Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE): Core Programs

Program Solicitation
NSF 20-591

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 19-589

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
     Division of Computing and Communication Foundations
     Division of Information and Intelligent Systems
     Division of Computer and Network Systems
     Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure

Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     October 28, 2020 - November 12, 2020

MEDIUM Projects

     October 28, 2020 - November 12, 2020

OAC Core Projects

     Proposals Accepted Anytime beginning October 1st, 2020

SMALL Projects

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

This is a revision of NSF 19-589, the solicitation for the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE): Core Programs. As part of this revision, proposers are encouraged to pay particular attention to the following:

  • Proposals for the Small project class can now be submitted anytime beginning October 1st, 2020 – there are no deadlines for submission. There continue to be deadlines for the Medium project class as well as the OAC Core project class.
  • As announced in NSF 19-589, Large project class submissions will not be accepted in response to this solicitation; the CNS Core program will accept these in alternate years.
  • The Cyber-Human Systems program is renamed the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program.
  • Instructions for submitting Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) plans have been clarified.
  • Cloud Computing Resources can now be requested through CloudBank.
  • Embedded REU Supplements are allowed for multiple years, and do not count against proposal budget limits.

Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after June 1, 2020.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE): Core Programs

Synopsis of Program:

The NSF CISE Directorate supports research and education projects that develop new knowledge in all aspects of computing, communications, and information science and engineering, as well as advanced cyberinfrastructure, through the following core programs:

Division of Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF):

  • Algorithmic Foundations (AF) program;
  • Communications and Information Foundations (CIF) program;
  • Foundations of Emerging Technologies (FET) program; and
  • Software and Hardware Foundations (SHF) program.

Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS):

  • CNS Core (CNS Core) program.

Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS):

  • Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program (formerly the Cyber-Human Systems [CHS] program);
  • Information Integration and Informatics (III) program; and
  • Robust Intelligence (RI) program.

Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC):

  • OAC Core Research (OAC Core) program;

Proposers are invited to submit proposals in several project classes, which are defined as follows:

  • Small Projects -- up to $500,000 total budget with durations up to three years: projects in this class may be submitted to CCF, CNS, and IIS;
  • Medium Projects -- $500,001 to $1,200,000 total budget with durations up to four years: projects in this class may be submitted to CCF, CNS, and IIS only; and
  • OAC Core Projects -- up to $500,000 total budget with durations up to three years: projects in this class may be submitted to OAC only.

A more complete description of these project classes can be found in Section II. Program Description of this document.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

  • Tracy J. Kimbrel, Point of Contact, Algorithmic Foundations (AF), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-af@nsf.gov

  • Phillip A. Regalia, Point of Contact, Communications and Information Foundations (CIF), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-cif@nsf.gov

  • Mitra Basu, Point of Contact, Foundations of Emerging Technologies (FET), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-fet@nsf.gov

  • Almadena Y. Chtchelkanova, Point of Contact, Software and Hardware Foundations (SHF), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-shf@nsf.gov

  • Erik Brunvand, Point of Contact, CNS Core (CNS Core), telephone: (703) 292-8950, email: cns-core@nsf.gov

  • Ann C. Von Lehmen, Point of Contact, CNS Core (CNS Core), telephone: (703) 292-4756, email: cns-core@nsf.gov

  • Ephraim P. Glinert, Point of Contact, Human-Centered Computing (HCC), telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: iis-hcc@nsf.gov

  • Sylvia J. Spengler, Point of Contact, Information Integration and Informatics (III), telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: iis-iii@nsf.gov

  • Jie Yang, Point of Contact, Robust Intelligence (RI), telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: iis-ri@nsf.gov

  • Alan Sussman, Point of Contact, OAC Core Research (OAC Core), telephone: (703) 292-7563, email: oac-core@nsf.gov

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

  • 47.070 --- Computer and Information Science and Engineering

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant or Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 400 to 600

Anticipated Funding Amount: $280,000,000

Dependent upon the availability of funds.

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.

Who May Serve as PI:

By the submission deadline, any PI, co-PI, or other senior project personnel must hold either:

  • a tenured or tenure-track position, or
  • a primary, full-time, paid appointment in a research or teaching position

at a US-based campus of an organization eligible to submit to this solicitation (see above), with exceptions granted for family or medical leave, as determined by the submitting organization. Individuals with primary appointments at for-profit non-academic organizations or at overseas branch campuses of US IHEs are not eligible.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 2

For the CISE: Core Programs, during any contiguous 12-month period, an individual may not participate as PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel in more than two proposals across all size classes. This limit will be applied beginning with this solicitation, and continue to apply to future versions of this solicitation, unless noted otherwise.

