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NSF 02-151 July 2002

Summary of Significant Changes

Overall Document

  • Editorial changes have been made throughout the Grant Policy Manual (GPM) either to clarify or enhance the intended meaning of a sentence or section.

  • Previously issued policies, practices and procedures have been incorporated, especially changes brought about by electronic processing of proposals and NSF's electronic signature process.


  • The ability to access NSF policy documents electronically has been incorporated, and the phone numbers for contacting NSF via the Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) have been updated.


  • The Acronym listing has been updated to reflect current names for documents or organizations. Acronyms that no longer appear in the GPM have been removed from the listing.

Chapter I Basic Information

  • Descriptions of the NSF organizations or offices most relevant to grantees (for example, the National Science Board (NSB), Program offices, Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA), Division of Contracts, Policy and Oversight (CPO)) have been updated to reflect their current mission and function. A hypertext link to the most recent listing of NSF offices and directorates on the NSF website has been added and the paper organizational chart previously included as Exhibit I-1 has been deleted. Exhibit I-2 (now Exhibit I-1) has been revised to include up-to-date information on the statutes, Executive Orders and other directives referred to in the GPM. Most of these documents can be obtained electronically via the Internet. (GPM 110 "NSF Organization")

Chapter II NSF Awards

  • A description of the Foundation's Major Research Equipment and Facilities (MREFC) account and the associated responsibilities have been added. (GPM 221, "Basic Requirements")

  • NSF transmits grants to proposers via e-mail and grantees can access their award letters via the NSF FastLane system. (GPM 230 "Grant Instrument")

  • No-cost extensions, Annual and Final Project reports and supplemental funding requests must be submitted electronically via FastLane. (GPM 250 "NSF Grant Periods" and GPM 260 "Additional Funding Support")

  • For supplemental funding requests, a signed paper budget is no longer required. Authorized Organizational Representatives now sign supplemental funding requests electronically. (GPM 264 "Supplemental Support")

  • The previous section on Effective Date (Section 253.1) has been deleted because it no longer reflects current practice.

Chapter III Grant Administration

  • All grantee notifications and requests must now be submitted electronically to NSF via the FastLane system. This requirement is now incorporated into each of the subparts contained in this section of the GPM. Exhibit III-1 has been updated to include the most current listing of notifications and requests and includes a column that identifies where questions regarding each type of request should be directed. (GPM 310 "Changes in Project Direction or Management")

  • Provides a definition for "substantially less time to the project" as defined in the NSF Grant Conditions. (GC-1) (GPM 312.5 "Change in Person-Months Devoted to the Project")

  • Principal Investigator (PI) Transfers must now be submitted electronically via the Notification and Request module in FastLane. Updated instructions for completion of this process have been incorporated. After the transfer, NSF will not intervene in any disputes between the two organizations regarding the transferred amount. (GPM 312.8 "Disposition of a Grant when a PI/PD transfers from One Organization to Another Organization")

  • Submission of signed paper budget to NSF by the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) of a subawardee organization is no longer required. (GPM 313 "Contracting or Transferring the Project Effort (Subawards))

  • Cost sharing coverage is now consistent with the NSB-approved cost sharing coverage issued in May, 1999 as well as with changes made to NSF's Grant General Conditions in this area. Recipients are reminded that careful consideration must be given before committing to voluntary cost sharing on unsolicited proposals. Language also has been added regarding recent audit findings relating to cost sharing in awards. (GPM 330, "Cost Sharing and Matching")

  • Technical project reports are required for all NSF assistance awards. The information contained in these reports is used in Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) reports to Congress, by NSF Program Officers and staff and may be released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). (GPM 340 "Technical Reporting Requirements")

  • Annual and Final Project Reports must now be submitted electronically via use of the format contained in the Project Reporting System in Fastlane. (GPM 341 "Annual Project Reports" and GPM 342 "Final Project Reports")

  • Failure to provide final technical reports will delay the processing of pending proposals for both the PI and all identified co-PIs on a given award. (GPM 344 "Compliance with Technical Reporting Requirements")

  • States, local governments or non-profit organizations must arrange for the conduct of audits as required by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-133. Copies of the audit report should be provided to the cognizant Federal audit agency. (GPM 350 "Records Retention and Audit)

  • Exhibit III-2 "NSF Grant Transfer Request" has been deleted from the GPM because the process has been converted to an electronic module available via the NSF FastLane system.

