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Transmittal Notice

  1. Explanation of Material Transmitted: This issuance describes the policies and procedures for implementing the Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Program - Automated Fellowship Payment System.
  2. Filing Instructions:

Remove: NIH Manual 2300-320-7 dated 8/1/03.
Insert: NIH Manual 2300-320-7 dated 2/24/09.

PLEASE NOTE: For information on:

This chapter transmits the NIH policy on the use of the NIH Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Program.

IRTA Traineeships are established for the principal benefit of the participant and to provide opportunities for developmental training and practical research experience in a variety of disciplines related to biomedical research, medical library research and related fields.  Traineeships are designed to provide research training “for which fellowship support is not provided under Section 487 of the Public Health Services (PHS) Act, and which is not residency training of physicians or other health professionals.”  

Training must be carried out at a facility of the NIH, but may be supplemented by additional training acquired at another institution which is found by the Director to be directly related to the purpose of the traineeship and necessary to its successful completion.  Training outside of NIH must not comprise a majority of the training.  

The IRTA Program encourages the participation of individuals from groups who are underrepresented in biomedical research:  women, persons with disabilities, and individuals of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.

 Service is a by-product of the IRTA Program unlike Research and Clinical Fellowships where service is a dominant part of the training objective.  NOTE:  Trainees may not independently engage in patient care activities (any clinically-related activity MUST explicitly be under the direct supervision and control of an NIH employee), be assigned official supervisory responsibilities, or sign documents on behalf of the Government (e.g., requisitions).

Postdoctoral To provide advanced practical research experience to physicians and other doctoral researchers who are at the beginning stages of their professional research careers.   Traineeships are not appropriate for scientists who have already demonstrated significant research achievements or who have proven records as independent researchers.
Pre-doctoral To provide practical research training and experience to students, by supplementing academic course work and/or encouraging pursuit of professional careers in biomedical research to: 1) students enrolled in doctoral degree programs in biomedical sciences. The research experience, that frequently involves dissertation research, is undertaken as an integral part of the student's academic preparation and will involve close cooperation and planning between NIH and the academic institution; 2) students who are enrolled in graduate, other doctoral or medical degree programs and who have written permission from their school to interrupt their current schooling and to return within one year to their degree granting program.
Post-Baccalaureate To provide (1) recent college graduates (graduated no more than two years prior to activation of Traineeship) an introduction to individuals early in their careers to the research field; encourage their pursuit of professional careers in biomedical research; and allow additional time to pursue successful application to either graduate or medical school programs, or (2) students who have been accepted into graduate, other doctoral, or medical degree programs and who have written permission from their school to delay entrance for up to 1 year the opportunity to pursue a biomedical research project at the NIH.
Technical To produce a cadre of highly trained research support professionals capable of performing the latest advanced techniques in a laboratory by developing the trainee’s skills in the conduct of basic and applied research.
Student To provide a developmental training experience to promising high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who have expressed a strong interest in or are studying disciplines related to biomedical sciences, generally during the summer.

 

B. Legal Authority and References

(1) The Director, NIH, may conduct and support research training for which fellowship support is not provided under Section 487 of the PHS Act and which is not residency training of physicians or other health professionals [42 U.S.C. 282(b)(13)];  

(2) the Directors of the national research institutes may conduct and support research training for which fellowship support is not provided under Section 487, and which is not residency training of physicians or other health professionals [42 U.S.C. 284(b)(1)(C)];  

(3) the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, OD, NIH, may conduct research training as described in 42 U.S.C. 287c-21(a);  

(4) the National Library of Medicine (NLM) may conduct research training as described in 42 U.S.C. 286b-3 (NLM Traineeships limited to Post-baccalaureate students only);  

(5) the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, OD, NIH, may conduct research training as described in 42 U.S.C. 287c-31  

(6) 42 CFR Part 63, Public Health Service Regulations re: Traineeships

C. Program Administration

See Appendix 10 (Delegations of Authority)

D. Program Exceptions

Approval by the Deputy Director Intramural Research ( DDIR) is required for all exceptions to program provisions.  Requests for exceptions to program provisions must be fully justified in writing, describing the nature and basis for the exception.

