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More About Subaccounts for NIH Award Payments – We Heard You!

About a year ago I blogged about an important change to how all HHS operating divisions, including NIH, are making payments to grantee institutions, and I’d like to update you on this transition and adjustments to when this change will take effect.

To recap: Traditionally NIH funding goes to grantee organizations in the U.S. into a single “pooled” account, which they access through the HHS Payment Management System (PMS) to draw down cash and pay for research expenses. Last year the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  announced all operating divisions – including NIH – would move to a system that uses subaccounts, which means grantees draw down funds from award-specific accounts in the PMS. (Foreign grantee organizations are already on this subaccounting system.) Because the sub-accounting system allows funds to be spent and monitored on a grant-by-grant basis, it allows grantees and NIH to better understand how much money is available for distinct research projects.

Our initial plan, as described in last year’s blog, was to transition all award payments to the subaccounting system by the end of fiscal year 2015. However, in response to grantee community feedback, NIH requested a one year delay to the transition for non-competing continuation awards to domestic grantee institutions. We’re happy to say that this request was approved, giving grantees additional time to prepare their systems to accommodate the changes.

As described in the NIH Guide notice announcing this timeline adjustment (NOT-OD-14-103), there are important aspects of this timeline shift that grantees need to be aware of. Grantees must have their financial systems in order to accept subaccount payments by October 1, 2015. Otherwise, you will risk losing access to draw down your award funding. There will also be no additional implementation delays, and no exceptions to the new deadline. So we encourage you to take action now and get your workflow processes ready and streamlined for a smooth transition well before October 1, 2015, because we will only use subaccounts to award grant funds for fiscal year 2016 and beyond.

We believe the adjusted timeline will be of great help as grantees put in place the necessary in-house administrative changes for moving to subaccounts. With our new timeline we can continue to concentrate on pursuing excellent biomedical research. Again, you spoke and we listened, so keep on speaking!

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2 thoughts on “More About Subaccounts for NIH Award Payments – We Heard You!

  1. Dr. Rockey:

    I am the manager for the Sponsored Research Financial admin at UCSD. We have been receiving and applying the campus NIH Awards to the new subaccount since it was established. This has gone very well, and we have had no issues with new awards. Our hope was that since there would be only 1 year of multi-year awards remaining, that we could extend the conversion so that we can close-those awards out in their final year without having to convert the balances through award modifications and close-out. This will require a great deal of extra work for your offices and our to administer. Our hope is that you will consider a final year on the close-out of the existing awards entering into their final year of their award period.

  2. Hurrah for a sensible approach. This is something that should have been implemented years ago. It is simple, easy, a no brainer. It also makes it much easier to reconcile.

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