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<< Part 1. Overview of NIAID and NIH · Training Index · Part 3. Actions You Can Take >>

Learning Points

  • Your responsibilities as a grantee.
  • Negotiating your grant.
  • Causes of delay of an award.
  • Your Notice of Award and why you should read it.
  • Why you need to know your Terms of Award.
  • When you can start spending grant money.

Part 2. Getting Your Initial Award

This is Part 2 of the Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators.

This part starts with the first events that occur after an application has gone through peer review and NIAID approves it for funding.

Grantees will learn about the implications of their Notice of Award and role in negotiating it.

Table of Contents

Know Your Responsibilities as a Grantee

Keep track of your due dates. You won't get warnings or reminders from NIAID.

Being an NIH grantee comes with many responsibilities. You will be managing funds that come from the U.S. taxpayer, and the U.S. government takes seriously the proper management of those funds. Many requirements of NIH grants are based on U.S. law.

Your legal responsibilities include the following items that you must do:

  • Comply with all policies related to your grant.
  • Comply with the terms and conditions of award.
  • Spend funds only for authorized purposes.
  • Implement systems to ensure proper management and oversight of funds and avoid fiscal fraud and mismanagement.
  • Manage and monitor each project, program, subaward, function, or activity supported by the award.
  • Safeguard U.S. government assets.

Keep in mind that NIAID considers the institution, not the researcher, to be the grantee. The institution is legally accountable to NIAID.

Note for clinical trial subawards: the grantee administers funds and establishes the base of clinical research activities.

As principal investigator, keep track of all of your due dates. You won't get warnings or reminders. If NIAID contacts you about missing information, respond as quickly as possible.

You also need to keep track of when the business office needs information, and make sure that the business office has sent it to us.

Negotiation Determines Your Award

Before we can make an award, we must have all your just-in-time information.

After we select your application for funding, we might need to resolve a few more issues before we can make an award:

If you have questions about these items, contact the grants management specialist listed in your summary statement and in the eRA Commons.

Next, the grants management specialist will contact the principal investigator (PI) to negotiate the level of support for the project and other aspects of the award, including the Specific Aims.

Causes for Award Delay

Avoid delays: make sure we have all required documentation.

You can avoid a delay by making sure we have all the documentation we need to get your grant started.

Here are the most frequent reasons your award may be delayed.

Competing Application Delays

  • You didn't submit your required just-in-time (JIT) information through the NIH Commons. 
  • You didn't send additional documentation required by NIH before the requested deadline.
  • The documents do not include the grant number (or have incorrect grant number).
  • The documents do not include the signature of the signing official.

Administrative Supplements and Prior Approval (Carryover) Delays

  • Your supplement request does not include a reason why additional funds are necessary.
  • Your carryover request does not explain the reason for the unobligated balance.
  • Your detailed budget, budget justification, or scientific justification is incomplete.
  • You didn't include the annual Federal Financial Report (FFR), when applicable.

Assurance or Certification Delays

Required assurances or certifications are not active or up-to-date:

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Delays

Once your grant is underway, you will submit a progress report to continue funding. To avoid delays, review the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) instructions and start the process early. Here are more causes for delay:

  • Your budget information is incomplete.
  • You submitted your RPPR with non-compliant publications.
  • You didn't include the annual Federal Financial Report (FFR), when applicable.

Tell your grants management specialist promptly if any of the information above changes.

Your Award May Differ From Your Request

Peer reviewers may have concluded that some of your Specific Aims were not necessary.

Your budget and Specific Aims in your Notice of Award may differ from those requested in your application for a few reasons.

  • Initial peer review. The scientific review group (also called study section) may have recommended changes to your Research Plan or budget.
    • For example, it may have felt that you could achieve your Specific Aims with less money or time than you requested.
    • The peer reviewers may have concluded that some of your Specific Aims were not necessary.
    • To see the budget that your peer reviewers recommended, check your summary statement in the eRA Commons.
  • Overlap and other fiscal or scientific issues.
    • A grants management specialist or program officer may modify your award based on overlap of support identified in the other support part of your just-in-time information.
    • If part of your research has already been paid for by NIH or another organization, we will reduce the funding level.
  • Programmatic reduction.
    • We may have to reduce your budget if our annual appropriation is not sufficient for us to fund applications at levels recommended by NIAID's advisory Council.
    • Check our Financial Management Plan to see if there is a programmatic reduction in effect for the current fiscal year.

A grants management specialist will contact you to negotiate a reduction of funds or years if NIAID staff or the summary statement notes a modification of your research aims. See Know Your Terms of Award below.

If NIAID (not peer reviewers) reduces your budget by 25 percent or more, you must modify the scope of the project, timeline, and budget. See Importance of Scope of Research in Part 3. Actions You Can Take as the Project Leader.

Get advice from your program officer and approval from your grants management specialist. If you want to read more information on this topic, see the Grants Negotiation SOP.

Awarding a Clinical Trial or Epidemiology Study as a Cooperative Agreement

Please note that NIAID may decide to award an investigator-initiated clinical trial or epidemiology study as a cooperative agreement. We need permission for the conversion, but if your institution refuses, it would not get the award.

