NSF Proposal and Award Policy Newsletters

NSF Proposal and Award Policy Newsletters:

This newsletter is produced by the Policy Office in the Division of Institution and Award Support at the National Science Foundation to provide information about upcoming changes and clarifications to policies and procedures that affect how you prepare and submit proposals and manage NSF awards.

This latest edition is particularly helpful!  You can view it here.

Previous editions are also available:

December 2017 NSF Newsletter 4

September 2017 NSF Newsletter 3

June 2017 NSF Newsletter 2

March 2017 NSF Newsletter 1

NSF account registration process in Research.gov takes effect March 26, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is making major changes to the way the research community registers for NSF accounts and maintains account and user profile information in FastLane and Research.gov.  Effective March 26, 2018, NSF is introducing a new centralized and streamlined account registration process in Research.gov for the research community that will provide each new user with a single profile and unique identifier (i.e., NSF ID) for signing in to FastLane and Research.gov for proposal and award activities.

New Functionality

The new account management functionality will:

  • Allow users to create and self-manage accounts, including personal information and role requests;
  • Eliminate the need for organizational Administrators to create accounts and maintain profile information for their users, allowing Administrators to focus on managing roles for their organizations through a dashboard with functions to approve, disapprove, assign, and remove roles; and
  • Replace the existing FastLane and Research.gov account management functions.

Existing NSF Accounts 

Existing NSF account holders, including Grants.gov and Application Submission Web Service (ASWS) users, will be migrated to the new account management system through a simple, one-time operation when initially signing in to FastLane or Research.gov after the new functionality is released.  Account holders will be required to verify information to transfer it to the new system. Each user will have one NSF ID per the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (NSF 18-1), Chapter I.G.4.

Helpful Links

  • Users with existing NSF accounts can access the NSF ID Lookup page for their NSF ID. Forgotten passwords for established NSF accounts may be retrieved here.
  • New users will be able to register directly with NSF through Research.gov on or after March 26, 2018, via this link: https://www.research.gov/accountmgmt/#/registration . Note that this link will not work until March 26, 2018.

Notes About Grants.gov and ASWS   Beginning on March 26, 2018, the Principal Investigator (PI), all co-PIs, and the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) listed on a Grants.gov proposal must all be registered with NSF prior to proposal submission. NSF IDs for the PI, all co-PIs, and the AOR listed will need to be included in the proposal submission.

  • When a proposal is submitted to NSF on or after March 26, 2018, through Grants.gov and ASWS, the NSF system will cross-check the DUNS number and organization name with NSF records.
    • If there is no match to the DUNS number and/or organization name, the proposal will be rejected and the PI/AOR listed on the proposal submission will receive an email notifying that the proposal submission was not accepted by NSF.
    • Currently, for proposals submitted via Grants.gov or ASWS, the NSF system registers organizations and will allow proposal submission in cases where there is a mismatch of the DUNS number and/or organization name with NSF records; however, this will no longer be possible effective March 26, 2018.

New NSF Registration Requirements for Organizations

  • Organizations new to NSF will also register via the account management system in Research.gov.
  • New organizations will be able to register directly with NSF through Research.gov on or after March 26, 2018, via this link: https://www.research.gov/accountmgmt/#/registration . Note that this link will not work until March 26, 2018.
  • Beginning on March 26, 2018, before a new organization can register with NSF, it must first be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM; https://www.sam.gov) and have a data universal numbering system (DUNS) number.
  • Organizations not already registered with NSF should be aware that completion of the SAM registration process could take up to two weeks.
  • Note that the vast majority of universities are already registered with NSF via FastLane.

Planned Releases

The new centralized account management functionality is being released first to the Administrator, PI, AOR, Sponsored Project Officer (SPO), Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Coordinating Official and Financial Official, and Award Cash Management Service (ACM$) groups. NSF plans to eventually expand the new functionality in the future to additional groups including proposal reviewers, GRFP applicants, and NSF staff.

 Training Resources

 NSF is currently finalizing new account management training resources such as job aids, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and instructional videos. These materials will soon be available on an “About Account Management” page accessible on the Research.gov homepage.

