Frequently Asked Questions

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Grants and cooperative agreements both are financial assistance support mechanisms. Under both mechanisms, money and/or other direct assistance is provided to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity in support of a public purpose and not for the direct benefit of the government.

A grant is used whenever the awarding agency anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during performance of the financially assisted activities.

A cooperative agreement is used when there will be substantial Federal programmatic involvement with the recipient during performance of the financially assisted activities. Substantial involvement means that OPDIV program staff will collaborate or participate in project or program activities as specified in the Notice of Award.

Unless otherwise specified, the use of the term "grant" includes cooperative agreements as well as grants.

In the rare instances that a PHS 2590 is to be submitted rather than an RPPR (Research Performance Progress Report), grantees are to follow the instructions posted on the AHRQ website at Post-Award Grant Management, Noncompeting Application Requirements.

Also refer to the instructions for PHS 2590 on the NIH Grants site.

Unless instructed otherwise by a term of award, the majority of non-competing applications submitted to AHRQ are done so using the "Research Performance Progress Report" (RPPR) module of the eRA Commons. The exception is recipients of multi-year funded (MYF) awards (awards in which the budget and project periods are the same and are longer than 12 months).

For further details, refer to the Notice published in the NIH Guide on October 17, 2014.

When a Principal Investigator (PI) changes institutions, any grant on which they are a named PI does NOT automatically change institutions with them.

AHRQ prior approval is required for the transfer of the legal and administrative responsibility for a grant-supported project from one legal entity to another, before expiration of the approved project period. Approval is not automatic.

For transfers prior to award, the original applicant must submit an official letter relinquishing all rights to the application to AHRQ.

A transfer application should be submitted to AHRQ at least 2 to 3 months prior to the PI's actual move to the new institution to ensure that the transaction, if approved, can be completed by the date of transfer. Transfers that are not requested in a timely manner may jeopardize funding of the project in that they may result in disapproval of the request, significant delays in processing, or loss of funding.

Note that the original recipient institution is not required to relinquish the grant simply because the PI changes institutions. With the exception of Career Development Awards or individual Fellowship awards, the original recipient may, instead, seek AHRQ's prior approval for a change of PI. The recipient organization determines whether it wishes to propose retention of the project under a different PI or relinquishes the project for possible award to another eligible legal entity.

AHRQ’s decision to authorize transfer of a grant will be based upon the following criteria: (1) the project has been relinquished by the original institution, (2) the facilities and resources at the new location allow for the successful performance of the project, and (3) the investigator plans no significant change in research objectives and level of expenditures from those described in the previously approved project. If the proposed change of institution does not meet these criteria, competitive review will be required.

If the original recipient institution decides to relinquish the grant and allow it to be considered for transfer to another eligible organization, information is needed from both the original recipient and the proposed "new" recipient, as follows:

From the Original Recipient Institution:

  • Completed Form Public Health Service (PHS) 3734 "Official Statement Relinquishing Interests and Rights in PHS Research Project" (PDF).
    Note that the estimated unexpended balance to be reported on the relinquishing statement is to include only funds from the budget period being relinquished, it is not to include the total balance from all grant years (e.g., prior year unobligated funds). The form must be signed by an authorized institutional official. The form should be submitted electronically through the eRA Commons by a signing official. Acceptance of a relinquishing statement by AHRQ does not guarantee approval of a transfer application.
  • Note that the original grantee institution is also required to submit a final Federal Financial Report and Final Inventions Statement, but these are not due until 90 days after the end date of the final budget period. Only the Form PHS 3734 is required prior to transfer.

From the Proposed "New" Recipient Institution:

complete Standard Form (SF) 424 R&R application, in PDF format.

