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NSF 15-095

Dear Colleague Letter: Communication About Automated Compliance Checking and Proposal Submission

July 14, 2015

Dear Colleague:

This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) is to communicate with the engineering research community about the new features that NSF has implemented in the FastLane system for automated compliance checking and about common reasons for lack of compliance. The goals are to ensure consistency in NSF's proposal submissions, to enhance the ease of submissions, to reduce the number of submitted proposals that will be returned without review, and to enable a greater number of meritorious ideas to advance.

NSF has implemented new features for automated compliance checking in the FastLane system. I strongly encourage FastLane users to check proposals for compliance during the proposal preparation and submission process. The current complete NSF Proposal Preparation Checklist can be found at:

Below please see the most common reasons for return without review for proposals previously submitted to the Engineering Directorate. I strongly encourage you take these requirements into consideration when preparing and submitting proposals.


  • Should ONLY be uploaded as a PDF if the use of special character is required.
  • Must include separate sections labeled "Overview," "Intellectual Merit," and "Broader Impacts" if uploaded as a PDF.


  • Must include "Results from Prior NSF Support" over the past five years for each PI and Co-PI.
  • Must include a section — with a heading — for "Broader Impacts" of the proposed work.

Please contact Ms. Grace Yuan, Associate Program Director, at if you have any questions.


Dr. Pramod Khargonekar
Assistant Director for Engineering