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Interacting with Trainees and Trainee Information Outside the Research Group

Opinions regarding partisan political groups & Black Lives MatterIcon NEW

Exceptional Use of IC Funds for per diem Quarantine for non-FTE trainees (VF/IRTA/CRTA)Icon NEW

Policy about college and high school student IRTAs/CRTAs Icon NEW


The OITE Online Application System and Nepotism


Opinions regarding partisan political groups & Black Lives Matter: 7/10 Email from the US Office of Special Counsel's Hatch Act Unit

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel’s Hatch Act Unit recently has received many questions about federal employees’ participation in various activities related to the Black Lives Matter movement.  Attached, for your reference, are two new advisory opinions we will be posting on our website.  The first is an opinion that analyzes what is a partisan political group for purposes of the Hatch Act.  The second is an opinion applying that analysis to the Black Lives Matter movement and concluding that it is not a partisan political group for purposes of the Hatch Act.

If you have any Hatch Act related questions, feel free to contact the Hatch Act Unit at 202-804-7002 or send an e-mail to

Partisan Political Groups Opinion

Black Lives Matter and the Hatch Act Opinion


Exceptional Use of IC Funds for per diem Quarantine for non-FTE trainees (VF/IRTA/CRTA):7-10-2020 Email from Michael Gottesman, MD,Deputy Director for Intramural Research

Dear Scientific Directors,

CDC guidance recommends 14-day self-quarantine for anyone traveling internationally, which includes NIH’s incoming Visiting Fellows (VFs).  Before COVID-19, VFs were able to get housing ahead of time or stay with someone they knew locally until they secured housing.  Now the permanent housing lessors have required that VFs confirm the 14 day quarantine before they can even see the place and the VF isn’t able to stay with someone they know locally due to the 14 day quarantine requirement (in some cases the permanent housing is also requiring the VF to get testing done before moving in).  Therefore, our VFs are required to stay in a hotel before being able to come to campus or secure permanent housing.

Due to this unprecedented situation, I have determined that, at the Scientific Director’s discretion (akin to the “Relocation Allowance” permitted for trainees but not limited by the current $3000 specified for that in the manual chapter), IC funds may be used to defray the required quarantine period up to the per diem rate, as long as the 14-day self-quarantine requirement is in place.  All fellows in this situation in a given IC must be treated equally.  This should also extend to IRTA/CRTA fellows if some are also required to self-quarantine now or in the future.  Under exceptional circumstances, an IC may use this authority to reimburse the additional cost of quarantining current IRTAs/CRTAs who are unable to return to their home of record and whose circumstances require that they move from their current housing as a result of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test for themselves or a roommate.


Policy about college and high school student IRTAs/CRTAs: 7-10-2020 Email from Michael Gottesman, MD,Deputy Director for Intramural Research

Dear Colleagues, we are writing today to update policy for student IRTAs and Special Volunteers in IRP research groups and offices.

The current ban on the appointment of student IRTAs and Special Volunteers expires on August 15, 2020 and this new policy take effect on August 16.

  • Student IRTA/CRTAs and Special Volunteers who are in high school or college may be appointed ONLY if they are able to complete all of their work remotely. Remote activities that may be appropriate for student IRTA/CRTAs or Special Volunteers include assisting in literature reviews, on-line research, data analysis that can be completed remotely, and coding. 
  • Student IRTA/CRTAs and Special volunteers who are in graduate or professional school may be considered for on-campus work if there is a clear safety plan in place and if approved by the OITE.
  • No high school or college students should be appointed to perform on-campus work in an IRP office or lab using other mechanisms (contractor, FTE) until further notice.

IMPORTANT NOTE: On-boarding of postbacs, graduate students, and postdocs will continue according to prior guidance.

Please direct questions to Sharon Milgram at

Thank you and be well,

Michael Gottesman, DDIR
Sharon Milgram, Director, NIH OITE


Housing: 12/16/2019 Email from Michael Gottesman, MD, Deputy Director for Intramural Research


IMPORTANT NOTE: Although this message refers specifically to summer interns, the content applies to all intramural trainees.

Dear Colleagues,

As we welcome our new trainees into the NIH Intramural Summer Internship Program this year, it is imperative that we provide them with a welcoming, encouraging, and safe training environment that is conducive to their learning and future success.