E. Resources and Funding

Trainees are not Federal employees, are subject to the availability of space, funds, and preceptors’ time, and are limited by the number of training assignments available within participating Institutes or Centers (IC).

F. Eligibility

Traineeships are contingent upon submission of acceptable proof of U.S. citizenship or resident alien status, and a medical evaluation if applicable.  In addition, trainees must meet the requirements of one of the categories specified below:

Postdoctoral Individuals who possess a Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.V.M. or equivalent degree in a biomedical, behavioral, or related science; or certification by a university as meeting all the requirements leading to such a doctorate; and 5 or fewer years of relevant postdoctoral experience and up to 2 additional years of experience not oriented towards research (i.e., clinical training for physicians).
Pre-doctoral Students enrolled in Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.V.M., or equivalent degree programs at fully accredited U.S. universities (which frequently involves dissertation research).  The research experience is undertaken as an integral part of the student’s ongoing academic preparation and is credited towards completion of degree requirements.  Students who are enrolled in graduate or other doctoral or medical degree programs, and who have written permission from their school to interrupt their current schooling and to return within one year to their degree granting program, are also eligible.
Post-Baccalaureate Individuals who have (1) graduated from a fully accredited U.S. college or university no more than 2 years prior to the activation date of Traineeship, and intend to apply to graduate school in biomedical research or medical school within the next year or (2) students who have been accepted into graduate, other doctoral or medical degree programs and who have written permission from their school to delay entrance for up to 1 year.
Technical Individuals who have graduated from a fully accredited U.S. college or university with a bachelor's or master’s degree in any discipline.
Student Students who are at least 16 years of age and are enrolled at least half-time in high school or have been accepted for or are enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate in an accredited U.S. college/university, in good academic standing.  Each IC is responsible for establishing its own policy on the granting of Traineeships to students who are relatives of IC employees.  However, in no case may trainees receive a training assignment in a Lab/Branch where a relative has authority for resource allocation decisions. For minors under 18 years of age, if required by State or local government law, work permits must be obtained.  A written agreement of a parent or guardian is also required. In addition, restrictions published by the Dept. of Labor (DOL) must be followed regarding assignments that may be hazardous or detrimental to the health and well-being of students.

 

G. Duration of Program Traineeship Programs

Time spent on a Traineeship program within any IC counts toward the total Traineeship duration, regardless of the number of Traineeships granted by different ICs.  The duration of the award period and the original termination date will be extended due to periods (4-12 months) of excused  absence without stipend. All renewals must be in writing and include beginning and termination dates.

 

Postdoctoral

Pre-doctoral

Post-Baccalaureate

Technical

Student

Initial Traineeship

1 to 3 year (2-3 year Traineeships must be processed in 1 year increments.)

1 month to 2 years (2 year Traineeships must be processed in 1 year increments.)

1 year

2 years (2 year Traineeships must be processed in 1 year increments.)

1 month to 1 year. Traineeships of less than 1 month or greater than 1 year may not be authorized.

Renewal of Traineeship

1 or 2-year increments

1-month to 1-year increments

1-year increments

1-year increments

1-month to 1-year increments

Maximum Traineeship

5 years

5 years

2 years

3 years

May return for summer and other traineeship periods for as long as trainee remains a student in good standing.

Terminal Extension

A terminal Traineeship period not to exceed 3 months is permitted.

H. Upon Conclusion of Traineeship

  • Trainees do not incur a service payback obligation.
  • Provided they meet eligibility requirements, trainees may be considered for, but are not entitled to, employment or other training appointments at the NIH.

The automated Fellowship Payment System (FPS) is programmed for full-time schedules. For full-time schedules less than one year in duration, the system will calculate the correct amount of pro-rated funds to obligate. However, for part-time schedules, ICs must compute the percent of time and enter the annual prorated stipend in the Fellowship Payment stipend screen.