Chapter IV Financial Requirements and Payments

  • Definitions for ASAP, the Automated Standard Application for Payments and FastLane Financial Administration Functions, have been added to this chapter. (GPM 420 "Definitions")

  • Grantees who do not meet the conditions to be able to receive advances from NSF will be notified in the grant letter that they must submit a Standard Form (SF) 270 for reimbursement. Information on how to submit the SF 270 to NSF has been included in this section. (GPM 434 "Request for Reimbursements")

  • The Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) Vendor/Miscellaneous Payment Enrollment form is now available in electronic format. Once enrolled in the system, grantees may request funds from NSF either by using ASAP, the FastLane Cash Request function or an SF 270. Instead of manual review, electronic checks are performed in the system to ensure that all of the information provided is correct. (GPM 436 "ACH Vendor Express")

  • Instructions on how and where to electronically refund excess funds to NSF have been added to this section. (GPM 442 "Erroneous Payments")

  • The Federal Cash Transactions Report (FCTR) is now available on FastLane. Grantees must now review, update, certify and submit the FCTR to NSF electronically via FastLane. (GPM 451 "Quarterly Disbursement Reporting - Federal Cash Transactions Report (FCTR)"

  • The reasons for closeout being deferred during the final disbursement reporting have been updated to reflect current procedure. (GPM 452 "Final Disbursement Reporting")

  • Section 453, "Compliance with Financial Reporting Requirements", has been removed.

Chapter V Grantee Standards

  • The definitions contained in the previous GPM section 501.2 have been removed.

  • The list of information a prospective new awardee has to submit to NSF has been deleted. This information is now contained in the NSF Prospective New Awardee Guide which is available electronically on the Division of Contracts, Policy and Oversight (CPO) website. (GPM 501. "Prospective Grantee Organization and Management Data")

  • The previous GPM section 544 has been revised to implement the new principles relating to the use of NSF-supported research instrumentation and facilities that were adopted by the National Science Board (NSB). (GPM 544 "Principles Relating to Use of NSF-Supported Research Instrumentation and Facilities")

Chapter VI Allowability of Costs

  • The Basic Considerations section has been expanded to state that costs claimed must be allowable, necessary, reasonable and allocable. Questionable cases should be discussed with NSF and documented thoroughly by the grantee organization. (GPM 600 "Basic Considerations")

  • The format of the "Applicability to Grantees" section has been changed from text to tables to make the information easier to understand. Websites for the OMB Circulars and the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) are provided. (GPM 601.1 "Applicability to Grantees")

  • Requests for pre-award costs must be submitted electronically via the FastLane Notification and Request module. (GPM 602.2 "Pre-award Costs")

  • Costs that are not specifically budgeted for originally may still be allowable under the cost principles and may be charged to the NSF grant if they are necessary for the conduct of the project. (GPM 603.2 "NSF Prior Approval Policy")

  • GPM section 604, "Advance Understandings", has been deleted.

  • A reference to the GPM section on use of non-US flag carriers while on foreign travel has been added to the "Travel Costs" section. (GPM 614 "Travel Costs")

  • The previous GPM section 615.1 and 615.2 on computer facilities have been consolidated and the FAR reference replaced with the applicable OMB Circular A-110 reference. (GPM 615 "Computer Costs")

  • A clarification has been made to the Participant Support Costs section to show that participant support costs must be accounted for separately by grantees. Also the exemption for Veterans Administration, retirement or disability recipients has been removed because it has been phased out. (GPM 618.1 "General")

  • The dollar threshold for rearrangements and alterations that do not constitute construction has been raised to $25,000. (GPM 621 "Rearrangements and Alterations")

  • The initial paragraph under "Meetings and Conferences" has been rewritten to match the tense and tone of the preceding sections and to incorporate the note at the end of the previous GPM section into the first paragraph, for greater emphasis. (GPM 625 "Meetings and Conferences")

  • The "Indirect Costs" section has been rearranged to move forward the information on "Indirect Costs in Proposals for NSF support". Those organizations which do not have a current approved indirect cost rate should prepare one based on data from their most recently ended fiscal year. The NSF website address for guidelines on how to prepare this information has been provided. (GPM 632 "Indirect Costs in Proposals for NSF Support")

  • NSF procedures on handling organizations that do not have a Federally-approved indirect cost rate have been expanded, with definitions of the various types of rates that could be approved and under what circumstances they are used. The off-campus activities section (previously GPM 633.2) and the entire "Indirect Costs in NSF Cost Reimbursement Grants" (previously GPM 634) have been incorporated into the Basic Policy section. . Approval Rates (other than Maximum Provisional)" (previously GPM 635.1) and "Maximum Provisional Rate" (previously GPM 635.2) have been incorporated in the Basic Policy section. (GPM 633.1 "Basic Policy")