These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced in order to treat everyone fairly and consistently. Any proposal that exceeds this limit at the time of submission for any PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made. Proposals that are withdrawn prior to commencement of merit review, or those that are returned without review by NSF, will not count against this proposal limit. Proposers are strongly encouraged to verify the dates of prior submissions to CISE: Core Programs for all personnel on their teams to avoid their proposals being deemed non-compliant.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Not required
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not required

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements:

    Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

    Not Applicable

  • Other Budgetary Limitations:

    Not Applicable

C. Due Dates

  • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

         October 28, 2020 - November 12, 2020

    MEDIUM Projects

         October 28, 2020 - November 12, 2020

    OAC Core Projects

         Proposals Accepted Anytime beginning October 1st, 2020

    SMALL Projects

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria:

National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review criteria apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions:

Additional award conditions apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Reporting Requirements:

Additional reporting requirements apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction
  2. Program Description
  3. Award Information
  4. Eligibility Information
  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane/Research.gov/Grants.gov Requirements
  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process
  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements
  8. Agency Contacts
  9. Other Information

I. INTRODUCTION

The NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) supports transformative research and education projects that develop new knowledge in all aspects of computing, communications, and information science and engineering, as well as advanced cyberinfrastructure, through multiple research programs across one office and three divisions:

The Division of Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF) supports research that studies the foundations of computing and communication.

The Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS) supports research that studies novel or enhanced computing and networking technologies, or new ways to make use of existing technologies.

The Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS) supports research that studies the inter-related roles of people, computers, and information.

The Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) supports translational research and education activities in all aspects of advanced cyberinfrastructure that lead to systems capable of transforming science and engineering research.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

This solicitation covers submission to the following CISE core programs. Please see the individual program webpages below for more information on what is within scope for these programs:

CCF:

  • Algorithmic Foundations (AF) program [Program Webpage] supports potentially transformative projects in the theory of algorithms and computational complexity, characterized by algorithmic innovation and rigorous analysis;
  • Communications and Information Foundations (CIF) program [Program Webpage] supports foundational research that addresses the theoretical underpinnings of information acquisition, transmission, and processing in communications and information processing systems;
  • Foundations of Emerging Technologies (FET) program [Program Webpage] supports foundational research at the intersection of computing and biological systems, nanoscale science and engineering, quantum information science, and other promising disruptive technologies supporting novel computing/communication models; and
  • Software and Hardware Foundations (SHF) program [Program Webpage] supports foundational research in the design, verification, operation, and evaluation of computer hardware and software through novel approaches, robust theories, high-leverage tools, and lasting principles;

CNS:

  • CNS Core (CNS Core) program [Program Webpage] supports research in computer and network systems to develop a better understanding of the fundamental properties and tradeoffs involved, as well as the abstractions and tools used in designing, building, measuring, and using them;

IIS:

  • Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program [Program Webpage] supports research in human-computer interaction (HCI), taken broadly, integrating knowledge across disciplines to design new computing systems;
  • Information Integration and Informatics (III) program [Program Webpage] supports research on computational approaches to the full data lifecycle to maximize the utility of information resources; and
  • Robust Intelligence (RI) program [Program Webpage] supports computational research to understand and enable intelligent systems in complex, realistic contexts.

OAC:

  • OAC Core Research (OAC Core) program [Program Webpage] supports translational research on the design, development, deployment, experimentation, and application of advanced research cyberinfrastructure (CI) to enable new frontiers of discovery and innovation;

PROJECT CLASSES

Proposals submitted to this solicitation must be consistent with one of three project classes defined below. Proposals will be considered for funding within their project classes.

  • SMALL Projects

    SMALL projects are not accepted for the OAC Core Research program and will be returned without review if submitted to OAC Core.

    Small projects, with total budgets up to $500,000 for durations of up to three years, are well suited to one or two investigators (PI and one co-PI or other Senior Personnel) and at least one student and/or postdoctoral researcher. A Collaboration Plan (up to two pages) may be provided under Supplementary Documents. Please see Proposal Preparation Instructions Section V.A for additional submission guidelines.
  • MEDIUM Projects

    Medium projects are not accepted for the OAC Core Research program and will be returned without review if submitted to OAC Core.

    Medium projects, with total budgets ranging from $500,001 to $1,200,000 for durations up to four years, are well suited to one or more investigators (PI, co-PI and/or other Senior Personnel) and several students and/or postdoctoral researchers. Medium project descriptions must be comprehensive and well-integrated, and should make a convincing case that the collaborative contributions of the project team will be greater than the sum of each of their individual contributions. Rationale must be provided to explain why a budget of this size is required to carry out the proposed work. Since the success of collaborative research efforts is known to depend on thoughtful coordination mechanisms that regularly bring together the various participants of the project, a Collaboration Plan is required for any Medium project with more than one investigator, even when the investigators are affiliated with the same institution. Up to two pages are allowed for Collaboration Plans and they must be submitted as a document under Supplementary Documents. The length and level of detail provided in the Collaboration Plan should be commensurate with the complexity of the proposed project. Collaboration Plans and proposed budgets should demonstrate that key personnel, and especially lead PIs, have allocated adequate time for both their individual technical contributions and the leadership of collaborative activities necessary to realize the synergistic effects of larger-scale research. If a Medium project with more than one investigator does not include a Collaboration Plan, that proposal will be returned without review. Please see Proposal Preparation Instructions Section V.A for additional submission guidelines.
  • LARGE Projects

    Large projects will not be accepted as part of this solicitation. Future versions of this solicitation may accept Large projects for the CNS Core program.
  • OAC Core Projects

    OAC Core projects, with total budgets up to $500,000 for durations of up to three years, are well suited to one or two investigators (PI and one co-PI or other Senior Personnel) and at least one student and/or postdoctoral researcher. A Collaboration Plan (up to two pages) may be provided under Supplementary Documents. Please see Proposal Preparation Instructions Section V.A for additional submission guidelines.