Scheduling policy for the different Traineeship programs is as follows:

Postdoctoral Trainees are normally expected to devote 40 hours per week to the training assignment.  However, part-time schedules may be arranged on a case-by-case basis if approved by IC Scientific Director.  An IRTA trainee may not be part-time for more than an 8-year calendar period.  Intermittent schedules are not permitted. 
NOTE:  Part-time schedules of less than 32 hours per week may affect eligibility for health insurance offered by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) or other health plans.
Pre-doctoral, Post-Baccalaureate Technical Students Part-time schedules may be negotiated and pre-arranged.  Intermittent schedules are not permitted
NOTE:  Part-time schedules of less than 32 hours per week may affect eligibility for health insurance offered by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) or other health plans.

 

Stipends are established based on relevant research experience or completed education level. Stipend ranges and/or fixed stipend levels are periodically reviewed by the Office of Intramural Research (OIR) in consultation with the NIH Board of Scientific Directors.   See appendices for detailed information.

INITIAL STIPENDS

Postdoctoral

(See Appendix 1)

Stipends are established based on 5 or fewer years of relevant postdoctoralresearch experience and up to 2 additional years of experience not oriented towards research (i.e., clinical training for physicians).

NOTE: Stipend level must be prorated based on training schedule.

Pre-doctoral

(See Appendix 2)

Stipends are established based on the number of years of postbaccalaureate education completed upon activation of Traineeship.

NOTE: Stipend level must be prorated based on training schedule.

Post-Baccalaureate

(See Appendix 3)

                                                                                                               Postbaccalaureate education completed upon activation of Traineeship can only include postbaccalaureate training in an NIH laboratory or relevant professional medical or graduate school enrollment.

NOTE: Stipend level must be prorated based on training schedule.

Technical

(See Appendix 4)

Stipends are established based on the degree and amount of relevant experience at activation of Traineeship.

NOTE: Stipend level must be prorated based on training schedule.

Student

(See Appendix 5)

Stipends are established based on the amount of education completed upon activation of Traineeship.

NOTE: Stipend level must be prorated based on training schedule.

ANNUAL INCREASES

Postdoctoral

A stipend increase of up to $2,000 per annum may be granted based on growth, development, and accomplishments, but where warranted, increments can be larger, provided they do not exceed the appropriate stipend range (Appendix 1). ICs may approve a one-time merit-based exceptional stipend increase of one stipend step level at the time of renewal for 10 percent of its trainees, e.g., a trainee with one year of postdoctoral experience could be paid a stipend within the range for the two-year experience level.

Pre-doctoral

A stipend increase to the next higher level in Appendix 2 may be granted per annum, based on progress in academic studies and/or the training assignment, for each year the trainee remains in the program.

Post-Baccalaureate

A stipend increase to the next higher level in Appendix 3 may be granted, if the award is renewed for second (and final) year in the program. 

Technical

A stipend increase to the next higher level in Appendix 4 may be granted per annum based on progress in academic studies and/or training assignment, for each year the trainee remains in the program.

Student

Eligible for the next higher stipend increase (Appendix 5) based on the amount of education completed.

SPECIALTY ALLOWANCES

Postdoctoral

An additional allowance of up to $10,000 may be added to the initial stipend level of postdoctoral trainees for previous training or equivalent experience in one of the following specialty categories:

  1. Engineer (electrical, chemical, mechanical, biomedical);

  2. Computer Scientist;

  3. Computational Biologist: (informatics, information technology);

  4. Physicist;

  5. Chemist (analytical, physical, organic, and inorganic);

  6. Bio-statistician;

  7. Epidemiologist;

  8. Mathematician;

  9. IC Competitive Fellowship, e.g., Kety Fellowship in NIMH; or

  10. Fellow entering the fifth year, for whom the IC wishes to provide a merit-based stipend higher than the top of the range for the fifth year.

K. Method of Stipend Payment

Stipends are paid in arrears on a 30-day monthly basis.

All trainees are strongly encouraged to immediately establish (or correct) an electronic file transfer in the NIH Administrative Database (ADB) via the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) Vendor miscellaneous payment enrollment form in the ADB vendor database.

