Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Information Technology Research (ITR) (NSF 04-012)
Frequently Asked Questions - Financial/Budget
Answer: We do not make a priori funding decisions across the areas even though each Directorate knows (once we get our budget from Congress) how much it can spend on new ITR awards this year. That is because ITR is an interdisciplinary, Foundation-wide activity and many awards receive funds from several Directorates. Decisions about funding are made after the proposals are reviewed, and after all Directorates have a chance to determine which proposals are the most interesting and promising to them. If the proposals in some particular area are of unusually high quality, that area may attract more money than if the money were allocated in advance.
Answer: Academic year salary for teaching faculty may only be requested in exceptional circumstances. Each proposal will be evaluated individually to see if there are exceptional circumstances. A request by the university administration to ask for academic year salary does not constitute exceptional circumstances. On the other hand, some directorates will allow course buyouts for faculty at teaching colleges. The rationale is that individuals teaching four or five courses a semester have little time to carry out research and NSF wants to encourage research at all US universities and colleges. If you think you might quality for an exception, please check with the ITR Cognizant Program Officer representing your directorate to see what your directorate will allow.
Answer: Many universities and colleges consider certain kinds of administrative costs, such as lab space and secretary salary, to be included in the indirect cost portion of the budget. Thus, they typically cannot be included as direct costs. If you have a question about what is allowable at your university or college, please check with your Sponsored Research Office. They are best situated to answer this question.
Answer: ITR encourages not only the highest quality scientific research, but also the training of new researchers and the support of university departments that educate people for IT careers at all levels. Given these goals, we recommend that projects spend at least as much money on students and post-docs (i.e., the teaching and training aspects of the project) as on faculty and research staff salaries.
Answer: Postdocs may be counted as students in the budget; many universities so designate them.
Answer: Yes. However, this is not an infrastructure program where much or even most of the money goes toward equipment that will be used by many research and education projects, for example, to outfit a department or lab. In an ITR budget, only money for equipment that is necessary to carry out that proposed project should be requested.
Answer: Yes, there are additional steps you should take. Prior to or at the time of your submission, you should inform both the NSF program officer with primary responsibility for managing the program that supports the facility, and the ITR contact for the Directorate to which you are submitting the proposal. If proposals to use the facility are normally expected to include supplemental documentation, such as a facility request form, you should include such documentation with your ITR proposal. However, it is possible that proposals that review well may still be declined if they require a facility that will not be available in the appropriate time frame or if the total cost of the project falls outside the scope of the ITR budget limitations this year when the cost of the facility use is included.
Answer: ITR is an interdisciplinary, Foundation-wide activity. A high-quality, innovative proposal that addresses the substance of the ITR solicitation and has high societal value or impact has the best chance of being funded. Proposers should request the funding amounts that are necessary to carry out the work. We are aiming for an average total budget per award to be about $1.25 Million. We expect that most proposals will include personnel that comprise multi-institutional, inter-disciplinary teams, although single investigator proposals are allowed.
Answer: There are several reasons for not holding a size class competition this year. First, ITR funds are limited. ITR has been a very popular program and we worked hard to maintain reasonable success rates in previous years, thus, encumbering ITR funds this year. Second, we do not want to waste the valuable time of our research community. We know that the preparation of large-scale proposals is time-intensive. Third, there are other places within NSF where small- and large-scale proposals may be submitted. Single PI, small proposals may be submitted to regular programs. Very large-scale proposals may be submitted to center programs. Fourth, what has been unique about ITR has been its focus on medium-sized teams of multi-institutional, interdisciplinary researchers. It is our intent this year to continue this focus. Fifth, we would prefer this year to not have to make drastic budget cuts and for you to form your research teams with more realistic expectations of what your final budget might be. That is why we have said in the solicitation that most proposals will be funded in the range of $200,000 to $2,000,000 dollars total across all institutions and over all years. Our goal is an average funding amount of $1.25 Million total and a duration of 4-5 years.
Thus, we do not have a small- or large-size class competition this year, but are encouraging proposals in the mid-range.
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