Support for Construction of Direct Detection Dark Matter Experiments in Particle Astrophysics

Program Solicitation
NSF 13-597

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences
     Division of Physics

Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): 

     October 16, 2013

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

     November 26, 2013

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 13-1, was issued on October 4, 2012 and is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 14, 2013. Please be advised that the guidelines contained in NSF 13-1 apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.

Please be aware that significant changes have been made to the PAPPG to implement revised merit review criteria based on the National Science Board (NSB) report, National Science Foundation's Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions. While the two merit review criteria remain unchanged (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts), guidance has been provided to clarify and improve the function of the criteria. Changes will affect the project summary and project description sections of proposals. Annual and final reports also will be affected.

A by-chapter summary of this and other significant changes is provided at the beginning of both the Grant Proposal Guide and the Award & Administration Guide.

Please note that this program solicitation may contain supplemental proposal preparation guidance and/or guidance that deviates from the guidelines established in the Grant Proposal Guide.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Direct Detection Dark Matter Experiments (DDDM)
Support for Construction of Direct Detection Dark Matter Experiments in Particle Astrophysics

Synopsis of Program:

This solicitation invites proposals for support of R&D and construction of future generation experiments that conduct direct-detection searches for dark matter particles. Proposals are not limited to searches for WIMPs or axions; any viable dark matter species may be the object of an investigation.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

  • Jean Cottam Allen, Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-8783, email: jcallen@nsf.gov

  • James Whitmore, Program Director, 1015N, telephone: (703) 292-8908, email: jwhitmor@nsf.gov

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 47.049 --- Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 3 to 5

The exact number of awards and the award size will depend on the number of meritorious proposals and the availability of funds.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $10,000,000 to $22,000,000

In FY2014, pending availability of funds and the quality of the proposals received.

Eligibility Information

Organization Limit:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
  • Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.

PI Limit:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI:

None Specified

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Submission of Letters of Intent is required. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not Applicable
  • Full Proposals:
    • Full Proposals submitted via FastLane: NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines apply. The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.
    • Full Proposals submitted via Grants.gov: NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov Guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide)

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: Not Applicable
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Not Applicable

C. Due Dates

  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

    October 16, 2013

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

    November 26, 2013

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria: National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions: Standard NSF award conditions apply.

Reporting Requirements: Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Description

  3. Award Information

  4. Eligibility Information

  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process

  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements

  8. Agency Contacts

  9. Other Information

I. INTRODUCTION

Astrophysical and cosmological observations have established that atomic matter constitutes only ~5% of the mass-energy in our Universe. Cosmological models describe the remaining 95% as composed of two mysterious components: dark matter (23%) and dark energy (72%). This solicitation focuses on the study of dark matter. While there is compelling evidence for the existence of dark matter, it has never been directly detected. The Standard Model of particle physics does not include a particle species with properties that can account for dark matter. But there are dark matter candidates in non-Standard Model theories. One non-Standard Model candidate for dark matter is a Weakly-Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) whose cosmic abundance today is a relic of the Big Bang. Other dark matter candidates include the axion, originally hypothesized as a solution to the strong-CP problem. Direct detection of dark matter, either WIMP, Axion, or another particle, will significantly advance our understanding of fundamental physics and the evolution of the Universe.

There are a large number of direct-detection experiments now being conducted world-wide. The large number enables a wide variety of promising technologies to be developed. These competitive experiments have comparable sensitivities for the detection of dark matter, and should all achieve their projected sensitivities and complete operations within the next few years. These experiments may or may not detect dark matter. If they do not, then there is a need for the next generation of more sensitive experiments. If they do detect dark matter, then more sensitive experiments will be needed to confirm, and to study in detail, the new particles.

Searches for dark matter particle candidates directly address NSF's mission of understanding the origin and unification of particles and forces and the mysterious forms of unseen energy and matter. These studies fall within the NSF/MPS/PHY Particle Astrophysics program, whose focus is on non-accelerator-based measurements of naturally occurring phenomena to learn about the nature of dark matter, dark energy, and other fundamental properties of matter and energy.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

There are three complementary methods for studying dark matter: (1) accelerator searches for dark matter particle production, (2) indirect detection of dark matter annihilation within the Galaxy, and (3) the direct detection of Galactic dark matter particles that pass through terrestrial detectors. This solicitation invites proposals for the next generation direct detection experiments.

