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National Advisory Eye Council Operating Procedures

January 2014


The Council shall review all applications having undergone initial review. Applications not identified for special consideration are reviewed en bloc. Summary Statements for all applications will be made available to all Council Members through the Electronic Council Book (ECB). Individual applications will be made available in the ECB upon request of any Council Member. All letters received by the NEI will be presented to Council for discussion.

Special Consideration

Ordinarily, only applications that have been scored and are within the funding range are presented to Council for special consideration. However, a member of Council or NEI staff may request that any individual application be discussed. No application requiring special consideration will be funded without Council review.

Applications are routinely presented to the Council for special consideration when:

Options for Council Action

The following options generally are available to Council:

  1. Concurrence with SRG recommendations;
  2. Deferral for SRG reconsideration of the scientific and technical merit of an application. Council may include in its deferral action the recommendation that the re-review be carried out by a different SRG and/or that a site visit be made in the re-review of the application. If the second SRG review results in a recommendation with which the Council does not agree, the Council may non-concur with the SRG recommendation without deferral for additional review. Awards may be made, however, only when both an SRG and Council have recommended that an application has significant and substantial merit;
  3. Deferral so that NEI staff can obtain additional information for Council consideration at a subsequent meeting;
  4. Non-concurrence with SRG recommendations based on other than scientific/technical merit considerations (this applies only to policy, procedural or administrative matters);


Grantees may submit letters of appeal to the NAEC and these will all be brought to the Councils attention for action.

An Appeal letter will be accepted only if the letter 1) describes a flaw(s) or perceived flaw(s) in the review process for the application in question, 2) explains the reasons for the appeal, and 3) is based on one or more of the following issues related to the process of the initial peer review:

Appeal letters based solely on differences of scientific opinion will not be accepted. A letter that does not meet these criteria and/or does not include the concurrence of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) will not be considered an appeal, but rather a grievance. The NEI will handle grievances according to NEI-specific procedures.

The NEI will make all Appeals available to Council in the Electronic Council Book. The Scientific Review Officer's and Program Officer's responses, and additional items may be included, and access to the application image may be provided, as deemed necessary by the Appeals Officer.

Only two outcomes are possible following consideration of an appeal letter by Council:

The original application, without additional materials or modifications, will be re-reviewed by the same or a different SRG, depending on the flaw(s) that led to the decision for a re-review. If the application is deferred for re-review in the same SRG that reviewed the application originally, the Scientific Review Officer may explain to the SRG that the application was deferred administratively for re-review, but not that the re-review resulted from an appeal of their original review.

Only the results of the re-review, and not of the first review, are made available to the SRG, and information about the appeal is not made available to SRG. The reviewers involved in the re-review will not have access to the summary statement that resulted from the disputed review or the appeal letter. The outcome of the re-review is final and may not be appealed.

In most cases, the re-review will entail re-assignment to a subsequent review round and delay in the final funding decision.

The Council must vote on the final decision to request re-review or deny the appeal. The result of this vote must be documented in the official grant file. The recommendation of Council concerning resolution of an appeal is final and will not be considered again by the NIH through this or another process. The result of an appeal does not represent a reversal or overturning of the recommendations of an SRG.


Each Institute has guidelines for staff to use in making adjustments in funds or duration of grants and cooperative agreements recommended by its Council, as well as in other terms and conditions. The Council reviews the guidelines annually and recommends necessary modifications.

It is generally agreed that NEI staff may use administrative discretion to:


From time to time, applicants for support from the National Eye Institute choose to contact Council members directly concerning their requests. When such an instance occurs, Council members are advised to respond in writing along the following lines:

Dear Dr. _______:

This is to acknowledge receipt of the material you forwarded to me (our recent telephone conversation, etc.) concerning your application for a grant that is now undergoing review at the National Eye Institute.

As a member of the National Advisory Eye Council, I have a responsibility to provide the Institute with advice and guidance based upon the best and most complete information we can obtain and consider. Because of the automatic release to applicants prior to Council meetings of summary statements individual Council members have been receiving supplemental information, rebuttals, telephone calls, etc., directly from applicants. To ensure that all applications receive a fair and equitable consideration without further delay, the National Eye Institute requests that we forward or request the applicant to forward all materials to the National Eye Institute. (I want you to know, therefore, that I have forwarded to the National Eye Institute the material you provided). OR (I suggest, therefore, that you provide the necessary materials to the National Eye Institute).

I would (also) suggest that if, in the future, you have such additional information, you forward it directly to the appropriate official at NIH.


(Member, National Advisory Eye Council)

cc: Director, Division of Extramural Research, NEI

Last Updated: February 2014

Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health