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High Performance Network Connections for Science and Engineering Research (HPNC)

Growing the Next Generation Network

Program Solicitation

NSF 01-73


May 18, 2001



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Program Title: High Performance Network Connections for Science and Engineering Research (HPNC)

Synopsis of Program: Having met its Federal Next Generation Internet (NGI) program goal of advanced networking connectivity for at least 100 institutions of higher education (see, NSF now seeks additional institutions of higher education with similar research infrastructure requirements. The purpose of this announcement is to encourage additional U.S. institutions of higher education to establish high performance Internet connections where required to support cutting edge science and engineering research.

This announcement updates and replaces "Connections to the Internet" NSF 98-102.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):




A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

B. Budgetary Information

C. Deadline/Target Dates

D. FastLane Requirements





    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Deadline/Target Dates
    4. FastLane Requirements
    1. NSF Proposal Review Process
    2. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements


The purpose of this announcement is to encourage additional U.S. institutions of higher education to establish high performance Internet connections where required to support cutting edge science and engineering research. This announcement updates and replaces Connections to the Internet NSF 98-102. This announcement is issued pursuant to the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.).

The NSF Division of Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research (ANIR) has supported inter-institutional computer networking for research and education institutions since 1986 beginning with the NSFNET program. In 1995, ANIR further supported the creation of a national high performance backbone network service (vBNS) and in 1996 announced a high performance connections program to assist universities to connect to the vBNS (and later also to the Internet2 Abilene network). Because of these and other activities, a Next Generation Internet (NGI) environment now exists. Researchers needing communication and collaboration capabilities and/or needing access to remote information and computing resources are now utilizing this NGI environment extensively.

One of the goals of the Federal NGI initiative was to establish a "100x test bed" of at least 100 research institutions (i.e., a network whose institutional connections were 100 times current typical Internet connection bandwidths; for example, institutional connections of 155 Mbps rather than of 1.5 Mbps). By 2000, at the successful conclusion of the initial phase of this initiative, 174 universities and research facilities (including the leading edge sites of the NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure), had received NSF high performance connections awards and were part of the NGI.

It is projected that the number of researchers in the higher education community requiring access to high performance networks will continue to grow, and that they increasingly will need to conduct cutting edge science and engineering research by employing new high performance network services such as tele-collaboration, distributed high performance computing, data mining, and remote visualization and imaging.

Through this revised program announcement, NSF seeks to provide high performance network connection support for institutions of higher education that are not currently connected to advanced networking capabilities and that have cutting edge research projects that require such connection. For example, researchers at an unconnected institution may wish to join a research collaboration that requires high performance networking with investigators at other institutions.


Awards made under this program announcement are to support high performance connections to advanced Internet facilities (such as the vBNS or Abilene) for higher education institutions and facilities having cutting edge science and engineering research applications with special network requirements (such as high bandwidth and/or bounded latency) that cannot readily be met through commodity network service providers. Such connections will normally be at or above 45 Mbps.

If the high performance connection replaces an existing connection, only the costs above those of the existing connection will be considered for support. High performance connection support will normally be considered only for institutions that have demonstrated experience and success with existing Internet connections.

A high performance connection to the Internet should be interconnected with an appropriate local network infrastructure, and the proposing institution will be responsible for funding that local infrastructure without ANIR assistance. Any limited special portions of the local campus infrastructure that need upgrading to enable high performance access for the proposed research applications may, however, be counted as part of the required institutional cost sharing.

Techniques to guarantee end-to-end high performance service for the proposed research applications should be specified. For example, institutions might rely on some combination of separate networks for different classes of applications. On-campus traffic from the proposed research applications might be segregated from commodity traffic on separate links to avoid congestion. Similarly, separate paths could be established for commodity connections from the campus to a commercial network service provider and for high-performance connections to the providers of the high performance network.

Institutions may propose to connect their local network infrastructure to the national research network infrastructure by any appropriate technique: for examples, by acquiring services from a network service provider, by connecting to a gigapop, or by connecting to a university that already has a high performance connection. In all cases, the proposal must indicate clearly what end-to-end services are required by the proposed research applications and must indicate how these services will be provided.

