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NSF Acquisition Ombudsman

Ms. Janis Coughlin-PIester, Deputy Head, Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management, is serving as the National Science Foundation Acquisition Ombudsman in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Section 16.505 and Part 2571 of the NSF Acquisition Manual.

The goal of the Ombudsman Program is to establish a more open acquisition process by facilitating communication on an informal basis between the National Science Foundation and parties outside the Government. The Foundation's Acquisition Ombudsman exercises agency-wide responsibility for reviewing concerns from contractors and ensuring that all contractors are afforded a fair opportunity to be considered. As part of her responsibility, the Ombudsman will hear concerns about specific issues in acquisitions from offerors, potential offerors, and contractors during the pre award and post award phases of acquisitions that cannot be resolved at lower levels, or that have Agency implications, and assist in facilitating a resolution.

The role of the Ombudsman will not diminish the authority of the contracting officer, Source Evaluation Board, or Source Selection Official. The Ombudsman Program does not replace the FAR contract protest or disputes processes. Moreover, communications with an Ombudsman do not affect time limits for filing a protest or appealing a contracting officer’s final decision as described in FAR Part 33.

Ms. Coughlin-Piester is located in Room C7000 and can be reached at (703) 292-8200 or at


The Office of the National Ombudsman of the U.S. Small Business Administration has asked all Federal agencies to make clear that, if a small business entity requests Ombudsman assistance on a matter or otherwise questions or complaints about a Federal agency action, the agency will not retaliate in response.

The National Science Foundation is committed to maintaining an environment in which small businesses and others are free to question or complain about NSF actions or policies without fear of retaliation. One of the statutory responsibilities of this Office is to "assure the expeditious processing of proposals by small business concerns based on scientific and technical merit" [42 U.S.C. 1883(3)]. Any allegations of retaliation will be investigated and appropriate action taken to correct the situation and ensure it is not repeated. In addition, small business entities may comment to the National Ombudsman's office. Information about the National Ombudsman is available by visiting