02-151 July 2002
II - NSF Awards
This chapter discusses the award process and specifically highlights the following topics:
220 NSF-GRANTEE RELATIONSHIPS
230 GRANT INSTRUMENT
240 NSF GRANT CONDITIONS
250 NSF GRANT PERIODS
260 ADDITIONAL FUNDING SUPPORT
The types of activities funded by NSF and the purposes of NSF funding vary. Consequently,
the degree of NSF responsibility for and the management control of such activities also varies.
NSF traditionally uses grants for fundamental research and other support activities. The key
factor in determining the appropriate award terms and conditions is the type of project that
is to be funded, not the type of performing organization which will be the recipient of the
award or the NSF program recommending the award.
An AUTHORIZED ORGANIZATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE is the administrative official
who on behalf of the proposing organization is empowered to make certifications
and assurances and can commit the organization to the conduct of a project
that NSF is being asked to support as well as adhere to various NSF policies
and grant requirements.
ASSISTANCE AWARDS are awards that entail the transfer of money, property,
services or other things of value from the Federal government to a State
or local government or other recipient to accomplish a public purpose of
support or stimulation. In the case of NSF, assistance awards involve the
support or stimulation of scientific and engineering research, science and
engineering education or other related activities. NSF is authorized to use
grants or coop-erative agreements for this purpose.
A GRANT* is a type of
assistance award and a legal instrument which permits an executive agency
of the Federal government to transfer money, property, services or other
things of value to a grantee when no substantial involvement is anticipated
between the agency and the recipient during the performance of the contemplated
activity. Grants are the primary mechanism of NSF support. NSF awards the
following types of grants:
A STANDARD GRANT is a type of grant in which NSF agrees to provide
a specific level of support for a specified period of time with no statement
of NSF intent to provide additional future support without submission
of another proposal.
A CONTINUING GRANT, is a type of grant in which NSF
agrees to provide a specific level of support for an initial specified
period of time, usually a year, with a statement of intent to provide
additional support of the project for additional periods, provided
funds are available and the results achieved warrant further support.
COST REIMBURSEMENT GRANT is a type of grant under which NSF agrees
to reimburse the grantee for work performed and/or costs incurred by
the grantee up to the total amount specified in the grant. Such costs
must be allowable in accordance with the applicable cost principles (e.g.,
OMB Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions or
A-122, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations). Accountability
is based primarily on technical progress, financial accounting and fiscal
reporting. Except under certain programs and under special circumstances,
NSF grants and cooperative agreements are normally cost reimbursement
A FIXED AMOUNT AWARD is a type of grant used in certain programs
and situations under which NSF agrees to provide a specific level
of support without regard to actual costs incurred under the project.
The award amount is negotiated using the applicable cost principles
or other pricing information as a guide. This type of grant reduces
some of the administrative burden and record-keeping requirements for
both the grantee and NSF. Except under unusual circumstances, such
as termination, there is no governmental review of the actual costs
subsequently incurred by the grantee in performance of the project.
There typically is a requirement for the grantee to certify that the
approximate number of person-months or other activity called for in
the grant was performed. Payments are based on meeting specific requirements
of the grant and accountability is based primarily on technical performance
A COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT* is a type of assistance award
which may be used when the project being supported requires
substantial agency involvement during the project performance period. Substantial
agency involvement may be necessary when an activity: is technically
or managerially complex; requires extensive or close coordination
with other Federally supported work; or helps assure suitability
or acceptability of certain aspects of the supported activity. Examples
of projects which might be suitable for cooperative agreements
are systemic reform efforts, research centers, policy studies, large curriculum
projects, multi-user facilities, projects which involve complex
subcontracting, construction or operations of major in-house university
facilities and major instrumentation development.
A GRANTEE* is the organization
or other entity that receives a grant and assumes legal and financial
responsibility and accountability both for the awarded funds and for the
performance of the grant-supported activity. NSF grants are normally made
to organizations rather than to individual Principal Investigator/Project
Director(s) . Categories of eligible proposers may be found in
GPG Chapter I.
