Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare - MOU Between NIH and NSF

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare
Office of Extramural Research
Office of the Director
National Institutes of Health
National Science Foundation

This MOU sets forth the terms under which the National Science Foundation (NSF) intends to transfer funds via Interagency Agreement to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), Office of Extramural Research, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) (hereafter referred to as agencies), for services provided in ensuring compliance with the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) for all NSF grants and cooperative agreements involving research with live vertebrate animals.


OLAW is responsible for the general administration and implementation of the PHS Policy. The PHS Policy, promulgated in 1986 to implement the Health Research Extension Act of 1985, requires institutions to establish and maintain proper measures to ensure the appropriate care and use of all animals involved in research, research training, and biological testing activities conducted or supported by the PHS. OLAW is mandated, through the PHS Policy, to “advise awarding units and awardee institutions concerning the implementation of this Policy”.


NSF is acting pursuant to the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 as amended, 42 USC 1861 et seq.

NIH is acting under the authority of the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535/FAR 17.5).

These authorizations for the agencies, together with the internal policies and procedures of each, define the authority of these agencies to enter into this MOU.


The purpose of this MOU is to outline the process for technical and administrative services to be performed by OLAW for the NSF.  NIH requires OLAW to charge for cost recovery for the services provided to agencies outside of NIH. OLAW has developed a fee structure that is based primarily on the number of domestic Animal Welfare Assurances administered by OLAW and supported by the annual OLAW operating budget.  As NSF currently holds no domestic Assurances, the charges are a base amount. The cost for these services is subject to annual adjustment.

These services include general and comprehensive administration and coordination of the PHS Policy to include:

  1. Negotiate, review and approve Animal Welfare Assurances in support of NSF grants, and cooperative agreements;
  2. Distribute lists of approved Assurances on the OLAW website;
  3. Advise and educate on implementation of the PHS Policy;
  4. Provide guidance on interpretation of the PHS Policy;
  5. Evaluate allegations of noncompliance with the PHS Policy;
  6. Authorize waivers to the PHS Policy; and
  7. Conduct site visits to selected institutions.


  1. Interpretation of, and determination of noncompliance with, PHS Policy remain the exclusive purview of NIH/OLAW as authorized by Public Law 99-158.
  2. Subject to each agency's internal policies and guidelines and upon receiving a request, the NSF and OLAW agree to share information of mutual concern and interest regarding animal welfare at NSF-affiliated PHS-assured institutions, including, but not limited to, evidence of serious noncompliance with standards for the care and use of laboratory animals, significant adverse findings regarding animal care and use investigated, inspected, or site-visited, and actions taken by the agencies in response to the findings.
  3. NSF and OLAW agree to limit the dissemination of shared information received to internal agency officials who have a need to know. If either agency receives a Freedom of Information Act request for records provided by the other agency, the recipient agency will refer the request to the agency that provided the records. The recipient agency will promptly notify the agency that provided the information of any judicial order that compels the release of information.
  4. Subject to item 2 above, NSF and OLAW will consult with one another with regard to investigations of noncompliance at NSF-affiliated institutions holding a PHS Assurance. NSF and OLAW will notify each other of information concerning potential noncompliance at NSF-affiliated institutions with PHS Assurances.
  5. Subject to item 2 above, NSF will share information relevant to NSF-affiliated institution compliance with PHS Policy with OLAW.
  6. At the request of NSF, OLAW will negotiate Animal Welfare Assurances for NSF-affiliated institutions that do not receive direct PHS support for activities involving live vertebrate animals.
  7. Assured Institutions with NSF funding will report incidents of noncompliance to OLAW. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), through the Institutional Official, shall promptly provide OLAW with a full explanation of the circumstances and actions taken with respect to:
    • any serious or continuing noncompliance with the PHS Policy;
    • any serious deviations from the provisions of the Guide, or
    • any suspension of an activity by the IACUC.
  8. NSF and OLAW agree to work collaboratively to co-sponsor educational meetings and workshops, to collaborate on online training, and to provide each other with resource persons, to the extent possible, for seminars, presentations and workshops related to laboratory animal welfare and their respective agency responsibilities.
  9. Nothing in this agreement shall limit or otherwise affect each party's ability to exercise its own authorities or gives the other party approval power over the exercise of the other party's authorities.

This work is in support of the Health Research Extension Act of 1985, Public Law 99-158, Sec. 495 requiring that the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), acting through the Director of NIH, establish guidelines for the proper care of animals used in biomedical and behavioral research.


National Institutes of Health

Jane Na, DVM, CPIA,
Director, Division of Assurances
Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare
6700B Rockledge Drive
​Suite 2500
Bethesda, MD 20817
(301) 402-1922

National Science Foundation

Edda Thiels, PhD
Program Director
Directorate for Biological Sciences
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Ave
Suite 12000
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 292-8167


This agreement covers the period October 21, 2020, through October 20, 2025.


This MOU may be amended only by written agreement of the parties.

This MOU can be terminated with 90 days advance written notice of termination by either party, or sooner by mutual written consent of both parties.


Payments made pursuant to this MOU will be charged as an annual lump sum to be paid via Interagency Agreement at the beginning of each fiscal year during the period of agreement.

However, this MOU is neither a fiscal nor a funds obligation document. Nothing in this MOU authorizes or is intended to obligate the Parties to expend, exchange, or reimburse funds, services, or supplies, or transfer or receive anything of value. Nothing in this MOU may be construed to obligate the NSF or OLAW to any current or future expenditure of resources in advance of the availability of appropriations. Nor does this MOU obligate the NSF or OLAW to spend funds on any particular project or purpose, even if funds are available.

Resolution of Disagreements

Should disagreement arise under this agreement, or amendments and/or revisions thereto, that cannot be resolved at the Division Director level, the area(s) of disagreement shall be stated in writing by each party and presented to the other party at the Assistant Director or equivalent level for consideration.


Joanne S. Tornow, PhD                
Assistant Director,
Directorate for Biological Sciences
National Science Foundation
Signature: /s/  
Date: October 21, 2020 

Michael Lauer, MD
Deputy Director for Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
Signature: /s/
Date: October 13, 2020

Patricia Brown, VMD, MS
Director, Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare
National Institutes of Health
Signature: /s/
Date: October 13, 2020


This page last updated on: Oct 26, 2020
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