Frequently Asked Questions

Check to find the answers to your questions about the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) programs and activities. You can search by category or key words. You can also send us your questions or website feedback here. We will respond to your requests based on the best available scientific evidence and research from our Agency.

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For post-award changes, the grantee institution is generally permitted to rebudget within and between budget categories in the approved budget of the project to meet unanticipated requirements or to accomplish certain programmatic changes. This authority exists unless certain circumstances as described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement (PDF, 1.354 MB) occur (e.g., restricted funds may not be rebudgeted without prior approval; significant rebudgeting that constitutes a change of scope may not be done without prior approval).

In using this authority, grantees must ensure that they exercise proper stewardship over Federal funds and that all costs charged to the awards are allowable, allocable, necessary, and reasonable. This rebudgeting flexibility applies to all grants regardless of whether or not they are under expanded authorities. It is strongly recommended that the PI consult with the grantee institution's sponsored projects office for guidance before contacting AHRQ staff to determine if prior approval is needed.

Many organizations throughout the world assess health care technology. The International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) provides a forum for them to cooperate and share information from different cultures. As of September 2016, there were 52 member agencies in 33 countries, and AHRQ is a member from the United States.

The INAHTA website provides profiles about the background, mission, working methods, dissemination activities, current projects, and future plans of the various organizations. Go to:

All of these terms refer to arrangements made by the applicant/grantee with parties outside of its own organization.

  • A consortium agreement is appropriate when the collaborating party will be performing substantive programmatic work. The investigator at the consortium institution provides scientific input which could affect the direction of the project. Under this arrangement the parent applicant organization must obtain and include in the application separate budgets and budget justifications for each consortium institution involved.
  • A contractual arrangement is a process whereby a grantee enters into a written agreement with a third party for the acquisition of property or services or the conduct of prescribed activities or functions under the grant. A contractor does not perform substantive programmatic work. Detailed budget information and justification should be included in the application.
  • A consultant is an individual hired to give professional advice or services for a fee. The term "consultant" also includes a firm that provides paid professional advice or services. Generally, the consultant does not carry out programmatic activities. The consultant's role is limited to being advisory and consultative or carrying out a service, such as writing a report, for a fee. Describe the services to be performed by the consultant (s) in the budget justification section of the application. Include the number of days or hours of anticipated consultation, the expected rate of compensation per day or hour, travel, per diem, and other related costs for each consultant. Include a letter from the consultant agreeing to participate in the project, stating services to be provided, and stating the number of days/hours and the consultant's fee per day/hour.

Note that a written agreement between the applicant and the third party should be in place for consortium, contractual or consultant arrangements. Such agreements should protect the interests of all involved parties. Grantees are responsible for the direction of the project and are accountable to the Federal Government for all grant activities, including those of third parties. The Federal Government will not intervene in disputes between grantees and third parties.

If your grant is under expanded authorities, the grantee institution has the authority to automatically carry over non-restricted unobligated funds from one budget period to the next. This carry over must be indicated in the Remarks section of the Federal Financial Report (FFR). If the unobligated balance exceeds 25% of the total costs awarded in the budget period, a written explanation of this large balance and plan for its use in the subsequent budget period must be submitted to the attention of the grants management specialist named on the Notice of Award (N0A) for Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) review if this information was not already addressed in the appropriate non-competing continuation application. Unexpended restricted funds may not be automatically carried over under expanded authorities.

If your grant is not under expanded authorities, or if your grant is under expanded authorities and has unexpended restricted funds, and you wish to utilize unobligated funds from one budget period during the next budget period you will need to submit a written request, endorsed by an authorized institutional official, to the attention of the grants management specialist named on the NOA. The request needs to include the amount of unexpended funds being requested for carry over (both direct costs and indirect costs), an explanation of why the funds remain unexpended, a statement of research activities to be accomplished if the carryover is approved, the period of time during which the activities will be performed, and a detailed budget page and budget justification for use of the funds. Approval will not generally be given until the appropriate FFR has been submitted and accepted and indicates the availability of sufficient unobligated funds.

Carryover requests should be submitted as soon as possible after submission of the FFR to maximize the amount of time in the next budget period in which funds can be expended. Carryover funds should not be expended unless/until prior approval is granted. If funds are expended prior to receiving AHRQ approval, it is at the grantee's own risk.

Yes, unless otherwise instructed in the terms of awarded included on the Notice of Award, all AHRQ Federal Financial Reports (FFRs) (annual and final) due after December 20, 2012, are to be submitted using the electronic FFR system in the eRA Commons.

Go to the Post-Award Grant Administration page for additional information.

To maintain comparability and consistency across SOPS surveys, you should not modify the surveys. In general, we recommend making only those changes or additions to a survey that are absolutely necessary. Any changes may affect the reliability and overall validity of the survey and may make comparisons with other facilities difficult.

  • Changing the core survey: These changes include changing the wording of items or response options, changing the order of items or response options, deleting one or more items, and adding supplemental or custom questions among the core items within the survey. If any of these changes are made, the results of your survey are not comparable to other organizations in the SOPS Databases.
  • Modifying work areas or staff positions: Your facility may wish to modify the responses to these background questions so that they reflect the names of work units, staff position titles, and the like. Modifications to these sections are acceptable; however, if the organization plans to submit to any of the SOPS Databases, they must recode the modified units/work areas or staff positions so they crosswalk back to the original survey’s units/work areas or staff positions.
  • Adding items: You are welcome to use the supplemental item sets developed under the SOPS program or items from other surveys for your own purposes, including open-ended questions. Any supplemental items or additional items from other surveys must be added to the end of the SOPS survey, just before the Background Questions section. When inserting supplemental items, remember to include the appropriate subheadings for each supplemental item set.

Yes, consortium institutions can receive indirect costs in accordance with their institution's Federally-negotiated indirect cost rate agreement. If the consortium organization has never negotiated a rate with the Federal Government, it is the primary applicant's responsibility (rather than the Federal Government's) to negotiate an appropriate indirect cost rate with the third party or to provide a 10% de minimis indirect cost rate in accordance with 45 CFR 75. If the primary recipient negotiates a rate with the third-party organization, such negotiations are to be based on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) cost principles applicable to the third-party organization. The procedures followed in conducting the negotiations are subject to review and audit by, or on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Note that most AHRQ Funding Opportunity Announcements impose an annual budgetary total cost cap which includes both direct costs and indirect costs. All indirect costs, for the applicant organization and for any third party organizations, are included in the total cost cap.

Many of the materials provided on the AHRQ website are Government works and therefore in the public domain within the United States only. Such materials may be used and reproduced without special permission within the United States, but citation as to source is requested.

Foreign countries and users who want to make electronic versions resident to their websites with global access need to request specific permission to use or reproduce these materials because the public domain does not extend outside the borders of the United States.

Some documents and products made available on the AHRQ website contain copyrighted materials, and further reproduction, in any form, print or electronic, is prohibited without the specific permission of copyright holders. Permission to reproduce copyrighted materials must be obtained directly from copyright holders and they may charge fees for the use of copyrighted materials.

It is the responsibility of the user to contact and obtain the needed copyright permissions prior to reproducing materials in any form. You may send your requests for permission to:

David Lewin
Copyright and Permissions Manager
Office of Communications
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: (301) 427-1895
Fax: (301) 427-1873

AHRQ produces the Web-based State Snapshots tool using State-level data from the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports (QDRs). This tool was designed to help States target their very significant quality improvement efforts aligned with the National Quality Strategy priorities.

To access State Snapshots, go to:

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Ask a question, report a problem, or give us your opinion about a specific AHRQ program.