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NIH's Peer Review Process for Evaluating Grants

To fulfill its mission, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds extramural research through a grant-making process "that strives to eliminate bias." The initial level of review is conducted by a scientific review group (SRG) consisting of peer reviewers who have expertise in the subject matter of the grant applications. NIH officials within each relevant Institute or Center (IC) then rank and package the applications for the second level of review by an Advisory Council composed of nationally recognized experts. The Director of NIH has expressed concern about the increasing risks to the integrity of peer review, including the risk of peer reviewers attempting to influence funding decisions inappropriately. The Departments of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019 (Public Law No. 115-245) and its Accompanying Report directed OIG to examine NIH's efforts to ensure the integrity of its grant evaluation and selection processes, of which peer review is a key component. OIG will determine the extent to which select ICs follow their grant application processes related to SRGs. We will also determine how staff and Directors of the ICs review the results of the SRGs and develop their funding recommendations for the Advisory Council.

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
February 2019 National Institutes of Health NIH's Peer Review Process for Evaluating Grants Office of Evaluation and Inspections OEI-01-19-00140 2020