The administration of grants is governed by the actual conditions of the grant. (See Chapter
V, Section A, Standard and Continuing Grants) for additional information regarding the contents
of an NSF grant.) The following information highlights frequently asked grant administration
For additional information about the award and administration of NSF grants, proposers and
grantees may refer to the NSF Grant
Policy Manual. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding grant administration are
available on the Division of Grants & Agreements Website at:
The grantee organization has primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant
activities and for notifying NSF of significant problems relating to research misconduct or
administrative matters. The PI is responsible for the conduct of the research or educational
work, the publication of results, and is expected to provide technical leadership to the
project whether or not any salary is provided from grant funds.
NSF grants are electronically signed by an NSF Grants Officer, and transmitted to the
organization via e-mail. An NSF grant consists of:
- 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
research misconduct; Drug-Free Workplace requirements; restrictions on lobbying; patent and
copyright requirements; cost sharing; and the use of US-flag carriers for international
travel. These are identified in the GPM and are summarized in the NSF Grant Conditions.
- PRIOR APPROVAL REQUIREMENTS
During the performance of a project, it may be appropriate for funds to be reallocated to
support advancement of the project. Grantees have broad discretion to rebudget within the
cost and administrative principles. Unless otherwise stated in the grant or as noted below,
the grantee is authorized to transfer funds among various budget categories for allowable
expenditures without prior NSF approval.
Prior written authorization from NSF is required only for the following:
1. transfer of the project effort;
2. change in objectives or scope;
3. change in PI or co-PI;
4. a substantial change in PI effort;
5. reduction in a cost sharing amount identified on Line M of the grant budget;
6. reallocation of funds budgeted for participant support; or
7. renovation/alteration (construction) activities costing $25,000 or more.
Changes in participant support costs require only Program Officer approval; all the other
changes listed above require Program Officer and Grants Officer approval. (See also
GPM Exhibit III-1, which
highlights grantee notifications to, and requests for approval from, NSF.) All requests for
prior approval to NSF must be submitted electronically via the NSF FastLane system.
- TRANSFER OF PI
If a PI plans to leave an organization during the course of a grant, the organization has
the prerogative to nominate a replacement PI, request that the grant be terminated, or transfer
the grant (via NSF) to the PI's new organization. Replacement PIs are subject to NSF
approval. In those cases where a particular PI's participation is integral to a given project
and the PI's original and new organizations agree, a grant transfer request shall be submitted
via the Notification and Request module in the FastLane system.
The transfer request shall include:
1. a brief summary of progress to date;
2. a description of work yet to be accomplished;
3. a budget, including total estimated disbursements to date (transfer amount will be automatically calculated, based on the amount entered in total estimated disbursements.) The original organization is responsible for including in the total estimated disbursements, any anticipated costs yet to be incurred against the original award. The transfer request cannot be submitted to NSF unless the original organization's Federal Cash Transactions Report (FCTR) for the most recent quarter has been received by NSF and the expenditures posted in the Financial Accounting System. The new organization is responsible for entering the appropriate budget line items prior to submission to NSF, and,
4. additional information for certain types of proposals, such as those that involve human subjects or vertebrate animals. Such proposals may require supplementary documents be submitted in conjunction with the transfer request. The capability exists within FastLane to provide such additional documents.
Special terms and conditions, as appropriate, cited in the original award automatically will
convey to the new grantee organization. Note that if the PI's original award was submitted in
response to a program solicitation that required cost sharing as part of the award, this cost
sharing requirement also must addressed by the new organization in the budget portion of the
transfer request. The cost sharing will be reflected as a condition in the award at the new
Upon transfer of the grant to the new organization, any monetary discrepancies must be
resolved between the original and the new grantee, and NSF will not intervene in any disputes
between the two organizations regarding the transferred amount.
See GPM 312.8 for additional information on PI transfers.