 For IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or rgov@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

 original post by NSF 3/13/2018

NSF Revises Award Terms and Conditions to Recognize the $10,000 Micro-Purchase Threshold

News from AIRI Weekly Washington Report: On February 15, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released an update to their Award Terms and Conditions that revises the micro-purchase threshold for procurement activities under NSF awards.  The new guidance indicates that the revised micro-purchase threshold will be $10,000 for awards made to independent research institutes and institutions of higher education.  NSF was directed to make this change by the American Competitiveness and Innovation Act (AICA), which was signed by President Obama in January 2017.

AIRI’s top legislative priority in 2016 was raising the micro-purchase threshold to $10,000.  While working with Congress to successfully raise the threshold in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (see January 6, 2017 AIRI Weekly Washington Report) and the AICA, AIRI worked with OMB to seek an extension for implementation of the Uniform Guidance procurement standards (see April 1, 2016 AIRI Weekly Washington Report and June 3, 2016 AIRI Weekly Washington Report).  As a result of these efforts, institutions can now use micro-purchase thresholds up to $10,000, for procurement activities under grants from all agencies.  NSF’s revised Award Terms and Conditions provide additional clarity and guidance on the micro-purchase issue.  The revised Award Terms and Conditions will apply to all awards made on or after March 1, 2018.

Original post from AIRI Weekly Washington Report dated 2/16/18

NSF: Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information Template

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has updated the template for Collaborative and Other Affiliations Information (COA). This template is in accordance with Chapter II.C.1.e of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The template is fillable, however, the content and format requirements must not be altered, as this will create printing and viewing errors. To avoid formatting errors, the template must be saved in .xlsx format and be uploaded to Fastlane directly as a Single Copy Document. Grants.gov Users: The COA information must be provided through the use of the COA template and uploaded as a PDF attachment. Proposers using the COA template for more than 10 senior project personnel will encounter proposal print preview issues. For further guidance there are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for assistance. As you may remember, IOS had its own template in the IOS core solicitation. The old IOS template will no longer be accepted. Any submissions after January 29, 2018 will use the NSF template.

NOTE: Some information requested in prior versions of the PAPPG is no longer requested.

For system-related questions, please contact Fastlane User Support at 1-800-673-6188 or fastlane@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions regarding the content of the COA template should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF 2/13/18

NSF: Research.gov Proposal Preparation Site Preview Now Available and Research.gov Proposal Preparation and Submission Site Initial Release Will Be on April 30, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is pleased to announce that beginning on April 30, 2018, proposers will be able to prepare and submit full, research non-collaborative proposals in Research.gov.  The initial release of this new Research.gov capability will run in parallel with existing FastLane proposal preparation and submission capabilities, so proposers can choose to prepare and submit full, research non-collaborative proposals in Research.gov or in FastLane starting on April 30, 2018.

Research.gov Proposal Preparation Site Preview

The other exciting news to share is that starting today, NSF is previewing the new Research.gov proposal preparation functionality to the research community to collect preliminary feedback and to provide the community an opportunity to acclimate to the new technology.  The preview can be accessed by selecting the “Prepare & Submit Proposals” tab on the top navigation bar after signing in to Research.gov and then choosing “Prepare Proposal.”  This preview will continue until 8:00PM EDT on April 27, 2018, and will allow any research community user with a FastLane or Research.gov account to sample the following proposal preparation features prior to the initial release on April 30, 2018:

·       Initiate full, research non-collaborative proposals (other proposal types are planned for future releases);

·       Add Principal Investigators (PIs), Co-PIs, Senior Personnel, and Other Authorized Users;

·       Upload required proposal documents;

·       Create budgets;

·       Check compliance; and

·       Enable Sponsored Project Officer (SPO)/Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) access for review.

 Please be aware of the following important items as you test the new functionality during the preview period:

  • All test data entered on the Research.gov proposal preparation site from February 26, 2018, until the preview concludes at 8:00PM EDT on April 27, 2018, will be deleted at the end of the preview period.
  • NSF will not be able to recover any proposal test data entered during the preview period and deleted by NSF after the preview period concludes.
  • Information entered on the Research.gov proposal preparation site during the preview period will not be submitted to NSF.
  • Test data can be entered on the Research.gov proposal preparation site but actual proposals cannot be submitted to NSF via Research.gov during the preview period.
  • Additional information will be available on a Research.gov “About Proposal Preparation & Submission Site” page accessible on the Research.gov homepage.

