Research Administration Office

University of California

Memo Operating Guidance

No. 87-31

August 17, 1987

Subject: NIH Policy on 100% Professional Effort

Clarification of NIH policy on what constitutes 100% professional effort on NIH grants has been set forth in a letter dated June 18, 1987, to William Sellers from Geoffrey Grant, Grants Policy Officer, Office of Extramural Research. A copy of the letter is enclosed for your operating guidance. Also enclosed is the letter dated March 31, 1987, from this office to Mr. Grant which prompted the latter's response.

In particular, NIH has now made it clear that as a matter of policy "individual employees of the VA may not...apply for NIH support through an academic institution for effort in excess of 100%, full-time VA appointment." VA employees with less than a full-time appointment may still receive salary support on NIH grants for effort devoted to the grant, so long as the combined VA/NIH effort does not exceed 100%.

Please note also that, as indicated verbally by Geoff Grant, exceptions to the general restriction can be granted on a case-by-case basis. Requests for exceptions. should be addressed to the particular Institute making the award.


Bill Sellers

ATSS 8-582-3045

(415) 642-3045

Subject Index: 07

Organization Index: F-405, F-755

University Contracts and Grants Coordinator



Public Health Service

Mr. William Sellers

Contracts and Grants Officer

University of California

Office of the President

Berkeley, California 94720

National institutes of Health Bethesda. Maryland 20892

Building 31

Room B2858

(301) 496-5967

June 18, 1987

Dear Mr. Sellers:

This is in response to your letter and our recent telephone conversation pertaining to 100% professional effort on grants, particularly in regard to Federal employees. The policy which relates to your question, is arrived at equally from both perspectives; that is the policy in reference to total professional effort, as well as that in regard to the treatment of Federal employees.

On the one hand, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) permits investigators to apply for support for a portion of the total professional commitment to the applicant institution, up to 100% of their available total professional effort. The NIH does not recognize or permit investigators to work in a full-time capacity for one organization and apply for support that is for additional part-time effort with another organization. This policy is consistent with the PHS Application Form 398 Instructions and the Comptroller General Decision B-220523 referenced in your letter.

On the other hand, Federal employees may receive salary support from a grant only when serving during non-duty hours which are part of 100% professional effort. Overtime hours do not meet this criteria. This policy is also subject to the other conditions as outlined in the PHS Grants Policy Statement.

By way of example, the NIH permits employees of the Veterans Administration (VA) to apply for support as investigators as part of legitimate academic appointments with universities and medical centers, when their VA appointment is something less than full-time. Individuals may apply for support for the amount of time available between a part-time VA appointment (for example, five-eighths) and full-time (eight-eighths). Individual employees of the VA may not, on the other hand, apply for support through an academic institution for effort in excess of 100%, full-time VA appointment. In these cases, the VA employee must apply for support as part of their VA appointment with the VA organization serving as the applicant institution.

I hope that this responds to your interests. If you have any further questions, please give me a call.

Sincerely yours,

Grants Policy Officer

Office of Extramural Research

March 31, l987

Mr. Geoffrey Grant Grants Policy Officer

Office of Extramural Research

and Training National Institutes of Health -Building 31, Room 2858 Bethesda, MD 20892

Dear Geoff:

This is to follow up on and confirm our telephone conversation regarding effort expended on a PHS grant beyond full-time work at another institution. I appreciate your taking the time to resolve this knotty problem.

In responding to my questions, you said that you were not primarily concerned about a federal employee supplementing his/her salary through outside work. The issue is really being able to devote enough time to do research on a PHS grant to make a salary commitment reasonable. Outside consulting is not the same thing as being a PI on a research grant. A person who is employed 100% on another job (whether federal or not is presumed not to have enough time to make a substantial commitment to a research project somewhere else; "substantial" in this case would mean enough to be considered a PI and/or to get a salary payment under the grant.

You mentioned that this position is consistent with p. 13 of the PHS 398 Application Form. which says that "the sum of the percentages of time or effort to be expended...for all professional activities must not exceed 100 percent." You also said that the reference to "nonduty hours" on p. 37 of the PHS Grants Policy Statement refers to time taken away from (as opposed to being in addition to full-time work.

Another reference we discussed was Comptroller General Decision B-270523 (January 8, 1986). In this Decision, the Comptroller General rejected the argument that a researcher who holds a full-time job at a university could be an eligible PI under the SBIR program, because it leads to the conclusion that "a firm seeking funding (under the SBIR program) could propose a principal investigator who works elsewhere any number of hours per week beyond 40--50, 60, etc.--on any number of other efforts so long as the offeror says that the person will work the same number of hours plus 1--51, 61, etc.--on the research project."

Finally, you said (in response to my question) that exceptions to this general policy could be granted on a case-by-case basis, but this would have to be done through the particular Institute involved.

I hope the above represents a fair rendering of the substance of your remarks and your reasoning. If it does, I would appreciate your initialing the enclosed copy of this letter and returning it to me. I will then distribute this advice to our nine campuses.


William Sellers

Contracts and Grants Officer

cc: Harry Moore