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A. Introduction

This Proposal Forms Kit supplements the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG), the NSF Guide that provides guidance for the preparation of unsolicited proposals to NSF. An unsolicited proposal is prepared by a Principal Investigator and submitted by an organization on its own initiative and not in response to a formal written solicitation from NSF. Contact with appropriate NSF program personnel is encouraged to help determine if preparation of a formal proposal is appropriate.

The Kit contains the forms necessary for preparation of unsolicited proposals. While these forms are generally applicable, some NSF programs use specific program announcements which may require additional forms for submission of proposals to NSF or which may modify the general guidance in the GPG.

Please give careful attention to the requirements established in the GPG and the instructions provided on each form. Proposals that do not meet such requirements may be returned without further consideration by NSF. Of particular importance are the page limitations, format and content requirements that are identified on the forms and/or established throughout the GPG. Proposers should ensure that, where required, the submitted documents are signed and dated. A properly prepared proposal will facilitate the administrative processing and merit review that must occur before an award can be made.

B. Forms Provided

A=Use of format required
B=Use of format optional

The NSF Proposal Forms Kit includes one copy of each of the following forms:

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C. Form Preparation Instructions

Each form is self-explanatory or provides specific completion instructions; additional information is located in the GPG as follows:

Follow the instructions in the GPG regarding completion of the following sections of the proposal:

D. Forms Acceptance Policy

NSF Proposal Forms KitPaper copy forms provided in the Proposal Forms Kit may be used. Additional copies of this Kit, in paper and electronic medium, are available as indicated in Section G below.

Computer-generated facsimiles – Computer-generated facsimiles may be substituted for any of the forms contained in the Kit. The categories or information requested, however, should not be rearranged or altered.

Photocopies – Forms may be reproduced but must be clear and readable. NSF two-sided forms may be copied and submitted either on one two-sided sheet of paper or on single separate sheets of paper.

Note: NSF is in the process of recording all the contents of a proposal in electronic format. Therefore the various forms contained in the Proposal Forms Kit now include barcodes as part of the form. All paper proposals submitted to NSF must include the bar codes provided on each NSF required format.

Barcodes are not relevant to proposals prepared via FastLane.

FastLane – The NSF FastLane system uses Internet/Web technology to facilitate the way NSF does business with the research, education, and related communities. The NSF FastLane system is available for proposal preparation; submission and status checking; project reporting; and post-award administrative activities. All FastLane functions are accessed by using a web browser on the Internet. There is a link to FastLane on the NSF Web site, or FastLane can be accessed directly at: <>.

Access to proposal and post-award functions is limited to staff from FastLane-registered organizations and is secured through the use of Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). To register an organization, authorized organizational representatives must complete the registration form that is available through the

Registration Information hyperlink on the FastLane Web site. Once an organization is registered, individual staff should contact the organization's sponsored projects office (or equivalent) for assignment of a PIN and information about how to access and use the system for most grant-related activities.

In the future, the Federal Commons project <> will provide a common interface for grantees in accessing electronic business functions from a variety of federal grant-funding agencies. The Foundation is an active participant in the Federal Commons project and as this project develops, FastLane registration and security will be integrated with the Federal Commons. In anticipation of this, the FastLane PIN system will be moving to a password system. At that time, all references to PINs will be changed to passwords.

Detailed information about the FastLane system is available from the FastLane Web site at: <>.

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E. When to Submit Proposals

Many NSF programs accept proposals any time. Other programs, however, establish target dates or deadlines for submission of proposals to allow time for their consideration by review panels which meet periodically. These target dates and deadlines are published in specific program announcements or solicitations, which can be obtained from the NSF Clearinghouse at: <> or electronically through the NSF Web site at: <>. Lists of deadlines and target dates also are available electronically on the NSF Web site.

Unless otherwise specified in a program announcement or solicitation, proposals must be received by the specified date. A proposal received after a deadline, however, may be acceptable if it carries a legible proof-of-mailing date assigned by the carrier and the proof-of-mailing date is not later than one week prior to the deadline date. If the deadline date falls on a weekend, it will be extended to the following Monday; if the date falls on a holiday, it will be extended to the following work day. The deadline date will be waived only in extenuating circumstances. Inquiry about submission may also be made to the appropriate program. For information about receipt of proposals submitted electronically, see Section F.

