NIH Salary Limitations

On Friday, NIH released a much-anticipated notice regarding their latest regulations for salary limitations in NIH grants, cooperative agreements and extramural research and development contract awards.

In addition to the specific terms, of particular interest was the Question & Answer portion of the notice, which we have reprinted below:

Q1.         If an application/proposal fails to provide needed salary information, will an adjustment be made based on the new limit?

A1.         No adjustment will be made if an application fails to provide adequate information regarding the individual’s actual salary level.  However, grantees must charge the grant based on the applicable salary limit in effect when the initial FY2012 award was issued.

Q2.         Does the NIH appropriation language link the salary limitation to a Federal Executive Level or to a dollar level?

A2.         The link is to the Federal Executive Level pay scale (i.e., Executive Level I for FYs 2001-2011, Executive Level I for FY2012 awards with an initial Issue Date on/before 12/22/2011, and Executive Level II for FY 2012 awards with an initial Issue Date on/after 12/23/2011).

Q3.         As the salary limitation is linked to Federal Executive Levels, can grantees/contractors with ongoing awards rebudget/charge the various salary limits, based on the fiscal year of the award and the time the salary expense is incurred?

A3.         Salary may be charged in accordance with the applicable FY limit in effect when the FY2012 award was initially issued, as long as the levels are consistent with the individual’s institutional base pay. Please refer to the salary cap summary with times frames for existing salary caps, at

Q4.         A grant was issued on/after December 23, 2011.  The award was based on the Executive Level I.  Can I rebudget the funds awarded in excess of the new Executive Level II salary limit, or will NIH adjust the award by the difference between the two?

A4.         It depends on the type of award.  If the award is a non-competing award, then grantees may rebudget the funds awarded in excess of the new salary limit.  However, if the grant is a competing award, the NIH IC will revise the award when an adjustment for the lower salary limit is needed.

Q5.         Can grantees rebudget on FY2012 awards that were proposed using Executive Level I and are awarded on/after 12/23/2011?

A5.         Executive Level II is effective with awards with an initial Issue Date of 12/23/2011 and beyond.  For non-competing awards with an initial Issue Date of 12/23/2011 and beyond, grantees can rebudget.  For competing awards issued on/after 12/23/2011, the ICs will revise the award and adjust the current and all future year commitments to apply Executive Level II when applicable.

Q6.         For awards issued on/before 12/22/2011, will future year commitments be adjusted to reflect Executive Level II?

A6.         For competing awards issued on/before 12/22/2011, no adjustment will be made to the FY2012 award; however, future year commitments will be adjusted when applicable to reflect Executive Level II.  Non-competing awards will not be adjusted to reflect Executive Level II for either the FY2012 award or any future year commitments.

Q7.         A grant with an initial Issue Date on/before 12/22/2011 was awarded an included funding for a “to be named” position; the “to be named” person will not begin employment until after January 1, 2012.  Which salary limit is applicable?

A7.         Apply the Executive Level I.  The salary limit is tied to the limit in effect when the grant was initially funded, regardless when the individual’s employment became effective.