When Instructions Conflict – Which One Wins?


NIH grant application instructions can be found in several places:

It is important to read and follow all provided guidance. What happens when guidance between these sources conflicts? Which one wins?

graphic with 3 stars left to right: bronze number 3 reading application guide, default instructions, silver star number 2 reading funding opportunity announcements, opportunity-specific, win over app guide, and finally gold number 1 star reading NIH Guide Notices, notifications of new/clarified policies, win over both app guide and FOAs.

In summary, NIH Guide Notices win over application guide and funding opportunity announcements when instructions conflict. Stay up to date and subscribe to the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts!

One comment

  1. Great topic!

    What about a conflict between the Grants Policy Statement and the Research Terms & Conditions? For example, the RTC prior approval matrix states that prior approval is required for a “change in a key person specified in the application or Federal award” but the NIH GPS states that “The requirement to obtain NIH prior approval for a change in status pertains only to those personnel NIH designates in the NoA regardless of whether the applicant organization designates others as senior/key personnel for its own purposes.”

    Though the current GPS was issued/updated after the prior approval matrix, this language existed in previous GPSs as well. One of the primary purposes of the RTC (and the prior approval matrix in particular) is to serve as a quick reference guide that reduces the need to search through agency policy statements for these types of questions. If NIH is waiving this requirement, why isn’t it listed as waived in the matrix?

    Thank you!

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