Changes to Project or Budget

Changes to Project or Budget

During your grant, stay aware of new NIH policies and manage your award. Learn what changes you can make to your grant independently and when you need NIAID permission. Watch how you spend your project’s budget over time.

After You Get Your Award

After you get your grant, read your Notice of Award for your project's start and end dates, your terms and conditions of award, and the amount of money you will receive for the current and future years. Though we send you a Notice of Award at the beginning of each budget period, this one sets the standard.

Contact your grants business office with any questions you have, and feel free to check in with your grants management specialist to follow up.

If you have a restriction on your award, resolve it right away. Restrictions can take weeks to lift even after you send us the information we need. Until then, you have an award but cannot do any of the restricted activities or access restricted funds.

Keep Up With Policy Changes

At any point during your grant, NIH can institute a new policy that affects you. Here's how to stay informed:

NIH

  • Read the notices posted weekly in the NIH Guide. Subscribe to the Guide Listserv to get a table of contents for each issue.

  • Sign up for the electronic submission listservs at Get Connected.

NIAID

Stay On Top of Your Rules and Reporting Requirements

As your work proceeds, keep abreast of your due dates for reporting administrative information.

These standard reports come on top of any scientific reporting you need to do, e.g., data sharing and public access. Our Standard Reports for NIH-Funded Grants gives you a table that shows the most common reports.

Your business office is responsible for sending these reports for you and your subawardees, though it may delegate some responsibilities to you. Be aware that any delay may hold up your award, and a lapse in compliance may force us to terminate your grant.

We advise that you create a symbiotic relationship with the people in your business office who submit your reports—they rely on you for your institution's funding, and you rely on them to make sure you keep that funding by helping you fulfill your requirements.

Also check that you understand your institution's rules for investigators who receive federal funding. Many of those rules stem from federal regulations, and we take them seriously.

Read more about your rules and reporting requirements:

Checkpoint. I check that I

  1. Know what my business office needs from me to submit the following reports:
    • Federal Financial Report and cash transaction data.
    • Annual Report on Possible Research Misconduct.
    • Subaward Report, if I plan to spend $25,000 or more on a subaward.
    • Audit Report, if my institution spends $500,000 or more a year of federal grant money in any fiscal year.
  2. Record information needed for invention reporting.
  3. Ask what other reports my institution needs to send.
  4. Know when all reports are due.
  5. Follow up with my business office to make sure my reports go through on time.
  6. Have a plan for renewing my IACUC and IRB approvals, if applicable.
  7. Confirm my institution's formal policies for the following actions:
    • Responding to allegations of research misconduct.
    • Handling financial conflicts of interest.
    • Hiring foreign workers using grant funds.
    • Securing data against breach.
    • Engaging in any unlawful activity.

Grantees Can Take Many Actions Independently

Without NIAID approval, most grantees can rebudget funds and carry over unobligated balances from one budget period to the next.

As a grantee, you have some flexibility to make changes in your project and budget without our approval.

These privileges stem from laws known as the expanded authorities, which give greater autonomy to grantees.

Without NIAID approval, you can

  • Extend a project period for up to 12 months without additional funds, with some exceptions—read the No-Cost Extension SOP for details.
  • Carry over unobligated balances from one budget period to the next (unless your award says prior approval is required). See the Carryover Requests SOP.
  • Transfer work to a third party through a consortium agreement, contract, or other means, as long as you retain a substantive role in the research. Go to the Subawards (Consortium Agreements) for Grants SOP for more information.
  • Make cost-related changes, including rebudgeting of funds, as long as the scope of the research remains the same. Read more on changes of scope below.
  • Spend money up to 90 days before the grant's start date with your institution's permission—read more on Initial Award and Acceptance.

Some Actions Require Our Approval

Certain changes always require our preapproval.

  • Taking an action that changes the scope of the study section-approved research—read more on changes of scope below.
  • Changing PI or key personnel. For the PI, see the Change of Principal Investigator SOP.
  • Reducing PI effort by 25 percent or more. Read more about effort on Create a Budget.
  • Changing from a single PI to a multiple PI award, or removing PIs from a multiple PI award. Learn more in the Change of Principal Investigator SOP, and read Build Your Team for advice before considering this option.
  • Changing the grantee organization. Read more at Changing the Grantee Organization below.
  • Taking a second no-cost extension of a final budget period. See the No-Cost Extension SOP.
  • Changing the award terms and conditions, or undertaking any activities disapproved or restricted as a term of award. See After Award.
  • Adding, removing, or transferring a foreign subaward or foreign site. Read more on Foreign Grants Management.

For a complete list of actions that need our prior approval and instructions for sending your request to NIAID, see the Prior Approvals for Post-Award Grant Actions SOP.

In addition, there may be items specific to your grant, so check your Notice of Award to see whether any other actions are not allowed without preapproval.

Be sure to request approval from your grants management specialist well in advance—at least 30 days before your proposed change. To be safe, you may want to check with your grants management specialist about how much time you'll need for the type of prior approval you're seeking.

If you have questions, contact your grants management specialist or program officer listed in the Commons.

Changing the Grantee Organization

If you change institutions, your institution can relinquish the award to your new one, including to a foreign institution.

When negotiating with a new institution, keep added expenses in mind. We do not pay additional costs, such as salary changes, caused by a transfer, though we do pay your new institution for higher facilities and administrative costs.

As long as your institution agrees, you may take equipment paid with grant funds to the new site.

Your business office may request a change of institution by responding to the Change of Grantee Organization (Type 7 Parent) announcement.