  • Fees may not exceed the amount specified in the NSF award letter. (GPM 640 "Fee Payments under NSF Grants")

Chapter VII Other Grant Requirements

  • NSF's implementing regulations regarding Title IX have been added to the GPM, and they are also cited in the grant conditions. (GPM 704 "Title IX - Sex Discrimination")

  • A URL for the Common Rule for the protection of human subjects has been added as well as a link to NSF's citation in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and guidance about the regulations. Updated organizational affiliations for DHHS also have been inserted. (GPM 711 "Human Subjects")

  • A URL for the Recombinant DNA guidelines, amended in May of 1999, has been added to this section. The address to which to send inquiries on the NSF policy on recombinant DNA research has been updated. (GPM 712 "Research involving Recombinant DNA Molecules")

  • The definition of vertebrate animals has been extended to include rats, birds and mice. A statement has been added to clarify that Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees must be established through a multi-project assurance with NIH or through an NSF-approved single-project assurance. Updated coverage on laboratory animals, to include new coverage on awards to U.S. grantees for projects involving the care or use of vertebrate animals at a foreign institution or foreign field site, has been added. The citations for the applicable guidelines have been updated and a URL for the Public Health Service (PHS) policy on the humane care and use of laboratory animals also has been added to the Vertebrate Animal section. (GPM 713 "Animal Welfare Requirements")

  • The "Patents and Inventions" section has been amended in sections 731.1.b.3 and 731.4.f.5 to state that only the page of any US patent application that contains the Federal support clause must be submitted to NSF. Grantees are now encouraged to use the Edison system maintained by the National Institutes of Health to disclose NSF subject inventions. Instructions regarding use of that system are included. (GPM 731 "Patents and Inventions")

Chapter VIII Other Proposal and Award Considerations

  • Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs has been revised to eliminate the paragraph regarding annual publishing of NSF programs in the Federal Register. Such information is available from the Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS). (GPM 800, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs")

  • Section 812.1, "Routine Information Releases", has been removed.

  • The "Open Government Legislation" section has been updated to clarify the intended meaning and provide more details on what information must be included in a FOIA request. A website for further information is provided. (GPM 812.2 "Open Government Legislation")

  • The wording in the "Release of Project Reports" section has been changed slightly to enhance the intended meaning. In addition, information on the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) has been deleted now that NTIS is no longer in existence. (GPM 812.3 "Release of Project Reports")

  • The "Environmental Impact" section has been changed to show that Federal agencies must consider such impacts before Federal action is taken. Depending on the type of project, an environmental assessment or impact statement may be necessary. (GPM 830 "Environmental Impact")

  • The national security Executive Order and CFR numerical references have been updated. (GPM 850 "National Security")

Chapter IX Reconsideration/Suspension and Termination/Disputes/Research Misconduct

  • The categories of proposal types that are exempted from the NSF Reconsideration Policy have been expanded for consistency with current NSF policy and practice. (GPM 900 "Reconsideration of Proposals Declined or Returned by the Foundation")

  • During reconsideration by an Assistant Director or the Deputy Director of NSF, if additional reviews are sought, they are subject to standard merit review procedures. (GPM 900 "Reconsideration of Proposals Declined or Returned by the Foundation")

  • The previous section entitled "Misconduct in Science" has been renamed "Research Misconduct". The "other serious deviation from accepted practices" and retaliation language have been removed from the definition of misconduct. An investigation consists of a formal development of a factual record, in addition to examination and evaluation of that record. The section has been clarified to show that the NSF Deputy Director adjudicates research misconduct proceedings and the NSF Director decides appeals. (GPM 931 "NSF Policies and Responsibilities")

  • The role of grantees regarding research misconduct has been expanded to provide adequate safeguards for subjects of allegations as well as informants. Grantees should notify NSF if there is indication of possible violations of civil or criminal law, if public health or safety are at risk or if the research activities should be suspended. (GPM 932 "Role of Grantees")

Exhibits Deleted from the Grant Policy Manual

  • Exhibit I-1 - NSF Organization Chart

  • Exhibit III-2 - NSF Grant Transfer Request (NSF Form 1263)

  • Exhibit IV-1 - Request for Advance or Reimbursement Instructions (SF 270)

  • Exhibit IV-3 - Instructions for Federal Cash Transactions Report (FCTR)

  • Exhibit IV-4 - E-mail FCTR Instructions

  • Exhibit V-1 - Important Notice 91 - Principles Related to the Use and Operation of NSF-Supported Research Instrumentation and Facilities

  • Exhibit V-2 - Preparation of Transfer Order