The current generation of direct dark matter experiments should all achieve their projected sensitivities and complete operations within the next few years. The more sensitive, "second generation" direct detection experiments will then be required to either search with increased sensitivity or to measure in detail the detected dark matter. These next generation experiments will be selected through this solicitation for research and development and then construction beginning in FY 2014. These experiments should have roughly an order of magnitude or more improved sensitivity to dark matter compared to the currently operating experiments. The NSF and the DOE both support dark matter research. Because of the expected costs to develop the second-generation experiments the two funding agencies will closely coordinate the selection and funding of the awards and subsequent support for the experiments.

Any viable dark matter species may be the object of an investigation. The strength of theoretical arguments for the existence of a given species will be a factor in the selection process. For WIMPs, a parameter of sensitivity could be (but is not restricted to) the WIMP-nucleon cross section limit. In the case of axions, the parameter could be (but is not restricted to) a limit on the photon-axion coupling constant. It will also be important to place the next generation of experiments within the context of the current and projected future national and international dark matter research efforts.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average size/duration are subject to the availability of funds. It is anticipated that up to $22M total will be available for multiple awards to be made in FY2014. NSF will not pay for any costs associated with the preparation or submission of a proposal.

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Organization Limit:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
  • Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.

PI Limit:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI:

None Specified

V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Letters of Intent(required):

A Letter of Intent (LoI) is required that includes a one-page description of the proposed experiment, and lists all active senior collaboration members and their institutional affiliation, including all foreign collaborators.

Letter of Intent Preparation Instructions:

When submitting a Letter of Intent through FastLane in response to this Program Solicitation please note the conditions outlined below:

  • Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) Submission is not required when submitting Letters of Intent
  • A Minimum of 0 and Maximum of 4 Other Senior Project Personnel are allowed
  • A Minimum of 0 and Maximum of 4 Other Participating Organizations are allowed
  • Submission of multiple Letters of Intent is not allowed

Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.

  • Full proposals submitted via FastLane: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg. Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. Proposers are reminded to identify this program solicitation number in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.
  • Full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation via Grants.gov should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov. The complete text of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: (http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide). To obtain copies of the Application Guide and Application Forms Package, click on the Apply tab on the Grants.gov site, then click on the Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions link and enter the funding opportunity number, (the program solicitation number without the NSF prefix) and press the Download Package button. Paper copies of the Grants.gov Application Guide also may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. Chapter II, Section D.4 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

Important Proposal Preparation Information: FastLane will check for required sections of the full proposal, in accordance with Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) instructions described in Chapter II.C.2. The GPG requires submission of: Project Summary; Project Description; References Cited; Biographical Sketch(es); Budget; Budget Justification; Current and Pending Support; Facilities, Equipment & Other Resources; Data Management Plan; and Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan, if applicable. If a required section is missing, FastLane will not accept the proposal.

Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the GPG instructions. If the solicitation instructions do not require a GPG-required section to be included in the proposal, insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal that states, "Not Applicable for this Program Solicitation." Doing so will enable FastLane to accept your proposal.

1. Project Summary. The Project Summary consists of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity. (Limit: 1 page).

2. Project Description. The Project Description should provide a clear, concise statement of the specific objectives/aims of the proposed project. The major part of the narrative should be devoted to a description and justification of the proposed project, including details of the method to be used. It should also include a timeline for the major activities of the proposed project, and should indicate which project personnel will be responsible for which activities.

