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Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding. Link to Part 1. Qualify for NIH Funding.Link to Part 2. Pick and Design a Project.Link to Part 3. Write Your Application.Link to Part 4. Submit Your Application.Link to Part 5. Assignment and Review.Link to Part 6. If Not Funded.Link to Part 7. Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.How to Manage Your Grant   ·   Strategy for Staying Funded Next page in Strategy.

Advice for Managing Your Grant

If you are working in a domestic institution, use this page for advice on managing your grant, including restricted awards, reporting requirements, and new events that affect your grant, for example, a change in the scope of the research.

Know which actions require approval before you may take them, and get tips on spending your money and how to stay in touch with NIAID.

This page has advice only. If you are in a domestic institution, use it together with How to Manage Your Grant, which gives you the facts.

Note: foreign grantees and investigators should use our Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators for information on negotiating and managing their grants.

Table of Contents

After You Get Your Award

After you get your grant, read your Notice of Award for your project's start and end dates, your terms and conditions of award, and the amount of money you will receive for the current and future years. Though we send you a Notice of Award at the beginning of each budget period, this one sets the standard.

Contact your grants business office with any questions you have, and feel free to check in with your grants management specialist to follow up. Also keep tabs on NIH policy changes at our Top Policy Changes—policies may change as your grant proceeds.

Don't Be Restricted

If you have a restriction on your award, resolve it right away. Restrictions can take weeks to lift even after you send us the information we need. Until then, you have an award but cannot do any of the restricted activities or access restricted funds.

Stay on Top of Your Rules and Reporting Requirements

Your business office is responsible for sending reports for you and your subawardees, though it may delegate some responsibilities to you.

As your work proceeds, keep abreast of your due dates for reporting administrative information.

These standard reports come on top of any scientific reporting you need to do, e.g., data sharing and public access. Our Standard Reports for NIH-Funded Grants gives you a table that shows the most common reports.

Your business office is responsible for sending these reports for you and your subawardees, though it may delegate some responsibilities to you. Be aware that any delay may hold up your award, and a lapse in compliance may force us to terminate your grant.

We advise that you create a symbiotic relationship with the people in your business office who submit your reports—they rely on you for your institution's funding, and you rely on them to make sure you keep that funding by helping you fulfill your requirements.

Also check that you understand your institution's rules for investigators who receive federal funding. Many of those rules stem from federal regulations, and we take them seriously.

Read more about your rules and reporting requirements at How to Manage Your Grant, if you are in a domestic institution, or Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators if you are in a foreign institution.

Checkpoint. At this point, I check that I:

  1. Know what my business office needs from me to submit the following reports:
    • Federal Financial Report and cash transaction data.
    • Annual Report on Possible Research Misconduct.
    • Subaward Report, if I plan to spend $25,000 or more on a subaward.
    • Audit Report, if my institution spends $500,000 or more a year of federal grant money in any fiscal year.
  2. Record information needed for invention reporting.
  3. Ask what other reports my institution needs to send.
  4. Know when all reports are due.
  5. Follow up with my business office to make sure my reports go through on time.
  6. Have a plan for renewing my IACUC and IRB approvals, if applicable.
  7. Confirm my institution's formal policies for the following actions:
    • Responding to allegations of research misconduct.
    • Handling financial conflicts of interest.
    • Hiring foreign workers using grant funds.
    • Securing data against breach.
    • Engaging in any unlawful activity.

Go Where the Science Leads You

Though you have to get our approval to change Specific Aims or other peer-reviewed activities, get help assessing your options.

As your work progresses, do you discover something new and exciting? Do your plans work out differently than you expected?

Talk to your program officer about whether it makes sense to modify your research.

Though you need our approval to change your Specific Aims or other peer-reviewed activities, get help assessing your options if you see a major shift in your field or your science is leading to a dead end—or a major breakthrough.

Also consider whether it's appropriate to expand your project's scope through a revision of your grant. Before applying for one of these competing awards, be sure to discuss your scientific needs with your program officer. Then talk to your grants management specialist about the fiscal and policy implications.

Get Prior Approval for Some Actions

Although you may take many actions without involving us, for others you need our approval before you act.

