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Prepare to Apply: Definitions of roles in eRA Commons and

eRA Commons Roles

For a complete detailed list of all eRA Commons roles, please see our eRA Commons Roles (PDF).

What is an SO Role?
(An SO is designated by the applicant organization in eRA Commons)

An SO, or Signing Official, has institutional authority to legally bind the institution in grants administration matters. The individual fulfilling this role may have any number of titles in the grantee organization. The label "Signing Official" is used in conjunction with the NIH eRA Commons. The SO can register the institution, and create and modify the institutional profile and user accounts. The SO also can view limited information for all grants within the institution, including status and award information. An SO can create additional SO accounts as well as accounts with any other role or combination of roles.

For most institutions, the Signing Official (SO) is located in its Office of Sponsored Research or equivalent. An SO in Commons is the equivalent of an Authorized Organizational Representative in

What is a PD/PI Role?
(A PD/PI is designated by the Signing Official in eRA Commons)

A Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is designated by the grantee organization to direct the project or activity being supported by the grant. The PI is responsible and accountable to the grantee for the proper conduct of the project or activity. The role of the PI within the NIH eRA Commons includes updating person profile, checking application status, viewing assembled application and performing post-submission functions by completing the required forms via the eRA Commons or by delegating this responsibility. The PI can view information for all of his/her grants and applications at NIH, including access to the Summary Statement and Notice of Award Letter (NoA).

What is an AO Role?
An Administrative Official (AO) reviews the grant application for accuracy before the SO submits the final application to the NIH. Depending on the institution workflow process, it is possible for the SO and AO to be the same person. AOs can reside in either the central research administration office or academic departments. They can create and maintain AO, PI, and ASST accounts; however, AOs are not authorized to transmit applications to the NIH.

What is an AA Role?
An Account Administrator (AA) facilitates the administration of NIH eRA Commons accounts. The AA can create, modify and/or remove all types of accounts. Although the AA can create additional accounts, the AA cannot modify institutional profile (IPF) information or perform other research related functions in the system. The AA will typically be in the central research administration office.

What is an ASST Role?
The Assistant (ASST) role has been designed to allow PIs to delegate certain responsibilities for data entry of grant information (RPPR and X-Train) and upkeep of their personal profiles. PIs also can delegate to anyone with the ASST role access to their Status information. This allows the ASST to start an application, check application submissions for errors/warnings and to review the final assembled application image just as a reviewer will see it. However, the ASST cannot submit an RPPR.

*UPDATE: The Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) is now required for progress reports on applications subject to SNAP and for electronically submitted Fellowships.  RPPR replaced the eSNAP progress reports for SNAP awards and PHS 416-6 for Fellowship progress reports in May, and will eventually replace the use of the PHS 2590 for non-SNAP awards. For more information, please see the RPPR web page and the Guide Notice NOT-OD-13-061.

Back to Top Roles

What is an E-Business Point of Contact (POC) Role?
(An eBiz POC is identified by the applicant organization upon registering in the Central Contract Registration (CCR))

The E-Business POC is the single person responsible for the administration and management of grant activities in his/her organization. E-Business POCs give representatives of their organization the privilege to submit grant applications through (i.e., authorizes AOR).

What is an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) Role?
(An AOR is designated by an eBiz POC within

The Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) submits a grant application to on behalf of a company, organization, institution, or government. AORs have the authority to sign grant applications and the required certifications and/or assurances that are necessary to fulfill the requirements of the application process. An AOR is the equivalent of a Signing Official in Commons. The AOR may be the same person as the E-Business POC.