L. Advance Payment for Trainees

Postdoctoral

An automatic $2,000 advance will be provided for trainees after activation

Pre-doctoral 
Post- Baccalaureate 
Technical 
Student

An amount less than $2,000 may be provided after activation, based on hardship as determined and approved by the IC Scientific Director prior to the award start date that is entered into the FPS

 

Any advance payment will reduce the annual stipend payment.  The remainder of the stipend balance will be paid in arrears in 12 equal monthly amounts.   Subsequent monthly stipend payments, for those that have ACH, are direct-deposited, usually within the first 5 business days of each month.   Trainees who do not have established electronic file transfers to their bank accounts will receive stipend payments by check on or about the 10th business day of each month.

If the trainee leaves within 12 months of the initiation of the award, the final check may NOT be for the 1/12th amount because it will have been offset by the balance of the advance.   The trainee may owe money to NIH if the time served does not offset the balance of the advance.   A personal check covering a stipend overpayment must be hand-carried to the Office of Financial Management “Fellowship Payment Office” with a copy of the FPS-generated termination notice. Any un-recovered overpayment will be treated as a debt owed to the U.S. Government.

Stipends will be made in equal monthly payments.

N. Pay Certification

Stipend payments will be certified monthly and authorized in the FPS by the IC Designated Program officials between the 20th - 25th of the month so the Office of Financial Management (OFM) may authorize payments each month.   If the IC does not certify and authorize payment for a trainee, no stipend payment will be issued for that month until certification is received.

O. Supplemental Funding

Supplemental funding should be granted to Trainees who wish to come to NIH for a period of research training under the auspices of traineeships or grants awarded by outside (non-Federal) organizations or institutions, when the funding provided is insufficient to support the Trainees during research training in NIH laboratories.  

Supplemental Funding should be granted:

  • ONLY to Trainees who have already been approved for or currently receive outside (non-Federal) support;
  • ONLY to Trainees NOT receiving support under the National Research Service Award (NRSA) Program;
  • ONLY to Trainees that have NO employment relationship with the outside (non-Federal) sponsor: other issues, e.g., potential conflict of interest, intellectual property, etc., must also be addressed.

The amount of the NIH IRTA supplement will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will vary depending on the level of support provided by the outside (non-Federal) sponsor. The supplement will be fixed at such a rate that the combined level of support will match the stipend rate for a similarly qualified Trainee. Supplemental funding that would result in a combined amount from NIH and the outside (non-Federal) sponsor that is either less than or in excess of the authorized stipend rate for the relevant trainee level and Traineeship program may not be approved. Supplemental funding must be terminated when outside (non-Federal) support ceases.

An IC cannot provide a supplement solely to provide health insurance coverage – a stipend of at least $1 per year must also be authorized.

P. Application Procedures

Applicants may apply directly to a specific Principal Investigator or may apply online at the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) website. Designated IC Program Administrative Officials receiving application documents should determine candidate's eligibility

Q. Selection Procedures

Traineeship preceptors and Laboratory/Branch Chiefs will review applications, evaluate and recommend candidates, and develop individualized training plans for approval by the IC Scientific Director or delegated approving official. Candidates may not be excluded from consideration or evaluation on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, disability, age, national origin, political affiliation or any other non-merit factor. Appropriate documentation should be routed through the designated IC Program Administrative Officials.

R. Application Documentation

Postdoctoral

Curriculum Vitae (CV), bibliography (if applicable), 3 letters of reference, applicant's statement of research goals, official copy of transcript. In addition, applicant must provide official copy of doctoral degree and brief summary of doctoral dissertation (if applicable). 

Pre-doctoral

CV, bibliography (if applicable), 3 letters of reference emphasizing research potential, applicant's statement of research goals, official copy of undergraduate, graduate, and/or medical school transcript. Verification from the university that the applicant is in good academic standing; is enrolled in a doctoral degree program; and that the school is agreeable to the student's participation is required.

