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Improvements in Facilities, Communications, and Equipment at Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSML)

Program Solicitation



March 22, 2002



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Program Title: Improvements in Facilities, Communications, and Equipment at Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSML)

Synopsis of Program: Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSMLs) are off-campus facilities for research and education conducted in the natural habitats of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. FSMLs support biological research and education by preserving access to study areas and organisms, by providing facilities and equipment in close proximity to those study areas, and by fostering an atmosphere of mutual scientific interest and collaboration in research and education. To fulfill these roles, FSMLs must offer modern laboratories and educational spaces, up-to-date equipment, appropriate personal accommodations for visiting scientists and students, and modern communications and data management systems for a broad array of users. In recognition of the importance of FSMLs in modern biology, NSF invites proposals that address these general goals of FSML improvement.

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


Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSMLs) are off-campus facilities for research and education conducted in the natural habitats of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. FSMLs support biological research and education by preserving access to study areas and organisms, by providing facilities and equipment in close proximity to those study areas, and by fostering an atmosphere of mutual scientific interest and collaboration in research and education. For FSMLs to fulfill their role in biological research and education, they must offer modern laboratories and educational spaces, up-to-date equipment, appropriate personal accommodations for visiting scientists and students, and modern communications and data management systems for a broad array of users.


In recognition of the continuing need for modernization of facilities and equipment at FSMLs, the NSF invites proposals that address the general goal of FSML improvement. Proposals should focus on well-defined projects of physical plant improvement, major equipment acquisition, data management and communication systems modernization, or institutional planning for such needs. In addition to a clear description of the proposed improvement or planning project, proposals are expected to present a compelling justification based on demonstrated need for the project, and a realistic appraisal of its potential impact on biological research and education activities at the applicant facility.

Conceptual Issues

Although the primary purpose of the FSML program is to aid in the improvement of physical facilities and equipment at biological field research facilities, the complete agenda for the program is broader in concept. The program expects that the projects it supports will assist the users of FSMLs to achieve new and higher levels of collaboration on both scientific and educational fronts. The program's emphasis on modernization of data management and communication systems is expected to foster opportunities for expanded spatial and temporal scales of research, and to facilitate substantive comparisons among biological entities in different biomes. It is likely that new collaborations among scientists, across disciplines and in different locations will grow from this emphasis, and that increased access to data sets will provide the impetus for new directions of scientific inquiry.


Proposals are accepted from U.S. colleges and universities, free-standing research and education institutions, and U.S. chartered corporations with formally constituted research and education programs at field stations or marine laboratories. To qualify for support through the FSML program, the research and education activities at the applicant facility must focus primarily on study of biological phenomena and organisms in natural habitats, or on study of organisms whose availability for research depends upon the existence of the facility. A significant fraction of the research and education projects that use the applicant facility as a platform for their execution should be eligible for support by the National Science Foundation. Facilities whose primary focus is on agricultural research, aquaculture, or mariculture are not eligible for support.


Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

Proposals may request up to $500,000, except that requests for planning grants are limited to $25,000. The program expects to make, on an annual basis, approximately 20 new three-year standard awards totaling $2.3 million, depending on the quality of the proposals received and the amounts requested. The anticipated start date for awards is seven months from the annual target date for receipt of proposals. The estimated program budget, number of awards, and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.


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 two review criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts) must be addressed in preparing the various sections of the proposal. Applicants should pay attention to the following recommendations or requirements:

1. Project Description section: this section must provide the information outlined in items a. through i. in the order described. The section is limited to 15 pages, including any tables, lists or graphical material.

a. Basic description of the existing station or laboratory, including its capabilities for supporting scientific research and training (site history, facility administration, research areas, buildings, equipment, access and transportation, automated data acquisition systems, data management and communications equipment, staffing, and other items of interest such as unique aspects of the ecosystems and organisms that can be accessed through the station or laboratory).

b. Proposed improvements or planning effort with justification based upon current or projected research and training needs. The description should include sufficient detail to enable reviewers to judge their likely adequacy in meeting these needs, as well as a brief discussion of the manner in which the needs were identified. Special care should be taken to describe how the improvements will benefit visiting scientists and students. Requests for equipment purchase should describe provisions for equipment maintenance.

c. Research and training use of the facility during the most recent five-year period: scientist and student use days on an annual basis, research projects supported, any courses (both academic and public) conducted, any special activities hosted (e.g. workshops, conferences), number of day visitors etc.

d. Summary of the most significant research and training accomplishments attributable to the facility during the most recent five-year period.

e. Brief description of the "Results from Prior NSF Support". This should report only the results of FSML awards to the applicant facility during the previous five-year period (irrespective of the identity of the PIs).

f. Selected bibliography (maximum of 10 complete references) of the most significant research publications attributable to research conducted at the facility during the most recent five-year period. Other relevant publications may be summarized in tabular format as counts of particular types of publications. Any specific references needed to support details of the proposed efforts should be provided in the proposal section entitled "References Cited".

g. Summary of station or laboratory policies with respect to data collection and management, including provisions governing archiving and sharing of data. Mechanisms for providing access to data, including use of databases and standard communications protocols where appropriate, should be mentioned.

h. Fee Schedule. List fees for use of station. Please indicate if no fees are charged. Impact on the fee structure due to the proposed improvements should be detailed.

i. Other items of importance not specifically indicated above.

