Changes to NSF Grant Proposal Guide 14-1

Published February 27, 2014

NSF Grant Proposal Guide 14-1 (GPG, Effective February 24, 2014)

SUMMARY OF CHANGES

 

PRE-SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Chapter I.A, NSF Proposal Preparation and Submission, has been revised to describe, at the beginning of the chapter, proposal preparation and submission via FastLane and Grants.gov

Chapter I.G.3, Requirements Relating to Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Numbers and Registration in the System for Award Management (SAM), has been updated to include language that SAM will become the NSF system of record for organizational financial information as of October 1, 2014. The section also emphasizes that organizations are responsible for updating SAM registration information as it changes.

  • Impact: Organization SAM registration must be updated on an annual basis.

COVER PAGE

Chapter II.B, Format of the Proposal, has been revised to add instructions that, upon entering the proposal preparation module in FastLane, the PI will be prompted to select whether or not the proposal is a collaborative proposal and the type of proposal being developed (e.g., RAPID, EAGER, Equipment etc.).

CERTIFICATIONS

Chapter II.C.1.e, Proposal Certifications, includes an addition to the Certification Regarding Conflict of Interest. The language states that if research proceeds without the imposition of conditions or restrictions when a conflict of interest exists, this must be disclosed to NSF via use of the Notifications and Requests Module in FastLane.

  • Change: Adds new clause to the requirements for disclosure of COI.

FORMAT OF PROPOSAL

Chapter II.C.2, Sections of the Proposal, has been augmented to include a list of required sections for a full proposal submitted via FastLane. The section also clarifies that, if the submission instructions do not require a section to be provided, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal stating “Not Applicable.”

  • Change: Added useful checklist of required sections for a full proposal (in order of appearance) and specific instructions for proposals that do not require one or more of these sections.

PROJECT SUMMARY

Chapter II.C.2.b, Project Summary, clarifies that a Project Summary containing special characters that is submitted as a PDF file in the Supplementary Documentation section must be formatted with separate headings for the overview, statement on intellectual merit, and statement on broader impacts.

  • Change: Locates criterion (special characters) for upload of Project Summary as a PDF file to the GPG (this information was previously located in FastLane - see below). PIs should follow the format/headings of the Text Box Project Summary when creating a separate document.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Chapter II.C.2.d(iii), Results from Prior NSF Support, has been amended to make clear that in the summary of results of the completed work, the accomplishments related to Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact activities must be separately described under two distinct headings. This has also been amended to clarify that in cases where the PI or co-PI has received more than one award (excluding amendments) they need only report on the one award most closely related to the proposal.

  • Change: States that the "Intellectual Merit" and "Broader Impact" activities of the PRIOR NSF support must BOTH be discussed, under "two distinct headings". This is a reemphasis/clarification of the previous guidance. This requirement is now also listed as part of the Proposal Preparation Checklist (Exhibit II-1).
  • Impact: These distinct headings must be included within the Prior NSF Support section, in addition to a separate "Broader Impacts" section in the remainder of the project description.

Chapter II.C.2.d(iii), Results from Prior NSF Support, has been amended to clarify that in cases where the PI or co-PI has received more than one award (excluding amendments) they need only report on the one award most closely related to the proposal.

  • Change: For each PI and Co-PI, only the one award most closely related to the proposal need be reported upon.
  • Impact: Clarification. A PI/Co-PI may list more than one award, but need not do so.

Chapter II.C.2.d(iv), Unfunded Collaborations, has been revised to explain that any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget should be described in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal and documented in a letter of commitment from each collaborator.

  • Change: Specifically requests description of unfunded collaborations in the Facilities section. Previously, this was loosely implied by the instructions for the Facilities section. The requested letter is now specifically described as a "letter of commitment".
  • Impact: Clarification and reemphasis. All unfunded collaborations should be described in the Facilities section and the letter should be one of commitment rather than general support.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

Chapter II.C.2.f(i), Biographical Sketch(es), has been updated to state that inclusion of information beyond that specified may result in the proposal being returned without review.

  • Change: This is an additional/new instruction.

Chapter II.C.2.f(i), Biographical Sketch(es), has been modified to add that, if a biographical sketch(es) is not required, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in this section of the proposal that states, “Not Applicable.” In FastLane, if biographical sketches for all senior personnel are uploaded in a single PDF file associated with the PI, the proposer should insert text or upload a document that states, “Not Applicable” for any co-PI or Senior Person.

  • Impact: A document or text should be uploaded if Biographical Sketches are not required or if they are uploaded for multiple personnel in a single document.

Chapter II.C.2.f(i)(c), Products, has been supplemented with language stating that, if only publications are included, the heading “Publications” may be used for this section of the Biographical Sketch.

  • Impact: NSF guidance now specifically states: "If only publications are included, the heading “Publications” may be used for this section of the Biographical Sketch."

BUDGET AND BUDGET JUSTIFICATION  (see also AAG Summary of Changes below)

Chapter II.C.2.g, Budget, has been modified to include “Budget Justification” in the section heading. The language has been amended to clarify that, if a program solicitation does not require a budget, and there is no budgetary information to justify, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in the budget justification section that states, “Not Applicable.”

  • Impact: A document or text should be uploaded if a Budget Justification is not required.

Chapter II.C.2.g(v), Participant Support, has been revised to emphasize that indirect costs are not allowed on participant support costs.

  • Change: The previous GPG indicated that F&A on these costs could be allowed under certain circumstances. The new guidance states "Indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on participant support costs."
  • Impact: See AAG for further information.

Chapter II.C.2.g(vi)(f), Other, has been updated to include guidance on the allowability of visa costs on an NSF proposal.

