PI Absence from Project

Sponsors typically expect that PIs are engaged in conducting and overseeing research projects and personnel at MIT facilities. When PIs are away from these facilities or absent from a project for a period of time, the sponsor needs to know of and approve the absence and any plan to address it.

Notify OSP to get more guidance: Most sponsors require that the information be provided before the absence begins or as soon as practical after it is known. Therefore, departments, labs, and centers are responsible for informing OSP as soon as possible when a PI is planning to be away from campus. OSP will help interpret the sponsor’s requirements and coordinate the steps required by that sponsor.

Both federal and non-federal agreements require that the PI inform the sponsor and seek approval when she or he will be away from campus.*

* For federal awards governed by the OMB Uniform Guidance, “faculty disengagement” of three months or more requires sponsor approval. Temporary absences where the PI is actively engaged, as described above, will not require sponsor approval.

  • Generally, all federal sponsors require approval of at least an absence of three months
  • Non-federal sponsors (e.g. industry) do not typically call out a specific period of time, other than when a PI leaves MIT; however, an absence of more than three months should be a basis of discussion between the PI and the sponsor, including a plan as to how the work will proceed during the absence. (In these cases, a formal approval may not be necessary.)

Consult the award terms and your OSP representative if you have questions.

Note that an MIT appointment with PI privileges does not guarantee that a sponsor will approve the plan if the PI is away from campus.

For temporary absences where the PI wishes to continue to oversee the project (e.g. off campus sabbatical, FMLA, etc.), a request should be submitted to the program officer, seeking approval for the PI to remain on the project despite the absence and describing how the PI will remain engaged in the project. Such requests must originate with the PI and be endorsed and submitted by your OSP representative on behalf of the Institute’s Authorized Representative.

Where the PI leaves MIT for other employment, and where the PI and the DLC wish to keep the project at MIT, the PI should write to the program officer, seeking approval to remain the PI on the project despite the absence, describing how she or he will remain engaged in the project during this absence. These requests need to be approved by the department head before submitting them to OSP for endorsement.

Where the PI wishes to appoint a substitute PI, the current PI should write to the program officer seeking approval for a substitute PI. The letter should include information about the new PI’s background, qualifications, available facilities, and ability to manage the project through the anticipated end date. The letter should be co-signed by the current PI, the proposed new PI, and the department head before sending the letter to OSP for endorsement.

Where the PI leaves MIT and does not wish to continue the project at the Institute, the PI should initiate:

  • Transfer of the grant / contract to his or her new institution, or
  • Closeout proceedings for the award, including submission of final reports