Post- Baccalaureate

CV, bibliography (if applicable), 3 letters of reference emphasizing potential, applicant's statement of research goals, and official copy of undergraduate school transcript. Applications must be made online at http://www.training.nih.gov/student/pre-irta/previewpostbac.asp

Technical

Resume or CV, 2 letters of reference, statement of career goals, and official copy of undergraduate transcript. Applications must be made online at http://www.training.nih.gov/student/pre-irta/previewtechnical.asp

Student

Resume or CV, 2 letters of reference, official copy of school transcript, letter from school verifying academic standing, information on honors and achievements, and statement of interest in biomedical research.  Applications must be made online at http://www.training.nih.gov/student/sip/

The principal responsibility rests with training preceptor; other assistance is available from IC Lab/Branch Chiefs and Scientific Director.

T. Career Counseling

The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education Career Services Center and NIH Work/Life Center staff are available for career counseling.

U. Training and Tuition

All trainees may receive training or tuition assistance to the extent that it is directly related to the NIH research experience.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are required for all trainees and they must complete all NIH mandatory training. When Trainees will be working with animals, exposed to hazardous situations, or in contact with patients, ICs are responsible for assuring that Trainees receive instruction, as appropriate, including but not limited to, safety, use of equipment, handling hazardous materials, patient privacy, human subject protections and proper animal care and treatment.

Trainees may not engage independently in any patient care activities. Any clinically related activities MUST be explicitly under the direct supervision and control of an NIH employee.

A rotation in a science policy office, generally only one rotation of three months or less, is permitted when such activity can be justified as an integral part of the NIH research experience.

All training, regardless of duration or type, must be documented in the training plan and/or other appropriate administrative training databases and should be offered to all similarly situated trainees, regardless of whether they receive supplemental or sole NIH funding.

In addition to the above:

Technical

ICs are expected to fund training directly related to the purpose of the Traineeship, generally consisting of two courses per year at an accredited academic institution.  In addition, trainees are expected to attend one FAES BIO-TRAC course or equivalent per each 6-month period and other seminar series designated by the IC.

Travel cost to NIH for trainee, dependents, movement of household goods, and temporary storage of household goods not to exceed (NTE) $3,000 is permitted at the discretion of the IC; no allowance for return travel is authorized.

Payment of travel to scientific meetings or training at a remote site is at the discretion of the IC and is subject to availability of funds.

IRTA trainees may accept payment only on an “In Kind” basis to cover travel and per diem expenses from an outside entity while attending an “official duty” type event for the purpose of teaching, speaking or writing (such as presenting a paper at a scientific meeting), provided there is no conflict of interest in the source of the funds.  No honorarium, or compensation for services rendered, may be accepted. Reimbursement must be from nonfederal funds.  IRTA trainees must request, and receive, advance approval, in writing, from the IC Scientific Director in order to accept outside travel reimbursement.  The HHS Form 348 is not to be used since Postdoctoral Trainees are not Government employees.  However, IC administrative staff, on behalf of an IRTA Trainee, must complete an Acceptance Letter and a Certification Checklist indicating that the funding source is non-federal.  For additional information, see NIH Manual 1500, Chapter 08-00(F)(3)).

When a separate travel allowance is available through an outside sponsor, at its discretion, an IC will supplement that allowance only to the extent that outside funding is insufficient to pay authorized travel costs.

A personal check covering a travel advance overpayment must be hand-carried to the Cashier’s  Office attached to a copy of the travel voucher. Any un-recovered overpayment will be treated as a debt owed the U.S. Government.

W. Termination of Traineeship

Use the FPS to process terminations of all trainees immediately.

Postdoctoral

See http://www1.od.nih.gov/oir/sourcebook/prof-desig/early-term.htm for early termination of postdoctoral fellows.

Pre-doctoral 
Post- Baccalaureate 
Technical 
Student

Termination of the traineeship may be made prior to specific expiration date for scientific or other forms of misconduct or failure to comply with terms of the traineeship or to carry out or satisfy the purpose for which it was made. All termination proposals for cause must be in writing and provide the trainee with an opportunity to make a reply before a decision is rendered.  In the case of personal incompatibility or any unforeseen programmatic circumstances, and absent any conduct issues, the IC should arrange for transfer of the trainee to another laboratory. 
Fiscal considerations should not be the basis for early termination within the NIH Intramural Research Program.