Please indicate "CHANGE OF GRANTEE INSTITUTION" in capital letters across the top of the face page. The application needs to contain all of the information requested in the standard (i.e., not modular) SF 424 R&R instructions. Portions of the original application may be inserted for those sections of the application that will not change as a result of the transfer (e.g., often large portions of the Research Plan are unchanged and can be copied from the original application. Any sections that change, however, such as the "Resources and Environment" and human subjects sections, need to be changed in the transfer application. If there will be a change in scope to the project due to the move, peer review of the application may be required). The application is to include:

  • A detailed budget for the initial (transfer) budget period and, when future year commitments exist, detailed budgets for future budget periods. Each budget period request is to be based upon the originally committed DIRECT cost funding level(s). In the event of a mid-budget period (or "partial year") transfer, the initial budget is to be based upon the DIRECT costs being relinquished by the original institution as reflected on Form PHS 3734.
  • Note that HHS grants policy requires that the grant recipient perform a substantive role in the conduct of the planned project or program activity and not merely serve as a conduit of funds to another party or parties. If consortium/contractual activities represent a significant portion of the overall project, the proposed “new” grant recipient must justify why it, rather than the party(s) performing this portion of the overall project, should be the recipient and what substantive role it will play. Justification can be provided in the Specific Aims or Research Strategy section of the PHS398 Research Plan Component sections of the SF424 (R&R) application. There is no budget allocation guideline for determining substantial involvement; determination of substantial involvement is based on a review of the primary project activities for which grant support is provided and the organization(s) that will be performing those activities.
  • When requesting the transfer of a budget period with less than 3 months remaining, provide a justification for the request. Note that transfers proposed to occur within 3 months of the end date of the budget period may be negotiated instead to correspond with the anniversary date of the next budget period.
  • If the original grant includes salary support or any other budget support that is not required at the new institution, a statement regarding the proposed rebudgeting of these funds is required and will be assessed by AHRQ staff to determine if the funds may be retained.
  • A description of the facilities at the new institution and a brief description of the probable effect of the move on the project.
  • A list (under Resources and Environment) of all equipment to be transferred from the original grantee institution which was purchased in whole or in part with grant funds. Such a listing in the application represents the new institution's acceptance of title to the transferred equipment.
  • A statement concerning the current research plan and an indication of whether the original plan has changed. If changed, provide details.
  • In addition to the overall research plan of the project as detailed in the SF 424 R&R instructions, include a comprehensive progress report describing progress made on the project from the beginning of the project period through the date of the transfer application; this will serve in lieu of a final progress report from the original institution.
  • Biographical sketches of all key personnel associated with the project.
  • Current other support for all key personnel.
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval if human subjects are involved. Generally, the grant will not be transferred until this is in place.
  • sIRB plan if appropriate.
  • For K awards—A statement from a qualified sponsor at the new institution in accordance with instructions in the grant application.

The above information, in PDF format, is to be emailed to the Awarding Agency Contact listed under item 9 of the Notice of Award. Do not try to submit the information via the eRA Commons, and do not send a courtesy copy to the assigned AHRQ Program Official (PO). The Awarding Agency Contact (aka Grants Management Specialist), upon reviewing the transfer application, obtaining additional information if necessary, and determining that the transfer application is complete, will forward it to the PO for review and recommendation. The application will be reviewed to determine if the transfer is appropriate and to determine the level of AHRQ funding.

The project may be supported at the “new” institution in an amount not to exceed the amount previously approved for DIRECT COSTS for each budget period remaining in the project period. Applicable indirect costs, based on the “new” institution's most recent federally-negotiated facilities and administrative (F&A) cost rate agreement, will be awarded provided funds are available and that any total cost cap imposed by the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) under which the award was originally issued is not exceeded.

Note: When a transfer involves a partial year, the total amount awarded for direct costs at both institutions may not exceed the total direct cost funding level for that single budget period. For example, if the awarded direct costs for the budget period issued in FY2022 amount to $100,000 and the original institution indicates in its Relinquishment Statement that it has $40,000 of direct costs available for transfer, then the “new” institution's direct cost budget cannot exceed $40,000. The award of indirect costs to the “new” institution will be based on the “new” institution's federally negotiated F&A rate agreement, availability of funds, and with the total cost cap imposed by the NOFO in mind, because the total costs awarded to the “new” institution, combined with the total costs that remain at the original institution, may not exceed any NOFO-imposed total cost cap. If the “new” institution is not entitled to all of the indirect costs relinquished by the original institution, then those funds will revert to the Federal Government.

