Unilateral closeout is the process by which the funding agency closes out an award without receipt of acceptable final reports required by the terms and conditions of an award, after making reasonable efforts to obtain them. It is a measure of last resort.
For an individual grant, conduct a general search in eRA Commons using the grant number. See the project end date in the information displayed for that grant. (See eRA Commons User Guide.)
NIH is developing a tool to assist grantees to identify which of their grants are due to end within the next three months. This search tool will be available on the eRA Commons Quick Queries page beginning in October 2014.
The grantee may extend the final budget period of the previously approved project period one time for a period of up to 12 months beyond the original expiration date shown in the NoA if
no term of award specifically prohibits the extension,
no additional funds are required to be obligated by the NIH awarding IC, and
the project's originally approved scope will not change.
Such an action affirms that additional work remains to be completed on the project and that resources are available to continue to support the project, or that additional time is needed to provide for an orderly closeout. The fact that funds remain at the expiration of the grant is not, in itself, sufficient justification for an extension without additional funds.
Grantees must use the eRA Commons No-Cost Extension feature to electronically notify NIH that they are exercising their one-time authority to extend without funds the expiration date of an award. This extension may be up to 12 months beyond the final budget period end date. In the eRA Commons, this notification can be made up to the last day of the current project end date. Upon receipt of this notification, the budget and project period end dates are automatically extended in the eRA system and an e-mail notification is automatically sent to the GMO. No further action is required by the grantee.
These initial extension notifications may not be submitted via e-mail or fax. Grantees who miss the window (or opportunity) to extend the grant in eRA Commons must submit a written prior approval request to the IC. Grantees may not extend project periods that were previously extended by the NIH awarding IC. Any additional project period extension requires NIH prior approval.
Grantees are strongly encouraged to submit the Final Progress Report and the Final Invention Statement (if applicable) through the eRA Commons or may submit those to the address below.
National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research Division of Central Grants Processing Grants Closeout Center 6705 Rockledge Drive, Room 5016 Bethesda, MD 20892 (for regular or U.S. Postal Service Express mail) Bethesda, MD 20817 (for other courier/express deliveries only)
On the normal PMS reporting cycle, a quarterly cash transaction report is due within 30 days of the end of the calendar quarter. A quarterly cash transaction report covering the final quarter of the project period may be submitted before or after the final expenditure FFR is due. For example, for a grant that ends on December 31, the quarterly federal cash report covering the final quarter of that award is due on January 31 even though the final expenditure FFR is not due until March 31. For a grant that ends on April 15, the federal cash report covering the final quarter of that award is due by July 31, even though the final expenditure FFR is due by July 14. (See B.5 regarding potential reporting problems to check before submitting the Final FFR.) Note: For grants ending October 1, 2014 or later, if the grantee submits a final expenditure FFR but does not reconcile any discrepancies between expenditures reported on the final FFR and the last cash report to PMS, NIH is required to close the award at the lower amount.
Final expenditure FFRs must indicate the exact balance of unobligated funds and may not reflect any unliquidated obligations.
The total expenditures reported on the Final expenditure FFR should match the total Federal cash disbursements—i.e., cash drawdowns—reported in PMS. The total Federal cash disbursements amount is derived from the cumulative cash disbursements based on your organization’s last quarterly cash transaction report to PMS. Coordinating the timing of your organization’s submission of a final cash transaction report with the Final expenditure FFR would be useful to ensure these totals correspond with one another and preempt the need to reconcile discrepancies that would prevent NIH’s from accepting the Final expenditure FFR.
Note: Unobligated funds must be returned to NIH or must be reflected by an appropriate accounting adjustment in accordance with instructions from the GMO or from the payment office.
This question does not apply to grants awarded under the PMS B subaccounts.
NIH will make several efforts to secure the required FPR. When those are exhausted, NIH may take unilateral action to close the grant and/or impose sanctions for recurring reporting problems. Such sanctions may include, but are not limited to, corrective actions, removal of authorities, and/or delay or withholding of further awards.
NIH will make several attempts to secure the required expenditure FFR. If those efforts are unsuccessful, NIH will take unilateral action to close the grant and/or enforcement actions for recurring reporting problems, including, but not limited to, corrective actions, withholding of further awards, suspension or termination, and removal of authorities (e.g., SNAP, automatic carryover) on active grants. It is important to note that for financial closeout, if a grantee fails to submit a final expenditure FFR, NIH is directed to close the grant using the last recorded cash drawdown level.
