Tenure at the NIH is "the commitment of salary to an independent Senior Investigator."1 De-tenuring is removal of that commitment. "Removal of tenure is a rare event and only occurs after thorough review by the IC and the Central Tenure Committee (CTC), with final approval by the Deputy Director for Intramural Research."1 Any subsequent action, e.g., removal from Federal employment or downgrading, must follow the rules of the individual's personnel appointment mechanism.
The mechanism of the initial appointment is at the discretion of the Institute, based on availability of positions and amount of salary needed to recruit the scientist. A commitment to long-term support of salary is made by an Institute when it tenures an individual as a Senior Investigator. However, salary in all systems is merit-based within the flexibility afforded by the particular system. For example, the salary may be increased or reduced for Title 42 employees to reflect the level of their performance. It is the policy of the NIH that a Title 42 salary in the intramural program will generally not be reduced below that of a GS-14/Step 5, and that downward adjustments should generally not exceed $20,000 per year, with notice of intent to reduce salary being given in writing at least one year in advance of the action (SD Minutes Feb. 18, 1998). Performance that declines below that acceptable for a GS-14 is grounds for non-renewal of the Title 42 appointment. Senior Investigators who reach the end of a personnel mechanism, e.g., the Commissioned Corps, are moved to another appropriate mechanism that meets programmatic needs of the Institute. Salary reductions in other personnel mechanisms must follow the rules of those individual mechanisms.
Brief Description of the Process Followed by the CTC for De-Tenuring
First, a package that presents the case for de-tenuring will be submitted by the IC where the individual has tenure to the CTC. In this package, the Scientific Director from the IC will describe in a cover memo the reasons why the IC no longer has a "vote of confidence in the achievements and potential" of the investigator, as it had when tenure was conferred.1 The investigator must receive a copy of this memorandum and will have the opportunity to respond in writing. This rebuttal will be provided to the CTC as part of the package for the de-tenuring case. The package will also include the investigator's C.V., bibliography and last two BSC reviews. At a meeting with the CTC, the Scientific Director will present the case for de-tenuring and answer questions from the CTC members. All CTC deliberations will be strictly confidential. The presentation should include evidence of "an inability to function as a productive member of the scientific community"1 (e.g., a serious, long-term decline in the person's productivity, qualifications, and fulfillment of expectations). After answering all questions from the CTC, the Scientific Director will leave and the DDIR will ask for general CTC discussion. Then there will normally be a motion, followed by a secret written vote. The DDIR makes the final de-tenuring decision taking into consideration the CTC's recommendation. CTC members do not vote on a de-tenuring action that originates in their own Institute.
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