BROADENING PARTICIPATION IN COMPUTING

CISE has long been committed to Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC). The underrepresentation of many groups—including women, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities—in computing deprives large segments of the population of the opportunity to be creators of technology and not only consumers. Ending underrepresentation will require a range of measures, including institutional programs and activities as well as culture change across colleges, departments, classes, and research groups.

With this solicitation, CISE is continuing a pilot effort started in 2018 encouraging the research community to engage in meaningful BPC activities. This pilot builds on many of the programs, research, and resources created through CISE's past and ongoing investments in BPC, and it aligns with the recommendations of the Strategic Plan for Broadening Participation produced by the CISE Advisory Committee in 2012. Specifically:

  • Each Medium project must, by the time of award, have in place an approved BPC plan. In this ongoing pilot phase, CISE will work with each PI team following merit review and prior to making an award to ensure that plans are meaningful and include concrete metrics for success. CISE will also provide opportunities for PIs to share BPC experiences and innovations through program PI meetings. PIs of Medium proposals are therefore strongly encouraged to consider this eventual requirement as they develop their proposals and include one- to three-page descriptions of their planned BPC activities under Supplementary Documents in their submissions. Feedback will be provided on such plans.
  • PIs submitting to the Small size class should note that CISE intends to conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of the above approach for Medium and Large projects and determine appropriate next steps, including potential further expansion of this effort in future years. PIs of Small projects are therefore strongly encouraged to include plans for BPC activities within the Project Description sections of their proposals.

Meaningful BPC plans will address the following five elements as identified in a community White Paper on BPC:

  1. Context: Describes the problem the plan addresses using institutional or local data, and the goals of the proposed activities;
  2. Intended population(s): Specifically identifies the demographics of the participants, including school level(s) (ex. African-American undergraduates or female high-school students);
  3. Strategy: Outlines the plan of activities with specific intended outcomes, corresponding to the elements in (1) and (2) and with a role for each PI and co-PI;
  4. Preparation: Describes any past engagement with BPC activities and/or intended preparation/training activities to implement proposed work; and
  5. Measurement: Describes plans for the measurement of outcomes for the proposed activities.

All PIs and co-PIs are expected to participate in BPC activities in a manner aligned with their personal contexts, interests, and talents. A proposer may include a link to their unit’s departmental plan, if applicable. More information on individual and departmental BPC plans, including metrics for BPC activities and examples, can be found at the BPC Pilot site (https://www.nsf.gov/cise/bpc) and the NSF-funded BPCnet Resource Portal (https://bpcnet.org).

PROPOSALS FOR CONSIDERATION BY MULTIPLE CISE PROGRAMS

Proposals that intersect more than one CISE research program are welcome. In such cases, PIs must identify the most relevant programs in the proposal submission process; for information about submission and how to identify such proposals, see Proposal Preparation Instructions later in this document. In these cases, PIs should also ensure that their proposals follow the program-specific guidelines for all research programs identified. CISE Program Officers will consider co-reviewing these proposals as appropriate.

CLOUD COMPUTING RESOURCES

Proposals may request cloud computing resources to use public clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud computing resources described in proposals may be obtained through an external cloud access entity (CloudBank) supported by NSF’s Enabling Access to Cloud Computing Resources for CISE Research and Education (Cloud Access) program.

Proposers should describe this request in a Supplementary Document including: (a) which public cloud providers will be used; (b) anticipated annual and total costs for accessing the desired cloud computing resources, based on pricing currently available from the public cloud computing providers; and (c) a technical description of, and justification for, the requested cloud computing resources. The proposal budget should not include the costs for accessing public cloud computing resources via CloudBank. Also, the total cost of the project, including the cloud computing resource request, may not exceed the budget limit described in this solicitation.

For example, a proposal submitted to the Small size class, has a total proposal budget limit of $500,000. If a PI wishes to request $20,000 in cloud computing resources through CloudBank, then the proposal budget should not exceed $480,000. The remaining $20,000 for cloud computing resources should be specified in the Supplementary Document. If a proposal is a collaborative project with two PIs from two different organizations, then each PI may request cloud computing resources separately through independent Supplementary Documents as long as the total budget (on the budget pages plus the amount requested for cloud computing resources in the Supplementary Documents) does not exceed $500,000 for a small project, or $1.20 million for a medium project.

If incorporating this request into the proposal, a proposer should include “CloudAccess” (one word without space) as a keyword on the Project Summary page, at the end of the Overview section (before the section on Intellectual Merit). Proposers may contact CloudBank (see https://www.cloudbank.org/faq) for consultation on estimating the costs for using cloud computing resources.

See Section V.A. Proposal Preparation Instructions, Supplementary Documents, for more information on how to describe the cloud computing resource request as well as the associated budget.

