You’re Just In Time for an NSF Pilot

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 😉

Diversifying Your Portfolio: Additions to the NSF Conversation

For those of you unable to attend the Tips & Tools meeting last week, Kathryn Wrench’s presentations slides are available HERE.  If you were a part of the discussion, a couple of corrections were subsequently made to the information presented:

 

  • Resubmissions to NSF Programs: Resubmissions are considered new submissions by NSF, if substantially revised. If not substantially revised, the investigator risks return without review, or the Program Official may be kind enough to suggest that the proposal be withdrawn so that NSF does not need to take an adverse action. Some NSF Directorates explicitly prohibit resubmission within 1 year of the original submission, others do not. There is no formal standardized process for the entire organization. The NSF Proposal Review Process is accessible here. The Non-Award Decision actions are accessible here.
  • Salary Cap:  NSF removed their statutory salary cap around 1990. Keep in mind, however, that NSF has a general limit of 2 month’s pay for Senior Personnel. Although that rule is general, we go by it in budgeting unless the program would justify deviation with permission (there are some exceptions permitted to the 2 month limit). Apparently, the agencies that impose a cap are certain components of DHHS, including NIH $183,300, and DOD $952,308. The DOD and other cap provisions outside of DHHS apply to contracts only (more on that here).

 

If you have any questions about submitting an NSF proposal, Kathryn Wrench has indicated that she is happy to take your questions.  RAS is also here to help sort out the details!

Fast Times at NSF

The National Science Foundation recently announced their transition of the “Notifications and Requests” function from FastLane to Research.gov. Starting April 27, 2015, recipients can create and submit three new types of budget-related requests on Research.gov: salaries of administrative or clerical staff, travel costs for dependents, and additional categories of participant support costs other than those described in 2 CFR § 200.75 (such as, incentives, gifts, souvenirs, t-shirts and/or memorabilia). All other existing notifications and requests will continue to reside in FastLane and will be migrated in the future. For more information, see the notifications and requests informational page.

 

This is just one piece of the NSF effort to “modernize FastLane.” It is NSF’s goal to eventually replace FastLane with Research.gov completely, but that is still years away.  For more information on the functionality of Research.gov and what you can expect to migrate, take some time with Research.gov’s FAQ page.  If you’re not sure if whether you should be using Research.gov or FastLane (or whether it should be you or your GCO), reach out and we’ll give you a hand!