Proposed applications should focus on cutting edge research in science and/or engineering and may require a combination of tools and technologies of high performance networking. For example, applications may require services such as distributed high performance computing, data mining, remote visualization and imaging, and/or tele-collaboration. NSF intends to use a mix of disciplinary and networking reviewers to review proposals.

A two-year non-renewable grant of up to $150,000 will be awarded to each selected institution to help support the cost of establishing a high performance network connection. Proposers from EPSCoR states should coordinate with the NSF EPSCoR office ( regarding the possibility of additional support for extraordinary costs.

Proposals must specify cost sharing and must agree to continue to support the proposed advanced network access after the period of NSF support ends.

Eligible NSF grant expenses include:

Eligible cost sharing expenses include all of the above, appropriate project personnel costs, such as salary, benefits, travel, etc., and expenses associated with upgrading limited portions of the local campus infrastructure that may be required to enable high performance access for the proposed research applications.

The proposal should contain a network engineering plan as described in Section V.A. -"Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions". This plan should be placed in the project description section.

Proposers of projects other than research projects may wish to investigate network connection support from the Technology Opportunities Program (formerly TIIAP) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce. (See


The categories of proposers identified in the Grant Proposal Guide are eligible to submit proposals under this program announcement/solicitation.


NSF anticipates that $4 million will be available in FY 2001 for this announcement. NSF anticipates funding approximately 30 proposals with awards of up to $150,000 total for two years. The final number of awards will be subject to availability of funds and the quality of the proposals.


A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal:

Proposals submitted in response to this program announcement/solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF Web Site at: Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from

The proposal should contain a network engineering plan, prepared jointly by persons from the proposed research application areas, from campus local network provider organizations, and from involved wide area network service providers. This plan should indicate how the proposed connection would deliver the high-performance service "end to end":

This plan should be placed in the project description section.

Proposers are reminded to identify the program solicitation number (NSF 01-73 ) in the program announcement/solicitation block on the proposal Cover Sheet (NSF Form 1207). Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost sharing at a level of 100% percent of the requested total amount of NSF funds is required for all proposals submitted in response to this solicitation. The proposed cost sharing must be shown on Line M on the proposal budget. Documentation of the availability of cost sharing must be included in the proposal. Only items which would be allowable under the applicable cost principles, if charged to the project, may be included in the awardee’s contribution to cost sharing. Contributions may be made from any non-Federal source, including non-Federal grants or contracts, and may be cash or in kind (see OMB Circular A-110, Section 23). It should be noted that contributions counted as cost sharing toward projects of another Federal agency may not be counted towards meeting the specific cost sharing requirements of the NSF award. All cost sharing amounts are subject to audit. Failure to provide the level of cost sharing reflected in the approved award budget may result in termination of the NSF award, disallowance of award costs and/or refund of award funds to NSF.

Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: NSF will not reimburse the awardee for any indirect costs associated with leased line costs and service provider fees. If the organization's normal practice is to include these costs in their indirect cost base, then the indirect cost amount will not be funded by NSF but may be used to meet the organization's cost sharing.

Other Budgetary Limitations: Total award amount for 2 years up to $150,000 for proposals submitted in response to this announcement.

If the high performance connection replaces an existing connection, only the costs above those of the existing connection will be considered for support.

Eligible NSF grant expenses include:

Eligible cost sharing expenses include all of the above, appropriate project personnel costs, such as salary, benefits, travel, etc., and expenses associated with upgrading limited portions of the local campus infrastructure that may be required to enable high performance access for the proposed research applications.

C. Deadline/Target Dates

Proposals must be submitted by the following date(s):

Full Proposals by 5:00 PM local time:
May 18, 2001

D. FastLane Requirements

Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this Program Solicitation through the FastLane system. Detailed instructions for proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: For FastLane user support, call 1-800-673-6188.

