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CISE announces revisions to core programs solicitation for fiscal year (FY) 2021

August 13, 2020

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) has made revisions to the core research programs within its divisions of Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF), Computer and Network Systems (CNS), and Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS), as well as the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC). These revisions concern proposal submission deadlines, BPC plans, access to cloud computing resources, and the renaming of a core research program.

Key aspects of these revisions are outlined below.


No-deadlines for Small proposals

Beginning October 1, 2020, the CCF, CNS, and IIS divisions will accept Small proposals (up to $500,000 and three years) at any time throughout the year. By accepting proposals at any time, CISE is affording more time to prepare proposals, build strong collaborations, and think more creatively without the pressure of a deadline. Spreading proposal submissions more evenly over the year may also reduce the burden on principal investigators, reviewers, and proposing organizations. This approach for the CISE core research programs is consistent with other efforts across NSF to remove deadlines in many research programs. Please note that this change does not apply to OAC Core Research which is retaining a proposal deadline as indicated in the solicitation.

More information can be found via the No-Deadlines FAQ.


Details on BPC Plan submission

CISE continues a pilot effort requiring meaningful Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) activities in Medium (or larger) projects.

As background, across the US computer and information science and engineering workforce, at all levels, there is underrepresentation of various populations including women, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities. CISE’s BPC pilot encourages the research community to engage in meaningful BPC activities, requiring that Medium projects in the CCF, CNS, and IIS core programs have a meaningful BPC plan in place by the time of award. The long-term goal of this effort is for all segments of the population to have clear paths and opportunities to contribute to computing and closely related disciplines.

A meaningful BPC plan addresses the following five elements:

  1. The context of the proposed activity including the problem the plan addresses using organizational or local data, and the goals of the proposed activities;
  2. Intended population(s), including the demographics of the participants and which group(s) underrepresented in computing are is the focus;
  3. The strategy, including a clear plan of activities with intended outcomes that address the goals and a role for each PI and co-PI;
  4. The preparation of the PIs to do the work, including past engagement with BPC activities and/or intended preparation/training activities to implement the proposed work; and
  5. Plans for measuring the outcomes of the proposed activities. For Collaborative Proposals, all PIs are expected to participate in BPC activities, but these activities do not have to be the same at every organization.

All PIs and co-PIs are expected to participate in BPC activities in a manner aligned with their personal contexts, interests, and talents. A proposer may include a link to their unit’s departmental plan, if applicable. More information on individual and departmental BPC plans, including metrics for BPC activities and examples, can be found at the CISE BPC Pilot site (, the NSF-funded BPCnet Resource Portal, and the CISE BPC FAQ.


Access to cloud computing resources

In 2019, NSF funded CloudBank to enhance the research and education community's access to cloud computing resources. With this solicitation, proposers to CISE’s core programs – across CCF, CNS, IIS, and OAC – can request access to cloud computing resources via CloudBank. Proposers should include a supplementary document that provides the cost details, justification, and description of the cloud computing resources requested. The NSF Budget pages within a proposal should not include any such costs. However, the total cost of the project, including the cloud computing request, may not exceed the budget limit described in the corresponding funding opportunity.

More details can be found in the FAQ about CloudBank.


Human-Centered Computing program

The Cyber-Human Systems program has been renamed the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program.

HCC will continue to support research in human-computer interaction (HCI), taken broadly, integrating knowledge across disciplines to design new computing systems.


For more information about the CISE core programs, see the CISE core programs solicitation.




The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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