Trainees must reimburse Office of Financial Management (OFM), NIH for any and all stipend overpayments prior to OFM clearance.   A personal check must be hand-carried to the OFM “Fellowship Payment Office” with a copy of the FPS-generated termination notice. Any un-recovered overpayment will be treated as a debt owed the U.S. Government.  In addition, if the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) (301-496-8063) is handling the trainee’s health insurance, it must be provided a “Notification of Termination” form, obtained from the IC’s Administrative Officer.  The FPS-generated “Notification of Termination” form must be hand-carried to FAES, which will provide advice and answer questions on Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (C.O.B.R.A.) benefits.  The form must be signed by an FAES representative before the end of the month in which the fellowship is terminated to avoid overpayment.

If a trainee is transferring to another IC within NIH, the losing IC must indicate this in the FPS module and notify the gaining IC. The gaining IC must accept and retrieve the trainee’s record.   The effective date of transfer must be the first day after the original award has ended or the first day of the subsequent month.

Y. Excused Absence with Stipend

Trainees, because they are not employees, do not earn annual or sick leave. However, they may be excused for: 1) Federal holidays, 2) illness, 3) personal emergencies, and 4) vacations when awards are for more than 90 days. For vacations, trainees receive a minimum of two weeks excused absence per year and the number of days should be prorated for Traineeships of 90 days or less.  Preceptors may exercise discretion in granting additional short absences (less than a week per year) as they deem appropriate.  More extended absences must be approved by the IC Scientific Director.

Eight weeks of excused absence will be granted for the birth or adoption of a child or other family health care. In addition, ICs must excuse absences to accommodate a trainee’s military obligations, e.g. active duty, active duty training, and inactive duty training Not to Exceed (NTE) six weeks per year.

Z. Excused Absence without Stipend

Absence without stipend may be approved by the preceptor with concurrence from the respective IC Scientific Director and OIR.   Through the FPS, the IC must enter the effective date to temporarily stop payment and must reactivate the award in the FPS to resume payment. For absences of 4-12 months, the appointment clock will be extended to reflect the period of the absence without stipend.  Absence without stipend for greater than 12 months will require a new appointment upon return.  

FAES Elected Health Insurance:  Should a trainee with FAES health insurance plan to be absent without stipend for less than 3 months, FAES requires the trainee to maintain continuous health insurance coverage.  Specifically, trainees must personally complete a Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (C.O.B.R.A.) Application through FAES and begin to pay health insurance coverage premiums on the 1st day of the month following the start date of the unpaid absence and continue to pay for any month when trainee is not in a pay status on the first day of the month.  For example, if the trainee is absent without stipend effective June 15th through August 15th, the trainee must pay health insurance premiums beginning July 1st (1st day of the month following the start date of unpaid absence) and pay the premium for the month of August (any month when trainee is not in a pay status on the first day of the month)  

Should the trainee plan to be absent without stipend for more than 3 months, the trainee may choose to stop coverage and not pay the premium.  Upon return to NIH, the trainee may then re-enroll as a new subscriber. Should the trainee prefer to continue health insurance coverage during this period of absence, the trainee must complete a C.O.B.R.A. application through FAES.  Generally, C.O.B.R.A. coverage is limited to 18 months.

Regardless of total time spent in unpaid absence, respective ICs must provide to FAES written notification generated from the FPS to include start and end date of unpaid absence.  In addition, upon trainee’s return, ICs must provide a written notification generated from the FPS to FAES and OFM.

AA. Medical Treatment

All trainees may use the Occupational Medical Service for injuries sustained and emergency care on the training assignment. Workers' compensation and benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act, 5 U.S.C. 8101(1)(B) may be applicable in the event of a work-related injury.

AB. Health Insurance

All trainees must have adequate health insurance coverage to receive training in NIH facilities. This requirement may be satisfied by a policy held either in the Trainee's name or in another's name with the Trainee identified as a family member. Verification of health insurance enrollment is required.

An approved plan of health insurance is available through the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES). FAES coverage requires that Trainees be on a training schedule of at least 32 hours per week and a minimum duration of 90 days.

