New NSF Proposals, Procedures Guide Now Available

November 1, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

nsf1Current recipients of National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, as well applicants seeking awards from NSF, should be aware that the agency has made its updated NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) available on the NSF website.

NSF revised the PAPPG as new regulations and policies warrant. The newly released version (NSF17001), which goes into effect in January 2016, will replace the current version (NSF16001) that went into effect this past January. For more consistency, the updated PAPPG contains two parts — Part I: NSF’s Proposal Preparation and Submission Guidelines; and Part II: Award, Administration and Monitoring of Grants and Cooperative Agreements. Previous versions of the PAPPG called Part I the Grant Proposal Guide and Part II the Award and Administration Guide. In addition, the guide uses the terms “grantee” and “awardee” throughout for any organization or entity that receives a grant or award [compared to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) uniform guidance use of the term “nonfederal entity” (§200.69)].

Among the revisions to the post-award management policies in Part II, NSF proposed changes related to the closeout reporting requirements. Specifically, the agency clarified the steps for completing the final financial reports to the agency through NSF’s Award Cash Management $ervice (ACM$).

The current PAPPG states that grantees must liquidate all obligations incurred under their awards not later than 120 calendar days after the award end date (compared to 90 days in the uniform guidance (§200.343)), and that NSF will financially close out awards 120 days after the award end date and the award will be removed from NSF’s ACM$ payment screen for active awards. To further clarify its policy, the revised version adds language stating that “any remaining funds that exceed the final payment amount will be deobligated from the award so the net award balance will equal total payments.”

NSF also added language related to “canceling appropriations.” A federal agency’s funds, or appropriations, are said to “expire” at the end of the federal fiscal year (FY) for which they are appropriated. However, expired funds remain available to the federal agency for certain purposes, such as making federal awards, up to five years after expiration. Many federal agencies, for example, will use its current appropriation to fund the next fiscal year’s awards, i.e., the federal FY 2015 appropriation would fund the FY 2016 grant awards. At the end of that five-year period, the funds are “canceled” and any remaining funds that NSF did not disburse under its appropriation must be returned to the Department of the Treasury. 31 U.S.C. 1552(a) states that federal funds will no longer be available for incurring any new obligation beyond Sept. 30 of the fifth federal fiscal year after the appropriation expires. NSF, therefore, must obligate its funds, i.e. make awards to recipients, within this five-year period of availability.

Since many NSF awards to recipients, including multi-year awards, are generally awarded one year at a time, it is unlikely that recipients will be affected by the five-year availability period for the agency. In the event the expiration of the federal appropriation may affect recipients, NSF added the following language, “NSF will notify grantees of any canceling appropriations (i.e., available appropriations nearing the end of the fifth federal fiscal year) on open awards in order for grantees to properly expend and draw down funds.” NSF added, “Grantees will still have the full 120-day closeout period to submit final project reports in accordance with the award terms and conditions.”

Among the other changes to the new PAPPG include new language related to cost allowability and specific instructions for submitting proposals under various NSF programs, such as research grants, Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) awards and Rapid Response Research (RAPID) awards. It also adds two new types of research proposals: Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE) and Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI).

NSF applicants and recipients should get up to speed quickly with the new PAPPG to make sure they comply when it becomes effective.

Let us know what you think about the new PAPPG. We’d like to hear from you.


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