Opportunities for Collaboration Between NSF and NIST

Program Solicitation
NSF 05-596

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation
Directorate for Engineering
      Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems

NIST logo  

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Full Proposal Target Date(s):

    October 05, 2005


    March 1, annually

    October 1, annually


General Information

Program Title:

Opportunities for Collaboration Between NSF and NIST

Synopsis of Program:

In order to better fulfill their missions, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate collaboration and program coordination. NSF, and specifically the Engineering Directorate, would like to encourage the development of proposals which take advantage of this MOU.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

  • Jesus M. de la Garza, Program Director, Directorate for Engineering, Division of Civil & Mechanical Systems, 545 S, telephone: (703) 292-7791, fax: (703) 292-9053, email: jgarza@nsf.gov

  • Paul D. Domich Associate Director, BFRL, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 20899, USA telephone: 301-975-5624, email: domich@nist.gov

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

  • 47.041 --- Engineering

Eligibility Information

  • Organization Limit:
    Full proposals may only be submitted by US academic institutions. Industry and government agencies may only be included as partners in a partnership. Partnerships are not required. If a partnership is formed, then a US academic institution should be the lead partner.
  • PI Eligibility Limit: None Specified.
  • Limit on Number of Proposals: A PI or a co-PI on one proposal may not be a PI or a co-PI on another proposal for any target date.

Award Information

  • Anticipated Type of Award: Standard or Continuing Grant
  • Estimated Number of Awards: 1 to 3
  • Anticipated Funding Amount: $1,000,000 per fiscal year, pending the availability of funds.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions
  • Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: This solicitation contains information that supplements the standard Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) proposal preparation guidelines. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.
B. Budgetary Information
  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Cost Sharing is not required by NSF.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: Not Applicable.
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Not Applicable.
C. Due Dates
  • Full Proposal Target Date(s):
      October 05, 2005
      March 1, annually
      October 1, annually

Proposal Review Information

  • Merit Review Criteria: National Science Board approved criteria apply.

Award Administration Information

  • Award Conditions: Standard NSF award conditions apply.
  • Reporting Requirements: Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.


Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Description

  3. Eligibility Information

  4. Award Information

  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane Requirements

  6. Proposal Review Information
    1. NSF Proposal Review Process
    2. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard

  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements

  8. Contacts for Additional Information

  9. Other Programs of Interest


This solicitation is intended to provide an enabling mechanism for coordination and cooperation between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) whenever appropriate and mutually beneficial. Cooperation may include, but is not limited to, the specific areas identified below:

  • Collaboration on research, grant, and education programs to ensure that the United States maintains the necessary research skills in measurement science to facilitate the advancement of burgeoning fields such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, and improve our manufacturing competitiveness. Activities envisioned include the following:
  1. Development of joint research programs in which NSF provides funding to scientists and engineers at US academic institutions to perform research at NIST in collaboration with NIST scientists. Areas of potential interest include nanotechnology, manufacturing, biosystems and health, information technology, and public safety and security.
  2. Development of joint education programs in which NSF provides funding for students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty to perform research at NIST.
  • Formation of NIST, NSF, university, industry, and other government agency partnerships to create national centers of excellence.
  • Making available NIST's unique facilities, such as the Advanced Measurement Laboratory, to NSF and its sponsored partners.
  • Initiation of collaborative education programs for scientists and engineers, including joint postdoctoral programs, expanded high school and college undergraduate research programs, and faculty training and sabbatical programs.
  • Mutual use of facilities and development of new NIST facilities as appropriate.
  • Cooperation to facilitate and enhance extramural research and development activities supported by either agency.
  • Cooperation through the exchange of agency personnel, expertise, scientific and technical information, data, and publications.
  • Joint publicity of mutually reinforcing activities, publications, and research results.
  • Mutual assistance in program planning, and in the review of research and development projects and proposals.


  1. Purpose

The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is to facilitate collaboration and program coordination between the two agencies to help fulfill their missions. Such cooperation will strengthen the science and engineering programs at NSF and the measurement, standards, and technology programs at NIST by accelerating the development of the critical measurement science infrastructure and standards necessary for advancing and disseminating fundamental and applied science and technology research for the benefit of the United States. Collaboration in various areas of science and technology relevant to the missions of the two agencies is anticipated.

The MOU sets forth the basic principles and guidelines under which the agencies intend to work together to foster cooperation in research and education; in the exchange of ideas, information, and data; in the development and use of laboratories, research facilities, and centers of excellence; in mutual collaborations with industry, other government agencies, and university partners; and other efforts to further the advancement of knowledge and its application to improving the United States' standard of living. The MOU builds upon the long history of collaboration between the two agencies in research, as illustrated by such successful enterprises as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.