REPRODUCIBILITY AND SHARING

In the interest of completeness and transparency, PIs must describe, as part of their Data Management Plans, how they will provide access to well-documented datasets, modeling and/or simulation tools, and codebases to support reproducibility/replicability of their methods and results for a reasonable time beyond the end of the project lifecycle. See the NSF PAPPG Chapter XI.D.4 as well as the Dear Colleague Letter “Encouraging Reproducibility in Computing and Communications Research” available at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf17022.

EVALUATION

PIs should include a plan to evaluate the approaches developed as part of the Project Description. Appropriate methods will depend on the research area, topic, size and scope of the proposed project. Examples include, but are not limited to, peer review of developed theories and proofs, controlled experiments on appropriate simulators/emulators/testbeds, user studies, or prototype deployments. The plan should be appropriate for the size and scope of the project.

For proposers to the CNS Core program, a plan to evaluate the approaches developed as part of the Project Description is required.

Proposers to the OAC Core program are required to include either a validation or transition-to-practice plan for their proposed research in the Project Description. A validation plan may include setup, mechanisms, metrics, and exploration of leading-edge production systems (or equivalent simulated, emulated, or experimental systems). Transition-to-practice entails planning for incorporation of research results into production research cyberinfrastructure.

ACCESS TO EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE

PIs are encouraged to consider utilizing NSF-supported research infrastructure (such as the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research, FABRIC, Chameleon, and CloudLab) when formulating their research plans and submitting proposals. Descriptions of the capabilities of each system and their availability can be found at their websites: https://advancedwireless.org/, https://fabric-testbed.net/, https://www.chameleoncloud.org/ and https://cloudlab.us/

FAIRNESS, ETHICS, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND TRANSPARENCY

Issues of fairness, ethics, accountability, and transparency (FEAT) are important considerations for many core topics in computer and information science and engineering. In projects that generate artifacts ranging from analysis methods to algorithms to systems, or that perform studies involving human subjects, PIs are encouraged to consider the FEAT of the outputs or approaches. CISE is also interested in receiving proposals whose primary foci are on methods, techniques, tools, and evaluation practices as means to explore implications for FEAT. In the exploration and use of FEAT concepts, PIs are strongly encouraged to select and articulate their own disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches consistent or aligned with these concepts.

START DATES

Organizations are discouraged from seeking project start dates between July 2 and September 30 of a given year to avoid overdue reports blocking award actions during the end of a fiscal year. Awardee organizations may incur allowable pre-award costs within the 90-day period immediately preceding the start date of the grant (see PAPPG Chapter X.A.2.b); this will allow support for students or other relevant activities to begin over this period.

EMBEDDED REU SUPPLEMENTS

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): Sites and Supplements solicitation (NSF 19-582) provides instructions for embedding requests for REU supplements in a proposal. Proposers are invited to request REU supplements, through a supplementary document, for up to $8,000 per student per year, and up to two students per PI/co-PI. The amount of the REU supplement request does not count against the budget limitations of the project size classes described in this solicitation. Proposers should provide brief summaries of the various tasks that the REU students are expected to conduct along with the processes for recruiting eligible REU students, as noted in NSF 19-582 and the additional CISE-specific guidance in NSF 20-016.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

Up to $280 million each year will support up to 600 awards, pending the availability of funds.

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.

Who May Serve as PI:

By the submission deadline, any PI, co-PI, or other senior project personnel must hold either:

  • a tenured or tenure-track position, or
  • a primary, full-time, paid appointment in a research or teaching position

at a US-based campus of an organization eligible to submit to this solicitation (see above), with exceptions granted for family or medical leave, as determined by the submitting organization. Individuals with primary appointments at for-profit non-academic organizations or at overseas branch campuses of US IHEs are not eligible.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 2

For the CISE: Core Programs, during any contiguous 12-month period, an individual may not participate as PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel in more than two proposals across all size classes. This limit will be applied beginning with this solicitation, and continue to apply to future versions of this solicitation, unless noted otherwise.

These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced in order to treat everyone fairly and consistently. Any proposal that exceeds this limit at the time of submission for any PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made. Proposals that are withdrawn prior to commencement of merit review, or those that are returned without review by NSF, will not count against this proposal limit. Proposers are strongly encouraged to verify the dates of prior submissions to CISE: Core Programs for all personnel on their teams to avoid their proposals being deemed non-compliant.

Additional Eligibility Info:

For IHEs and non-profit, non-academic organizations with international branch campuses, this solicitation restricts eligibility to research activities using the facilities, equipment, and other resources of the campuses located in the US only.

Further, subawards are not permitted to international branch campuses of US-based proposing organizations eligible to submit to this solicitation.

V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via FastLane, Research.gov, or Grants.gov.

  • Full proposals submitted via FastLane: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg. Paper copies of the PAPPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-8134 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. Proposers are reminded to identify this program solicitation number in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.
  • Full Proposals submitted via Research.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg. Paper copies of the PAPPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-8134 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. The Prepare New Proposal setup will prompt you for the program solicitation number.
  • Full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation via Grants.gov should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov. The complete text of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: (https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide). To obtain copies of the Application Guide and Application Forms Package, click on the Apply tab on the Grants.gov site, then click on the Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions link and enter the funding opportunity number, (the program solicitation number without the NSF prefix) and press the Download Package button. Paper copies of the Grants.gov Application Guide also may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-8134 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via FastLane or Research.gov. PAPPG Chapter II.D.3 provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

See PAPPG Chapter II.C.2 for guidance on the required sections of a full research proposal submitted to NSF. Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the PAPPG instructions.