Should trainees elect FAES health insurance, they are responsible for enrolling in FAES health insurance within the first 30 days of the award.  Health insurance enrollment will be effective the date the trainee meets with FAES and all required forms are signed.  Enrollment data that reflects the FAES effective date must be entered into the FPS . Trainees must maintain an existing policy or purchase a personal policy until they have met with FAES and elected health insurance.

Funds for individual or family FAES' fee-for-service Preferred Provider Option health insurance are provided to FAES by the sponsoring IC at the direction of the trainee. For a non-FAES policy, NIH will pay or reimburse for a policy issued in the Trainee's name in an amount not to exceed that of the FAES' fee-for-service Preferred Provider Option, individual or family coverage, as appropriate. Alternatively, NIH will reimburse for any additional health insurance cost, if incurred, as a result of being covered under a spouse's plan and identified as a "family member" in an amount not to exceed the cost of the FAES' fee-for-service Preferred Provider Option. Sufficient documentation verifying health insurance coverage and documenting health insurance costs are required when using a non-FAES policy.

When the outside sponsor provides insufficient funding for the purchase of health insurance coverage, the IC may provide supplemental funding to permit the purchase of a policy equivalent in cost to the FAES' fee-for-service Preferred Provider Option, individual or family coverage, as appropriate. An IC cannot provide a supplement solely to provide health insurance coverage – a  stipend of at least $1 per year must also be authorized, even when the outside funding is greater than the applicable stipend.  See Section Z, “Excused Absence without Stipend” if applicable.

Students

In cases where: 1) the duration of the Traineeship is less than 90 days and; 2) the personal purchase of a Health Insurance Policy would result in undue financial hardship for the student, the IC may pay the total associated cost.

AC. Retirement Benefits

Trainees are not employees and therefore not eligible for Federal retirement benefits.

AD. Income Taxes

Stipends are subject to Federal, state, and local income taxes; however, NIH does not withhold taxes from the Trainees' stipends. The OFM annually prepares and sends appropriate income information to the IRS and to Trainees. Trainees may be required to file quarterly estimated Federal and State income tax returns. Since interpretation and implementation of the tax laws are the responsibility of the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) and courts, Trainees should consult their local IRS office and/or tax advisor if they have questions about the applicability of the current tax code to the taxability of Traineeships, the proper steps to be taken regarding tax obligations, and concerns regarding their own situations.

AE. Tort Claims

Trainees are likely to be eligible for coverage under the Federal Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq.) for damages or injuries that arise from actions occurring within the scope of their assignment and while under the direct control and supervision of a Federal employee. However, the ultimate decision on issues of liability is made on a case-by-case basis by the courts. Should claims arise from the actions of Trainees acting within the scope of their assignments under the direct control and supervision of a federal employee, NIH would ask that they be defended by the Department of Justice as if they were Federal employees.

AF. Outside Work

Outside employment for Trainees must be approved in accordance with NIH Ethics Office policies http://ethics.od.nih.gov/.

AG. Program Evaluation

The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education will periodically evaluate the IRTA Program for representation of women, minorities, and disabled persons; to assess its relationship with other NIH Traineeship Programs; and to determine whether it is functioning effectively and accomplishing the purpose for which it was designed. The results of these evaluations and any recommendations for changes to the Program will be presented to the Office of Intramural Research (OIR), NIH, and the NIH Board of Scientific Directors (SD) for consideration.

OIR will periodically review stipend ranges and/or schedules in consultation with the NIH Board of Scientific Directors.  Recommended adjustments by OIR and the SD subcommittee on trainee stipends will be submitted to the Scientific Directors for review and concurrence and then to the Director, NIH for final approval.

AH. Publications

The publication and presentation of scientific research by Trainees are governed by the same policies as applied to other scientists, either employed by or in training at NIH, as described in NIH Manual 1183 “NIH Publications and Audiovisuals:  Preparation, Review, Approval, and Distribution.” 

AI. Inventions

Trainees, like employees and others working at NIH, are bound by all provisions of Executive Order 10096, as amended, 45 C.F.R. Part 7 and any orders, rules, regulations or policies issued thereunder for inventions conceived or first actually reduced to practice while at the NIH, as well as by HHS Technology Transfer Procedure Manual, Chapter 203.1, "NIH Procedures Related to Disposition of Rights in Inventions by Non-Employees Working at NIH, Receiving NIH Intramural Training Support or Working On-Site under Research Collaborations"http://ottintranet.od.nih.gov/Policy/203-1-Procedure.pdf (NIH-Access only).

