National Science Foundation Update


NSF is expected to publish a new Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) in October 2015 and the new policies are scheduled be made effective on January 25, 2016. One of the major changes to proposal preparation will involve the Biographical Sketch format. Specifically, the Collaborator and Other Affiliation Information section will be completely removed from the Biographical Sketch and will now be a separate, single copy document. The two page limitation on the Biographical Sketch form itself will remain.

NSF is updating the Proposal Preparation Checklist to identify some of the items most frequently missed by proposers, so be sure to review the new checklist to assist your proposal writing efforts when the new guide becomes available. The new PAPPG also includes the suggested formatting instructions for Letters of Collaboration. As you may be aware, NSF prohibits the inclusion of letters of support, but letters of unfunded collaboration are allowable.

However, one common compliance issue is the inclusion of endorsing language within these letters of collaboration. The new suggested wording for letters guides collaborating institutions in the proper way to document intent to collaborate while also avoiding any compliance pitfalls.

NSF continues to add to its automated compliance checking efforts. The newest set of compliance checks deals with proposals submitted in response to specific program solicitations. For example, most program solicitations require the standard References Cited, Biographical Sketch(es), Budget Justification (for both the primary/lead organization and for any sub-recipient organizations), Current and Pending, and Facilities documents, so the automated compliance checking function will trigger a warning if these documents are not included. The solicitation-specific nature of the compliance check also comes into play when a document is not required for a certain funding mechanism. For example, proposals for conferences do not require the References Cited document as a component of the proposal and therefore a warning will not be triggered when this document is not uploaded. It should be noted that proposals submitted to NSF via a package instead of Fastlane will not be subject to these compliance checks and so no warnings will be issued for compliance issues prior to submission. Fastlane continues to be the recommended method of submission for NSF proposals. A convenient chart of all automated proposal compliance checks that are currently performed by the system is available at: