NSF Updates to the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) – Coming Soon!

Effective October 5, 2020, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will enhance the Project Reporting System in Research.gov to implement the revised Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR).  The RPPR is a uniform format for reporting performance progress on Federally funded research projects and research related activities.  NSF awardees use the RPPR to prepare and submit annual and final project reports to NSF.  Further details about the RPPR can be found on the Research.gov About Project Reports website.

 

New Question Added for Project Reports with Active Other Support Changes

  • On October 5, 2020, NSF will add the following new question to the Edit Participants screen: Has there been a change in the active other support of the PI/PD(s) since the last reporting period?  If Principal Investigators (PIs)/Project Directors (PDs) and co-PIs/co-PDs select “Yes,” they will be required to upload their most up-to-date Current and Pending Support document in an NSF-approved format to notify NSF that active other support has changed since the award was made or since the most recent annual report.
  • Current and Pending Support documents not in an NSF-approved format will trigger a compliance error preventing document upload and submission of the annual or final project report.
  • The NSF-approved formats for Current and Pending Support are SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae and an NSF fillable PDF.
  • The NSF Current and Pending Support website includes additional information as well as links to system-related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for both NSF-approved formats.  A set of policy-related FAQs related to current and pending support is also available.
  • The complete lists of FastLane and Research.gov automated proposal compliance checks effective October 5, 2020, are available on the Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals website.

 

Additional New Questions from the Revised RPPR

Beginning October 5, 2020, NSF will also add the following three questions to the “Impact” and “Changes/Problems” tabs:

  • What was the impact on teaching and educational experiences? (Impact tab);
  • What percentage of the award’s budget was spent in a foreign country? (Impact tab); and
  • Has there been a change in primary performance site location from that originally proposed? (Changes/Problems tab).

 

NSF-specific Updates

  • NSF-specific help text updates have been added throughout, and NSF-specific instructions have been clarified or enhanced.
  • To reduce administrative burden, NSF has consolidated data entry fields where possible.

 

Current and Pending Support Format Training Resources

To learn more about the NSF-approved formats for Current and Pending Support, please view the NSF PAPPG (NSF 20-1) webinar and NSF-Approved Formats for the Biographical Sketch & Current and Pending Support Sections of NSF Proposals webinar.

SciENcv has created the following materials to guide the community through the preparation of the NSF Current and Pending Support document in SciENcv:

 

Questions? Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.  If you have IT system-related or technical questions regarding the NSF-approved formats or the Research.gov Project Reporting System, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 (7:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET; Monday – Friday except federal holidays) or via rgov@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF on September 28, 2020

Enforcement of NSF-approved Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support Formats Begins on 10/5/2020

Effective October 5, 2020, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will begin enforcing the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1) requirement to use NSF-approved formats for the preparation of the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support proposal documents.  The NSF-approved formats are SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae and an NSF fillable PDF.

All other PAPPG (NSF 20-1) changes were effective on June 1, 2020.  Please refer to the complete list of PAPPG (NSF 20-1) significant changes and clarifications which include the IT system changes and other policy-related changes.  A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on proposal preparation and award administration related to NSF PAPPG (NSF 20-1) is also available and includes Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support information.

Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support Websites

  • The NSF Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support websites include links to the NSF-fillable PDF formats, updated FAQs, and instructions.
  • For the fillable PDF formats, NSF recommends users download and save the blank PDF document prior to adding content. Populating content directly into a web browser (e.g., Chrome or Safari) may result in formatting inconsistencies.  The completed and saved PDF can then be uploaded via FastLane, Research.gov, or Grants.gov.
  • Beginning on October 5, 2020, links to the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support websites will also be located in FastLane (on the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support Personnel pages), in Research.gov (on the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support Upload pages), and in Grants.gov (on the NSF Senior Key Person Profile form version 2.0).

Change of Principal Investigator (PI) and Add/Change Co-PI Requests

  • Effective October 5, 2020, Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documentation must also be in an NSF-approved format when uploaded with a Change of PI and an Add/Change co-PI request in FastLane.

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Submissions with Active Other Support Changes

  • Effective October 5, 2020, PIs and co-PIs must include an NSF-approved format for Current and Pending Support when notifying NSF that active other support has changed since the award was made, or since the most recent annual report.
  • This new requirement serves as NSF’s implementation of the revised RPPR, a uniform format for reporting performance progress on Federally-funded research projects and research-related activities.

Automated Compliance Checks for NSF-approved Formats

  • Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documents not in an NSF-approved format will trigger a compliance error and ultimately will prevent proposal submission or completion of the post-award action.  This compliance check applies to proposals, Change of PI requests, Add/Change co-PI requests, and relevant RPPR submissions.
  • Note that automated compliance checks also apply when a proposal file update (PFU) is performed on a proposal. Proposers should be aware that if a proposal was previously submitted successfully, a PFU performed on the proposal will be prevented from submission if the proposal does not comply with the compliance checks in effect at the time.

NSF-approved Format Updates

Based on feedback from the research community, NSF has enhanced both approved formats, and users are encouraged to use the latest versions.  Please see the system-related FAQs on using SciENcv and the system-related FAQs on using the NSF fillable PDF for a list of the improvements to each format.  In particular, note the permitted use of “et al.” for publication citations in the Biographical Sketch when listing multiple authors.  Senior personnel who wish to include publications in the products section of the Biographical Sketch that include multiple authors may, at their discretion, choose to list one or more of the authors and then “et al.” in lieu of including the complete listing of authors’ names.

SciENcv Enhancements

The SciENcv module for creating NSF Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documents will be updated prior to October 5, 2020; however, all SciENcv-generated Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support PDF documents created on or after April 1, 2020 remain compliant in NSF systems.

Prior to the October 5th requirement to use the NSF-approved format, SciENcv will make a number of enhancements that include:

  • ability for users to reorder products and appointments in the Biographical Sketch
  • ability for users to edit long author citations imported from ORCID on the Biographical Sketch and add “et al.”
  • addition of a Current and Pending Support tool tip to provide clarification and guidance on how users should document support under a fiscal year calendar

Please see the system-related FAQs on using SciENcv for details.

As a reminder, the SciENcv tool integrates with ORCID, enabling users to populate the Biographical Sketch by importing data directly from ORCID records rather than having to manually enter all the required information.  This helps reduce administrative burden associated with the Biographical Sketch preparation process.  Additionally, SciENcv allows users to grant access to delegates to assist with maintaining and updating data. SciENcv also offers users a dynamic and more customized PDF.  For example, users with fewer Current and Pending Support entries may elect to use SciENcv to generate their Current and Pending Support PDF document since SciENcv will produce a PDF without any blank pages.  Conversely, the Current and Pending Support fillable PDF will always be 15 pages regardless of how much data is included.

Latest NSF Fillable PDF Version

  • Revised NSF fillable PDF formats were released on May 1, 2020; however, the previous versions remain compliant in NSF systems.
  • The May 1, 2020 version is indicated by “Revised 05/01/2020” printed on the first page of each form.

Additional Training Resources

To learn more about the NSF-approved formats for Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support, please view the NSF PAPPG (NSF 20-1) webinar and NSF-Approved Formats for the Biographical Sketch & Current and Pending Support Sections of NSF Proposals webinar.

SciENcv has created the following materials to guide NSF users through the preparation of the NSF documents available in SciENcv:

Other Updates for Proposers

A revised NSF Grants.gov Application Guide will be published on September 16th and effective October 5, 2020. The Guide will be updated to remove references and instructions for the Research & Related Personal Data Form. NSF will no longer require this form, and this form will no longer be included in NSF’s packages effective October 5, 2020.

Questions?  Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.  If you have IT system-related or technical questions regarding the SciENcv or NSF fillable PDF formats, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 (7:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET; Monday – Friday except federal holidays) or via fastlane@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF on August 14, 2020

NSF Issuance of Proposal Preparation & Award Administration FAQs related to the NSF PAPPG

On Aug 28th, 2020 NSF announced the issuance of a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on proposal preparation and award administration related to NSF PAPPG (NSF 20-1).

Some of the topics addressed in the FAQs include conference proposals, cost sharing, deadline dates, indirect costs, international activities/considerations and participant support.

Original post by NSF Jean Feldman on August 2, 2020

New Vertebrate Animals Section Training Module for NIH Proposal Applicants

Calling all NIH applicants proposing research with vertebrate animals – check out the latest online learning module on the Vertebrate Animals Section in grant applications. This interactive module will assist applicants in preparing this section of the application, and will serve as a valuable resource for reviewers in evaluating the Vertebrate Animal Section of applications and proposals.

This engaging module takes 30 minutes or less to complete and includes:

  • an overview of the requirements,
  • a checklist for applicants and reviewers,
  • detailed instructions, and
  • responsibilities of applicants, reviewers, and NIH staff.

See additional resources on the humane care and use of animals in PHS supported research on NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) website.

Original post by NIH on July 24, 2020

OMB Announces Revisions to Uniform Guidance

 The revised guidance was published August 13, 2020.  This is the first major substantive revision to the UG since 2014.  Additional information and resources, including the August 27 Innovation Exchange session on the revisions to UG will be available at https://www.performance.gov/CAP/grants  Sign-up for the August 27 Innovation Exchange session from 12:00-12:45 pm ET: https://grantsinnovation_aug27_2020_2cfr.eventbrite.com
Original post by NCURA e-Xtra Volume VII, No. 33 on August 17, 2020

NSF’s Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-26: Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by COVID-19 due to Loss of Operations

NSF has issued guidance on NSF’s implementation of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum (M-20-26), entitled, Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations.  NSF remains committed to working with the Administration, other federal agencies, and the research community to effectively respond to the COVID-19 national emergency.  This guidance is to implement updated guidance authorized by OMB Memorandum M-20-26 for recipients affected by COVID-19.