The Project Description should be comprised of the following five sections and is limited to no more than 50 pages including tables and graphics, when printed using standard 8.5" by 11" paper with 1.0 inch margins (top, bottom, left and right). The font in Times New Roman must not be smaller than 11 point:

a. Current Design of the Experiment (Limit: 27 pages)

i. A statement of the discovery potential/science goals and the theoretical context for the chosen experiment, including a cross-section or coupling constant as a function of the mass of the dark matter. Compare the goals to those of other current national and international experiments involving the direct detection of dark matter.

ii. Description of and advocacy for the chosen experimental method, including the experiment performance requirements needed to achieve the science goals.

iii. A technical description of the experiment that documents how it will meet its performance requirements.

iv. Specify how many years of operation will be needed to meet the stated science goals.

b. Status of any R&D (Limit: 7 pages)

i. Report on any R&D that has been performed and describe any R&D still needed.

ii. List all significant technical risks, should any exist, along with a plan for their minimization.

c. Project Structure and Schedule (Limit: 10 pages)

i. Provide an organization chart for the project and collaboration, including a description of the project management. Identify task leaders to level two if known.

ii. Provide a Gantt chart (or equivalent) for the 4 years, FY2014 to FY2017, showing milestones, planned reviews, critical paths and schedule contingency. Provide a brief description of each milestone.

d. Results from Prior Support as applicable (Limit: 3 pages)

e. Broader Impacts. Describe the broader impacts of the proposed activities. See section VI.A.2 below for more information. (Limit: 3 pages)

3. References Cited. List only references cited in the Project Description. See GPG for format instructions.

4. Biographical Sketch(es). Include a biographical sketch for each faculty-level participant, according to standard NSF guidelines. List collaborators within four years; co-editors within two years; graduate advisors; postdoctoral sponsors; postdoctoral scholars within five years; all prior graduate students. Limit: 2 pages for each investigator. Enter in the "Biographical Sketch" section. For Grants.gov proposals, the biographical sketch should be attached to the R&R form.

5. Budget and Budget Justification. See Section V.B., Budgetary Information, for instructions on how to prepare these documents.

6. Current and Pending Support. List current and pending support for each senior investigator. Enter in the "Current and Pending Support" section. For Grants.gov proposals, current and pending support should be attached to the R&R form. In addition, include a statement as to the amount of time to be devoted to this experiment and other competing experiments. All PIs and co-PIs should name all the projects with which they are involved.

7. Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources. See the GPG II.c.2.i for instructions. In addition, provide a complete listing of project components including elements contributed by non-NSF institutions. Include any foreign in-kind contributions. This could be in the form of a WBS format.

Item with brief description

Responsible Individual(s)/Group(s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplementary Documents:

  • Letters of Commitment. Include only official letters of commitment verifying specific commitments of resources from participating institutions. Letters of Statements of Work from unfunded collaborators and from foreign collaborators should be included, if applicable. Please do not submit general letters of support as these are not used in making funding decisions and can interfere with the selection of merit reviewers.
  • A Data Management plan.
  • A post-doctoral mentoring plan, if funding for post-doctoral participants is included in the budget request.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited

Budget Preparation Instructions:

The following elements are to be included:

  • Provide a budget for each fiscal year. This is project budget only; it does not include research support (i.e. for salary support for faculty, postdocs, students, senior staff and other science personnel; science or data analysis, etc). If certain scientists are performing primarily engineering or management functions, their costs should be included in this budget. This budget also supports project costs during experiment commissioning, should that phase be reached within the period of this award, but should not include operations or data analysis. The budget should be broken into the following categories:
    • Design, engineering and technical support costs
    • Equipment costs (purchased from vendors)
    • Fabrication costs
    • Management costs
    • Travel, materials and supplies, etc.
    • Applicants are strongly encouraged to account for all foreseeable costs in the budget, including adequate plans for risk mitigation

  • Multiple Agency Submission: For those proposers who are applying to both NSF and Department of Energy, Office of High Energy Physics (DOE-OHEP) for support of a dark matter experiment, it is requested that the proposals to NSF include a copy of the DOE-OHEP budget tables and budget justification in this Budget Justification. This will facilitate coordination between the two agencies' dark matter programs and provide a complete overview of the experiment's request for the reviewers to evaluate.

  • In addition, provide a complete listing of the total project request using the following table. This could be in the form of a WBS format.

