Section VII. Grant Administration Highlights


The administration of research and science education grants is governed by the conditions of the grant. (See Section VI. A. for additional information regarding the contents of an NSF grant). The Grant Policy Manual explains these and other administrative requirements. The following information on grant administration deals with questions that investigators often raise.

The grantee organization has primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant activities and for notifying NSF of significant problems related to scientific misconduct or administrative matters. The Principal Investigator is responsible for the conduct of the scientific or educational work and the publication of its results, and is expected to provide technical leadership to the project whether or not any salary is provided from grant funds.

NSF encourages communications between Program Officers and Principal Investigators on the progress of projects supported by NSF.

A. General Requirements

Grants for financial assistance are subject to certain statutory and other general requirements, such as compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and other laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination; prohibition of scientific misconduct and other Principal Investigator and authorized institutional representative certifications; Drug-Free Workplace requirements; restrictions on lobbying; patent and copyright requirements; cost- sharing; and the use of U.S.-flag carriers for international travel. These are identified in the GPM and are summarized in Grant General Conditions and the Federal Demonstration Project General Terms and Conditions and NSF Agency-Specific Requirements. The appropriate terms and conditions will accompany notification of award.

B. Prior Approval Requirements

Prior written approval from NSF is required for transferring a significant part of the research or substantive effort; making a major change in objectives or scope; making a change in Principal Investigator or person-months of effort; making rearrangements or alterations (construction activities) costing $10,000 or more, and transferring funds from participant support. Changes in participant support costs require Program Officer approval; all the other changes listed above require Grants Officer approval.

C. Transfer of Principal Investigator

When a Principal Investigator plans to leave an institution during the course of an award, the institution has the prerogative to nominate a replacement Principal Investigator or request that the award be terminated and closed out. Replacement Principal Investigators are subject to NSF approval. In those cases where a particular Principal Investigator's participation is integral to a given project and the Principal Investigator's original and new institutions agree, NSF will facilitate a transfer of the grant and the assignment of remaining unobligated funds to the Principal Investigator's new institution (see Appendix E for NSF Form 1263, "NSF Grant Transfer Request").

D. Equipment

Title to equipment purchased or fabricated by an academic institution or other nonprofit organization with NSF grant funds normally vests in the grantee institution. Special situations may require that title be vested in the Government or that NSF reserve the right to require the grantee to transfer title to the Government or a third party on expiration of the grant. Title to equipment acquired through an NSF grant by a small business or other commercial firm will normally vest in the Government. When title to specialized equipment purchased with grant funds vests in the grantee institution and the Principal Investigator moves to another nonprofit institution, NSF encourages transfer of the equipment to the new institution provided it is not required at the institution holding title, the cost of the transfer (shipping charges, freight, etc.) is not excessive and the Principal Investigator continues the project at the new location.

E. Excess Government Property

As a means of providing additional support and conserving supply and equipment funds, the Foundation may sponsor the transfer of a limited quantity of excess Government-owned scientific equipment to an NSF grantee. To learn more about the NSF Grantee Excess Property Program, grantees should refer to Section 740 of the Grant Policy Manual or write to:

National Science Foundation
Property Section, DAS, Room 295
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

The NSF grant numbers to which the correspondence refers should be cited. Before transfer of excess Government equipment can be authorized, justification must be provided to the Foundation by the grantee that the equipment will further the objectives of an active NSF grant.

F. Suspension or Termination of Grants

Foundation grants may be suspended or terminated in accordance with the procedures contained in the Grant General Conditions or the Federal Demonstration Project General Terms and Conditions. Grants may also be terminated by mutual agreement. Termination by mutual agreement shall not affect any commitment of grant funds that, in the judgment of the Foundation and the grantee, had become firm before the effective date of the termination.