Title to equipment purchased or fabricated by an academic institution or other non-profit
organization with NSF grant funds normally vests in the grantee organization. Title to
equipment acquired through an NSF grant by a small business or other commercial organization
normally will vest in the Government. When title to specialized equipment purchased with grant
funds vests in the grantee organization and the PI moves to another non-profit organization,
NSF encourages transfer of the equipment to the new organization provided it is not required at
the organization holding title, the cost of the transfer (shipping charges, freight, etc.) is
not excessive, and the PI continues the project at the new location.
- EXCESS GOVERNMENT PROPERTY
As a means of providing additional support and conserving supply and equipment funds, NSF
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 GPM Section 546 or write to:
National Science Foundation
Property & Records Section, DAS, Room 295
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230
Before transfer of excess Government equipment can be authorized, justification must be
provided to NSF by the grantee that the equipment will further the objectives of an active NSF
grant. The NSF grant numbers must be cited.
- SUSPENSION OR TERMINATION OF GRANTS
NSF grants may be suspended or terminated in accordance with the procedures contained in the
44 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 NSF and the
grantee, had become firm before the effective date of the termination. (See
GPM Section 910.)
- GRANT REPORTS
1. Annual and Final Project Reports
For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must
submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the
end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require more frequent project
Within 90 days after expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final
project report. Failure to provide final technical reports delays NSF review and processing of
pending proposals for that PI. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in
advance to assure availability of required data.
PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through
FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports
provide information on project participants (individual and organizational); activities and
findings; publications; and, other specific products and contributions.
2. Quarterly and Final Expenditure Reports
Quarterly and final expenditure information is provided by grantees through the Federal
Cash Transaction Report, SF 272. The report must be submitted by the grantee's financial
officer through the Financial Administration functions in FastLane. Contact the Division of
Financial Management for additional information at (703) 292-8280.
- SHARING OF FINDINGS, DATA AND OTHER RESEARCH PRODUCTS
NSF advocates and encourages open scientific communication. NSF expects significant
findings from supported research and educational activities to be promptly submitted for
publication with authorship that accurately reflects the contributions of those involved. It
expects PIs 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 grantees to share software
and inventions, once appropriate protection for them has been secured, and 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.
- ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SUPPORT AND DISCLAIMER
An acknowledgment of NSF support and a disclaimer must appear in publications (including Web
pages) of any material, whether copyrighted or not, based on or developed under NSF-supported
"This material is based upon work supported by the National Science
Foundation under Grant No. (grantee must enter NSF grant number)."
NSF support also must be orally acknowledged during all news media interviews, including
popular media such as radio, television and news magazines.
Except for articles or papers published in scientific, technical or professional journals,
the following disclaimer must 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
- RELEASE OF GRANTEE PROPOSAL INFORMATION
A proposal that results in an NSF award will be available to the public on request, except
for privileged information or material that is personal, proprietary or otherwise exempt from
disclosure under law. Appropriate labeling in the proposal aids identification of what may be
specifically exempt. (See Chapter I, Section B, The Proposal.) Such information will be
withheld from public disclosure to the extent permitted by law, including the Freedom of
Information Act. Without assuming any liability for inadvertent disclosure, NSF will seek to
limit disclosure of such information to its employees and to outside reviewers when necessary
for merit review of the proposal, or as otherwise authorized by law.
Portions of proposals resulting in grants that contain descriptions of inventions in which
either the Government or the grantee owns a right, title, or interest (including a
non-exclusive license) will not normally be made available to the public until a reasonable
time has been allowed for filing patent applications. NSF will notify the grantee of receipt
of requests for copies of funded proposals so the grantee may advise NSF of such inventions
described, or other confidential, commercial or proprietary information contained in the
A proposal that does not result in an NSF grant will be retained by NSF for a prescribed
time (currently five years), but will be released to the public only with the consent of the
proposer or to the extent required by law.
- LEGAL RIGHTS TO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
NSF normally allows grantees to retain principal legal rights to intellectual property
developed under its grants. 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 organizations to
make results, data and collections available to the research community.