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT DIRECTOR (PI/PD) is the
individual designated by the grantee, and approved by NSF, who will be
responsible for the scientific or technical direction of the project. The
term "Principal Investigator" generally is used in research
projects, while the term "Project Director" generally is used in science and
engineering education and other projects.
* For purposes of this Manual, except where explicitly noted, the term "grant" is
interchangeable with the term "cooperative agreement", and the term "grantee" is
interchangeable with the "awardee" of a cooperative agreement.
220 NSF-GRANTEE RELATIONSHIPS
221 Basic Requirements
222 Acceptance of Assistance Agreements
Grants will be used by NSF when the accomplishment of the project objectives
requires minimal NSF involvement during performance of the activities. Grants
establish a relationship between NSF and the grantee in which:
NSF agrees to provide up to a specified amount of financial
support for the project to be performed under the conditions and requirements
of the grant. NSF will monitor grant progress and assure compliance
with applicable standards.
The grantee agrees to the performance of
the project, to the prudent management of the funds provided and
to carry out the supported activities in accordance with the provisions
of the grant. (See GPM 230, "Grant Instrument",
for the documents that comprise an NSF grant.)
will be used by NSF when the accomplishment of the project
objectives requires substantial NSF technical or management involvement
during performance of the activities.
Cooperative agreements will specify
the extent to which NSF will be required to advise, review, approve
or otherwise be involved with project activities, as well as require
more clearly defined deliverables.
Although active NSF involvement may
be necessary under cooperative agreements, awardees still have primary
management responsibility for conduct of their projects. To the extent
that NSF does not reserve responsibility for coordinating or integrating
the project activities with other related activities or does not
assume a degree of shared responsibility for certain aspects of the
project, all such responsibilities remain with the awardee. As appropriate,
NSF may provide advice, guidance or assistance of a technical, management,
or coordinating nature and require NSF approval of specific decisions,
milestones, procedures or subawards. While NSF will monitor cooperative
agreements, it will not assume overall control of a project or unilaterally
change or direct the project activities. All cooperative agreements
will state the nature and extent of expected NSF involvement to ensure
that the responsibilities of each party are fully understood.
agreements are funded through the Foundation's Major Research Equipment
and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account. The MREFC appropriation
provides a separate budget account for major research equipment and
facilities. Once an award for an MREFC project is established with
MREFC funds, no other funding will be commingled with these funds.
Operating funds for MREFC activities and supplements will be funded
under a separate award to support the MREFC activities. The awardee
is required to segregate MREFC from Operations accounts to avoid the
commingling of MRE funds with other appropriations under NSF assistance
awards. In special cases, as in the awards for the NSF-supported Federally
Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), a Basic Ordering
Agreement (BOA) will be used as an umbrella award, establishing the
overall basic provisions of the agreements. Separate Task Orders with
specific terms and conditions will be issued for MREFC and Operations
Grant Acceptance. Grantees are free to accept or reject the grant.
Normally, a request to drawdown NSF funds constitutes acceptance, however,
in limited circumstances, NSF may require formal acceptance of a grant.
Agreement Acceptance. All new cooperative agreements must be signed by
an Authorized Organizational Representative at the recipient organization
before the agreement becomes binding.
230 GRANT INSTRUMENT
240 NSF GRANT CONDITIONS
Composition of an NSF grant includes:
the grant letter, including any special conditions applicable to the
award and any numbered amendments thereto;
the budget, which indicates
the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support;
proposal referenced in the grant letter;
the applicable NSF conditions
referenced in the grant letter (see GPM 240, "NSF
Grant Conditions," for listing); and
any NSF program announcement/solicitation
or other documents or special requirements incorporated by reference
in the grant letter.
Grant Transmission. NSF transmits grants to
organizations via e-mail. In addition to the e-mail notification,
grantees can access NSF award letters in FastLane. Sponsored projects
offices are able to view, print and/or download NSF award letters for
NSF Grant Conditions. Each NSF grant letter specifically identifies certain
conditions that are applicable to, and become part of, that award. When
these conditions reference a particular GPM section, that section becomes
part of the grant requirements through incorporation by reference.
