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Writing a Winning Grant Proposal
Understanding the Federal Program Descriptions

Content provided by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
47.070 Computer and Information Science and Engineering

FEDERAL AGENCY:

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

AUTHORIZATION:

National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 106-377, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.
OBJECTIVES: Click here for help!
To support research improving the fundamental understanding of computer and information processing, to enhance the training and education of scientists and engineers who contribute to and exploit that understanding, to enhance the personnel pool for these fields, to provide access to very advanced computing and networking capabilities, and to provide the information intensive knowledge underlying selected national initiatives.

TYPES OF ASSISTANCE:

Project Grants.
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USES AND USE RESTRICTIONS:

Funds may be used to pay costs of conducting research, and obtaining access to advanced computing and networking capabilities, salaries and wages, equipment and supplies, travel, publication costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs. This program does not provide support for fellowships, scholarships, product development or marketing, or proof-of-concept experimentation.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Applicant Eligibility:   Public and private colleges and universities; nonprofit institutions; profit-making organizations, including small businesses; and State, and local government agencies are eligible. The greatest percentage of support goes to academic institutions.

Beneficiary Eligibility:   Public and private colleges and universities; nonprofit institutions; profit-making organizations, including small businesses, and State, and local governments.

Credentials/Documentation:   The proposal must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular Nos. A-21 for educational institutions and A-122 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

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APPLICATION AND AWARD PROCESS:
Pre-application Coordination:   None required, except in specific cases, but preliminary discussions with relevant National Science Foundation program officers, by telephone or mail, are encouraged. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure:   Proposals must be submitted electronically via FastLane to the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate and should follow the general instructions and guidelines in The "Grant Proposal Guide," NSF 03-2. All proposals are acknowledged. This program is subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-110 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102.

Award Procedure:   NSF Staff members review and evaluate all proposals, with the advice and assistance of scientists and engineers who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal, of prospective users of research results when appropriate, and of specialists in other Federal agencies.

Deadlines:   Deadlines and target dates are published in the NSF bulletin, program announcements and on NSF World Wide Web site URL: http://www.cise.nsf.gov/.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:   Approximately 6 months or less, except in special instances.

Appeals:   The Principal Investigator may request, in writing, that the National Science Foundation reconsider its action in declining any proposal application, renewal application, or continuing application.

Renewals:   Standard Grants, in which the National Science Foundation agrees to support a specified level of effort for a specified period of time, are awarded with no statement of NSF intent to provide additional future support. Proposals for renewal of a Standard Grant compete with all other pending proposals.

ASSISTANCE CONSIDERATIONS:

Formula and Matching Requirements:   The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (Chapter II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide information on the general NSF policy on cost-sharing.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:   Normally 6 months to 3 years; occasionally longer.

POST ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Reports:   For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant program office at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report. Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required. Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.

Audits:   In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A- 133 (Revised, June 24, 1997), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $300,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $300,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.

Records:   Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the general purpose for which each grant was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and for 3 years thereafter.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION:

Account Identification:   49-0100-0-1-251.

Obligations:   (Grants) FY 01 $478,150,000; FY 02 est $514,880,000; and FY 03 est $526,940,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:  
Range Low $3,772.00
Range High $17,209,167.00
Average $187,106.00.

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PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
In fiscal year 2001, 4963 proposals were received and 2,009 awards made. In fiscal year 2002, approximately 5,100 proposals will be received and about 2,100 awards will be made. In fiscal year 2003, approximately 5,300 proposals will be received and about 2,150 awards will be made.

REGULATIONS, GUIDELINES, AND LITERATURE:

48 CFR Chapter 25: 45 CFR Chapter VI; "NSF Guide to Programs, Fiscal Year 2003," NSF 03-009 (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf03009); and "Grant Proposal Guide," NSF 03-2 (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf032).

INFORMATION CONTACTS:

Regional or Local Office:   Not applicable.

Headquarters Office:  
Carmen Whitson 4201 Wilson Blvd., Stafford I - Suite 1105, Arlington, Virginia 22230 Email: cwhitson@nsf.gov Phone: 7032928900 Fax: 7032929074

Web Site Address:  
http://nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=cise

EXAMPLES OF FUNDED PROJECTS:

Shang-Hua Teng of the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign and Dan Spielman of MIT, have formulated a new and very useful method, called smoothed analysis, to study the performance of algorithms. They have applied their method to gain a deeper understanding of the Simplex Method, a widely used algorithm that has defied complete understanding for over 50 years. The Simplex Method is widely used for scheduling manufacturing, airline flights and flight crews. Fred Jelinek of Johns Hopkins University has sponsored a series of summer schools on computational language engineering, including automated speech recognition and synthesis, natural language processing, machine translation of languages, and information extraction and summarization. Research in this field enables applications that help us deal with non-English languages such as machine recognition of spoken language from conversations, radio or other sources, automatic translation between languages, and clustering to find frequent concepts. The need for advances in such technology was highlighted by the events of September 11 and the concomitant recognition that the U.S. has insufficient expertise dealing with languages such as Pashto, Urdu, and Arabic. Michael Rabin at Harvard, has created the world's first demonstrably secure cryptosystem. Previous cryptosystems relied on both computational limitations of the adversary and assumptions in computational complexity theory. This system is secure against any adversary regardless of the adversary's computing power. Ron Elber and colleagues at Cornell are developing new algorithms for simulation to allow significantly faster computation and simulation of protein structures, allowing more rapid advances in our understanding of protein behavior.

CRITERIA FOR SELECTING PROPOSALS:

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities. On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions. In an effort to increase compliance with these requirements, the January 2002 issuance of the GPG incorporated revised proposal preparation guidelines relating to the development of the Project Summary and Project Description. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators (PIs) must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative. Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. It is believed that these changes to NSF proposal preparation and processing guidelines will more clearly articulate the importance of broader impacts to NSF-funded projects. The two National Science Board approved merit review criteria are listed below (see the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter III.A for further information). The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which he/she is qualified to make judgements. What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources? What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions: Integration of Research and Education. One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities. Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

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