NIH Grants Policy Statement
Revised October 2017. This document applies to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements for budget periods beginning on or after October 1, 2017.

2.1 Roles and Responsibilities

NIH, as a Federal grantor agency, is responsible to Congress and the U.S. taxpayer for carrying out its mission in a manner that not only facilitates research but does so cost-effectively and in compliance with applicable rules and regulations. NIH seeks to ensure integrity and accountability in its grant award and administration processes by relying on a system of checks and balances and separation of responsibilities within its own staff and by establishing a similar set of expectations for recipient organizations.

The following subsections highlight the major functions and areas of responsibility of Federal and recipient staffs. NIH recognizes that additional staff members in a number of different organizations may be involved in grant-related activities; however, this section details only the major participants representing the Federal government and the recipient. The responsibilities of CSR staff members, who are involved only in the initial review phase of the peer review process, are described in The Peer Review Process-Initial Review-Responsibilities. The responsibilities of other offices, such as OHRP, are described in Part II as applicable.

2.1.1 NIH and HHS Staff

The roles and responsibilities of NIH and HHS participants are as follows:

2.1.2 Recipient Staff

Overall responsibility for successfully implementing an NIH grant is a shared responsibility of the PD/PI(s), the AOR, and the Research Administrator. As key members of the grant team, they respectively lead the scientific and administrative aspects of the grant. While communications can be conducted with Research Administrators and other institutional staff, NIH staff members conduct official business only with the designated PD/PI(s) and AORs. The roles and responsibilities of recipient participants are as follows:

When a single PD/PI is designated, that individual is not required to be an employee of the applicant organization. However, because the grant, if awarded, is made to the organization, the applicant organization must have a formal written agreement with the PD/PI that specifies an official relationship between the parties even if the relationship does not involve a salary or other form of remuneration. If the PD/PI is not an employee of the applicant organization, NIH will assess whether the arrangement will result in the organization being able to fulfill its responsibilities under the grant, if awarded.

When multiple PD/PIs are designated, NIH requires identification of one PD/PI who will be designated as the Contact PD/PI. This person is responsible for communication between the PD/PIs and the NIH. Serving as Contact PD/PI confers no special authorities or responsibilities within the project team. The Contact PD/PI must meet all eligibility requirements for PD/PI status. They are not required to be an employee of the applicant organization. However, as with the single PD/PI model, if the Contact PD/PI is not an employee, the applicant organization must have a formal written agreement with the Contact PD/PI that specifies an official relationship between the parties. This same principle applies to all PD/PIs at the applicant organization; e.g., they need not be employees; however the applicant organization must have a formal written agreement in place.

When multiple PD/PIs are involved at different organizations, only the Contact PD/PI is required to have the official relationship with the applicant organization. PD/PIs in the leadership team at other organizations must have a documented relationship with a consortium organization, but need not be employees. Any consortium agreement must address the unique aspects to these individuals holding the PD/PI role.

PD/PIs are members of the recipient team responsible for ensuring compliance with the financial and administrative aspects of the award. They work closely with designated officials within the recipient organization to create and maintain necessary documentation, including both technical and administrative reports; prepare justifications; appropriately acknowledge Federal support of research findings in publications, announcements, news programs, and other media; and ensure compliance with other Federal and organizational requirements. NIH encourages PD/PIs to maintain contact with the NIH PO with respect to the scientific aspects of the project and the GMO/GMS concerning the business and administrative aspects of the award. The NIH staff contacts list located at includes contact information for NIH grants management and program staff at each IC.