Trainees will disclose promptly, to the appropriate NIH officials, all inventions which they conceive or first actually reduce to practice during their assignment, and will sign and execute all papers necessary for conveying to the government the rights to which it is entitled by virtue of Executive Order 10096, as amended.

AJ. Privacy Act

Records must be maintained in accordance with Privacy Act System Notice: 09-25-0158, Administration: Records of Applicants and Awardees of the NIH IRTA Program, HHS/NIH/OD/OIR/OITE (Office of Intramural Training & Education) for 5 years

AK. Retention and Disposal of Records

Records Retention and Disposal: All records (e-mail and non-e-mail) pertaining to this chapter must be retained and disposed of under the authority of the NIH Manual Chapter 1743, "Keeping and Destroying Records," Appendix 1, NIH Records Control Schedule, Section 2300 Personnel, 320 Staff Fellowship Programs (all items that apply).  

NIH e-mail messages: NIH e-mail messages (messages, including attachments, that are created on the NIH computer systems or transmitted over the NIH networks) that are evidence of the activities of the agency or have informational value are considered Federal records.  These records must be maintained in accordance with current NIH Records Management guidelines. Contact your IC Records Officer for additional information.  

All e-mail messages are considered Government property, and if requested for a legitimate Government purpose, must be provided to the requester. Employees' supervisors, the NIH staff conducting official reviews or investigations, and the Office of Inspector General may request access to or copies of the e-mail messages.

E-mail messages must also be provided to the Congressional Oversight Committees, if requested, and are subject to the Freedom of Information Act requests. Since most e-mail systems have back-up files that are retained for significant periods of time, e-mail messages and attachments are likely to be retrievable from a back-up file after they have been deleted from an individual's computer. The back-up files are subject to the same requests as the original messages

AL. Internal Controls

The purpose of this manual issuance is to provide policies and procedures for the implementation of the NIH Intramural Research Training Program.

  1. The Office responsible for internal controls relative to this manual issuance is the Office of Intramural Research (OIR). Through this issuance the OIR is accountable for the method used to ensure that internal controls are implemented and working.
  2. Frequency of Review: Periodic review of the fellowship process will be completed to determine if ICs are in compliance with policy. Reviews will be conducted every 3-5 years.
  3. Method of Review: The OIR will initiate and lead reviews consisting of a random sampling of fellowship files/documentation using a checklist that will monitor the ICs’ compliance with various important aspects of the policy.
  4. Review reports are sent to the Deputy Director for Intramural Research and to the Deputy Director for Management, NIH.
  5. Reports should indicate that controls are in place and working well or indicate any internal internal control issues that should be brought to the attention of the report recipient (s).

AM. Required Forms

Activation and Renewals:

Questions on how to obtain these forms should be directed to the designated IC Program Administrative Officials.

  • NIH 2590-1, Verification of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency Status http://oma.od.nih.gov/public/MS/forms/NIHE-Forms/NH2590_1.PDF

  • Fellowship Request (FPS-generated)

  • Fellowship Activation (FPS-generated)

  • Election of Health Insurance Choice 1, 2, or 3 (FPS-generated)

  • Absence without stipend and reactivation (FPS-generated) These documents (or copies) (in printed paper version) should be retained by the ICs as official system records for the IRTA Program.

Terminations:

  • Fellowship Termination Notice (FPS-generated)

AN. Social Security/Medicare

Since all IRTA Traineeships are considered awards for training and not wages for service or employment, neither Social Security nor Medicare is deducted from stipends. Although definitive determinations regarding Social Security obligations and coverage must be made by the Internal Revenue Service and the courts, it is the opinion of the NIH Legal Advisor that Trainees are not self-employed but in training for purposes of coverage under the Social Security Act and therefore, can not make Social Security or Medicare payments on their own behalf.  Trainees are encouraged to discuss this with their tax advisors.

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