Important NSF Updates

Colleagues,

 

On January 26, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will release updates to FastLane and Research.gov that may impact the way you work. This update will implement revised policy and incorporate feedback received from NSF staff and the research community.

 

Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 15-1)

 

revised version of the PAPPG was issued on November 20, 2014, which incorporates OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), as well as other policy updates. On January 26, 2015, the following changes will be made to FastLane to support the revised PAPPG:

 

Budget Form Update: The budget form will be updated so that the “Residual Funds” line (Line K) will not be editable for all programs except Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR). As this field is currently used for the purpose of collecting fees, “Residual Funds” will be renamed to “Small Business Fee.”

  • Budget Justification Upload: Budget justification can no longer be entered as text. Awardees will be required to upload a budget justification for each organization added to the budget via an upload screen. Already, 95% of proposers take advantage of the upload option.
  • Cost Sharing Notifications Requirement: The existing requirement that only awards with cost sharing of $500,000 or more must submit a cost sharing certificate will be modified to support the revised policy which specifies that cost sharing notifications must be submitted by all awardees with awards that include cost sharing. 
  • New Funding Mechanism: The FastLane proposal cover sheet will be updated to include the new funding mechanism type, Ideas Lab. Ideas Lab is designed to support the development and implementation of creative and innovative project ideas. These projects will typically be high-risk/high-impact as they represent new and unproven ideas, approaches, and/or technologies. 

 

Automated Compliance Checks

 

Beginning January 26, 2015, FastLane will  run an additional 24 automated checks on proposals to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the PAPPG, Chapter II.C.2 of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG). Detailed below, these checks will validate a proposal for compliance with page count, proposal sections per type of funding mechanism and budget-related rules for proposals submitted in response to the GPG, Program Announcements, and Program Descriptions. At this time, these checks will not be enforced for proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations.

  • Page Count: Page count rules will be enforced on the following proposal sections:
    • Project Description: 15-page limit [exceptions: 8-page limit for Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and 5-page limit for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)]
    • Budget Justification: 3-page limit for the proposing institution and a separate, 3-page limit for each sub-recipient organization
    • Mentoring Plan: 1-page limit
    • Data Management Plan: 2-page limit
  • Budget: Budget-related checks will focus primarily on proposal duration and requested amount. For example, the system will enforce a maximum requested amount of $200,000 for a RAPID proposal and $300,000 for an EAGER proposal. 
  • Proposal Section: Proposal sections will be enforced by their funding mechanism for Program Announcement, Program Description and other GPG-type funding opportunities. For example, an error message will appear if a Project Description was not provided for an EAGER proposal. 

 

The checks detailed above will be triggered when the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions are selected by a proposer or proposing organization. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message will display when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the organization will not be able to submit the proposal until it is compliant. To view a detailed list of all compliance checks, click here.

 

Research.gov User Experience Enhancements

 

On January 26, 2015, NSF will complete another round of enhancements to Research.gov based on feedback received from the community and recommendations from usability experts. These changes will begin to prepare the research community for the Research.gov/FastLane integration while improving the awardee experience. The following enhancements will be implemented:

  • Updated Branding: An update to the logo, header, footer and background to make it consistent with current NSF branding
  • Improved Look & Feel: A modification to page widths and font size in project reports and the Award Cash Management $ervice (ACM$) in order to optimize layout for each visitor’s screen resolution and make it easier to read
  • Streamlined Navigation: A streamlining of the site by removing the left navigation bar and adding top-level navigation across Research.gov
  • Simplified Login: A consolidation of login options onto one page in order to simplify the process
  • Expanded Help: An expansion of the Research.gov Live Help service to now include support for logging in and changing a password 

 

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues.  If you have any questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188, or ithelpcentral@nsf.gov

 

Thank you,

The NSF Business Applications Team