The guidance extends two of the short-term administrative relief from specific requirements contained in 2 CFR Part 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, without compromising accountability requirements. These extensions, that go beyond what OMB previously outlined in Memorandum M-20-17, specifically pertain to the allowability of salaries and other project activities and single audit submission.  In order to support charges against NSF awards, recipients are reminded of their responsibility to maintain appropriate records and documentation to support the charges in accordance with institutional policies and procedures. OMB Memoranda M-20-17 and M-20-20 have been rescinded.

NSF has worked with colleagues at the National Institutes of Health to develop a consistent implementation which they will be issuing separately.

Questions about the policies described in the NSF Guidance should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by Jean Feldman NSF on 6/26/2020

NSF Delays Requirement for NSF-approved Formats for Biographical Sketch and Current & Pending Support until October 1, 2020

On June 1, 2020, NSF will implement the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1) for proposals submitted or due on or after this date.  The revised PAPPG implements a variety of changes and clarifications, the highest profile of which requires use of an NSF-approved format for the preparation of the biographical sketch and current and pending support.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing stress on proposers, the research community has not been able to adequately prepare and train their staff for the implementation of the new requirements.

NSF has therefore made the decision to delay the requirement to use NSF-approved formats for the biographical sketch and current and pending support sections of NSF proposals until October 1, 2020.  Proposers must continue to format these documents in accordance with PAPPG requirements (see PAPPG sections II.C.2.f and II.C.2.h).  NSF encourages the community to use these formats and continue to provide valuable feedback as we enhance them for future implementation.

Over the coming week, NSF will make updates to existing policy guidance, websites and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to reflect the change.  NSF will communicate further with the community once these updates have been made.

Webinars covering the use of NSF-approved formats as well as all of the significant changes to the PAPPG are available on the NSF Policy Outreach website.

NSF will continue to implement all other changes to the PAPPG beginning June 1, 2020, including the following:

  • New requirement for proposing organizations to submit government-wide representations and certifications in the System for Award Management (SAM);
  •  New requirement for providing e-mail documentation of Program Officer approval for the submission of RAPID and EAGER proposals; and
  •  Clarifications to current and pending support coverage as well as other changes throughout the document.

You are encouraged to review the by-chapter summary of changes provided in the Introduction section of the PAPPG.  If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact the DIAS/Policy Office at policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF Jean Feldman on May 22, 2020

Working on an NIH Grant Application? Make Sure You Are Using the Right Forms!

NIH is transitioning to an updated set of application forms referred to as FORMS-F.  Use FORMS-F forms for grant application due dates on or after May 25, 2020 and FORMS-E for due dates on or before May 24, 2020.

For tips on navigating this transition, see their previous Nexus post, guide notices (NOT-OD-20-026NOT-OD-20-077), and the resources listed below.

Resources related to form updates:

Direct questions regarding the NIH form update to MBL OSP or:
NIH Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration (OPERA)
Systems Policy Branch
Email: OPERAsystemspolicy@nih.gov

Original post by NIH Staff on May 12, 2020

Updates to NSF-Approved Formats for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support

Based on feedback from the community, NSF has made a number of improvements to the NSF-approved formats for the biographical sketch and current and pending support sections of proposals.  As a reminder, in accordance with the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1), these formats will be required for proposals submitted or due on or after June 1, 2020.  NSF also has updated the websites for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support to further inform the community about these improvements, including updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Biographical Sketch Improvements:

  • Permit use of “et al” for publication citations in the Products section in the event that listing multiple authors makes it difficult to fit the information into the allotted space (NSF fillable format and SciENcv format);
  • Increased space for the Products section by removing instructional text. Links added to relevant PAPPG sections (NSF fillable format);
  • Removed the requirement to include the NSF ID (NSF fillable format); and
  • Added a version date to the document (NSF fillable format).

Current and Pending Support Improvements:

  • Increased the number of Project/Proposal entries from 10 to 15 to support the majority of proposals submitted to NSF (NSF fillable format);
  • Updated the Award Number field to allow entry of both numbers and letters (NSF fillable format and SciENcv format);
  • Replaced the “Calendar Year” label with “Year” to be consistent with PAPPG guidance (NSF fillable format and SciENcv format);
  • Removed the requirement to include the NSF ID (NSF fillable format); and
  • Added a version date to the document (NSF fillable format).

