Commentary from Datahound.
(1) This problem already has a solution. An investigator can (with approval from the relevant IC) name a new Principal Investigator for a grant. Assuming the PI is qualified and NIH approves, this is an effective transition strategy that has been used many times.
(2) For most research programs, is "succession planning" something that NIH staff are worried about? Given that many investigators train numerous younger scientists over the course of their careers and that the system is currently flooded with accomplished younger scientists, the solution to this problem without any mechanism seems to be at hand.
(3) Even proposing such a mechanism seems quite inappropriate and tone deaf at this juncture when so many younger scientists are struggling to establish and maintain their careers.
If money were flowing freely, there may be some positive things coming out of this iniative. But in the "current funding climate" I don't see how this is helpful.