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Compliance Review Program

The Office of Equity and Civil Rights (OECR) regularly conducts compliance reviews of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) grantee organizations. The compliance review examines programs, services or activities to determine whether the grantee, or potential grantee, complies with civil rights laws, such as, Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and/or the Age Discrimination Act.

The civil rights laws and regulations provide NSF with the authority to conduct reviews at any time during the lifecycle of an NSF recipient's grants or application for grants. Reviews are conducted on a pre-award (prior to a final decision to award an NSF grant) or post-award (after an NSF grant has been awarded) basis.


Desk Audit

A desk audit is initiated when NSF requests documentation which can be used to determine compliance with civil rights regulations without visiting the grantee's or potential grantee's facilities. The documentation typically includes, but is not limited to, program policies, procedures, demographic data, program participant data, discrimination complaints filed against the institution and other related documentation. OECR may also request documentation that verifies that the institution complies with certain procedural requirements of these regulations (i.e., has designated a Title IX Coordinator).

Onsite Review

Onsite reviews are typically conducted post-award. An onsite review is initiated when NSF informs the organization it will visit the grantee's program's facilities to interview student, faculty and staff as well as inspect facilities. Prior to arriving onsite, NSF will request and review documentation similar to that of a desk audit. Desk audits can be performed for both pre-award and post-award.


Site selections for future compliance reviews are determined using a neutral criterion. Considerations for compliance reviews consider:

  • Number of grants awarded
  • Total dollar amount of grants awarded
  • Types of programs receiving grants
  • Number of program participants who benefit from the grant
  • US geographic location of the grant recipient
  • Time lapsed since organizations last review
  • Reports received that are not formal complaints submitted to NSF * Please review Awardee Civil Rights Reporting and Filing Complaints for clarification on reports and formal complaints.

Once NSF has selected a site, they will inform the organization of their selection. NSF will communicate documentation needed (desk audit) in advance and coordinate dates for the review to reduce the burden on the organization.


NSF will review the information gathered from its desk audit and onsite reviews and determine whether or not the grantee or potential grantee is in compliance with Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and/or the Age Discrimination Act.

If the grantee is not in compliance, then NSF will recommend corrective action to bring the grantee into compliance. If the grantee refuses to take corrective action, NSF may initiate proceedings to terminate all NSF funding to the recipient.

Title IX Compliance Reviews

The Office of Equity and Civil Rights conducts at least two Title IX Compliance Reviews annually. For more information on Title IX Compliance Reviews or to review past reports, please visit


As a condition of approval of an application for Federal assistance, NSF requires applicants to execute a written, signed and dated Assurance of Compliance (the Assurance). The Assurance states that the recipient institution of NSF funds assures NSF that it complies with Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and the Age Discrimination Act.

Before any organization may serve as a sub recipient on an NSF grant, it must first file an Assurance of Compliance with the grantee. Each NSF grant contains, as part of the grant terms and conditions, a requirement that the organization complies with Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and the Age Discrimination Act. If the recipient institution is not complying or cannot comply with these regulations, then the grant cannot be awarded to the institution.


For questions, please contact Bob Cosgrove,, or (703) 292-5310.