You Don’t Own Me
Coming or going, the transfer of grant awards raises issues of mechanism and ownership (and territoriality!) for many PIs and administrators. When considering grant transfers, it is important to keep in mind one central tenet: awards are made to institutions, not to PIs. Even though the PI applies for the grant and does or directs the research, s/he is doing so on behalf of the institution. Therefore, should a PI decide to change institutions, s/he must have the permission of the institution to take the grant award along (it is, of course, the prerogative of the institution to keep the project and assign new personnel to the research if it so chooses). That’s where the relinquishing statement comes in.
A relinquishing statement is an official statement relinquishing interests and rights in a research grant; different agencies use different mechanisms for generating these statements. For NIH, the process is initiated in eRA Commons by a signing official of the institution holding the award. Other funding agencies who do not use eRA Commons have different mechanisms, so be sure to check for agency-specific guidelines. NSF, for example, requires that the process be initiated by the PI through FastLane once an agreement has been reached by both the current and future grant holders, and requires the FTR (federal cash transactions report) at the time of the request. For detailed instructions on transferring grants from these two federal agencies, check out the NIH transfer guide assembled by NIAMS, and section IIB2h of NSF’s PAPPG.
Our office has shepherded many a transfer, so feel free to reach out if you have any questions on transfer policy or procedure!