If the proposed change involves moving an award from a domestic to a foreign institution or between foreign institutions, you should contact your program officer immediately. He or she must present your request to our advisory Council—at one of only three meetings each year—whose members must approve it. Only then can your program officer and grants management specialist proceed with their review, which hopefully will result in the approval of issuing the transfer award.

For more information, read

If your institution does not agree to transfer your grant, it has to terminate the grant or nominate a PI to replace you. See the Change of Principal Investigator SOP for instructions.

Information for multiple PIs. Grants with multiple principal investigators have other actions that require prior approval.

  • When a PI wants to withdraw from a grant or change to a single PI award, we assess how the withdrawal would affect the entire project, especially its scope of work and Leadership Plan.
  • If the contact PI moves to a new institution but the grantee institution does not transfer the award, the remaining PIs must request a new contact PI at the grantee institution.

Get more information from your grants management specialist.

Go Where the Science Leads You

As your work progresses, do you discover something new and exciting? Do your plans work out differently than you expected?

Talk to your program officer about whether it makes sense to modify your research.

Though you need our approval to change your Specific Aims or other peer-reviewed activities (see next section), get help assessing your options if you see a major shift in your field or your science is leading to a dead end—or a major breakthrough.

Also consider whether it's appropriate to expand your project's scope through a revision of your grant. Before applying for one of these competing awards, be sure to discuss your scientific needs with your program officer. Then talk to your grants management specialist about the fiscal and policy implications.

What Constitutes a Change in Scope?

Get your grants management specialist's approval before changing your Specific Aims or using a new technology.

Before changing the scope of your research, you need approval from your grants management specialist. Talk to him or her to discuss actions that may change the scope of your research, for example:

  • Changing the Specific Aims
  • Shifting the research emphasis from one disease area to another
  • Changing any aspects of research involving animals or human subjects
  • Changing the principal investigator or other key personnel
  • Having the principal investigator on a leave of absence for more than 90 days
  • Using a new technology
  • Purchasing equipment that costs more than $25,000
  • Rebudgeting funds in or out of a budget category by more than 25 percent of the total costs of the award
  • Rebudgeting funds so that an alterations and renovations project exceeds $500,000

For a list of all actions that constitute a change in scope, see Section 8 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pay Attention to How You Spend Your Money

Your expenditure rate is important, so don't depend on your institution to monitor it. When spending grant funds, ask yourself:

  • Am I pacing myself?
  • Am I spending all my money in the first month or two of the project?
  • Am I not spending the money fast enough?

We expect you to have reasonable monthly expenditures and will take your spending into account when considering whether to continue funding your project.

Further, you'll need to make sure that all your expenses are allowed, reasonable, and justified. You may want to get help from colleagues or your grants management specialist to make sure you conform to our accounting rules.

Do you have more than one grant? Keep expenses separate. You may not mix one grant's money or expenses with another's in any way.

If it is authorized on the grant award, you may be able to use grant monies to pay for the costs of inventions, licensing, and patents for items such as licensing fees, attorney's fees for preparing or submitting patent applications, and fees paid to the U.S. Patent Office.

For a full review of cost considerations, read Section 7 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Request More Time or Money if Necessary

Consider taking advantage of some policies that may give you breathing space if you're managing your expenses properly but still find yourself short on funds or behind schedule as you enter your final year.

As you're winding down your grant, decide whether a no-cost extension can help you finish your work and assemble your closeout documents. With a no-cost extension, you can hold on to your grant for up to 12 months after the scheduled end date though you don't get any more money.

You may also want to think about asking for a research supplement to support underrepresented groups, people returning to work from family responsibilities, or those with primary caregiver duties. These targeted supplements give you a chance to add valuable staff to your project.

Rarely, PIs can use an administrative supplement to get more money. Read the Administrative Supplements to Grants and Cooperative Agreements SOP for details.

Before you consider this route, work with your business office to rebudget funds or tap into unobligated balances. If you can't find a solution, read the SOP and contact your program officer to assess whether your research may qualify for an administrative supplement.

Consider a Seminar or Site Visit

To make sure you have the hang of grants management, think about attending a seminar. Your grants management specialist can tell you when NIH may be coming to your area, and we publicize many seminars in our NIAID Funding News. For foreign grants we offer Upcoming NIH Grants Policy and Management Training Workshops.

You may also want to request a site visit where NIAID staff come to your institution and take a look at your facilities, protocols, and administrative processes. You'll have a chance to ask questions and get a report after the visit with a list of any actions to take.

Site visits are not audits and don't fulfill any statutory requirements. They are just a good way to build relationships with us and make sure your project is headed in the right direction. Before broaching the subject with your program officer, check with your business office about whether your institution will entertain a visit.

Keep in Touch With NIAID Staff

Though you rely on your institution's business office to pilot your grants management efforts, stay in contact with NIAID staff, too.

Consult with your program officer on scientific matters. He or she can advise you on data and model organism sharing, public access rules, changes in protocol and scope, and progress reports. Your program officer is also your first point of contact if you want our help publicizing your research findings.

For everything else, go to your grants management specialist. We have one assigned to every application, whether funded or not, old or new, expired or renewed.

Contact this person at least once a year, even if just to say hello, and always get in touch if you can't meet a deadline or have any question that your business office does not handle or cannot advise you about.

Whenever you do get in touch, include your grant number in your correspondence and have it handy if you make a phone call. Learn more at Contacting Program Officers and Grants Management Specialists.

Get Help

If you can't find what you need on our website, feel free to email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for general information. Keep in mind that we can't speak about your grant or comment on another institute's practices.

For help with issues specific to your grant, contact your grants management specialist.

Have Questions?

For business and policy issues, contact your grants management specialist, found in your eRA Commons account or on your summary statement. If you have not been assigned a specialist, go to NIAID's Grants Management Program Contacts to locate one.