2024 General Guidelines


These general guidelines apply to submissions for the following NIH Directors Awards.

These guidelines apply to submissions for the following NIH Director's Awards: Scientific/Medical (Research), Scientific/Medical (Clinical Care), Administrative Award, Common Fund Leadership, Common Fund Unsung Heroes, Emerging Leader Award, and the Customer Service Award. Specific information can be found on the corresponding webpage for each award. Please contact your IC Awards Coordinator for submission information.


  • All nominations must be submitted officially by the IC Awards Coordinator.
  • Individuals and groups may be nominated for awards. 
  • Nominations may be initiated by IC management staff or by individuals with knowledge of the accomplishments of the individual or group being nominated.
  • Nominees may consist of current or former federal employees, tenants, fellows, guests, volunteers, and contractors. 
  • Nominations for Group Awards must demonstrate a clear majority of federal employees over contractors within the nominated group. Specifically, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions held by federal employees should exceed the number of contractors, ensuring that the work completed reflects the best value for the government. For instance, if there are 11 contractors, the nominated group should include at least 12 federal employees. 
  • The Award Citation is limited to 25 words and 255 characters. 
  • The Narrative Justification is limited to 6,000 characters.
  • The narrative of accomplishments must focus on the nominee’s distinct contributions, including how they exceeded normal expectations and the specific impact of their contributions. Routine responsibilities should be mentioned only as they establish a context for the accomplishment cited.
  • Large groups should be rare. Any group nomination should include only those individuals who made a significant contribution to the work of the group. 
  • All nominees must be approved by the individual’s supervisor and each nomination approved by the IC Director. If nominating an individual from another IC or Federal Agency, one must gain concurrence of approval from the individual's IC or agency before submission of the nomination.
  • All nominations must be ranked by the IC in order of priority for each category.


  • For additional information including submission instructions, internal deadlines, and status updates, please contact your IC Awards Coordinator.