NSF headquarters

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) new headquarters, under construction in Alexandria, Virginia in May 2016. Relocation to the new building began last fall. Photo courtesy of the National Science Foundation.


Each year, the National Science Foundation revises the Proposal and Awards Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), changing requirements that impact proposal submissions and award management.  The revised PAPPG (NSF 18-1) will be effective for proposals submitted or due, or awards made, on or after Jan. 29, 2018.  The following are key items of note for Purdue University faculty.

Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) Template – NSF is implementing the COA excel template which was piloted this past year as a requirement for all proposal submission.  The finalized template format is available to download here: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/coa/coa_template.xlsx

Project Description – The Project Description must now include a separate section specifically labeled “Intellectual Merit.”  This is similar to the current requirement to include a section labeled “Broader Impacts.”

Results from Prior NSF Support Clarification – NSF provided clarification related to the Results from Prior NSF Support requirement in the Project Description.  If any PI or co-PI identified on the proposal has received an NSF award with an end date in the past five years or in the future (including any current funding and no cost extensions), information on the award is required for each PI and co-PI. This applies regardless of whether the support was directly related to the proposal or not.  Only one award should be listed per PI or Co-PI.  If the PI or co-PI has multiple awards, the most relevant award to the proposed project should be chosen.

Budget Justification – The budget justification page limit is increased to five (5) pages for both the primary proposer’s justification and any justifications included for subawards.

Revision of Eligibility Requirements – If a proposal includes funding for an international branch campus of a US institution as a collaborator or subrecipient, the proposal must include an explanation of the benefit(s) of performing some portion of the project at the international campus.  The proposal must also include an explanation as to why the work cannot be performed at the US campus.  Foreign organization eligibility has also been revised. The foreign organization must either contribute a unique organization, facility, geographic location and/ or access to unique data resources not available to US investigators without significant effort to duplicate or offer significant scientific and engineering education, training or research opportunities to the US.

Single Copy Document for Former NSF Staff – For one year following separation from NSF all submissions by the former employee must be done by a “substitute negotiator.”  A single copy document must be included to provide information about the substitute negotiator.

Senior Personnel Salary Policy – NSF clarifies that it is the responsibility of the institution to define and consistently apply the term “year” when evaluation compliance with the two month rule.

Vertebrate Animals & Human Subjects – A new award condition is included that specifies the grantee’s responsibility to ensure that the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval and/or Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval remain(s) valid at all times that animal or human subjects work is conducted under the award.  Additional IACUC or IRB approval must be obtained if the protocols have changed substantively from those originally proposed and approved.  Supplemental Funding will only require new IRB approval letters if the project scope changes substantively.

In addition, we would like to bring the following to the attention of Purdue faculty:

Letters of Collaboration – While instructions related to Letters of Collaboration has not changed, NSF has begun to require removal of any letters that do not strictly adhere to the guidance in the PAPPG.  The specific language from PAPPG, Chapter II.C.2.j. is included below:

“Documentation of collaborative arrangements of significance to the proposal through letters of collaboration. (See Chapter II.C.2.d(iv)). Letters of collaboration should be limited to stating the intent to collaborate and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. The recommended format for letters of collaboration is as follows:

“If the proposal submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal.””

The following detailed resources are available for further review:

Writer: Amanda Hamaker, director, Pre-Award, Sponsored Program Services, 765-496-9647, ahamaker@purdue.edu