 Feedback on the New Research.gov Proposal Preparation and Submission Site

 Your feedback on the new Research.gov proposal preparation functionality during the preview period (February 26, 2018 through April 27, 2018) and on the full Research.gov proposal preparation and submission functionality after the initial release on April 30, 2018, is vital to NSF.  The survey link will soon be available on the Research.gov “About Proposal Preparation & Submission Site” page.  Feedback from the community and NSF staff will be used to implement enhancements and expand functionality incrementally, with the goal of eventually transitioning all proposal preparation and submission functionality from FastLane to Research.gov.

 NSF’s goals for the new Research.gov proposal preparation and submission functionality are to:

  • Modernize the applications supporting the proposal submission and merit review processes and improve the user experience via the development of a new application;
  • Reduce the administrative burden to the research community and NSF staff associated with preparation, submission, and management of proposals;
  • Increase efficiencies in proposal preparation, submission, and management;
  • Improve data quality and capture proposal content in a way that supports data analytics; and
  • Improve availability, security, and flexibility of proposal preparation and submission IT systems.

NSF invites you to keep these goals in mind as you prepare and submit your feedback on the new functionality, so that they may improve the new Research.gov interface and develop additional available features.

For IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or rgov@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF 2/26/18

Having Challenges Tracking Down Students and Postdocs at the Time of the RPPR? Here is a Tip to Make It Easier

Establishing a process where you have students and postdocs establish an eRA Commons account at the time they start working on an NIH grant award can save you a lot of time and energy trying to track down people who may no longer be at your institution at the time of your Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) submission. You may even want to have them create an ORCID ID as well! (In case you missed it, read the November 2017 Open Mike blog post to learn more about eRA Commons and ORCID integration.)

Original post by NIH Staff 1/30/18

PAPPG (NSF 18-1) Policy Changes and Proposal Compliance Checking Updates Coming to FastLane and Research.gov on January 29

Effective January 29, 2018, NSF will implement changes in FastLane and Research.gov to support the following policy updates in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 18-1) and to run updated Budget Justification page limit automated compliance checks in FastLane:

Standard Collaborators and Other Affiliations Template Implementation:

  • The revised PAPPG (NSF 18-1) incorporates the standard Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) template that has been in pilot phase in FastLane since April 2017.
  • FastLane system instructions will be updated in accordance with the new policy.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the COA template are available at https://nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/coa.jsp.

Budget Justification Page Limitation Increase:

  • The Budget Justification page limitation will increase from three pages to five pages.
  • To align with the new policy, FastLane will run an automated compliance check for the Budget Justification page limitation across several proposal types and will generate an error or warning when the submission validation compliance check is not met.
  • Compliance checks are run during “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” and “Submit Proposal.” The complete list of FastLane automated compliance checks effective January 29, 2018, is available at https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/autocheck/compliancechecks_jan18.pdf.

New “Substitute Negotiator” Associated Document for Change of Principal Investigator (PI) Requests:

  • A new “Substitute Negotiator” Associated Document will be available in FastLane’s Notifications and Requests module when a “Change of PI” request is made (e.g., to be utilized in cases where a former employee or Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) is being reappointed as a PI or Co-PI to an award they were previously involved with).

New “Other Request” Type:

  • A new “Other Request” type will be added to Research.gov’s Notifications and Requests module. This request will be reviewed and approved by the NSF Program Officer.

New Award Abstract Text:

  • In connection with NSF’s transparency and accountability efforts for award abstracts, the Foundation will add the following final paragraph to all award abstracts for awards with start dates of March 1 or later: “This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.”

Note about Proposal File Updates (PFU):

The automated compliance checks also apply when a PFU is performed on a proposal. The compliance checks will be run on all sections of the proposal, regardless of which section was updated during the PFU. 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 encourages you to share this information with your colleagues. To learn about all the changes to the PAPPG (NSF 18-1), be sure to view the latest webinar.