PIs and co-PIs are encouraged to report demographic information on the “My Profile” page within Research.gov, available at https://www.research.gov/accountmgmt/#/user/profile.

Proposal Titles:

Proposal titles should begin with an acronym that indicates the most relevant core program. Select a bolded acronym from the following list determined by the most relevant core program area (if more than one area is relevant, please see instructions below):

CCF:

  • Algorithmic Foundations (AF) program;
  • Communications and Information Foundations (CIF) program;
  • Foundations of Emerging Technologies (FET) program; and
  • Software and Hardware Foundations (SHF) program;

CNS:

  • CNS Core (CNS Core) program;

IIS:

  • Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program;
  • Information Integration and Informatics (III) program; and
  • Robust Intelligence (RI) program.

OAC:

  • OAC Core Research (OAC Core) program;

The acronym should be followed with a colon, then the project class followed by a colon, then the title of your project. For example, if you are submitting a Small proposal to the CNS Core program, then your title would be CNS Core: Small: Title.

If you submit a proposal as part of a set of collaborative proposals, the title of the proposal should begin with the words "Collaborative Research" followed by a colon, then the program acronym followed by a colon, then the project class followed by a colon and then the title of your project. For example, if you are submitting a collaborative set of proposals for a Medium project to the Robust Intelligence program, then the title of each would be Collaborative Research: RI: Medium: Title.

Proposals from PIs in institutions that have RUI (Research in Undergraduate Institutions) eligibility should have a proposal title that begins with the program acronym followed by a colon, then the project class followed by a colon, then "RUI" followed by a colon, and then the title, for example, SHF: Small: RUI: Title.

PIs submitting GOALI (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry) proposals should have a proposal title that begins with the program acronym followed by a colon, then the project class followed by a colon, then "GOALI" followed by a colon, and then the title, for example, HCC: Small: GOALI: Title. The "GOALI" type of proposal should be selected in the proposal preparation module in FastLane or Grants.gov. For additional information and guidance, see PAPPG Chapter II.E.4.

Proposals that extend beyond the scope of one CISE core program or area are welcome. In such cases, PIs should identify the acronym for the most relevant core program or area, followed by any other relevant program acronym(s) separated by colons, for example, CNS Core: AF: Medium: Title. In this example, the proposal would be submitted to the CNS Core program and would be considered by both the CNS Core and AF programs. CISE Program Officers will work with their NSF colleagues to ensure that these proposals are appropriately reviewed and considered for funding.

Large proposals submitted to any programs named in this solicitation will be returned without review.

Project Summary:

The Project Summary consists of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity, and a set of keywords.

All proposals must include 3-6 keywords that describe the general area(s) of the investigation, to assist in identifying reviewers with appropriate knowledge and expertise to review the proposal. The list of keywords should be the last paragraph of the Overview section of the Project Summary.

The keywords should describe the main scientific/engineering areas explored in the proposal. Keywords should be prefaced with "Keywords" followed by a colon and each keyword set should be separated by semicolons. Keywords should be of the type used to describe research in a journal submission and may include technical areas of expertise necessary to review the proposal. For example, they might appear as, Keywords: energy-aware computing; formal logic; graph theory; qubits; information visualization; privacy.

If cloud computing resources are being requested from CloudBank, then the keyword “CloudAccess” (one word without space) should be included at the end of the Overview section (before the section on Intellectual Merit) on the Project Summary page.

Project Description:

Length of Project Description - Describe the research and education activities to be undertaken in up to 15 pages for Small, Medium and OAC Core proposals. Proposals that exceed these limits will be returned without review.

Budget:

The total budget of the project, including any cloud computing resource request from CloudBank, may not exceed the budget limits for the respective project classes described in this solicitation. The total cost of the cloud computing resources requested from Cloudbank should not be included in the NSF budget, and should be specified only in the associated supplementary document (see below for additional instructions).

Supplementary Documents:

In the Supplementary Documents section, upload the following information where relevant:

A list of Project Personnel and Partner Organizations (required) (Note: In collaborative proposals, the lead organization should provide this information for all participants):

  • Provide current, accurate information for all personnel and organizations involved in the project. NSF staff will use this information in the merit review process to manage reviewer selection. The list must include all PIs, co-PIs, Senior Personnel, paid/unpaid Consultants or Collaborators, Subawardees, Postdocs, and project-level advisory committee members. This list should be numbered and include (in this order) Full name, Organization(s), and Role in the project, with each item separated by a semi-colon. Each person listed should start a new numbered line. For example:
    • Mary Smith; XYZ University; PI
    • John Jones; University of PQR; Senior Personnel
    • Jane Brown; XYZ University; Postdoctoral Researcher
    • Bob Adams; ABC Community College; Paid Consultant
    • Susan White; DEF Corporation; Unpaid Collaborator
    • Tim Green; ZZZ University; Subawardee

    Data Management Plan (required):

    Proposals must include a Supplementary Document of no more than two pages labeled "Data Management Plan." This Supplementary Document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.