G. Grant Reports

1. Annual Progress Reports

For all multi-year grants, the Principal Investigator is required to submit the NSF Form 1328, Annual NSF Grant Progress Report, to the cognizant NSF Program Officer, with a copy to the Authorized Institutional Representative. The report should briefly summarize activity during the past year, identify any significant research developments, describe any problems encountered, and provide current information about other research support of senior personnel, if changed from the information previously submitted. The report should also include any other significant information pertinent to the type of project supported by NSF or as specified by the terms and conditions of the grant. Reprints of publications should be provided as soon as they are available. The Annual NSF Grant Progress Report Form Certification must be signed. (See Appendix D.)

2. Final Reports

Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the investigator is required to submit a NSF Form 98A, Final Project Report to the NSF Program Officer, with a copy to the Authorized Institutional Representative. NSF will send Form 98A along with a postage-paid, self-addressed envelope to each Principal Investigator approximately 30 days prior to the expiration date of a grant. The Final Report Certification must be signed.

The Final Project Report should contain the technical information needed by the Foundation for purposes of program management and informing the public about the results of the activities it supports. The report also requests information on the gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship and disability status of individuals supported under the grant. Failure to submit all parts of this report on time may delay future funding for the Principal Investigator and the grantee organization (See Appendix F for copy of the NSF Form 98A). It is suggested that investigators examine the form in advance to plan appropriate tracking mechanisms.

Final expenditure information is provided by grantees through the quarterly Federal Cash Transactions Report (SF 272), normally submitted by the grantee's financial officer.

H. Sharing of Findings, Data and Other Research Products

The National Science Foundation advocates and encourages open scientific communication. The NSF expects significant findings from research and educational activities it supports to be promptly submitted for publication with authorship that accurately reflects the contributions of those involved. It expects investigators to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of the work. It also encourages awardees to share software and inventions, once appropriate protection for them has been secured, or otherwise act to make the innovations they embody widely useful and usable.

NSF program management will implement these policies, in ways appropriate to field and circumstances, through the proposal review process; through award negotiations and conditions, and through appropriate support and incentives for data cleanup, documentation, dissemination, storage and the like. Adjustments and, where essential, exceptions may be allowed to safeguard the rights of individuals and subjects, the validity of results, and the integrity of collections, or to accommodate legitimate interests of investigators.

I. Acknowledgment of Support and Disclaimer

An acknowledgment of NSF support and a disclaimer must appear in publications of any material, whether copyrighted or not, based on or developed under NSF-supported projects:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (grantee should enter NSF grant number).

Except for articles or papers published in scientific, technical or professional journals, the following disclaimer should be included:

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

J. Proposals as Public Record

A proposal that results in an NSF grant becomes part of the record of the transaction and will be available to the public, except in cases of information or material that the Foundation and the grantee mutually agree to be of a privileged nature. Such information or material will be held in confidence to the extent permitted by law, including the Freedom of Information Act. Without assuming any liability for inadvertent disclosure, NSF will seek to limit dissemination of such information to its employees and, when necessary for evaluation of the proposal, to outside reviewers. Accordingly, any privileged information should be in a separate, accompanying statement bearing a legend such as: "Following is (proprietary) (specify) information that (name of proposing organization) requests not be released to persons outside the Government, except for purposes of evaluation." Appropriate labeling in the proposal aids identification of what may be specifically prohibited from disclosure by statute. A proposal that does not result in an NSF grant will be retained by the Foundation but will be released to the public only with the consent of the proposer or to the extent required by law. Portions of proposals resulting in awards that contain descriptions of inventions in which either the Government or the grantee owns or may own a right, title or interest (including a non-exclusive license) will not normally be made available to the public until after a reasonable time has been allowed for filing a patent application. It is the policy of the Foundation to notify the grantee of receipt of requests for copies of funded proposals so that the grantee may advise the Foundation of such inventions described in the proposal.

K. Legal Rights to Intellectual Property

NSF normally allows awardees to retain principal legal rights to intellectual property developed under its awards. This policy provides incentive for development and dissemination of inventions, software and publications that can enhance their usefulness, accessibility, and upkeep. It does not, however, reduce the responsibility of researchers and institutions to make results, data and collections available to the research community.