Submission of Signed Cover Sheets. The signed copy of the proposal Cover Sheet (NSF Form 1207) must be postmarked (or contain a legible proof of mailing date assigned by the carrier) within five working days following proposal submission and be forwarded to the following address:

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


A. NSF Proposal Review Process

Reviews of proposals submitted to NSF are solicited from peers with expertise in the substantive area of the proposed research or education project. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. NSF invites the proposer to suggest at the time of submission, the names of appropriate or inappropriate reviewers. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts with the proposer. Special efforts are made to recruit reviewers from non-academic institutions, minority-serving institutions, or adjacent disciplines to that principally addressed in the proposal.

Proposals will be reviewed against the following general review criteria established by the National Science Board. Following each criterion are potential considerations that the reviewer may employ in the evaluation. These are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. Each reviewer will be asked to address only those that are relevant to the proposal and for which he/she is qualified to make judgements.

Principal Investigators should address the following elements in their proposal to provide reviewers with the information necessary to respond fully to both of the above-described NSF merit review criteria. NSF staff will give these elements careful consideration in making funding decisions.

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and signed by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Director. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

B. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard

All proposals are carefully reviewed by at least three other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular field represented by the proposal. Proposals submitted in response to this announcement/solicitation will be reviewed by Panel Review.

Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

In most cases, proposers will be contacted by the Program Officer after his or her recommendation to award or decline funding has been approved by the Division Director. This informal notification is not a guarantee of an eventual award.

NSF will be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months for 95 percent of proposals. The time interval begins on the proposal deadline or target date or from the date of receipt, if deadlines or target dates are not used by the program. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at its own risk.


A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program Division administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See section VI.A. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (NSF-GC-1)* or Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreement awards also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions (CA-1). Electronic mail notification is the preferred way to transmit NSF awards to organizations that have electronic mail capabilities and have requested such notification from the Division of Grants and Agreements.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Web site at Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions is contained in the NSF Grant Policy Manual (GPM) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Web site at The GPM is also for sale through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402. The telephone number at GPO for subscription information is (202) 512-1800. The GPM may be ordered through the GPO Web site at

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period.

Within 90 days after the expiration of an award, the PI also is required to submit a final project report. Approximately 30 days before expiration, NSF will send a notice to remind the PI of the requirement to file the final project report. Failure to provide final technical reports delays NSF review and processing of pending proposals for that PI. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

NSF has implemented an electronic project reporting system, available through FastLane. This system permits electronic submission and updating of project reports, including information on project participants (individual and organizational), activities and findings, publications, and other specific products and contributions. PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system.


General inquiries regarding  High Performance Network Connections for Science and Engineering Research  should be made to:For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:


The NSF Guide to Programs is a compilation of funding for research and education in science, mathematics, and engineering. The NSF Guide to Programs is available electronically at General descriptions of NSF programs, research areas, and eligibility information for proposal submission are provided in each chapter.

Many NSF programs offer announcements or solicitations concerning specific proposal requirements. To obtain additional information about these requirements, contact the appropriate NSF program offices. Any changes in NSF's fiscal year programs occurring after press time for the Guide to Programs will be announced in the NSF E-Bulletin, which is updated daily on the NSF web site at, and in individual program announcements/solicitations. Subscribers can also sign up for NSF's Custom News Service ( to be notified of new funding opportunities that become available.

For details of the ANIR programs see [].


The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. Awardees are wholly responsible for conducting their project activities and preparing the results for publication. Thus, the Foundation does not assume responsibility for such findings or their interpretation.

NSF welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists, engineers and educators. The Foundation strongly encourages women, minorities and persons with disabilities to compete fully in its programs. In accordance with Federal statutes, regulations and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from NSF (unless otherwise specified in the eligibility requirements for a particular program).

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF-supported projects. See the program announcement/solicitation for further information.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090, FIRS at 1-800-877-8339.

The National Science Foundation is committed to making all of the information we publish easy to understand. If you have a suggestion about how to improve the clarity of this document or other NSF-published materials, please contact us at


The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to applicant institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies needing information as part of the review process or in order to coordinate programs; and to another Federal agency, court or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 267 (January 5, 1998), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 268 (January 5, 1998). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

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