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NSF Awardee Civil Rights Compliance Program



The National Science Foundation (NSF) does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind, within the Foundation, at awardee organizations, field sites, or anywhere NSF-funded science and education are conducted. The Office of Equity and Civil Rights (OECR) is responsible for the NSF Awardee Civil Rights Compliance Program and is committed to ensuring NSF awardees can learn and explore science without having to tolerate discrimination or harassment.


NSF Awardee Civil Rights Compliance Program's mission is to ensure awardee organizations comply with the following civil rights laws and regulations:

Filing a Complaint

If you would like to file a formal complaint, you can do so by using OECR's electronic reporting system. A formal complaint indicates that you would like OECR to review the information you submit and determine whether OECR will accept, dismiss, or refer your allegations to another federal agency that has jurisdiction to investigate. Formal complaints can be submitted anonymously, or you may provide your name but decline consent to share your name outside NSF; however, these conditions may limit the scope of OECR's ability to evaluate and investigate your complaint. OECR may close the complaint if the release of the complainant's identity is deemed crucial to the investigation and resolution of the complaint.

If you do wish to file a formal complaint, you will have to register for an account on our case management platform. Your registration information will be anonymous, and OECR will not have access to your information until after you submit your complaint. If you have any questions or issues with submitting a complaint, please contact

If you do not wish to file a formal complaint but want to communicate information regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in NSF-funded programs, please email OECR may use the information you provide to identify awardee institutions for civil rights compliance reviews, which are broader in scope than complaint investigations The information may also be used to determine whether the awardee organization is required to file a notification with OECR under NSF's Term and Condition: Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault.

If you require a different format to submit a formal complaint, please contact OECR at or call OECR at (703) 292-7020.

Please note, OECR will take appropriate steps to protect the names and other personally identifiable information of individuals who submit reports of harassment or discrimination consistent with NSF policy as well as the Privacy Act, FOIA, and other applicable federal law. NSF awardees may not retaliate against individuals who report harassment or discrimination; file harassment or discrimination complaints; participate in a harassment or discrimination complaint; or participate in compliance review as a witness, interviewee, and other protected activities.

Who Should File a Complaint of Harassment or Discrimination?

Anyone who has experienced, witnessed, or is aware of harassment or discrimination from an NSF awardee or NSF-funded program or activity should report it to OECR. The basis of the harassment or discrimination must fall under the four civil rights laws and regulations including: race, color, national origin, disability, sex, and/or age. If the complaint does not meet one of those bases, the complaint will be dismissed. Individuals may also file a complaint with NSF if they believe they have been retaliated against for filing a complaint, participating in a complaint investigation, or exercising rights provided by these regulations.

Reports may also be made by:

  • Individuals and organizations that have not been harassed or discriminated against but are aware of harassment and discrimination happening to others in NSF-funded programs.
  • Individuals or organizations who wish for OECR to address, investigate, or resolve alleged harassment and discrimination and:
    • wish to remain anonymous.
    • are not seeking a remedy for themselves but to remedy the alleged harassment; or
    • are seeking to remedy discrimination in a collaborative manner with the NSF awardee that avoids a formal complaint investigation, formal findings of fact, and a determination of the awardee's compliance with above laws and regulations.

For more information about OECR's complaint procedures, please refer to the Discrimination Complaint Processing Manual.


On-site Compliance Reviews

Compliance reviews are NSF-initiated reviews of an awardee organization's services or activities to determine whether the awardee or award applicant complies with Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and/or the Age Discrimination Act. Such 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.

NSF conducts at least two on-site reviews annually. These reviews are typically conducted post-award and consist of a visit to the awardee's facilities to interview program participants and staff, review documentation, and/or inspect facilities. Prior to arriving on-site, NSF requests data from the awardee such as their policies and procedures, demographic data, self-evaluation reports etc.

Desk Audits

A desk audit can also be performed for both pre-award and post-award. For a desk audits, NSF requests documentation from an awardee or award applicant that is used to determine compliance with civil rights regulations without visiting the awardee or applicant. Documentation that is requested includes, but is not limited to, policies, procedures, demographic data, program participant data, etc.

Compliance Review Process

NSF will review the information gathered from its desk audits and on-site reviews and determine whether the awardee or award applicant is in compliance with Civil Rights Laws. If the awardee is not in compliance, then NSF will recommend corrective action to bring the awardee into compliance. If the awardee refuses to take correction action, NSF may initiate proceedings to terminate NSF funding to the awardee.

For more information, please visit the Compliance Review Program web page.


For questions, please contact the program staff at or (703) 292-7020.