Contacting a Grants Management Specialist—For What and How?

Funding News Edition: December 15, 2021
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As an applicant or a funded investigator, there’s a good chance you’ll need guidance on administrative or fiscal issues related to your grant or award. The question then becomes “Who are you going to call?” The answer: a grants management specialist (GMS).

Here we tell you in what instances you should contact a GMS and the best way to reach out to one.

GMS Role

To better understand what falls under a GMS’s purview, this definition from the NIH Glossary may help:

A[n] NIH staff member who oversees the business and other non-programmatic aspects of one or more grants and/or cooperative agreements. These activities include, but are not limited to, evaluating grant applications for administrative content and compliance with statutes, regulations, and guidelines; negotiating grants; providing consultation and technical assistance to grantees; and administering grants after award.

Which GMS To Contact? It Depends

Depending on whether you are applying for a grant or have (or will receive) an award, the GMS you should contact differs.

Pre-Application Submission or Pre-Review

If you are responding to a funding opportunity announcement in which NIAID is participating, direct your questions to the financial/grants management contact listed in Section VII. Agency Contacts.

If You Have an Active Award or Were Contacted To Provide Just-in-Time* Information

Assuming you are negotiating with NIAID to possibly get an award or are already managing one, you can contact your assigned GMS; he or she is listed in your eRA Commons account. Note: Our grants management staff receive many calls and emails, particularly from July to September when an already heavy workload gets even heavier. To ensure you get a response when you need it, see Get a Speedy Response From Your Grants Management Specialist.

You must contact your GMS if you are:

  • Delayed in completing paperwork that’s needed to issue your grant award
  • Adding a foreign component
  • Making any change that requires prior approval, e.g.,
    • Change of scope
    • Reducing principal investigator (PI) effort by 25 percent or more
    • Going from a single PI to a multiple PI award
    • Carryover of unobligated funds from a previous budget period to a subsequent budget period (only when automatic carryover is not authorized as a term and condition on the Notice of Award or if executing any carryover type will cause a change in scope)

For other actions that need prior approval, read our Prior Approvals for Post-Award Grant Actions SOP.

We recommend you contact your assigned GMS if you have questions about your active grant’s budget or Notice of Award’s terms and conditions as well as if you need clarification on NIH or NIAID grant policies.

*Just-in-time (JIT) is information that NIH requests after an application has been peer reviewed and is within a range of possible funding. Learn more in our Just-in-Time SOP and Respond to Pre-Award Requests (“Just-in-Time”).

If/When a GMS Contacts You

In the event a GMS reaches out to you, for example, to request additional JIT information or clarify information reported in the Research Performance Progress Report, be sure to address any issues as soon as possible.


If you’re wondering whether to direct questions to a program officer rather than a GMS, we suggest reading When To Contact an NIAID Program Officer.

Contact Us

Email us at for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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