Item with brief description

Responsible Individual(s)/Group(s)

Estimated cost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. Due Dates

  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

    October 16, 2013

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

    November 26, 2013

D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

  • For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane:

    Detailed technical instructions regarding the technical aspects of preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

    Submission of Electronically Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required electronic certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane Website at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/fastlane.jsp.

  • For Proposals Submitted Via Grants.gov:

    Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant's organization can then apply for any federal grant on the Grants.gov website. Comprehensive information about using Grants.gov is available on the Grants.gov Applicant Resources webpage: http://www07.grants.gov/applicants/app_help_reso.jsp. In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide provides additional technical guidance regarding preparation of proposals via Grants.gov. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: support@grants.gov. The Grants.gov Contact Center answers general technical questions related to the use of Grants.gov. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this solicitation.

    Submitting the Proposal: Once all documents have been completed, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must submit the application to Grants.gov and verify the desired funding opportunity and agency to which the application is submitted. The AOR must then sign and submit the application to Grants.gov. The completed application will be transferred to the NSF FastLane system for further processing.

VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in the GPG as Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: http://nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/.

Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Empowering the Nation Through Discovery and Innovation: NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2011-2016. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.

One of the core strategies in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students, and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the variety of learning perspectives.

Another core strategy in support of NSF's mission is broadening opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.

1. Merit Review Principles

These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

  • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
  • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
  • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

2. Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i. contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal.) Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i., prior to the review of a proposal.

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

  • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

In addition to the NSB approved merit review criteria, reviewers of these proposals will be asked to use the following additional selection criteria:

  • Importance of the proposed experiment within the context of the current and projected future national and international dark matter research efforts.
  • Completeness of the flow-down from science goals to experiment performance requirements.
  • Capability of the experiment to meet its performance requirements along with the potential scientific power of the experimental method.
  • Completeness of the identification of current technical risks, and feasibility of the plan for technical risk reduction. The increased risk associated with methods incorporating less mature technologies may be offset by the promise of potentially superior science capabilities.
  • Realism of project cost and schedule

B. Review and Selection Process

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review, or as follows.

An external panel of experts will be jointly charged by the Physics Division and the Department of Energy, Office of High Energy Physics (DOE-OHEP) to evaluate all proposals received through this solicitation as well as the requests for funding for second generation dark matter experiments received by the DOE through a parallel DOE process. Ad-hoc written reviews will also be considered. The NSF proposals will be reviewed according to the primary NSF review criteria with the additional criteria described above. Selection(s) of proposals to be funded by the NSF will be made by the NSF Program Directors for Particle Astrophysics based on these evaluations, coordination with DOE-OHEP, the availability of funds and other programmatic factors.

Proposals and reviews will be shared with Program Officers at DOE-OHEP as part of the review process.

Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1); * or Research Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). Within 90 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. 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 Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

  • Jean Cottam Allen, Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-8783, email: jcallen@nsf.gov

  • James Whitmore, Program Director, 1015N, telephone: (703) 292-8908, email: jwhitmor@nsf.gov

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

  • Grants.gov Contact Center: If the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR) has not received a confirmation message from Grants.gov within 48 hours of submission of application, please contact via telephone: 1-800-518-4726; e-mail: support@grants.gov.

IX. OTHER INFORMATION

The NSF website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, "My NSF" is an information-delivery system designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "My NSF" also is available on NSF's website at http://www.nsf.gov/mynsf/.

Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this new mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at http://www.grants.gov.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

4201 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22230

  • For General Information
    (NSF Information Center):

(703) 292-5111

  • TDD (for the hearing-impaired):

(703) 292-5090

  • To Order Publications or Forms:
 

Send an e-mail to:

nsfpubs@nsf.gov

or telephone:

(703) 292-7827

  • To Locate NSF Employees:

(703) 292-5111


PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS

The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

Suzanne H. Plimpton
Reports Clearance Officer
Office of the General Counsel
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230


 

Policies and Important Links

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National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: (703) 292-5111, FIRS: (800) 877-8339 | TDD: (800) 281-8749

Last Updated:
11/07/06
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