For example, you must get our approval before you add foreign sites, change key personnel or the grantee organization, or make major renovations.

If you foresee any of these actions, contact us at least 30 days in advance, earlier if your actions constitute a change in scope.

If you want to take any action that could change the scope of your research, contact your grants management specialist right away.

Read more:

Watch Your Spending

Work with your business office to develop a consistent system for managing expenses.

Don't leave it to others to monitor your expenses. When working with your grant funds, ask yourself:

  • Am I pacing myself?
  • Am I spending all my money in the first month or two of the project?
  • Am I not spending the money fast enough?

We take your spending pattern into account when considering whether to continue funding your project. It's a good idea to work with your business office to develop a system for managing expenses.

Further, you'll need to make sure that all your expenses are allowed, reasonable, and justified. You may want to get help from colleagues or your grants management specialist to make sure you conform to our accounting rules.

For those of you who have more than one grant, keep expenses separate. You may not mix one grant's money or expenses with another's in any way.

Request More Time and Money if Necessary

You can request an administrative supplement to add money for a purpose that falls within the scope of your research.

Consider taking advantage of some policies that may give you breathing space if you're managing your expenses properly but still find yourself short on funds or behind schedule as you enter your final year.

As you're winding down your grant, decide whether a no-cost extension can help you finish your work and assemble your closeout documents. With a no-cost extension, you can hold on to your grant for up to 12 months after the scheduled end date though you don't get any more money.

You may also want to think about asking for a research supplement to support underrepresented groups, people returning to work from family responsibilities, or those with primary caregiver duties. These targeted supplements give you a chance to add valuable staff to your project.

Rarely, PIs can use an administrative supplement to get more money. Read the Administrative Supplements to Grants and Cooperative Agreements SOP for details.

Before you consider this route, work with your business office to rebudget funds or tap into unobligated balances. If you can't find a solution, read the SOP and contact your program officer to assess whether your research may qualify for an administrative supplement.

Consider a Seminar or Site Visit

Site visits are not audits and don't fulfill any statutory requirements but are a good way to build relationships.

To make sure you have the hang of grants management, think about attending a seminar. Your grants management specialist can tell you when NIH may be coming to your area, and we publicize many seminars in our NIAID Funding News.

You may also want to request a site visit where NIAID staff come to your institution and take a look at your facilities, protocols, and administrative processes. You'll have a chance to ask questions and get a report after the visit with a list of any actions to take.

Site visits are not audits and don't fulfill any statutory requirements. They are just a good way to build relationships with us and make sure your project is headed in the right direction. Before broaching the subject with your program officer, check with your business office about whether your institution will entertain a visit.

Keep in Touch With NIAID Staff

Though you rely on your institution's business office to pilot your grants management efforts, stay in contact with NIAID staff, too.

Consult with your program officer on scientific matters. He or she can advise you on data and model organism sharing, public access rules, changes in protocol and scope, and progress reports. Your program officer is also your first point of contact if you want our help publicizing your research findings.

For everything else, go to your grants management specialist. We have one assigned to every application, whether funded or not, old or new, expired or renewed.

Contact this person at least once a year, even if just to say hello, and always get in touch if you can't meet a deadline or have any question that your business office does not handle or cannot advise you about.

Whenever you do get in touch, include your grant number in your correspondence and have it handy if you make a phone call. Learn more about Contacting Program Officers and Grants Management Specialists at Communicating With NIAID—How to Get Help.

Find More Information Online

Look at the information we have on our site, starting with the Related Links below.

If you can't find what you need there, feel free to email us at for general information. Keep in mind that we can't speak about your grant or comment on another institute's practices. For help with issues specific to your grant, contact your grants management specialist.

To keep up with the news, sign up for email alerts on topics of your choosing—go to Email Alerts Subscription Center, and stay informed about Top Policy Changes.

Related Links

Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.How to Manage Your Grant   ·   Strategy for Staying Funded Next page in Strategy.

See the other sections of
Part 7. Funding

Table of Contents for the Strategy

We welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions. Email

Last Updated November 01, 2013

Last Reviewed September 30, 2011