2. References Cited: Any references used to justify or otherwise support the details of the proposed project should be provided in this section.

3. Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources: this section may be left blank as this information is included in the required content of the project description section.

4. Budget and Budget Justification: the budget should clearly identify funds requested of NSF in each category of the NSF budget form. The total amount requested from NSF should appear on line L. In general, the program expects to make standard awards with durations of up to 36 months. Thus all funds should be requested in the budget for year one, with zero funds requested in budgets for subsequent years. The cumulative budget is completed automatically by FastLane. Applicants who intend to request an award duration greater than 36 months should first contact the FSML program director for guidance. No salaries or indirect costs may be requested. If a construction contingency is included in the proposed budget, justification for the amount (or percentage) must be provided in the budget justification section. Awards for projects that include construction or renovation may be subject to additional conditions beyond those described in GC-1. The amount of cost-sharing should be clearly specified on line M of the budget form. The budget justification page should be used to present the overall cost of the project, including both those costs to be paid with NSF funds, and those to be paid for with funds from other sources. In the event that the sum of requested NSF funds (specified on line L) and cost-sharing funds (specified on Line M) is less than the overall cost, the source(s) of remaining required funds should be specified in the budget justification; appropriate documentation must be provided in the "Special Information and Supplementary Documentation" section. Multiple items of equipment, if requested, should be listed on the justification page with individual costs identified. Allocation of funds to be provided through subcontracts or consulting arrangements should be described. A separate budget form is required for each subcontract.

5. Special Information and Supplementary Documentation: this section is limited to the following types of documentation, as appropriate. The documents should be provided either by scanning and inserting as a PDF. Other types of information, including copies of brochures or other information about the applicant facility, may not be included.

a. "Certification of Flood Protection" as required under the Flood Disaster and Protection Act of 1973. Proposals requesting funds for new construction or physical plant renovation must certify that the facility is not in a special flood hazard area identified by HUD or, if the facility is in such an area, certify that adequate flood insurance under this act has been obtained (see NSF Grant Policy Manual, section 723).

b. Copies of site plans, building floorplans, vendor/builder quotes, price quotes for equipment items costing over $5000, and architectural/engineering statements, as relevant.

c. Letters of collaboration or resource commitment, including cost-sharing, as appropriate. Other than these, no letters of support may be provided.

Proposers are reminded to identify the program solicitation number (NSF-02-040) in the program announcement/solicitation block on the proposal Cover Sheet. 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: Except as noted below, NSF requires substantial institutional cost sharing in the funding of projects supported by the FSML program. The level of cost sharing required varies with the amount of NSF funds requested. For projects costing $250,000 or less, NSF will provide 75% of the cost, with the remaining 25% to be provided by the institution using funds from any allowable non-Federal source. For projects costing more than $250,000, NSF will provide $187,500 or 50% of the cost, whichever is greater, up to a maximum of $500,000. The remainder of required funds may be provided from any source. Funds requested of NSF should be shown on line L of the budget form, while funds to be provided by the institution as cost sharing should be shown on line M. For projects costing in excess of $1,000,000, cost sharing shown on line M does not need to be greater than $500,000.

Cost Sharing Examples:

 Line L (request) Line M (cost share)   Total cost in Budget Justification
 $75, 000$25,000     (25%)  100,000
 $187, 500$62,500     (25%) 250,000
 $187, 500$112,500   (37.5%) 300,000
 $187, 500$172,500   (48%) 360,000
 $190, 000$190,000   (50%) 380,000
 $500, 000$500,000   (50%) 1,000,000

For any project where the total funds required are greater than the sum of the NSF request (line L) plus the institutional cost sharing (line M), appropriate documentation for the additional funds should be provided as supplementary information. No cost sharing is required for requests of up to $100,000 for institutions that have not received FSML funds in the last 5 years.

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 as 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.

C. Deadline/Target Dates

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

Full Proposals by 5:00 PM local time:
March 22, 2002

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 or e-mail

Submission of Electronically Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane website at:


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.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which he/she is qualified to make judgements.

NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted 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 Mail Review followed 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.

NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months for 70 percent of proposals. The time interval begins on the date of receipt. 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  Improvements in Facilities, Communications, and Equipment at Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories  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.

A number of other NSF programs are potential sources of support for research, infrastructure improvement and educational activities at FSMLs. A list of several relevant programs is provided below, with URLs for their most recent program announcements. Because the announcements for NSF programs are revised periodically, prospective applicants should search for the most recent versions using the list of program announcements available at It is generally useful for potential applicants to discuss opportunities with the appropriate program director before preparing a proposal.


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.

Pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.5(b), an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to an information collection unless it displays a valid OMB control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to: Suzanne Plimpton, Reports Clearance Officer, Division of Administrative Services, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230, or to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB, Attention: Desk Officer for National Science Foundation (3145-0058), 725 17th Street, N.W. Room 10235, Washington, D.C. 20503.

OMB control number: 3145-0058.