45 CFR § 689.5 - Initial NSF handling of misconduct matters.
(a) NSF staff who learn of alleged misconduct will promptly and discreetly inform OIG or refer informants to OIG.
(b) The identity of informants who wish to remain anonymous will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law or regulation.
(c) If OIG determines that alleged research misconduct involves potential civil or criminal violations, OIG may refer the matter to the Department of Justice.
(d) Otherwise OIG may:
(1) Inform the awardee institution of the alleged research misconduct and encourage it to undertake an inquiry;
(2) Defer to inquiries or investigations of the awardee institution or of another Federal agency; or
(3) At any time proceed with its own inquiry.
(e) If OIG proceeds with its own inquiry it will normally complete the inquiry no more than 90 days after initiating it.
(f) On the basis of what it learns from an inquiry and in consultation as appropriate with other NSF offices, OIG will decide whether a formal NSF investigation is warranted.