When and How To Contact a Program Officer

Funding News Edition: February 07, 2018
See more articles in this edition

You're trying to get a hold of your program officer but are having no luck. What should you do? We provide suggestions here as well as a few key points to keep in mind. 

Find Contact Information 

You can find addresses and phone numbers for staff in our three program divisions—the Division of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (DAIDS), the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation (DAIT), and the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID)—listed in each program officer's NIH Enterprise Directory (NED) entry (NIH's electronic Yellow Pages). 

You should also be able to find updated phone numbers in your Commons account. 

That said, take note: When program officers move to new positions or locations, NIH may need some time to update their contact information. 

If you call and find that the number doesn't work, email or try calling your program officer's division using its main number. Someone there should be able to direct you to the person you're trying to reach. 

Ask Yourself Two Questions 

Do I have the right person? Check your Commons account to make sure the program officer for your grant award or application hasn't changed. The name on a summary statement or Notice of Award might not be the person currently assigned, so your call or email may have to be re-routed, which causes delays. 

Is a program officer the best person to answer my question? Before you email or leave a voicemail for your program officer (or even while waiting to hear back), ask yourself: Am I certain he or she is the person I need to answer my question or resolve my issue? 

Remember, you should reach out to him or her for scientific, funding, and programmatic matters related to NIAID funding. Learn more about When to Contact an NIAID Program Officer

You should contact someone else for other issues, such as: 

  • Your grants management specialist for administrative elements of your grant award, e.g., negotiation, reporting, budgeting, and management. 

  • A scientific review officer for information about the conduct of review meetings or whether your proposed research fits well within a particular study section. 

  • The scientific/research contact listed in a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for questions about that particular FOA. Be sure to keep in mind, however, that this contact may refer your question to a program officer likely to be assigned your application. 

  • The Division of Extramural Activities Director, Dr. Matthew Fenton, for research misconduct (fraud, fabrication, or plagiarism) issues. 

  • The activity coordinator for any specific topic or service covered on NIAID's website. Find his or her contact information by searching NED. 

Know That Certain Times Are Busier Than Others 

Program officers are always busy, but they're likely to be busier at certain times of the year. During these periods, you may need to wait a bit longer than usual for a response. 

If, however, you are trying to resolve a bar to award or other pressing issue that affects your getting funding, your program officer should be in contact with you as soon as possible. In such cases, it's wise to copy your assigned grants management specialist on your email so he or she can do what's needed on the grants management end. 

Similarly, know that grants management specialists face an especially busy period in the summer as the end of the fiscal year approaches, while scientific review officers tend to be busiest during the fall and winter. 

Get a Response and the Information You Need 

Help your program officer help you get a timely response by following these tips. 

  • Be crystal clear. 

  • When emailing or leaving a voicemail: 

  • Provide your grant number. 

  • Fully explain why you are getting in touch. 

  • Clearly describe what you want—and when you need it. If it's urgent, say so. 

  • Give a time frame in your email's subject line so messages are read in a timely manner. For example, "Urgent question for R21 application due February 16." 

  • Follow up, provide alternate contact info. 

  • If you emailed, follow up with a phone call, and vice versa. 

  • Give additional email addresses or phone numbers, if you have them, so your program officer has other ways to get in touch with you. 

Finally, know that most program officers prefer that you contact them by email and schedule a time for a phone call, giving him or her time to read your summary statement or otherwise gather resources to answer your question. 

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

Content last reviewed on