For IT system-related questions, please contact FastLane User Support at 1-800-673-6188 or fastlane@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

 original post by NSF 1.23.18


NIH Grants.gov Downloadable Forms Submission Option Retiring Dec. 31st, 2017

On December 31, 2017 Grants.gov will no longer allow grant applicants to download an entire application form package as a single PDF for offline data entry and later submission. If you were involved in a grant application submitted using downloadable forms in 2017, NIH is providing a final reminder to switch to one of the following submission options for 2018 submissions:

1.     NIH’s ASSIST (learn more)

2.     Institutional system-to-system solution (if your institution has one)

3.     Grants.gov Workspace (learn more)

NIIH’s  submission options page can help you compare features and considerations for each option.  Please consult with MBL’s Office of Sponsored Programs to determine option is the best fit for you and your center.

 If there is no business reason to choose one option over another, give NIH’s ASSIST a try. It’s a user-friendly, online solution optimized for NIH applications.

 Although Grants.gov will stop presenting their legacy downloadable forms package as an option at the end of this year, Grants.gov and NIH systems will continue to process previously downloaded application packages through March 2018.  If you plan to submit a downloaded application package after December 31, 2017, you might want to consider downloading an extra copy of the forms package for the opportunity before Dec 31 just in case you run into a technical difficulty with the original.

NIH Enforcement of Closeout Policies

NIH Notice Number: NOT-OD-18-107 Key Dates
Release Date: November 30, 2017

Related Announcements
Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


The purpose of this Notice is to alert the NIH extramural community that NIH is strengthening enforcement of longstanding closeout requirements, outlined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement Section 8.6, Closeout. NIH has consistently reminded recipients of their responsibility to submit timely, accurate final grant expenditure reports, and has communicated the critical need for recipients to reconcile cash transaction reports submitted to the HHS Payment Management System (PMS) with expenditure reports submitted to NIH.  In order to fulfill agency requirements under the Grants Oversight and New Efficiency (GONE) Act and HHS grants policy, NIH will no longer delay the closeout of awards unless the recipient submits a prior approval request to the IC providing an acceptable written justification..  Without prior approval from the awarding IC, NIH will initiate unilateral closeout for all awards that fail to meet closeout requirements within 120 days as required by the NIH Grants Policy Statement (NIH GPS) Section 8.6. See below for details.


Recipient Responsibilities

The requirement for timely closeout is generally a recipient responsibility. However, NIH may initiate unilateral closeout if a recipient does not provide timely, accurate closeout reports or does not respond timely to NIH requests to reconcile discrepancies in grant records.

NIH recipients must submit a Final Federal Financial Report (FFR), Final Research Performance Progress Report (F-RPPR), and Final Invention Statement and Certification (FIS) within 120 calendar days of the end of the period of performance (project period), as required in section 8.6 of the NIH GPS. The reports become overdue the day after the 120 calendar day period ends. Cash transaction data continues to be submitted directly to and processed by PMS. It is the recipient’s responsibility to reconcile reports submitted to PMS and to the NIH awarding Institute or Center.

NIH Actions

NIH is committed to addressing and reducing grant closeout delays and to enhance compliance with HHS regulations and policies, and the GONE Act.  Therefore, NIH will strictly enforce its closeout policies. When recipients fail to submit timely reports, NIH will initiate unilateral closeout. It is important to note that for financial closeout, if a recipient fails to submit a final expenditure FFR, HHS policy directs NIH to close the grant using the last accepted Federal Cash Transaction Report’s cash drawdown amount. This could be considered a debt or result in disallowed costs.  In addition, failure to correct recurring reporting problems may cause NIH to take one or more actions that may include, but are not limited to, corrective actions, withholding of further awards, suspension or termination.

Please direct all inquiries to: Division of Grants Policy
Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration
Office of Extramural Research
Telephone: 301-435-0949

Revised Version Issued: NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG; NSF 18-1); effective 1/29/2018 with Overview Webinar Offered

NSF has issued a revised version of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures (PAPPG) Guide which takes effect January 29, 2018.

The PAPPG details NSF’s proposal preparation and submission guidelines, and provides guidance on managing and monitoring the award and administration of grants and cooperative agreements made by the Foundation.

NSF will offer a Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Update Webinar for the research community on Friday, December 8th, 2017 from 2 – 3:15pm EST. will be offered which will provide an overview of significant changes and clarifications to the PAPPG.  There is no cost to participate. To register yourself, and/or others for this webinar, please select the register button below.


To download a copy see below for available formats:

Available Formats: HTML | PDF
Document Type: Program Announcements & Information
Document Number: nsf18001