F. How to Submit Proposals

In September 1998, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 123, Working Towards a Paperless Proposal and Award System <> that describes NSF's vision for the future in electronic business and outlines the schedule for implementation. As stipulated in this Notice, all proposals will be required to be submitted via FastLane effective October 1, 2000. Some NSF programs may require electronic submission of all or part of a proposal, including unsolicited proposals prior to this date. Please check the FastLane Web site prior to proposal submission for a listing of programs and program announcements and solicitations that require submission via FastLane. NSF recommends that all proposers and grantee organizations review Important Notice 123 to be aware of the implementation timelines stipulated in this document.

In the interim, for standard unsolicited proposals, electronic proposal submission via FastLane is the preferred method and is strongly encouraged. Unless otherwise specified by a program or in a program announcement or solicitation, however, proposals may continue to be submitted in paper form.

A proposal needs to be submitted only once to NSF, even if the proposer envisions review by multiple programs. The submission of duplicate or substantially similar proposals concurrently for review by more than one program without prior NSF approval may result in the return of the redundant proposals. (See Section IV.B for further information on proposal return.)

The following are specific instructions regarding the submission and receipt of electronic and paper proposals to NSF:

  1. Electronic submission. A proposal is considered complete when the proposal, including the Project Description, has been submitted to NSF. If the Project Description is included in the electronic submission, unless otherwise specified in a program solicitation, the receipt date will be the date the sponsored projects office transmits the proposal to NSF. The signed proposal Cover Sheet (NSF Form 1207) must be postmarked (or provide a legible proof of mailing date assigned by the carrier) within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal and forwarded to the following address:

    National Science Foundation
    DIS-FastLane Cover Sheet
    4201 Wilson Blvd.
    Arlington, VA 22230

    A proposal may not be processed until the complete proposal (including signed Cover Sheet) has been received by NSF.

  2. Paper submission. The delivery address must clearly identify the NSF announcement or solicitation number under which the proposal is being submitted, if applicable. If the proposal is not submitted in response to a specific announcement, proposers should enter the NSF Program(s), using Appendix A as a guide, to which the proposal should be directed. Appendix A also indicates the required number of copies of proposals to be forwarded to NSF, including the original signed copy. NSF will determine which program(s) will evaluate each proposal.

    Unless stated otherwise in a program solicitation, proposals should not be addressed or sent directly to the cognizant Program Officer. If copies of the proposal are mailed or delivered in more than one package, the number of packages and the NSF announcement or solicitation number, if applicable, should be marked on the outside of each package. Proposals must be sent prepaid, not collect. Proposals sent by special messenger or courier should be delivered to the address listed below, weekdays, except Federal holidays, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET. Contact the NSF Mail Room, 703.306.0657, with any questions regarding the mailing or delivery of proposals.

    Proposals must be addressed exactly as follows:
    Announcement/Solicitation No________________
    4201 WILSON BLVD. ROOM P60
    ARLINGTON VA 22230

  3. Acknowledgment of proposal receipt. The acknowledgment of the receipt of the proposal will reference both the NSF proposal number and the cognizant NSF program to which the proposal has been assigned. Once the proposal is submitted, PIs can access the proposal number via the "View Submitted Proposal" list in the FastLane proposal preparation module.

    When the proposal is assigned to a NSF program, the cognizant program information is available through the FastLane "Proposal Status Inquiry" function for PIs and through the "Recent Proposals" report for sponsored projects offices. Communications about the proposal should be addressed to the cognizant Program Officer with reference to the proposal number. Proposers are encouraged to use FastLane to verify the status of their submission to NSF.

G. Additional Copies of this Proposal Forms Kit

Additional copies of the Proposal Forms Kit (NSF 00-3) or the GPG (NSF 00-2), which contains the Proposal Forms Kit, may be ordered from:

NSF Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 218
Jessup, MD 20794-0218

Telephone: 301.947.2722
e-mail: <>

The GPG or the Proposal Forms Kit may be obtained by accessing documents NSF 00-2 or NSF 00-3 electronically on the NSF Web site at: <>.

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