The FY 1999 level for Administration and Management of $175.3 million provides support for salaries, benefits, and training of persons employed at the NSF, general operating expenses, including key initiatives, to advance the agency’s information systems technology, and audit and Inspector General activities. Persons employed at NSF include all Federal employees, Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignees, detailees and contractors performing administrative functions.
The Administration and Management key program function has been redefined to include administrative costs that are funded through the Research and Related Activities Appropriation and the Education and Human Resources Appropriation. All Intergovernmental Personnel Act costs and administrative contracts from those appropriations are now included in the Administration and Management key program area.
The Administration and Management key program function includes the following components:
In an attempt to move towards more streamlined, paperless electronic administrative activities, the Foundation initiated FastLane as a research project in 1994. FastLane was initiated as a pilot project to test the feasibility of complete electronic handling of proposal processing and grant administration, and to explore the capability of electronic processing to reduce the workload burden on both NSF and the research community. FastLane is being developed to enable the NSF and its customer community to conduct and facilitate business transactions and exchange information electronically using the World Wide Web.
In addition to increased efficiency and reduced administrative burden, the benefits to be derived from FastLane are increased access to information about NSF-supported research, and reduced proposal and award processing time. Since its inception, FastLane has been tremendously successful and award-winning, and it experienced explosive growth in all areas in FY 1997. The system that began as an experiment with 16 university partners currently has 600 registered institutions.
To date, 24 FastLane functions have been developed, including proposal preparation and submission, proposal review, proposal status inquiry, award notification, final project reports and award search. These modules were used by grantee institutions to submit over 1,000 proposals in FY 1997 (In total, NSF receives about 30,000 proposal each year).
Today, NSF handles nearly $2 billion in cash transactions on FastLane. FastLane features include electronic capabilities for cash requests, Financial Cash Transaction Reports (FCTR) and no cost award extensions. Among the enhancements added in FY 1997 were post-award notifications and requests, institutional reports spreadsheet download, postdoctoral fellowship applications, reviewer profile information, new proposal cover sheet and other proposal forms, and expansion of cash requests.
At this time, we have made FastLane the preferred method of proposal submission, and our goal under the Results Act for FY 1999 is for 10% of all NSF proposals to be received and processed via FastLane. In order to handle the increased workload expected from this initiative, we must begin now to put the infrastructure in place to support FastLane operations and maintenance and to more broadly train personnel in its use. The infrastructure includes high speed servers, scanning equipment, monitors, software, and other equipment. It also includes system security and contracts to maintain and enhance the FastLane programs.
The FastLane system is being continuously enhanced and updated as new technologies emerge, and based on feedback from the research community. When the project began in 1994, we recognized that the opportunities presented by advances in the Internet and World Wide Web would have a significant impact on how work is accomplished. The initial project was based on what was known of the capabilities of the Internet and Web at that time. Based on their experience with FastLane, the user community has identified new opportunities for use that were not envisioned in 1994. We expect the need for new enhancements to continue as new opportunities emerge and as the Web continues to evolve.
Budget Internet Information System (BIIS) and Executive Information System (EIS)
The Budget Internet Information System (http://ntalpha.bfa.nsf.gov) contains information on GPRA issues such as processing time and award size. It is easily accessible to the public via the Web and is used extensively by the university community and R&D press. Information currently available includes:
NSF is the innovator, developer, and custodian for FinanceNet (www.financenet.gov), the government's Internet "home page" for financial management improvement initiatives. The Chief Financial Officer’s Council is FinanceNet's sponsor through Memoranda of Agreement with its member agencies and departments. In FY 1997, FinanceNet World Wide Web visits increased to the rate of 15.6 million "hits" per year with subscriptions to its more than 50 topical Internet mailing lists increasing to over 30,000. The Foundation also further broadened FinanceNet's outreach. In FY 1997, NSF, through FinanceNet, completed the worldwide release of the International GovNews Project (IGP) which provides electronic access (www.govnews.org) to a wealth of public government information to citizens worldwide. FinanceNet's newest Internet endeavor is its leadership role in chairing the International Govnews Project (IGP) Coordinating Committee.
Migration to Client-Server Environment
NSF is replacing its aging central mainframe computer by migrating to a client-server computing environment which allows more processing to be performed at individual workstations rather than on the mainframe. This migration is scheduled for completion in FY 2000.