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Cost Analysis and Pre-Award Branch

Branch Chief: Shaun D. Minick

Cost Analysis & Pre-Award (CAP) responsibilities fall into four categories: (1) new performer reviews; (2) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) financial capability reviews; (3) proposal budget reviews; and (4) establishment of indirect cost rates. CAP services are provided at the request of Grants Officers from NSF awarding divisions (Division of Grants & Agreements [DGA], Division of Acquisition & Cooperative Support [DACS]) or NSF Program Officers.


New Performer Reviews. Prior to issuing an award to a new entity or an entity that has not had an active NSF assistance award within the previous five years, the entity will be required to complete and submit information contained in the Prospective New Awardee Guide. When requested by the NSF Grants Officer, CAP may undertake one or more of the following reviews to assess potential awardees' ability to administer NSF awards. Based on the results of the review(s) conducted, CAP makes a recommendation to the Grants Officer, who is responsible for making a final decision on issuance of an award.

Proposal Budget Reviews: Pre-award budget reviews verify that proposed costs are reasonable, allowable, and allocable in accordance with federal regulations and NSF guidance. Results are advisory to NSF awarding divisions. Reviews of proposed budgets typically focus on budgets submitted by organizations with limited experience in managing federal funds or on large-complex awards with special categories of expenditures (e.g., subawards, participant support, cost share).

Financial Capability Reviews: Reviews of financial capability to determine whether a prospective awardee has adequate financial resources or the ability to obtain resources as may be necessary to administer the proposed NSF award.

Accounting System Reviews: Reviews of the prospective awardee's accounting system to verify its likely ability to manage federal funds in accordance with applicable regulations, as well as award terms and conditions.

SBIR/STTR Phase II Reviews: When an SBIR/STTR Program Officer has determined that a Phase II proposal will likely be recommended for funding, the prospective awardee will be referred to the SBIR/STTR Phase II Review website and requested to provide documentation needed by NSF to conduct establish the reasonableness of the dollar amount for the quasi-fixed price award, financial capability, and limited accounting system (project cost ledger and time & effort reporting system).

Establishing Indirect Cost Rates: Based on available information (e.g., historical cost information, formal ICR proposal) and the level of funding requested, CAP negotiates funding of indirect cost(s), either as an award-specific amount/rate, or as a federally negotiated rate (if NSF is rate cognizant). Federally negotiated rates typically require annual re-negotiation.


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