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Grants: NIJ Grant Manager and Scientist Roles and Responsibilities

NIJ scientists and grants managers work as a collaborative team to accomplish NIJ’s mission. This page describes the respective roles and responsibilities of the grant manager and scientist in that collaboration. It also delineates how they will communicate with applicants and grantees.

Overview of Roles & Responsibilities

Scientists at NIJ:

  • Identify research needs.
  • Develop research, development, or evaluation projects and programs to address those needs.
  • Provide scientific and technical oversight of NIJ-sponsored research activities.
  • Disseminate research findings in collaboration with NIJ’s Office of Communications.
  • Engage with the research community through conferences, working groups, etc.
  • Respond to requests for information regarding scientific research, programs, or subject matter.

Grant managers are the sole legal federal authority for all aspects of the awards — administrative, financial, and programmatic — related to:

  • Laws, regulations, rules, policies, procedures, and methods governing the administration of federal grants and cooperative agreements.
  • Grants assistance management processes and techniques consistent with sound business and industry practices.
  • Financial methods, procedures, and practices to assess the financial stability of recipients of federal grants or cooperative agreements

Pre-Award Process

During the pre-award process, scientists:

  • Develop solicitations.
  • Develop and inform peer review policy.
  • Select peer reviewers for solicitation panels.
  • Review applications to ensure that they meet the basic minimum requirements established in the solicitation, are responsive to the goals and objectives of the solicitation, and meet requirements for relevant award conditions (e.g., research independence and integrity, human subject and privacy protection, disclosure of pending applications).
  • Moderate peer reviews panels.
  • Develop funding recommendation memoranda for review and approval. The memos include recommendations for needed special conditions regarding such matters as RII, human subject and privacy protections, disclosure of pending applications, and the data archiving plan.
  • Conduct office and director level funding recommendation briefings.

During the pre-award process, grant managers:

  • Create award packages and collaborate with OJP’s Office of General Counsel and Office of the Chief Financial Officer to ensure the appropriate mandated authorities and funding sources have been recorded.
  • Review and verify SF-424, authorized representatives, budget, program narrative, award conditions, and overall compliance of the application.
  • Provide grantees with documentation regarding compliance, links to regulations, and guidance to assist the grantee throughout the life cycle of the grant.
  • Assist grantees with award condition compliance to ensure an effective and efficient start to the project.
  • Address grantees’ administrative, legal, financial, and regulatory concerns.

Post-Award Process

During the post-award process, NIJ scientists:

  • Serve as a technical resource for the grant manager and the grantee regarding the scientific progress of the grant by maintaining regular contact with grantee researchers.
  • Conduct a kick-off meeting with grantee researchers after clearance of all withholding conditions. Grant managers and scientists work together to assess the withholding statuses.
  • Provide technical assistance, if requested by the grantee, regarding programmatic activities.
  • Work with and through the grant manager to implement changes in scientific scope of work and project deliverables. All grant changes are made in coordination with the grant manager. Changes to cooperative agreements may not necessarily go through the grant manager as such agreements entail more direct interaction between the NIJ scientist and the principal investigator of the grant.
  • Provide their appraisal of the technical progress of an award based on reviewing semi-annual, annual (if applicable), final progress, and final research reports submitted by the grantee, as well as other contact with the grantee, including technical on-site communications to the grant manager who manages the award.
  • Review special reports or deliverables submitted by the grantee; send report or deliverables for third-party peer review, if necessary, as determined by the scientist; provide findings and recommendations to the grantee researchers; and notify grant manager for awareness.
  • Work with the NIJ Office of Communications and grantee to translate findings into actionable recommendations for policymakers and practitioners.
  • Submit final deliverables and special report for archival with OJP’s National Criminal Justice Reference Service library.
  • Work with the grantee on archiving required datasets in accordance with the submitted plan as approved by NIJ, if applicable.

During the post-award process, grant managers:

  • Design, develop, implement, and interpret grants management policies, procedures, and practices.
  • Ensure grantee compliance with all regulatory and legal requirements.
  • Provide training, technical assistance, oversight, and consultation to grantees as needed.
  • Recommend or initiate appropriate action to protect government interests.
  • Create, review, or modify for further review all Grant Award Modification requests (e.g., budget, scope, project period extension, sole-source), as well as human subjects-related documentation (institutional review board amendments, participant incentives, privacy certificate
  • Conduct monitoring activities to ensure the financial, administrative, and programmatic soundness and accountability of award recipients. Collaborate with the scientists to address any concerns regarding the technical progress arising from monitoring activities and incorporate the scientist’s input into the monitoring report.
  • Review grantees’ special reports or deliverables, the certified semi-annual, annual (if applicable), final progress, and certify submission of the research reports.
  • Conduct final review of completed awards, make appropriate adjustments or disallowances, and process close-outs.

Communication with Prospective and Actual Applicants

Communication with prospective or actual applicants is prohibited from the time a solicitation is released through the end of the agency decision making process period. NIJ will direct any applicant questions concerning the solicitation to the OJP Response Center at 1-800-851-3420 (TTY at 301-240-6310 for hearing impaired only) or [email protected]. The OJP Response Center will forward the question to NIJ for resolution as necessary.

Neither grant managers nor scientists may communicate with an applicant in the time between NIJ making an award decision and the official award being made without a documented sign-off by the applicable NIJ science office director and the director of the NIJ Office of Grants Management. Such communication primarily will be regarding obtaining updated grant budgets and documentation required in the award package (e.g., lobbying forms).

Scientists Communication with Grantees

During any communication with the grantee, scientists will clearly differentiate their role from that of the grant manager (i.e., technical consultation, not grant administration or oversight).

Scientists begin communication with the grantee at a grant kick-off meeting. This meeting is only scheduled:

  1. After all withholding conditions prohibiting the grantee from obligating, expending, or drawing grant funds are lifted for that grant and the grant project period has begun.
  2. In the instance of a partial release for Institutional Review Board, National Environmental Policy Act, or phased activities; if the remaining withholding conditions have been fully released and the partial release has been approved, the scientist can also conduct their kick-off meeting.

Scientists will refer all questions that arise during the kick-off meeting, related to the administration of the grant (e.g., grant changes), to the grant manager.

The scientist may communicate with the grantee principal investigator prior to all withholding conditions being met if there needs to be a revision to the program narrative.

If changes are necessary to the scientific scope of work, project deliverables, or performance reports, the scientist coordinates necessary communications and subsequent actions with the grant manager. Changes in the scope of work and project deliverables must be approved by the director of the applicable NIJ science office and the director of the NIJ Office of Grants Management.

Date Published: June 8, 2023