How do I add an administrative official (AO) to my application? 

Under the “PI and Contact Information” section of the application in PCORI Online, select the name of your AO from the “Administrative Official” dropdown menu. If the name does not appear in the dropdown, click “Add New” and fill out the appropriate information. A login will be created for this individual and they will be sent a notification that an account has been created. If you receive an error message stating that the AO is already in PCORI Online, but you do not see their name, please contact [email protected] and provide the AO’s name and email address. 

What are the responsibilities of the AO? 

The AO is the individual within the recipient organization who is responsible for the proper administration of the contract, including, but not limited to, overseeing the submission of the contract activation, contract renewals and additional materials required by PCORI’s policies and procedures.  

Once the application is complete and submitted to the AO, PCORI Online will email the AO. The AO is responsible for reviewing, authorizing and submitting the application by the stated deadline.  

How is the AO notified that the submission is ready to be sent to PCORI? Does the AO log in under the principal investigator (PI)’s ID and submit, or do they create a separate account? 

When the PI clicks “Submit to AO,” the AO will receive an email from PCORI notifying him or her to log in, accept the terms and conditions and authorize the application. Once the AO logs in to the system and clicks “Submit,” a notification that the application has been submitted to PCORI is sent to the PI and the AO. After the AO submits the application, the application is moved into the programmatic review phase and no further edits can be made. 

To what terms and conditions must the AO agree before approving the application? 

The terms and conditions are as follows:  

  • AO acknowledges PCORI’s contractual mechanism to be a contract and not a grant and affirms that Applicant Institution is able to accept the contract terms and conditions without alteration. 

  • I hereby certify that, to the best of my knowledge, the information in this PCORI application is true and accurate. 

  • I understand that the discovery of false or fictitious information included in the application may result in rejection from the review process or termination of an award. 

  • I certify that the funds applied for will be used as outlined in the proposed budget, and in accordance with the contract terms and conditions. 

  • To the best of my knowledge, none of the Key Personnel and/or collaborating institutions is or are currently banned from receiving federal funds due to debarment or engagement in research misconduct. 

  • By submitting this application, I attest that I am recognized by my institution as an official authorized to enter into contractual agreements and commit institution resources. 

Can a PI serve as the AO? 

No. The AO is the designated representative of the grantee organization in matters related to the award and administration of the contract. 

The AO certifies that the applicant organization will: (1) comply with all applicable assurances and certifications referenced in the application, (2) be accountable for the appropriate use of funds awarded, and (3) oversee the performance of the grant-supported project or activities resulting from the application. 

Can the application be sent back to the PI if the AO identifies a problem? 

Yes. If changes to the application are required, the AO may release the application back to the PI. In order to do so, the AO should follow the below Instructions or navigate to page 56 of the Pre-Award Research Awards User Guide

  1. Log into PCORI Online and navigate to the dashboard that lists the application.

  2. Click the icon under AO Approve/Withdraw 

  3. A pop-up window will appear, confirming you would like to proceed with AO Approval, rejection, or withdrawal. Click ‘OK.’

  4. On the AO Approval / Withdraw page, read the statements at the top of the page. Then use the first drop-down menu to select ‘Yes’ in agreement with the statements above.

  5. Use the second drop-down menu to ‘Reject’ the submitted Application.

  6. When you have completed your review of the Application and entered a decision, click ‘Save.’

  7. When you are ready to return the Application to the PI, click ‘Review/Submit.’

  8. You will be taken to a read-only view of the AO Decision. When you are ready to return the Application to the PI, click ‘Submit.’ 

  9. The External Status will be updated to ‘Draft’ and the Application will be editable for updates.

    • If the status is not 'Draft' after you complete the above steps, please email [email protected] for further assistance 

NOTE: If you return the application to the PI, they will need to resubmit the application to the AO, and the AO will still need to approve and submit the application prior to the deadline. The AO should notify the PI that an action is required on their part. 

Can the application be sent back to the PI if the AO identifies a problem? 

Contact PCORI at [email protected] to ensure you are following the appropriate steps. 


Posted: September 1, 2023; Updated: October 26, 2023

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