Process for Leaves or Absences on Sponsored Awards

Background:

Recent announcements from sponsors have highlighted the need for transparency around a change in a principal investigator's or other named senior key personnel's status in relation to his or her role on a sponsored award, where that change will impact his/her ability to carry out the approved research at the location of, and on behalf of, the recipient institution. These announcements reflect a desire by sponsors to ensure that extramural research is being overseen appropriately and is free of harassment.

These changes affect procedures associated with faculty absences of many kinds, including sabbaticals, extended formal or informal periods off-campus (e.g., FSP, field work, adjunct appointments), paid leaves of absence, and restrictions on access to campus.

Dartmouth College Process:

Principal Investigators (including Multiple PIs) or other Senior/Key Personnel (SKP) named on sponsored award notices who have been approved for a leave by the appropriate divisional authority of their school and are planning significant periods of time away from campus may be required to provide sponsoring agencies with advance notices of absences and/or request prior approval from sponsors. Similar considerations apply if academic or administrative personnel become aware that a SKP faculty or staff member has been physically absent, even if not institutionally approved.

With respect to federal awards, most agencies require prior approval for any absence for a continuous period of 3 months or more or when there is a reduction in the time devoted to the project of 25 percent or more from the level that was approved at the time of initial competing award.    Sponsor rules may vary, but the NIH has clarified that working from a location different from that approved in the award may constitute an absence.  Federal agencies typically require submission of prior approval requests at least 30 days in advance of the proposed change.  In all cases, PIs and department administrators with financial or operational oversight of sponsored awards (DRAs) should work with OSP to clarify sponsor rules on leaves or absences from campus.

In advance of any approved leave (including sabbatical leaves where the PI will be away from campus), the PI should contact their department chair, department grant manager and the Office of Sponsored Projects to develop a proposed plan to manage the award during the time of leave of absence (e.g. naming an interim PI, proposing and documenting a plan for providing ongoing oversight on-campus and/or plans for supervising graduate students or other members of the research team).    While a plan can be proposed to address absences from campus, PIs should be cognizant of sponsor requirements that PIs are able to carry out and oversee the research on campus.   Once a plan is developed, the PI and OSP will propose the plan to the sponsor, as needed, in accordance with sponsor guidelines or policies.  PIs should also work with the Committee for the Protection of Research Subjects and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to address issues related to absences or leaves and oversight of research. Department Chairs, Deans or other officers are encouraged to notify OSP and collaborate on disseminating and implementing this process.

Who should be aware of this process:

Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Department Chairs, Deans, Associate Deans, Program/Center/Institute Directors, Office of Sponsored Projects, Departmental Grant Managers

Questions:

Questions concerning absences or leaves involving a PI or named Senior Key Personnel can be addressed to the Director of OSP.

References:

Clarification of NIH's Policy Regarding a Change in Program Director's/Principal Investigator's Status  Notice Number: NOT-OD-18-172, May 1, 2018 

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-18-172.html

Summary: The NIH announcement described notification and prior approval requirements related to a very broad range of changes including "change in Status, Including Absence of PD/PI and Other Senior/Key Personnel Named in the Notice of Award, outlines several scenarios in which prior approval is required, including the PD/PI's withdrawal from the project, an absence for a continuous period of 3 months or more, and the reduction in time devoted to the project by 25 percent or more from the level that was approved at the time of initial competing award. These examples are not meant to be all inclusive nor an exhaustive list of changes in status that require NIH's prior approval."

NIH Grants Policy Statement, section 8.1.2.6 Change in Status, Including Absence of PD/PI and Other Senior/Key Personnel Named in the Notice of Award.

NSF Proposal and Award Procedures, Chapter VII - Grant Administration, Long-Term Disengagement of PI/PD or co-PI/co-PD

https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg18_1/pappg_7.jsp#VIIB2

NSF: Next steps against harassment https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=296671 Summary: "next steps in its agency-wide effort to ensure the research and learning environments it supports are free from harassment, publishing a term and condition that requires awardee organizations to report findings and determinations of sexual harassment, as well as establishing a secure online portal for submitting harassment notifications."  Awardee institutions are required to notify NSF with 30 days:  Any findings or determinations that an NSF-funded principal investigator or co-principal investigator committed harassment, including sexual harassment or sexual assault. The placement of the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on administrative leave, or of the imposition of any administrative action relating to a harassment or sexual assault finding or investigation.