  • Change: This is additional/new guidance.
  • Impact: Provides specific criteria/conditions for the allowability of short-term travel visa costs.

 

Chapter II.C.2.g(viii), Indirect Costs, has been expanded to make clear that NSF formally negotiates indirect cost rates for the organizations for which NSF has rate cognizance. NSF does not negotiate rates for organizations that are not direct recipients of NSF funding (e.g., subrecipients). The prime recipient is responsible for ensuring that proposed subrecipient costs, including indirect costs, are reasonable and appropriate.

  • Change: Includes a new statement: "The prime recipient is responsible for ensuring that proposed subrecipient costs, including indirect costs, are reasonable and appropriate."

Chapter II.C.2.g(xi), Cost Sharing, has been amended to state that, for purposes of budget preparation, the cumulative cost sharing amount must be entered on Line M of the first year’s budget. Should an award be made, the organization’s cost sharing commitment, as specified on the first year’s approved budget, must be met prior to award expiration.

  • Change: Adds specific instruction for inclusion of the cumulative cost sharing amount on Line M of the first year's budget.

AAG Changes Relevant to Pre-Award at Budget time (see discussion below in AAG Summary of Changes):

  • Basic Considerations has been updated to clarify the awardee’s responsibilities for ensuring that all costs charged to NSF awards meet the requirements of the applicable cost principles, grant general terms and conditions, any other specific requirements of both the award notice and the applicable program solicitation, and their own internal policies and procedures.  This part also has been updated to add language on establishing an advance agreement or understanding about charging an item of direct cost that might otherwise subsequently be disputed.
  • Prior Approval has been amended to add that awardees should ensure that all costs are fully disclosed in the budget justification.
  • Consultant Services has  been  augmented  to  clarify  that  all consultant costs should be fully disclosed and explained in the accompanying budget justification.

CURRENT & PENDING SUPPORT

Chapter II.C.2.h, Current and Pending Support, has been modified to add that, if Current and Pending Support information is not required, the proposer should insert text or upload a document in this section of the proposal that states, “Not Applicable.” In FastLane, if Current and Pending Support information for all senior personnel are uploaded in a single PDF file associated with the PI, the proposer should insert text or upload a document that states, “Not Applicable” for any co-PI or Senior Person.

  • Impact: A document or text should be uploaded if Current & Pending Support is not required or if information for multiple personnel is uploaded in a single document.

SPECIAL INFO/SUPPLEMENTARY DOCUMENTATION

Chapter II.C.2.j, Special Information and Supplementary Documentation, has been revised to move language regarding letters of support to be co-located with information on letters of commitment.

  • Change: Moves guidance for Letters of Support from the end of this section where it could be overlooked and provides specific definitions of Letters of Support, clearly differentiating them from the requested Letters of Commitment.
  • Impact: Strengthens guidance that letters of general support/enthusiasm should not be submitted.

Chapter II.C.2.j, Special Information and Supplementary Documentation. The section also was modified to clarify that, in order for NSF to comply with federal environmental statutes (including, but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act [42 U.S.C. §§ 4321, et seq.], the National Historic Preservation Act [16 U.S.C. § 470, et seq.], and the Endangered Species Act [16 U.S.C. §§ 1531, et seq.]), the proposer may be requested to submit supplemental post-proposal submission information to NSF in order that a reasonable and accurate assessment of environmental impacts by NSF may be made. NSF intends to pursue the pilot use of a new Institution/Organization Environmental Impacts Checklist in a small number of programs, prior to implementation Foundation-wide.

  • Impact: See GPG page II-22 for additional information. Also see discussion of Environmental Compliance below in AAG Summary of Changes.

Chapter II.C.2.j, Special Information and Supplementary Documentation. New guidance regarding International Research/Education/Training and International Conferences, Symposia and Workshops has been added.

  • Impact: See GPG page II-22 for additional information.

SPECIAL GUIDELINES

Chapter II.D.1, Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID), has been updated to indicate that the “RAPID” proposal type must be selected in the proposal preparation module in FastLane.

  • Impact: See Cover Page

Chapter II.D.2, EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), has been updated to indicate that the “EAGER” proposal type must be selected in the proposal preparation module in FastLane.

  • Impact: See Cover Page.

Chapter II.D.4.b, Submission of a collaborative proposal from multiple organizations, has been supplemented to clarify required sections of the proposal for lead organizations versus non-lead organizations.

  • Change: Clear statement of which documents are required from each organization for collaborative proposals, including a useful checklist in a tabular format.

Chapter II.D.5, Proposals for Equipment, has been revised to explain what information should be included in different sections of the proposal.

  • Change: Added specific instructions for which documents are required and the particular information they should contain, along with a useful checklist.
  • Impact: Provides a formal framework for the proposal that is identical to that for a standard research proposal. This should be very useful for PIs.

Chapter II.D.8, Proposals for Conferences, Symposia and Workshops, has been augmented to explain that such proposals should include a description of plans to identify resources for child care and other types of family care at the conference site to allow individuals with family care responsibilities to attend.

  • Changes: Adds statement that a document or text should be uploaded if any section is not required. Adds requirement for proposal to describe plans to identify resources for child/family care at the conference site.

Chapter II.D.9, Proposals to Support International Travel.

  • Change: Adds statement that a document or text should be uploaded if any section is not required.

Chapter II.D.13, Projects Requiring High-Performance Computing Resources, Large Amount of Data Storage, or Advanced Visualization Resources, has been updated to describe NSF-supported resources at University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign, and National Center for Atmospheric Research, which are in addition to XSEDE.

  • Change: Adds information about the NSF Blue Waters and Yellowstone resources.
  • Impact: This is useful information for PIs.