    See NSF PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.j for full policy implementation.

    For additional information on the Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results, see: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp.

    For specific guidance for Data Management Plans submitted to the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) see: https://www.nsf.gov/cise/cise_dmp.jsp.

    See also the guidance on Reproducibility and Sharing in the Program Description section above.

    Cloud Computing Resources (if applicable):

    • If requesting cloud computing resources, include a description of the request (not to exceed two pages) as a supplementary document that includes the: (1) title of the proposal; (2) institution name, (3) anticipated total cost of computing resources, with yearly breakdown; (4) specific cloud computing providers that will be used; and (5) technical description and justification of the request, along with how the cost was estimated. The NSF Budget should not include any costs for accessing cloud computing resources via CloudBank. The total cost of the project, including this cloud computing resource request , may not exceed the budget limits for the chosen project class, as described in this solicitation. Proposers should include “CloudAccess” (one word without space) as a keyword on the Project Summary page, at the end of the Overview section (before the section on Intellectual Merit).

    Collaboration Plans for Medium projects (if applicable):

    Note: In collaborative proposals, the lead organization should provide this information for all participants.

    • Since the success of collaborative research efforts are known to depend on thoughtful coordination mechanisms that regularly bring together the various participants of the project, all Medium proposals that include more than one investigator must include a Collaboration Plan of up to two pages. The length of and degree of detail provided in the Collaboration Plan should be commensurate with the complexity of the proposed project. Where appropriate, the Collaboration Plan might include: 1) the specific roles of the project participants in all organizations involved; 2) information on how the project will be managed across all the investigators, organizations, and/or disciplines; 3) identification of the specific coordination mechanisms that will enable cross-investigator, cross-organization, and/or cross-discipline scientific integration (e.g., yearly conferences, graduate student exchange, project meetings at conferences, use of the grid for videoconferences, software repositories, etc.); and 4) specific references to the budget line items that support collaboration and coordination mechanisms. If a Medium proposal with more than one investigator does not include a Collaboration Plan of up to two pages, that proposal will be returned without review.

    Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) Plans:

    • Each Medium project must, by the time of award, have in place an approved BPC plan. Such a plan should begin with the heading “Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) Plan” and address the following five elements: (1) the context of the proposed activity, (2) intended population(s), (3) plan of activities, (4) preparation of activities, and (5) plans for measurement and dissemination of outcomes. Collaborative proposals must have one BPC plan for the entire project.
    • PIs of Medium proposals are therefore strongly encouraged to consider this eventual requirement as they develop their proposals and to include, at the time of submission, a BPC Plan Supplementary Document of one to three pages describing their planned BPC activities. Feedback will be provided on these plans.
    • Documentation of collaborative arrangements of significance to the proposal through Letters of Collaboration (if applicable):
    • There are two types of collaboration, one involving individuals/organizations that are included in the budget, and the other involving individuals/organizations that are not included in the budget. Collaborations that are included in the budget should be described in the Project Description. Any substantial collaboration with individuals/organizations not included in the budget should be described in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal (see NSF PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.i). In either case, whether or not the collaborator is included in the budget, a letter of collaboration from each named participating organization other than the submitting lead, non-lead, and/or subawardee organizations should be provided at the time of submission of the proposal. Such letters should explicitly state the nature of the collaboration, appear on the organization's letterhead and be signed by the appropriate organizational representative. These letters must not otherwise deviate from the restrictions and requirements set forth in the NSF PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.j.

      Please note that letters of support may not be submitted. Such letters do not document collaborative arrangements of significance to the project, but primarily convey a sense of enthusiasm for the project and/or highlight the qualifications of the PI or co-PI. Reviewers will be instructed not to consider these letters of support in reviewing the merits of the proposal.

    • Embedded REU Supplement Documentation (if applicable):
    • Requests for single-year or multi-year REU supplement as part of a proposal should include a description of the REU activity (follow the guidance in NSF 19-582 and NSF 20-016) as a supplementary document, not to exceed three pages. Include the budget for the REU activity in the project budget in section F (Participant Support Costs). As part of the Budget Justification, provide a separate explanation of the REU supplement request, with the proposed student costs itemized and justified.

    • Other specialized information (if applicable):
    • RUI Proposals: PIs from predominantly undergraduate institutions should include a Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) Impact Statement and Certification of RUI Eligibility in this section.

      GOALI proposals: PIs submitting GOALI proposals should include industry-university agreement letters on intellectual property in this section.

    No other Supplementary Documents, except as permitted by the NSF PAPPG, are allowed.

    Single Copy Documents:

    Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information (required):

    Proposers should follow the guidance specified in Chapter II.C.1.e of the NSF PAPPG.

    Suggested reviewers (optional):

    To increase the diversity of the reviewer pool, CISE actively encourages each proposer to include a list of suggested reviewers (including email addresses and organizational affiliations) whom they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and are not conflicted with project personnel. Suggestions for reviewers from groups underrepresented in computing are especially encouraged. Proposers should follow the guidance in the PAPPG Chapter II.C.1.b.

