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NIAID Review of Press Releases Under Contracts

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This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.

Purpose

To review press releases produced by NIAID contractors relating to their contracts.

Procedure

Press releases include the public release of information to any medium, excluding peer-reviewed scientific publications. Press releases are a product of the contractor and, unless required by the terms of the contract, are generally not under the control of the federal government.

Advance copies of press releases may come to NIAID through a contracting officer's representative (COR), the Office of Acquisitions (OA), NIAID’s Office of Communications and Government Relations (OCGR), communications liaisons in scientific divisions, or by other means.

NIAID acts only on press releases that are grossly inaccurate, misleading, false, or potentially harmful if they influence public behavior. The Institute anticipates that very few press releases will match these criteria.

Because contractors typically develop and publish press releases in a short amount of time, NIAID personnel must respond to advance copies quickly.

Contractors

  • Review the requirements of your contract regarding press releases, as well as publications and publicity. Information may be included in Sections B, H, and I of your contract.
  • As soon as possible, but not less than four working days before issuing a press release, send a copy of the press release to your contracting officer's representative (COR).
  • Work with NIAID to resolve any concerns or questions regarding press releases.

Contracting Officer's Representatives (COR) and Scientific Program Divisions

  • After NIAID receives an advance copy of a press release from a contractor, either a contracting officer's representative (COR) or a division communications liaison should immediately distribute the press release to OCGR and OA.
  • Confirm that all parties have received the press release.
  • Read the press release for accuracy.
  • Within two working days of receiving the press release, provide any comments to OA and OCGR. Limit comments to serious concerns regarding accuracy.
  • When a press release requires NIAID action, notify OCGR, identify the erroneous information, and explain the facts.
  • In cases of potential misconduct, contact OCGR immediately. OCGR will review the press release and notify NIAID's research integrity officer (RIO).
  • Address concerns in a phone conversation with the contractor, OA, the RIO, and OCGR. Contracting officer's representative (COR) should not contact the contractor directly regarding press releases.
  • If necessary, prepare a rebuttal statement with OA and OCGR.

Office of Communications and Government Relations

  • If a contractor sends OCGR advance copies of press releases, immediately send a copy for distribution to the contracting officer's representative (COR).
  • Read press release.
  • Receive comments from the contracting officer's representative (COR) and OA.
  • When a press release requires NIAID action, notify the RIO. Also address concerns in a phone conversation with the contractor, OA, the RIO, and the contracting officer's representative (COR).
  • Facilitate a coordinated NIAID response or rebuttal if:
    • A contractor issues a press release as originally written without consideration of NIAID comments or concerns.
    • OA correspondence with a contractor has not produced an acceptable response.

Contract Specialists and Contracting Officers

  • Insert the following language as an addendum to the Publication and Publicity clause in Section H of all new contracts:
    • Press releases shall be considered to include the public release of information to any medium, excluding peer-reviewed scientific publications. The contractor shall ensure that the contracting officer's representative (COR) has received an advance copy of any press release related to this contract not less than four working days prior to the issuance of the press release.
  • If a contractor sends advance copies of press releases, immediately send a copy for distribution to the contracting officer's representative (COR).
  • Read press releases for accuracy.
  • Within two working days of receiving the press release, provide any comments to the contracting officer's representative (COR) and OCGR. Limit comments to serious concerns regarding accuracy.
  • When a press release requires NIAID action, coordinate a phone conversation with OA, the RIO, OCGR, the contracting officer's representative (COR), and the contractor to address concerns.
  • In cases of potential misconduct, contact OCGR immediately. It may be advisable to consult with the HHS Office of the General Counsel (OGC) as well.  Document any discussions in a memorandum to the file.
  • In cases where NIAID has contacted the contractor and the contractor refuses to consider NIAID comments, send a letter to any or all of the following: contract principal investigator, business representative, and organization president. Route the letter through the OA director.
    • The letter should:
      • Specifically identify the objectionable material.
      • Explain the facts from the NIAID viewpoint.
      • Request that the contractor retract the objectionable material.
    • You are encouraged to consult with OGC at this point as well.
  • If the contractor makes no retraction, work with the contracting officer's representative (COR) and OCGR to prepare a rebuttal statement. Route the rebuttal statement through OA director for signature. Copy OCGR, the contracting officer's representative (COR), and OGC, as applicable.
  • File all correspondence in the official contract file.

Contacts

See the Office of Acquisitions staff listing for the appropriate contract specialist.

NIAID media coordination, OCGR—niaidnews@niaid.nih.gov

NIAID research integrity officer (RIO)—Matthew Fenton

OA director—Charles Grewe

HHS Office of the General Counsel, 202-260-9573

If you have knowledge to share or want more information on this topic, email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.

Links

Lock icon: This link will not work for public visitors.Contract and RFP Workforms

NIH Policy Manual Chapter 1754 - Reporting Allegations of Criminal Offenses, Misuse of  NIH Grant and Contract Funds, or Improper Conduct

Office of Acquisitions

 

Last Updated November 20, 2014

Last Reviewed November 20, 2014