For fiscal year 2016, the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation will be piloting a just-in-time (JIT) system. The intent of the pilot is to allow NSF reviewers to focus on the science and to reduce PI workload by requiring only basic budget justifications; think along the lines of the impetus behind NIH modular budgets. If a proposal is recommended for award, NSF staff will request full budgets and associated justifications at that time (hence the term).
Here’s where it gets a little sticky: during the initial proposal submission stage, NSF is requesting a blank FastLane budget (listing zero dollars). Since FastLane prepopulates fields for senior personnel, there is a work-around to erase those fields in Section A if senior personnel are on the project (here’s a hint: they probably are). Here’s what NSF wants you to do:
- Go the Budget;
- Click Funds (or Add a Year, if appropriate, then click Funds);
- Delete the Senior Personnel from Budget Section A (by clicking on ‘Add/Remove Senior Personnel’) and then click Save; and
- Click to the Bottom of Page, click Calculate and Save and Go Back.
The budget justification will include resource details, but not dollar amounts (except for large equipment). If they are being requested, information must be provided for:
- Total number of person-months of Senior Personnel salary for the entire project (such as 3 months, 6 months, etc.);
- Number of postdoctoral scholars, graduate or undergraduate students, administrative and clerical staff, and a brief overview of their respective roles in the project;
- Equipment purchases, including estimated cost;
- Number of domestic and foreign trips anticipated, their necessity for the project, as well as the number of travelers and the location of the trip, if available;
- Number of project participants for whom travel, stipend, etc., support is requested;
- Pertinent materials and supplies to be purchased, consultant services, etc.; and
- Any subawards, to whom, and a brief description of the work to be performed.
As you can see, the new NSF JIT framework is a bit nuanced. Make sure you read the pilot announcement to fully understand the JIT implementation if you are planning to submit a DMS NSF proposal in FY2016. This is also worth a read if you plan to submit to any NSF division in the future 😉