The following types of basic conditions may be made a part of an NSF grant,
Grant General Terms and Conditions (GC-1) are used
in most NSF grant awards;
Federal Demonstration Partnership General
Terms and Conditions (FDP) and NSF Agency Specific Requirements
are used in most grants to participants in the FDP; and
Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Grant General
Conditions are used in Phase II grants under the SBIR program.
Conditions. These types of conditions may either supplement
or modify the applicable General Conditions described above.
of NSF Conference or Group Travel Award Grant Special Conditions
(FL 26) are used for conference or travel grants.
are used for grants which include rearrangements/alterations over
$25, 000 (construction).
Fixed Amount Award General Conditions (FAA)
are used in NSF fixed amount grants. (Note: these conditions may
establish different financial and other requirements that are not
generally used in cost reimbursement type grants.)
- Cooperative Agreement
are used under NSF cooperative agreements.
- Availability. The
latest version of each set of these general and standard
conditions, as well as prior archived versions, is available electronically
on NSF's website at
250 NSF GRANT PERIODS
EFFECTIVE DATE is the date specified in the grant letter on or after which,
except for fixed amount awards, expenditures may be charged to the grant. With
the exception of PI transfers, the effective date used by NSF is normally either
the 1st or the 15th day of the month. If no effective date is specified, then
the date of the grant letter is the effective date. (See, however, GPM
602.2, "Pre-Award Costs.")
EXPIRATION DATE is the date specified in
the grant letter after which expenditures may not be charged against
the grant except to satisfy obligations to pay allowable project costs committed
on or before that date. The expiration date is normally the last day
of a month.
GRANT PERIOD is the period of time between the effective date
and the expiration date of an NSF grant shown as the duration.
252 Significance of Grant Period
Except in fixed amount awards, an NSF grant gives authority to the grantee
to commit and expend funds for allowable costs (see Chapter
VI) in support of the
project up to the grant amount specified in the grant letter at any time
during the grant period.
Except as provided in GPM
602.2, "Pre-Award Costs", GPM 602.3, "Post-Expiration
Costs",or GPM 617, "Publication, Documentation
expenditures may not be charged prior to the effective date or subsequent
to the expiration date under an NSF cost reimbursement grant.
253 Changes in Grant Periods
253.1 Expiration Date
The expiration date may be changed as a result of approval of a request for continued
support of a continuing grant, for a no-cost grant extension, or, in some cases, by renewed
support of a standard grant, or by approval of a request for supplemental support. If
approved, the NSF Grants Officer will issue an amendment to the grant.
253.2 No-Cost Extension
Grantee-Approved Extension. Grantees may authorize a one-time extension
of the expiration date of the grant of up to 12 months if additional time
beyond the established expiration date is required to assure adequate completion
of the original scope of work within the funds already made available. This
one-time extension may not be exercised merely for the purpose of using the
unliquidated balances. Grantees are not authorized to extend an award that
contains a zero balance. The grantee shall notify NSF, providing supporting
reasons for the exten-sion and the revised expiration date, at least ten
days prior to the expiration date specified in the grant to ensure accuracy
of NSF's grant data. All grantee-approved extension notifications must be
submitted via the FastLane system. For grantee-approved extensions, no amendment
will be issued.
If additional time beyond the extension provided by the grantee is
required and exceptional circumstances warrant, a formal request must
be submitted to NSF. The request must be submitted to NSF at least 45
days prior to the expiration date of the grant. The request must explain
the need for the extension and include an estimate of the unobligated
funds remaining and a plan for their use. As indicated above, that unobligated
funds may remain at the expiration of the grant is not in itself sufficient
justification for an extension. The plan must adhere to the previously
approved objectives of the project. All requests for NSF-approved extensions
must be submitted via the FastLane system. Grantees are not authorized
to extend an award that contains a zero balance.
Any NSF-approved no-cost
extension will be issued by an NSF Grants Officer in the form of an
amendment to the grant specifying a new expiration date. Grantees are
cautioned not to make new commitments or incur new expenditures after
the expiration date in anticipation of a no-cost extension.
