Tijuanna “Tia” DeCoster, NINDS
chief grants management officer,
recently had the surprise of
a lifetime. She received a direct
phone call from Department
of Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “It
was a very nice surprise,” said
DeCoster. “For someone at her
level to recognize me is amazing.
I am thankful that she took the time to call.”
Sebelius called to thank DeCoster for being a dedicated federal employee and to
recognize her achievements in creating an innovative, cost-recovery program to
close out and collect undisbursed funds.
According to DeCoster, undisbursed funds are defined as the difference between
the dollar amount obligated to individual grants and the amount that grantees
report to the Payment Management System as being used. The pilot program—
which was created in partnership with the Office of Financial Management and
the NIH Closeout Center—allowed NINDS to collect the undisbursed funds and
return them to NIH, and ultimately to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The call is part of a larger HHS effort to acknowledge the exceptional work of
Sebelius also thanked DeCoster for the quick and efficient way in which she and
the NINDS Grants Management Branch revised numerous grant awards in FY
2011 (when NIH was under a continuing resolution and had no budget). Under
the continuing resolution, NIH had to fund grants at a reduced amount. Once
NIH received a budget, DeCoster and her staff had to rapidly revise NINDS
grants to reflect the appropriate changes.
“After the conversation [with Sebelius] was over, I informed my staff and
thanked them for their hard work,” said DeCoster. “Although I have the vision
for the office, without my staff there would be no implementation. They did the
work, so ‘kudos’ to the NINDS GMB staff.”—Shannon E. Garnett