    Submission Checklist:

    In an effort to assist proposal preparation, the following checklists are provided as a reminder of the items that should be checked before submitting a proposal to this solicitation. These are a summary of the requirements described above. For the items marked with (RWR), the proposal will be returned without review if the required item is noncompliant at the time of proposal submission. Note that there are multiple lists: (1) for all proposals, unique to this solicitation; (2) additional requirements for Small and OAC Core proposals; and (3) additional requirements for Medium proposals.

    • For all proposals, regardless of size:
      • The last line of the Overview section of the Project Summary must consist of the word “Keywords” followed by a colon and between 3-6 keyword sets, separated by semi-colons.
      • If REU supplements are requested, then a supplementary document describing the REU activity must be included, and REU supplement costs must be specified in the Participant Support Costs section of the proposal budget.
    • For Small proposals and OAC Core proposals:
      • The proposal title should comply with the requirements under Proposal Preparation Instructions above.
      • (RWR) The total budget must not exceed $500,000, excluding funds for any embedded REU supplements. For separately-submitted collaborative proposals, this is the total across all participating organizations.
      • (RWR) The Project Description is limited to no more than 15 pages.
      • (RWR) For proposals submitted to the OAC Core Research program only, the Project Description should include a validation or transition-to-practice plan.
      • For proposals submitted to the CNS Core program only, the Project Description should include an evaluation plan.
      • A Collaboration Plan (up to two pages) may be provided as a Supplementary Document. If provided, the Collaboration Plan should include all organizations participating, not a separate plan for each organization.
      • If requesting public cloud resources through CloudBank, a supplementary document of up to two pages must be provided, and the ‘CloudAccess’ keyword should be specified in the Project Summary.
    • For Medium proposals:
      • The proposal title should comply with the requirements under Proposal Preparation Instructions above.
      • (RWR) The total budget must be $500,001 to $1,200,000, excluding funds for any embedded REU supplements]. For separately-submitted collaborative proposals, this is the total across all participating organizations.
      • (RWR) The Project Description is limited to no more than 15 pages.
      • For proposals submitted to the CNS Core program only, the Project Description should include an evaluation plan.
      • (RWR) If there is more than one investigator, a collaboration plan (up to two pages) must be provided as a Supplementary Document, even if all investigators are affiliated with the same organization. The Collaboration Plan should include all organizations participating, not a separate plan for each organization.
      • A BPC plan (of one to three pages) is strongly encouraged to be provided as a Supplementary Document with a title clearly identifying it as such. If provided, collaborative proposals should submit one BPC plan for the entire project.
      • If requesting public cloud resources through CloudBank, a supplementary document of up to two pages must be provided, and the ‘CloudAccess’ keyword should be specified in the Project Summary.

    Proposals that do not comply with the requirements marked as RWR will be returned without review.

    B. Budgetary Information

    Cost Sharing:

    Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

    C. Due Dates

    • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

           October 28, 2020 - November 12, 2020

      MEDIUM Projects

           October 28, 2020 - November 12, 2020

      OAC Core Projects

           Proposals Accepted Anytime beginning October 1st, 2020

      SMALL Projects

    D. FastLane/Research.gov/Grants.gov Requirements

    For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane or Research.gov:

    To prepare and submit a proposal via FastLane, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. To prepare and submit a proposal via Research.gov, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.research.gov/research-portal/appmanager/base/desktop?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=research_node_display&_nodePath=/researchGov/Service/Desktop/ProposalPreparationandSubmission.html. For FastLane or Research.gov user support, call the FastLane and Research.gov Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov or rgov@nsf.gov. The FastLane and Research.gov Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane and Research.gov systems. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

    For Proposals Submitted Via Grants.gov:

    Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant's organization can then apply for any federal grant on the Grants.gov website. Comprehensive information about using Grants.gov is available on the Grants.gov Applicant Resources webpage: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html. In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide (see link in Section V.A) provides instructions regarding the technical preparation of proposals via Grants.gov. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: support@grants.gov. The Grants.gov Contact Center answers general technical questions related to the use of Grants.gov. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this solicitation.

    Submitting the Proposal: Once all documents have been completed, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must submit the application to Grants.gov and verify the desired funding opportunity and agency to which the application is submitted. The AOR must then sign and submit the application to Grants.gov. The completed application will be transferred to the NSF FastLane system for further processing.

    Proposers that submitted via FastLane or Research.gov may use Research.gov to verify the status of their submission to NSF. For proposers that submitted via Grants.gov, until an application has been received and validated by NSF, the Authorized Organizational Representative may check the status of an application on Grants.gov. After proposers have received an e-mail notification from NSF, Research.gov should be used to check the status of an application.

    VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

    Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in PAPPG Exhibit III-1.

    A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/.

    Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Building the Future: Investing in Discovery and Innovation - NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2018 – 2022. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.

    One of the strategic objectives in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy. NSF's contribution to the national innovation ecosystem is to provide cutting-edge research under the guidance of the Nation's most creative scientists and engineers. NSF also supports development of a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in building the knowledge that informs improvements in STEM teaching and learning.

    NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which 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.

    A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

    The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.

    1. Merit Review Principles

    These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

    • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
    • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
    • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

    With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

    These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

    2. Merit Review Criteria

    All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

    The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i). contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal). Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i), prior to the review of a proposal.