253.3 Two-Year Extensions For Special Creativity
A Program Officer may recommend the extension of funding for certain research grants
beyond the initial period for which the grant was awarded for a period of up to two years.
The objective of such extensions is to offer the most creative investigators an extended
opportunity to attack adventurous, "high-risk" opportunities in the same general research
area, but not necessarily covered by the original/current proposal. Awards eligible for such
an extension are generally three-year continuing grants. Special Creativity Extensions are
generally initiated by the NSF Program Officer based on progress during the first two years of
a three-year grant; PIs will be informed of such action a year in advance of the expiration
of the grant.
260 ADDITIONAL FUNDING SUPPORT
261 Types of Additional Funding Support
Additional funding of a project beyond the original grant period will be in the form of
renewed support, continued support or supplemental support.
262 Renewed Support (Standard Grants)
Renewed support is defined as additional funding for a support period
that provided by a standard grant. Renewals to standard grants, if any, will
be in the form of a new grant with a new grant number. Costs incurred under
the old grant cannot be transferred to the new grant. Residual funds remaining
in the old grant cannot be transferred to the new grant.
A proposal for
renewed support of a project is evaluated in competition with all other
pending proposals. Instructions for preparation of renewal proposals are
contained in the GPG, Chapters II and V.
263 Continued Support (Continuing Grants)
Funding increments for projects being supported under continuing grants,
as defined in GPM 210, "Definitions", receive
high priority within NSF and normally are not considered in competition
with proposals for new grants or for renewed support of standard grants.
otherwise provided for in the original grant letter, each increment of
a continuing grant will be funded at the level indicated in that letter
without a formal request, provided the required annual project report
has been received and subject to NSF's judgment of satisfactory progress
and availability of funds. NSF makes every attempt to honor continuing grant
commitments. In order to adjust to changes in the general level of funds
for a particular field of science or engineering or to major new opportunities
in that field, however, NSF may reduce continuing grant increments below
the levels indicated in original grant letters. This requires full written
justification by program staff and management review and approval. In
the absence of major unanticipated fiscal year constraints, reductions are
In order to obtain a committed funding increment and ensure continuity
of funding, an annual project report must be submitted electronically via
the NSF FastLane System by the PI at least three months before the end
of the period currently being funded. (See GPM 340, "Technical
Reporting Requirements" for additional
information on submission of project reports.)
264 Supplemental Support
See also the section above on cooperative agreements that involve MREFC and
operations activities. Back to Text
In unusual circumstances, small amounts of supplemental funding and up
to six months of additional support may be requested to assure adequate
completion of the original scope of work. Such requests for supplemental
funding support should be submitted to the cognizant NSF Program Officer
at least two months prior to the need for the additional funds and must be
adequately justified. Program Officers may make decisions regarding whether
or not to recommend a small supplement without merit review of the supplemental
request. Requests for larger supplements may require external merit review.
request for supplemental support must be submitted electronically via FastLane
and must include:
A summary of the proposed work;
A justification of the need for the
supplemental funds; and
A budget, highlighting the use by budget category
of the additional funding as distinguished from the original funding
provided in those categories of cost. While a paper signed budget
is no longer required to be submitted to NSF, AORs are required to
electronically sign the supplemental funding request via the Authorized
Organizational Representative Functions in FastLane.
NSF will not approve
requests for supplemental support for such purposes as defraying
the costs of increases in salaries, wages or staff benefits or for
additional indirect cost reimbursement, whether caused by a change
in the indirect cost rate or by changes in direct cost expenditures
which affect the indirect cost base. (See GPM
Obligation," and GPM 635, "Rebudgeting
of Indirect Cost Funds Provided Under NSF Grants.")
the NSF Grants Officer will amend the grant to provide
additional funding for the current support period. The amendment letter
will specify both the amount of supplemental funding and
the cumulative amount awarded through the expiration date, which
normally will remain unchanged.
Special NSF programs such
as Research Experiences for Undergraduates may provide
their funding through supplements to other NSF grants. In such instances,
the guidance in this section may not be applicable.