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NSF 02-151 July 2002

Chapter I - Basic Information

This chapter provides basic information about the National Science Foundation, its organization, grant policies and this Manual. It consists of the following topics:



  1. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

  2. The Foundation carries out its statutory responsibilities for the support of research, education and related activities, through a number of programs. The NSF Guide to Programs and other announcements and solicitations contain information about NSF programs, their objectives and timing for the submission of proposals. (See NSF Grant Proposal Guide for information on proposal preparation guidelines.)

  3. NSF has no programs involving the construction of public works in metropolitan areas, no development assistance programs, no programs requiring State plans as a condition of assistance, none involving coordination of planning in multi-jurisdictional areas and no programs of grants to State and local governments as defined in Section 6501(4) of Title 31 of the United States Code (USC).


The NSF organizations/offices described below are normally of most direct interest to grantees. Consult the NSF website at for the most current listing of NSF offices/directorates.

111 National Science Board

The National Science Board establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation within the framework of applicable national policies set forth by the President and the Congress. The Board is composed of 24 members, representing a cross section of American leadership in science and engineering research and education; appointed by the President to six-year terms, with one third appointed every two years; and selected solely on the basis of established records of distinguished service. The NSF Director is a member ex officio of the Board. In addition to establishing the policies of the Foundation, the Board along with the Director, recommends and encourages the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of research and education in science and engineering.

112 Program Division/Office

Program Divisions/Offices are responsible for the scientific, technical and programmatic review and evaluation of proposals and for recommending that proposals be declined or awarded. The scientific, engineering and/or educational aspects of an award will be monitored by the NSF Pro-gram Officer identified in the award letter.

113 Division of Grants & Agreements

The Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) is responsible for the business, financial and administrative review of all recommended grants, cooperative agreements and other assistance awards and assuring that they are consistent with applicable policies, regulations, directives and fund certifications. DGA, through the Policy Office, is responsible for NSF pre- and post-award policy development, coordination and issuance and for development of, and providing guidance on, policies and procedures for NSF's electronic proposal and award systems. NSF Grants Officers are the only NSF officials with delegated authority to issue grants, cooperative agreements, and other assistance awards and to obligate NSF funds for expenditures under such arrangements. DGA is also responsible for issuing all amendments and certain approvals under these awards, for monitoring awardees' compliance with terms and conditions, and for the administration and closeout of these awards.

DGA Grants Officers provide pre- and post-award technical assistance on the aforementioned policies, regulations, and directives, both to NSF program officials and awardees. Such assistance is provided through a variety of venues, including on-site visits to awardee institutions, outreach forums and by serving on Project Advisory Teams.

114 Division of Contracts and Oversight

The Division of Contracts and Oversight (C&O) is responsible for providing acquisition support, cost analysis and audit resolution for the Foundation. The Contracts Branch is responsible for the planning, solicitation, negotiation, award and administration of NSF contracts including estab-lishment of government approved administrative systems for large contracts. The Oversight Branch performs pre-award cost analyses including financial system reviews, resolves audit find-ings pertaining to the allowability, allocability and appropriateness of costs claimed under all NSF awards (including grants, cooperative agreements and contracts), and negotiates indirect cost rates for NSF cognizant organizations.


The Division is also responsible for participating in outreach activities pertaining to policy, cost, and financial issues, for a wide variety of professional organizations.

115 Division of Financial Management

The Institutional Ledger Section (ILS) of the Division of Financial Management (DFM) is available to assist the grantee financial and business official in matters of payment and financial reporting discussed in Chapter IV of this Manual.

116 Office of the General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is the legal advisor and advocate for the Foundation, providing legal advice and assistance on all aspects of the Foundation's programs, policies, and opera-tions, as well as areas affecting science and technology more broadly. Advice is provided in a wide variety of areas, such as: contracts and grants; intellectual property; conflicts of interest; em-ployee and labor relations; privacy (including Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act and the Sunshine Act); civil rights; health, safety and environment; public regulation of research; Federal fiscal and administrative law and procedure; international law and agreements; and national security restrictions of scientific research (including export controls).

117 Office of Equal Opportunity Programs

The Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (OEOP) is responsible for responding to all civil rights matters pertaining to NSF programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. (See GPM 700 for additional information.)

118 Office of Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is an independent oversight office that reports directly to the National Science Board and the Congress. It is responsible for conducting audits, reviews, and investigations of NSF programs and organizations that receive NSF funding. OIG also evaluates allegations of research misconduct, such as plagiarism or the falsification or fabrication of data, involving researchers who request or receive NSF funding (see GPM 931, "NSF Policies and Responsibilities"). The OIG staff includes scientists, attorneys, certified public accountants, investi-gators, evaluators, and information technology specialists. OIG audits focus on NSF's internal agency programs, as well as grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements funded by NSF. Their purpose is to ensure that the financial, administrative, and program activities of NSF and its awardee organizations are conducted efficiently and effectively. OIG investigations focus on program integrity and possible financial or nonfinancial wrongdoing by organizations and individuals who submit proposals to, receive awards from, conduct business with, or work for NSF. Grant recipients and administrators should contact OIG (1-800-428-2189) to report any instances of possible misconduct, fraud, waste, or abuse.


121 Purpose and Applicability
  1. Purpose. This NSF Grant Policy Manual (GPM) sets forth NSF policies regarding the award and administration of grants and implements Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations, and 45 CFR §602 (the Common Rule implementing OMB Circular A-102), Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments.1 This Manual also implements other OMB Circulars, Public Laws, Executive Orders (E.O.) and other directives2 listed in Exhibit I-1 insofar as they apply to grants, and is issued pursuant to the authority of Section 11(a) of the NSF Act (42 USC §1870).

  2. Applicability. This Manual is applicable to NSF grants and cooperative agreements, unless noted otherwise in the award instrument. This Manual does not apply to NSF contracts.

122 General Organization and Citation

The GPM is organized into chapters that correspond, in general, to the process from issuance and administration of a grant through closeout. Other requirements or considerations that either are not universally applicable or which do not necessarily follow the award cycle are contained in Chapters VII-IX. Chapters are subdivided into sections that cover single subjects within the scope of the chapter. Specific sections may be cited by the section number, e.g., GPM 122, "General Organization and Citation."

123 Changes

The GPM is periodically revised to update existing information, reflect changes in NSF policies and procedures, and incorporate additions or changes in applicable Federal statutes or regulations. The NSF website will always display the most current version of the GPM. Notification of periodic updates or revisions to the GPM will be sent electronically to users via the Custom News Service. Questions or comments concerning GPM chapters and subchapters should be directed to the Policy Office, which can be reached by e-mail at


General guidance for the preparation, (content, format, budget, etc.), submission, review and processing of proposals is contained in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). Some NSF programs issue or utilize more specific program solicitations that may modify the guidance contained in the GPG. The latest version of the GPG is available electronically on NSF's website at

1 For purposes of this Manual, references to OMB Circular A-110 also include comparable portions of 45 CFR §602, where appropriate. Back to Text
2 Consult Exhibit I-1 for information on obtaining these types of documents. Back to Text