your activities within each category and estimate the dollars (or the percentage of total dollars per grant year) that you plan to spend on each type of activity during each year. CMHS does not expect you to provide a detailed accounting by cost or category, instead provide a ballpark estimate of approximately how much of your budget will be spent on each category. The percentages or total dollars should add up to 100% per grant year.

Do I need to track the expenditures by the budget categories as opposed to the line items specified in the budget submitted with the application?

Your grant application or work plan included detailed descriptions of what you planned to accomplish with the funding you received over the course of your grant. Consider all the activities you have planned and how each relates to the infrastructure, prevention, promotion, or services categories. You will need to specify goals only for the activities your grant conducts.

Does the mental illness prevention and mental health promotion category/goal mean that I must budget money in that category?

Mental Illness Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Activities is the budget category for activities to accomplish prevention and or promotion goals consistent with the prevention and mental health promotion IPP indicators. This is separate from the Services Provision budget category.

Activities that are consistent with any of the prevention and promotion indicators count as activities. For the Infrastructure Development, Prevention and Mental Health Promotion or IPP indicators, there is only one indicator that is required for TIEH grantees (Screening (S1)), which is the number of individuals screened for mental health or related interventions as a result of the grant.

How is the month shown in CMHS downloads?

The month shown in downloads is based on the Intake Date, not on the Date of Administration. For example, case #1001 intake was in month 11 (November), so the 6-month is shown in month 5, the 12-month again in month 11, and so on, regardless of whether the reassessment was performed exactly in that month.

Similarly, if an intake is done in April (month 4), then the 6-month will show as October (month 10), putting it into the new federal fiscal year, even if it was actually done in late September. That is how the system tries to calculate the month. On occasion, it will be inexact due to the varying length of months in the year, because it counts the number of 30-day periods from the Intake Date.

What does the CMHS Reassessment Interview Rate Report show?

The Reassessment Rate Report shows the number of reassessments that were received (within the window) out of the total number that were due. Reassessments (and all future reassessments) are not due if the Admin Discharge Date occurs before or on the same day as the last day of the window End Date.

The reassessment window start and end dates are 30 days before and 30 days after the Reassessment Due Date. The Reassessment Due Date is 180 days after the Baseline Interview Date, not 6 months later. If the reassessment is completed outside of the window, it will not count towards the reassessment rate.

Anytime the column called “Count” is equal to 1, that reassessment is counted as due in the fiscal year. When the Count is equal to 0, the reassessment is not due.


  • A client can have multiple reassessments due in one fiscal year.
  • In column G on Data Download, a code of "300" (previously “601”) refers to the reassessment. A 6-month reassessment is shown as a second 3-month reassessment. The same client can have multiple reassessments due in one fiscal year.
  • The Admin Discharge Date is always set to the 1st of the month because the instrument only collects the month and year of the discharge. In the Data Download, the Discharge Date is set to the 15th of the month as the default. However, for this report, the discharge date is set to the 1st of the month.

For CSAP Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) grantees, what sections of the participant level youth and adult surveys should be administered?

The service duration determines which sections of the survey are administered. For single session (1 day) and multiple session brief (2-29 days) participants, Section 1 (Facts About You) and Section 2 (Attitudes and Knowledge) should be administered. For multiple session long (30 or more days) participants, all 3 sections of the survey should be administered.