It is the grantee’s responsibility to reconcile cash reports submitted to PMS and expenditure reports submitted to the NIH. If any discrepancies are identified during NIH review of the final FFR the grantee will be notified and given an opportunity to submit a corrected revised expenditure FFR. If the grantee does not submit a corrected FFR then the NIH is required to close the award at the lower amount. If closed at a lower expenditure amount, this could be considered a debt or result in disallowed costs.
NIH is awaiting further guidance from HHS regarding the timeframe in which it must close grants to align with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) recently published Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards; Final Rule (Uniform Guidance).
New HHS policy stipulates that if the agency (NIH) cannot undertake a “bilateral closeout”—i.e., closeout with the cooperation between the grantee and the agency —within 180 days of the project end date, it must initiate “unilateral closeout”—i.e., closeout without receipt of acceptable final reports—for those grantees that are not in compliance with the policy. NIH is also awaiting further guidance from HHS on whether this timeframe will be adjusted. NIH will implement this policy for grants with project end dates after September 30, 2014.
Contact the Grants Management Specialist named on the award to explain the situation and receive further instructions since this will impact the IC’s actions in closing the award. Please note, regardless of whether the IC has already closed the grant, the grantee remains obligated to return funds due as a result of later refunds, corrections, or other transactions; and the Federal government may recover amounts based on the results of an audit covering any part of the period of support.
If, after on time submission of Final expenditure FFR, you want to claim an additional amount for costs properly incurred before the project end date, you must submit a revised Final expenditure FFR as promptly as possible, but no later than 6 months from the due date for the original report, i.e., 9 months following the end of the project end date. The request must include an explanation of why the revision is necessary. An IC can accept a revised Final expenditure FFR claiming additional expenditures received after 9 months only if the IC’s Chief Grants Management Officer approves and exception. Otherwise, NIH will return the submission and indicate that the IC cannot consider it because it is not timely.
A Termination Notice is required in lieu of a final progress report. The termination notice must be submitted within 30 days of the termination date even if the fellow is not available for signature. In all cases, the information on the form must be verified by the sponsor and an institutional business official. The lack of timely and accurate information on this form could adversely affect data collected associated with aggregate NRSA support and the payback process. All Termination Notices for individual fellowships are required to be submitted electronically using the eRA Commons xTrain application.
A final Federal Financial Report (FFR) (SF 425) on expenditures is not required for fellowships. However, submission of a final quarterly federal cash transaction report in the Payment Management System (PMS) is required if the fellowship funds are in a PMS P subaccount. A final quarterly federal cash transaction report is not required for awards in PMS B subaccounts—i.e., fellows training at Federal or foreign institutions.
Note: If the fellow is leaving the sponsoring institution immediately upon completion of the award, the sponsoring institution should obtain post-award information requested on the Termination Notice prior to the Fellow’s departure. If a fellow terminates early, a Termination Notice should be submitted immediately upon termination.
No. Financial data reported on the Termination Notice (Form PHS 416-7) only reflects use of stipends. NIH must take into account the full fellowship amount when financially closing the award. Thus, as stated in the response to Question E.2, submission of a final quarterly federal cash transaction report in the Payment Management System (PMS) is required if the fellowship funds are in a PMS P subaccount. A final quarterly federal cash transaction report is not required for awards in PMS B subaccounts—i.e., fellows training at Federal or foreign institutions.
Ensure that all stipend-related expenditures reported on the Termination Notice have also been accounted for in the sponsoring institution’s draw downs and cash expenditure reports in PMS. Also, check that any funds used for other allowable purposes—e.g., institutional allowance, travel, tuition and fees, etc.—were obligated prior to the project end date; and ensure that they are drawn down and expended no later than 120 days following the period of performance end date.
For fellowships with a project end date on or after October 1, 2014, NIH will financially close domestic fellowships using the cumulative cash disbursement level reflected the last quarterly cash transaction report in PMS. For fellowships sponsored by federal or foreign institutions, NIH will financially close the award using the last recorded drawdown level in PMS.