We hope you will consider applicants from across the U.S. and U.S. territories and appreciate that students coming from outside the area may seek your guidance about housing for the duration of their internship. Trainees seeking information on local housing may be referred to the Finding Housing section of the OITE Moving Guide

While it may be tempting to assist your trainees in finding and securing affordable housing within commuting distance of your campus, I am writing to stress the following points:

  1. NIH staff may not offer housing to NIH summer interns in their homes or the homes of staff or trainees in their research group.
  2. NIH staff may not assist trainees with the process of finding housing, including but not limited to such things as reviewing lease agreements or visiting prospective housing on their behalf, or offering recommendations for places to stay (beyond referring to the resources provided on the OITE website, discussed above, or comparable information that may be available on your I/C web site).
  3. Principal Investigators and program staff who are considering accepting high school students (who must be 17 years old or older by June 15, 2020: ) should carefully stress that the student and their parent(s)/guardian(s) are fully responsible for housing and other non-internship related needs. PIs and staff must refrain from acting as agents for the family in assuring a safe summer experience beyond the research internship and must confirm that the intern and the parent(s)/guardian(s) understand that they are responsible for making housing arrangements on their own. Language on the OITE website has been strengthened to be clear that NIH does not provide housing or attend to trainees while they are off-campus. PIs and staff should be cautious in accepting high school interns from out-of-town without confirming they, and the adults responsible for them, understand this important point.
  4. NIH staff who own rental properties should contact their I/C Ethics Specialists for further guidance prior to entering a housing lease with NIH staff or interns to ensure that there are no potential ethical or legal issues.

If you have any questions regarding these instructions, please contact OITE.

NOTE from OITE: You can find housing information you can share with new trainees at


Dear Investigator:

The NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) application system will open soon, and, over the next few months, eager students from across the Unites States will be applying for the opportunity to participate. Please take the time to search the SIP database carefully for outstanding applicants and remember that a part of the NIH mission is to expand educational and research opportunities for students across our country. I strongly encourage you not to assume that applicants are better because they have family at NIH or live nearby.

In the past, several NIH staff, including PIs, staff scientists, and postdoctoral fellows have accessed the applications of their relatives to training programs in the IRP and/or encouraged their colleagues to find positions for those relatives. These actions clearly violate the NIH nepotism policy ( and the terms of use of the OITE Online Application System (; such actions will not be tolerated. Each time you access the system, you accept the terms of use, which clearly state that accessing the application of a relative or sharing system data, including letters of recommendation, with individuals who are not authorized personnel, is not allowed. Simply put, there is no justifiable reason for accessing the application of your child, relative, or family friend.  In addition, advocating on behalf of a relative is a clear violation of the NIH nepotism policy and cannot be tolerated.

For 2020 we will continue the changes implemented in 2019: (1) summer interns must be at least seventeen years old by June 15, 2020, (2) high school students who will be 17 years of age on June 15, 2020, must live, at the time of application, within 40 miles of the NIH campus on which they will intern. (This requirement does not apply to applicants who are 18 and older or to college students.), (3) the selection of high school interns will be centralized within the IC and not delegated to individual principal investigators (PIs), and (4) with limited exceptions, summer interns will not be appointed to ICs in which a parent or guardian works. (For more information, please contact IC training office and/or visit OITE website.)

I strongly encourage you to read the terms of use of the OITE Online Application System and the nepotism policy referenced above.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you and all members of your research group abide by these regulations. We will monitor system usage again this year and will immediately revoke the credentials of anyone who is found to have misused the system. Furthermore, because I am deeply committed to expanding opportunities, and ensuring that NIH scientists abide by the highest ethical standards, I have instructed OITE staff to immediately forward all potential violations to the Office of Management Assessment for investigation, including possible criminal investigation.

Please also note that applicants to SIP and the Postbac IRTA/CRTA Program are required to submit their materials via the online system discussed above.  The system allows NIH investigators to send automated messages to training program coordinators when summer interns or postbacs are selected.  Because Summer Coordinators in the ICs then accept summer interns using the same system, OITE is able to generate comprehensive demographic data on both applicants to and participants in SIP. Postbacs and summer interns should not be appointed to positions at NIH until their acceptances have been entered into the OITE online system. A corollary is that all summer interns (paid or volunteer) must have submitted online applications prior to the application deadline.

Thank you in advance for your immediate attention to these important matters.