  1. Background

The National Science Foundation has played a major role in supporting basic research in science and engineering, primarily in U.S. colleges and universities, since its inception in 1950; the National Institute of Standards and Technology was established in 1901 (as the National Bureau of Standards) to support industry, commerce, scientific institutions and the government through the advancement of measurement science and technology, the development of standards, and the enhancement of the competitiveness of American industry. The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 expanded NIST's laboratory-based research and technology activities by establishing several outreach programs.

The complementary, yet synergistic, roles of NIST and the NSF call for the increased cooperation under this solicitation. It will allow NSF to improve its transfer of basic engineering and science discoveries from academic institutions to the marketplace through linkage with the measurement science and standards programs of NIST. NIST will augment the underlying science and engineering foundation of its measurement science and standards program and leverage its unique facilities and capabilities through cooperation with NSF. Such close collaboration will promote the accomplishment of the goals of the agencies as summarized in their respective strategic plans.

An important area of mutual interest is in the education of future scientists and engineers, as both agencies depend on the availability of highly trained scientific and engineering personnel. Furthermore, the economic health and security of the United States rest on its continued ability to attract outstanding students to technical fields and to provide them with world-class educational experiences.


Full proposals may only be submitted by US academic institutions. Industry and government agencies may only be included as partners in a partnership. Partnerships are not required. If a partnership is formed, then a US academic institution should be the lead partner.

A PI or a co-PI on one proposal may not be a PI or a co-PI on another proposal for any target date.


1 to 3 Standard or Continuing Grants. The anticipated funding amount is up to $1,000,000 per fiscal year, pending the availability of funds.


A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal Instructions:

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 Website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg. Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from pubs@nsf.gov.

The following information supplements the GPG:

The Project Description section in the proposals must include the scope of the partnership with NIST, and the contact person at NIST with whom the collaboration will take place. NIST technical program information can be found at http://www.bfrl.nist.gov/info/mou/nsf.html

Proposers are reminded to identify the program announcement/solicitation number (05-596) 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:

Cost sharing is not required by NSF in proposals submitted under this Program Solicitation.

C. Due Dates

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

Full Proposal Target Date(s):

    October 05, 2005
    March 1, annually
    October 1, annually

D. FastLane Requirements

Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this announcement/solicitation through the FastLane system. Detailed instructions for proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program announcement/solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this announcement/solicitation.

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 electronic certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Proposers are no longer required to provide a paper copy of the signed Proposal Cover Sheet to NSF. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane Website at: http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov


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 National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions.

In an effort to increase compliance with these requirements, the January 2002 issuance of the GPG incorporated revised proposal preparation guidelines relating to the development of the Project Summary and Project Description. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators (PIs) must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative.

Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. It is believed that these changes to NSF proposal preparation and processing guidelines will more clearly articulate the importance of broader impacts to NSF-funded projects.

The two National Science Board approved merit review criteria are listed below (see the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter III.A for further information). 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 judgments.

    What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
    How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?
    What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
    How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

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

    Integration of Research and Education
    One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives.
    Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities
    Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

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 Ad Hoc and/or 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.

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.

NSF is striving to be able to tell proposers whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the closing date of an announcement/solicitation, or the date of proposal receipt, whichever is later. 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 their 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 are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC). 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 Website at https://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/. Paper copies of these documents may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from pubs@nsf.gov.

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions is contained in the NSF Grant Policy Manual (GPM) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpm. 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 Website at http://www.gpo.gov.

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. Failure to provide final technical reports delays NSF review and processing of pending proposals for the PI and all Co-PIs. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project reporting system, available through FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. 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 this program should be made to:

  • Jesus M. de la Garza, Program Director, Directorate for Engineering, Division of Civil & Mechanical Systems, 545 S, telephone: (703) 292-7791, fax: (703) 292-9053, email: jgarza@nsf.gov

  • Paul D. Domich Associate Director, BFRL, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 20899, USA telephone: 301-975-5624, email: domich@nist.gov

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

  • Kimberly J. Bryant, Information Technology Specialist, Directorate for Engineering, Division of Civil & Mechanical Systems, 545 S, telephone: (703) 292-7006, fax: (703) 292-9053, email: kbryant@nsf.gov


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 https://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?gp. 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 Website at https://www.nsf.gov/home/ebulletin, and in individual program announcements/solicitations. Subscribers can also sign up for NSF's MyNSF News Service (https://www.nsf.gov/mynsf/) to be notified of new funding opportunities that become available.


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, although some programs may have special requirements that limit eligibility.

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 GPG Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.


The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov

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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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