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Executive Secretariat

Types of Assignments

The Executive Secretariat (ES) controls and keeps records of most of the correspondence and documents to and from the NIH Director and NIH Deputy Director. If a piece of correspondence requires a response or needs to be shared with others at the NIH, the ES will make an assignment through the Director's Document and Records Management System (DDRMS) to the appropriate Institute/Center (IC) or Office of the Director (OD) Office.

Below is a brief overview of the types of assignments you may receive via DDRMS. Also, when reviewing assignments in DDRMS, always review the REMARKS for specific instructions from the ES, as well as the Due Date.

For any questions about assignments or help with using DDRMS, please contact the ES Program Analyst who is listed on the DDRMS assignment and your system-generated email notification of the assignment. Contact information for ES staff can be found under Contacts on our home page.

Response Creation

For response creation requests, your IC or OD Office is asked to create a draft letter for an official's signature.

The most common types of Response Creation requests are:

  • Director's Signature (DIR SIG)
    Prepare a reply for signature by the Director, NIH. When the draft is complete, upload the draft in DDRMS and forward it to ES.
  • Secretary's signature (SEC SIG)
    Prepare a draft response for the signature of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Office of the Secretary requires all draft correspondence for the Secretary's signature be accompanied by a summary statement (PDF - 44KB). When the draft and summary statement are complete, upload the drafts in DDRMS and forward it to ES.

Direct Reply and Direct Reply with OD Clearance

Prepare a response for the signature of your IC/OD Office's Director or an approved designee within your IC/OD Office. Most often, you only need to forward a copy of the signed, dated reply to ES via DDRMS. Sometimes, the assignment will instruct you to send a signed but undated response to ES for further clearance. Always read all of the instructions in the Remarks section of your DDRMS assignment.

After preparing any response required, upload and return it to ES via DDRMS by the due date requested.

FYI (For your information)

FYI means no action or response is required. However, the information contained in an FYI document may be both important and urgent.

When your organization has an interest in the subject matter, yet you are not assigned the response, you will receive an FYI copy of the correspondence. In the remarks section of the assignment, other ICs or OD offices may be listed as receiving information copies.

Necessary Action

A Necessary Action assignment does not necessarily require a written reply, but requires that some action or determination be taken. Your IC/OD Office should determine the appropriate action and, if instructions in the remarks include a due date, send a record of the action taken back to ES via DDRMS. If your office determines that a response is required, forward a copy of the signed and dated document to ES via DDRMS.


A clearance assignment will include a draft document prepared by another organization for your IC/OD Office to review to ensure that it is factually correct and in accord with NIH policy. Your office will be able to upload any comments, to concur, or non-concur, and digitally sign in DDRMS. Once your office's reviewer has digitally signed in DDRMS, return the response to ES via DDRMS.

Due Dates and Requesting Extensions

You must make every effort to meet due dates assigned. When planning your work, be sure to allow time for any necessary reviews within your organization. If you believe you cannot meet a due date, you may use the ES Request feature in DDRMS to request an extension. This negotiation must take place very soon after the document reaches your organization, not when the due date has almost arrived. Please note that the Office of the Secretary will not accept extension to the due dates that they have set.

This page last reviewed on April 14, 2017

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