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2023 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Normal group nominations are limited to 15 individuals, including contractors. Large groups should be rare. Any group nomination should include only those individuals who made a significant contribution to the work of the group.
  • Group nominations cannot consist of more than 50% contractors. Contractors are not eligible for individual awards.
  • 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.