    When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

    • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
    • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

    The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

    1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
      1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
      2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
    2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
    3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
    4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
    5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

    Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

    Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan, Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, and the optional Broadening Participation in Computing Plan, as appropriate.

    Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

    For Medium proposals, reviewers will be asked to:

    • Comment on the extent to which the project scope justifies the level of investment requested, and the degree to which the Collaboration Plan (if required) adequately demonstrates that the participating investigators will work synergistically to accomplish the project objectives.
    • Comment on whether key personnel, and especially lead PIs, have allocated adequate time for both their individual technical contributions and the leadership of collaborative activities necessary to realize the synergistic effects of larger-scale research.

    For all proposals reviewed by the CNS Core program, reviewers will be asked to consider:

    1. To what extent does the proposal align with the topics, aspects, and methods laid out in the Program Webpage?
    2. How well does the proposed work address and advance the following?
      • Secure-by-design systems;
      • Systems robustness;
      • Manageability of the system under consideration; and/or
      • Fundamental understanding of the system or system component.
    3. How well does the proposal describe an evaluation plan that assesses and where appropriate quantifies the research outcomes?
    4. How well does the proposal describe research dissemination plans to ensure that the research results can be validated independently?

    B. Review and Selection Process

    Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

    Reviewers will be asked to evaluate proposals using two National Science Board approved merit review criteria and, if applicable, additional program specific criteria. A summary rating and accompanying narrative will generally be completed and submitted by each reviewer and/or panel. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

    After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF strives to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. Large or particularly complex proposals or proposals from new awardees may require additional review and processing time. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director acts upon the Program Officer's recommendation.

    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. After an administrative review has occurred, Grants and Agreements Officers perform 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.

    Once an award or declination decision has been made, Principal Investigators are provided feedback about their proposals. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers or any reviewer-identifying information, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

    VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

    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 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.B. for additional information on the review process.)

    B. Award Conditions

    An NSF award consists of: (1) the award notice, 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 notice; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1)*; or Research Terms and Conditions* and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award notice. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

    *These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at https://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-8134 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

    More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter VII, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg.

    Special Award Conditions:

    Awardees will be required to attend any PI meetings and participate in a common evaluation where appropriate.

    C. Reporting Requirements

    For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). No later than 120 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

    Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. 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 Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

    More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter VII, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg.

    Pursuant to BPC plans, Medium and Large projects must report BPC activities and outcomes in annual reports submitted to NSF.

    VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS

    Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

    General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

    • Tracy J. Kimbrel, Point of Contact, Algorithmic Foundations (AF), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-af@nsf.gov

    • Phillip A. Regalia, Point of Contact, Communications and Information Foundations (CIF), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-cif@nsf.gov

    • Mitra Basu, Point of Contact, Foundations of Emerging Technologies (FET), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-fet@nsf.gov

    • Almadena Y. Chtchelkanova, Point of Contact, Software and Hardware Foundations (SHF), telephone: (703) 292-8910, email: ccf-shf@nsf.gov

    • Erik Brunvand, Point of Contact, CNS Core (CNS Core), telephone: (703) 292-8950, email: cns-core@nsf.gov

    • Ann C. Von Lehmen, Point of Contact, CNS Core (CNS Core), telephone: (703) 292-4756, email: cns-core@nsf.gov

    • Ephraim P. Glinert, Point of Contact, Human-Centered Computing (HCC), telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: iis-hcc@nsf.gov

    • Sylvia J. Spengler, Point of Contact, Information Integration and Informatics (III), telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: iis-iii@nsf.gov

    • Jie Yang, Point of Contact, Robust Intelligence (RI), telephone: (703) 292-8930, email: iis-ri@nsf.gov

    • Alan Sussman, Point of Contact, OAC Core Research (OAC Core), telephone: (703) 292-7563, email: oac-core@nsf.gov

    For questions related to the use of FastLane or Research.gov, contact:

    • FastLane and Research.gov Help Desk: 1-800-673-6188

      FastLane Help Desk e-mail: fastlane@nsf.gov.

      Research.gov Help Desk e-mail: rgov@nsf.gov

    For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

    • Grants.gov Contact Center: If the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR) has not received a confirmation message from Grants.gov within 48 hours of submission of application, please contact via telephone: 1-800-518-4726; e-mail: support@grants.gov.

    IX. OTHER INFORMATION

    The NSF website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, "NSF Update" is an information-delivery system designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "NSF Update" also is available on NSF's website.

    Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at https://www.grants.gov.

    ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

    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."

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

    NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

    Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide Chapter II.E.6 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

    The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

    The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

    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

    • Location:

    2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22314

    • For General Information
      (NSF Information Center):

    (703) 292-5111

    • TDD (for the hearing-impaired):

    (703) 292-5090

    • To Order Publications or Forms:

    Send an e-mail to:

    nsfpubs@nsf.gov

    or telephone:

    (703) 292-8569

    • To Locate NSF Employees:

    (703) 292-5111

    PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS

    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; and 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 proposer 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 or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; 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 System of Record Notices, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records.” Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

    Suzanne H. Plimpton
    Reports Clearance Officer
    Office of the General Counsel
    National Science Foundation
    Alexandria, VA 22314



    Policies and Important Links

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