NSF looks forward to your continued suggestions and improvements.  Please continue to provide comments to policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF/Jean Feldman on 5/7/2020

Tips and Key Notes for Writing NSF Annual Reports! (with advice during the time of COVID-19)

NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17

Imagine this experience: You’ve received your first (or another) NSF award and all is going well so far. Then, at 9 months in, you receive an automated notice from NSF saying: “Your annual report for NSF award IOS-1234567 is now due.” Surprised, and perhaps a bit panicked, you wonder: what should I write about and why so soon?

This post is meant to demystify the process of preparing annual reports for NSF. These tips are provided to help guide your report; however, be sure to also check the information about annual reporting in the PAPPG 19-1. (And remember the PAPPG is updated almost every year, with a new version to go into effect for proposals submitted after June 1, 2020).

Purpose of the annual progress report: The annual report allows your managing Program Director (PD) to check on the progress of the research, identify exciting new science, learn about potential hurdles, and make sure that all is on track. NSF also extracts critical metrics from the annual reports – and this is extremely important information to demonstrate to Congress and the public the great value of taxpayer investment in NSF science and education.

Timeline for submission: The annual report is requested 90 days early to allow NSF PDs time to review the report, request changes if necessary and then process an approval. Once the award anniversary date has passed, you will get another notice warning you that the annual report is overdue and an automatic block will prevent any actions or requests such as NSF-approved no cost extensions, continuing grant increments and new awards including supplements for any PI or co-PI on your award. So, getting started early helps everyone.

Key Notes for Preparing the Annual Report: Research.gov provides government-wideMusical notes instructions that need to be followed. Here we offer advice about what makes a great annual report, and how to document your progress in both the research and broader impact activities.

Section 1: Accomplishments

  • The first section requests a statement of your major goals. These goals should not change year to year (unless you have an approved change of scope). Provide a clear explanation of the overarching purpose of the project and itemize each specific aim or objective.
  • For the rest of the report, it helps to align your activities, results and key outcomes back to the original goals and aims.
  • Yes, NSF reads the annual report! Remember, your reviewing PD is a scientist with expertise often in your area of research. Provide clear results, supportive figures and remember we love to hear about new discoveries in advance of publication! Point us in the direction you are going.
  • Use the download section for PDFs of figures or images to support your discussion of results or broader impacts. Manuscripts in preparation can be placed here as well! Many PDs are excited to see what is coming and we can then remind you to inform us when the paper is accepted for publication.
  • Remember to include your broader impacts activities! Absence of this information is one of the most frequent reasons a report may be returned to you.

Section 2: Products

  • Keep in mind that all publications derived from research on the award must include Federal acknowledgement.
  • Be sure to use the reporting function with full citation (even if you listed publications in the Accomplishments section). Only fully reported products, with DOI included, are counted. Inaccurate product reporting is another reason a report may be returned to the PI.
  • Include all products including patents pending or awarded, conference reports, book chapters, web pages, research resources and any other searchable products.

Section 3: Participants

  • All individuals who worked on the project should be entered in the searchable section, even if they did not receive funding. These participants do not need to have been listed in the original proposal, but any contribution should be recorded here.
  • Provide brief information about each participant’s role to help explain the workflow.

Section 4. Impacts

  • This is another great place to highlight the outcomes of your post-doc or student training, broader impacts activities, data products and release.
  • New collaborations that spring from the project also are good examples of impacts.

Section 5. Changes

  • Include information about any delays in budget expenditure. PDs have access to real time budget information, so it is helpful to hear about problems and plans for mitigation in the project report.
  • Let PDs know about things that might have led to a slowdown in progress on the research, things happen that are beyond your control and keeping a record of that can help make the case for a no-cost extension in the future.
  • Any changes in scope for the project should be included here, including changes in objectives, impending personnel changes, or scientific issues that are delaying the project.

What about the final report? Remember that a final report is just the last annual report, and it should not be considered a cumulative summary of progress; therefore, all the tips above also apply.

And don’t forget the Project Outcomes Report! This outcomes report is a federal requirement and is not reviewed or approved by NSF. However, the outcomes report must be completed before closing your award. Keep in mind this outcomes report should give the public a full understanding of your science and its impact!

Advice during the time of COVID-19: NSF has established a website that is updated regularly with information on how NSF is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, nsf.gov/coronavirus. We encourage you to review the relevant documents on this site and to check it periodically for updates.

Guidance relevant to annual and final reports has been included in the NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17 document. As part of that guidance, please note that the extension for submission of project reports due between March 1 and April 30, 2020 is for 30 days. For any period beyond that date, you should check back on the NSF coronavirus site for further guidance.

Your managing program officer can answer any questions!

Original post by NSF on April 23, 2020