Unless the transfer grant (or a subsequent non-competing continuation award resultant of the transfer) involves current fiscal year funds, a Notice of Award (NOA) to transfer a grant will generally not be issued during the month of September; transfer applications received after July 15 that do not involve current fiscal year funds for the transfer or for the subsequent non-competing continuation award resultant of the transfer will be reviewed and action taken after October 1.

Please contact the Awarding Agency Contact listed under item 9 of the last NOA issued to the original recipient to discuss any issues or concerns prior to submission of the transfer application.


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.

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.

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.

If your grant is under expanded authorities (in general, the following AHRQ grant activity codes are included under expanded authorities: F31, F32, K01, K02, K08, K18, K99, P20, R00, R01, R03, R13, R18, R21, R33, R24, R25, R36), the grantee institution has the authority to automatically extend the final budget period end date one time for a period of up to 12 months. Effective on August 1, 2020, AHRQ grant recipients may, and effective October 1, 2020, AHRQ grantee recipients must, use the No-Cost Extension feature in the eRA Commons to execute this extension. Read Notice NOT-HS-20-012. Select to watch a tutorial on the standard process that an AHRQ grantee may follow to submit a one-time No Cost Extension in eRA Commons.

This action must be taken before the final budget period expires, using the No-Cost Extension (NCE) feature in the eRA Commons. Accessible from the eRA Commons “Status” screen, the link for the No-Cost Extension feature appears 90 days before the final budget period end date and closes at 11:59 p.m. on the final budget period end date. In extending the final budget period end date of the grant through the eRA Commons, the grantee agrees to update all required certifications, including human subjects and animal welfare, in accordance with applicable regulations and policies. An interim progress report and an interim FFR, reflecting programmatic progress and financial expenditures, respectively, through the original project end date, will be required to be submitted to the AHRQ GMS named on the most recent NOA no later than 90 days from the original project end date.

Grantees may not extend a project end date previously extended by AHRQ. Once the eRA Commons link is closed, a NCE becomes a prior approval request and must be submitted for consideration to the AHRQ Grants Management Specialist named on the most recent Notice of Award. Any additional final budget period end date extension beyond the one-time extension of up to 12 months requires AHRQ prior approval.

If your grant is NOT under expanded authorities (e.g. K12, P01, P30, P50, T32, U01, U13, U18, U19, and UC1, or any award for which the terms and conditions indicate either that the award is not under expanded authorities or that the award may not use the no-cost extension option under expanded authorities), the grantee institution must submit a written prior approval request, endorsed by an authorized institutional official, to the Grants Management Specialist named on the most recent Notice of Award. The request is to include a statement of why the extension is needed, the requested duration of the extension (not to exceed 12 months), research objectives to be completed during the extension period, and a detailed budget page and budget justification for the use of unobligated funds anticipated to remain at the end of the current budget period. No additional funds will be awarded for an extension. If the extension is approved, AHRQ will issue a revised Notice of Award reflecting the new project end date.

Whether under expanded authorities or not, an extension may only be made when no additional funds are required to be obligated by the awarding agency, there will be no change in the originally approved project scope or objective, and more time is needed to complete the research. The fact that funds remain at the expiration date of the project is not in and of itself sufficient justification for an extension. Conversely, if grant funds have been fully expended, an extension should not be requested/approved.

Please note that a request for a second no-cost extension can only be considered by AHRQ if the grantee can demonstrate that unusual circumstances occurred that prevented the project from being completed during the original extension period. An extension is considered a second extension even if the first extension was less than 12 months long.

Contact the assigned AHRQ Grants Management Specialist for details of what information needs to be included in a prior approval request for a second no-cost extension, which will include at a minimum: an explanation of the unusual circumstances warranting consideration of the request; strong programmatic justification of why it is crucial for the project to be extended further; progress to date; research objectives still to be completed; requested duration of second extension (not to exceed 12 months); the estimated unobligated balance expected to remain at the end of the first NCE, and a detailed budget and budget justification for use of these funds.

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