If the grantee agrees to the change, the principal investigator will negotiate new terms of award with the grants management specialist. For details, see the Conversion of Grants to Cooperative Agreements SOP.

Read Your Notice of Award

You'll receive a Notice of Award for every budget period. Read it carefully.

NIAID lets you know you're receiving a grant by issuing a Notice of Award. You can access the Notice of Award through the eRA Commons. Use the Status module or Issued Notice of Award query.

You'll receive a new Notice of Award for each budget period of the grant, usually a year.

The Notice of Award specifies how long we intend to support the project without requiring you to compete again for funds. This period, called the project period, will usually be for one to five years.

If you are a subawardee, the principal investigator's institution will receive the Notice of Award. Ask for a copy since you must also abide by its terms and restrictions.

Read your Notice of Award carefully. It houses a lot of requirements as well as helpful information, such as the level of funds you will receive for current and future years, start and end dates, terms and conditions of award, and the names of your program officer and grants management specialist.

Ask your Commons signing official to make sure your institution's profile includes a correct email address, since NIH will switch to emailed Notices of Award. You can find the most recent Notice of Award in the eRA Commons.

You may also want to read the NIH Grants Policy Statement on Notices of Award. If this is your institution's first NIH award, your notice will contain a link to our Welcome Wagon Letter, which contains a wealth of information.

What Is in a Notice of Award?

Section I, page 1, provides the following information:

  • Type of grant (i.e., research, training, fellowship, career development, or cooperative agreement).
  • Awarding agency.
  • Grant number.
  • Principal investigator's name.
  • Grant title.
  • Grantee's name and address.
  • Budget and project period dates.
  • Amount of award.

Section II shows the following:

  • Current year budget totals by category.
    • Direct costs (i.e., salaries, equipment, travel expenses, etc.).
    • Facilities and administrative costs (support the costs of compliance with NIH requirements).
    • Federal award amount.
  • Future year commitments.
  • Institutes providing grant funds.
  • Payment information (funds are usually paid quarterly by U.S. Treasury check or by wire transfer).

If you requested to allocate funds among the PIs for a multiple PI award, we will include the allocation in a footnote.

Additional Resources

Know Your Terms of Award

Read the terms of award before beginning your research, so you do not unknowingly break them.

Terms of award are legally binding requirements for a grant that are part of your Notice of Award.

When you accept a grant award from NIH, you agree to be bound by its terms and conditions, which take effect as soon as you spend the first dollar of your grant funds. This is also true for subawardees. Once you accept the award, contents of the Notice of Award are binding. If we modify the terms of award, we'll send you a revised Notice.

Read the terms before you begin your research, so you do not unknowingly break them. For example, you may find that NIAID placed a temporary restriction on your award.

There are three types of terms of award.

  1. Informative terms and conditions of award offer clarifying information.
  2. Programmatic terms are a part of cooperative agreement awards and are specific to a funding opportunity announcement.
  3. Restrictive terms set limits on how you can use funds. These terms prevent you from doing the following things:
    1. Using funds until you meet certain requirements.  For example, you may not spend NIAID funds on human subjects or animal research until your institution has an approved Federalwide Assurance.
    2. Using funds for anything other than a specified purpose.

We can put a restriction on your grant for various reasons, including if you fall behind in reporting requirements. Any restriction is lifted only by a revised Notice of Award signed by the grants management officer.

Find a list in section III of the Notice of Award. To see general terms and conditions for all grants, go to NIH's Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

For more information, see Grants to Foreign Institutions, International Organizations, and Domestic Grants with Foreign Components of the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Find more information online:

Accepting the Award

You can start spending money as soon as you get your Notice of Award . . . maybe sooner.

Accepting a grant isn't a formal process. By this point, we will have set up a method of payment with your institution so you can receive funds.

At the start of your project period—the period of time we agree to fund you—we begin sending you money using the Payment Management System. When the investigator starts spending the money, the institution has accepted the award.

For more on the Payment Management System, see Part 6. Receiving and Spending Money.

Start Spending Funds

As soon as you get a Notice of Award, you can start spending funds. Your Notice of Award is posted in your eRA Commons account within about six to eight weeks of NIAID's advisory Council meeting, earlier if it underwent expedited second-level review. This could take longer if the study section had human or animal concerns or you have a complex grant type.

Be aware that you may be able to start spending funds as early as 90 days before that. Your business office must approve because doing so is at your institution's risk since NIH is not yet obligated to award the funds.

Read more about accepting a grant award and getting funds sooner in our Early Grant Award questions and answers.

We May Issue a Revised Notice of Award

Grants management staff may issue a revised Notice of Award to reflect one of the following changes:

  • Amount of increase or decrease of funds.
  • Lifting a restriction.
  • Change in budget period.
  • Carryover or offset.

Additional Resources

<< Part 1. Overview of NIAID and NIH · Training Index · Part 3. Actions You Can Take >>

Last Updated October 03, 2014

Last Reviewed October 03, 2014