17-1 January 30, 2017
PART II: AWARD, ADMINISTRATION AND MONITORING OF GRANTS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS
Part II of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide sets forth NSF policies and procedures regarding the award, administration, and monitoring of grants and cooperative agreements. Coverage includes the NSF award process, from issuance and administration of an NSF award through closeout. Guidance is provided regarding other grant requirements or considerations that either are not universally applicable or do not follow the award cycle. Part II also implements other Public Laws, Executive Orders (E.O.) and other directives insofar as they apply to grants, and is issued pursuant to the authority of Section 11(a) of the NSF Act (42 USC §1870). When NSF Grant General Conditions or an award notice reference a particular section of the PAPPG, then that section becomes part of the award requirements through incorporation by reference.
Chapter VI: NSF Awards
A. Acceptance of Assistance Agreements
Grantees45 are free to accept or reject the grant as awarded. Normally, a request to drawdown NSF funds constitutes acceptance, however, in limited circumstances, NSF may require formal acceptance of a grant. If the grantee chooses not to accept the award, then a written request should be sent to the cognizant NSF Program Officer to withdraw (or terminate) the grant.
B. Award Instrument
1. Composition of an NSF Award
Composition of an NSF award includes:
a. the award notice, including any special conditions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto;
b. general Federal award information as required by 2 CFR § 200.210;
c. the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support;
d. the applicable NSF general conditions referenced in the award notice (see Chapter VI.C for listing);
e. the proposal referenced in the award notice; and
f. any NSF program announcement, program solicitation or other documents or special requirements incorporated by reference in the award notice.
2. Award Transmission
NSF transmits award notices to organizations via e-mail. In addition to the e-mail notification, grantees and PIs also may access NSF award notices via use of NSF's electronic systems. SPOs are able to view, print and/or download NSF award notices for their organizations. PIs also may access their award notices via FastLane.
C. NSF Award Conditions
Each NSF award notice specifically identifies certain conditions that are applicable to, and become part of, that award. The award conditions are available electronically on NSF’s website at: http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/. When these conditions reference a particular PAPPG section, that section becomes part of the award requirements through incorporation by reference.
D. NSF Grant Periods
a. START DATE is the date specified in the award notice on or after which, except for fixed amount awards, expenditures may be charged to the grant. With the exception of PI transfers, the start date used by NSF is either the 1st or the 15th day of the month. If no start date is specified, then the date of the award notice is the start date. (For preaward expenditures, Chapter X.A.2.b.)
b. END DATE is the date specified in the award notice after which expenditures may not be charged against the grant except to satisfy obligations to pay allowable project costs committed on or before that date. The end date is the last day of a month.
c. AWARD DATE is the date when the NSF award is signed by the cognizant NSF Grants Officer.
d. GRANT PERIOD is the period of time between the start date and the end date of an NSF award shown as the duration.
2. Significance of Grant Period
a. Except in fixed amount awards, an NSF grant gives authority to the grantee to commit and expend funds for allowable costs (see Chapter X) in support of the project up to the grant amount specified in the award notice at any time during the grant period.
b. Except as provided in Chapter X.A.2.b or Chapter X.A.2.c, expenditures may not be charged prior to the start date or subsequent to the end date under an NSF cost reimbursement grant.
3. Changes in a Grant Period
a. Start Date
Once an award is made, the start date cannot be changed; however, awardees have the authority to incur pre-award costs as outlined in Chapter X.A.2b.
b. End Date
The end date may be changed as a result of approval of a request for continued support of a continuing grant, for a no-cost grant extension, or by approval of a request for supplemental support. When appropriate, the NSF Grants Officer will issue an amendment to the grant.
c. No-Cost Extension
(i) Grantee-Approved Extension. Grantees may authorize a one-time extension of the end date of the grant of up to 12 months if additional time beyond the established end date is required to assure adequate completion of the original scope of work within the funds already made available. This one-time extension may not be exercised merely for the purpose of using the unliquidated balances. Grantees are not authorized to extend an award that contains a zero balance. The grantee shall notify NSF, providing supporting reasons for the extension and the revised period of performance, at least ten calendar days prior to the end date specified in the grant to ensure accuracy of NSF’s grant data. All grantee-approved extension notifications must be signed and submitted by the AOR via use of NSF’s electronic systems.46 For grantee-approved extensions, no amendment will be issued. The revised end date can be viewed via NSF's electronic systems.
(ii) NSF-Approved Extension.
(a) If additional time beyond the extension provided by the grantee is required and exceptional circumstances warrant, a formal request must be signed and submitted by the AOR via use of NSF’s electronic systems. The request should be submitted to NSF at least 45 days prior to the end date of the grant. All late requests must include a strong justification as to why it was not submitted earlier. The request must explain the need for the extension and include an estimate of the unobligated funds remaining and a plan for their use. As indicated above, that unobligated funds may remain at the end of the grant is not in itself sufficient justification for an extension. The plan must adhere to the previously approved objectives of the project. Such requests must be signed and submitted by the AOR via use of NSF’s electronic systems.
(b) The first no-cost extension request will be considered for approval by the cognizant NSF Program Officer. The grantee and the PI will be electronically notified of the disposition of this request by the cognizant NSF Program Officer (an amendment to the grant will not be issued). The second (or any subsequent) no-cost extension request will be subject to the approval of an NSF Grants Officer, and, if approved, will be in the form of an amendment to the grant specifying a new end date. Grantees are cautioned not to make new commitments or incur new expenditures after the end date of the award in anticipation of a no-cost extension. In addition, grantees must be aware that most NSF appropriated funds have a limited period of availability for expenditure before the appropriation cancels. No-cost extensions do not extend the period of availability for canceling funds.47
d. Two-Year Extensions for Special Creativity
A Program Officer may recommend the extension of funding for certain research grants beyond the initial period for which the grant was awarded for a period of up to two years. The objective of such extensions is to offer the most creative investigators an extended opportunity to attack adventurous, "high-risk" opportunities in the same general research area, but not necessarily covered by the original/current award. Awards eligible for such an extension are generally continuing grants. Special Creativity Extensions are normally initiated by the NSF Program Officer based on progress during the first two years of the grant; PIs will be informed of such action a year in advance of the end date of the grant. In response to the Program Officer’s recommendation, the required information must be signed and submitted by the AOR via use of NSF’s electronic systems.
E. Additional Funding Support
1. Types of Additional Funding Support
Additional funding of a project beyond the original grant period will be in the form of renewed support, continued support or supplemental support. A description of each of these additional funding mechanisms is provided below.
2. Renewed Support
Renewed support is defined as additional funding for a support period subsequent to that provided by the original grant. Renewals to grants, if any, will be in the form of a new grant with a new grant number. Costs incurred under the old grant cannot be transferred to the new grant. Residual funds remaining in the old grant cannot be transferred to the new grant.
Instructions for preparation of renewal proposals are contained in the Chapters II and V.
3. Support under Continuing Grants
a. Funding increments for projects being supported under continuing grants receive high priority within NSF and normally are not considered in competition with proposals for new grants or for grants for renewed support.
b. Unless otherwise provided for in the original award notice, each increment of a continuing grant will be funded at the level indicated in the original award notice without a formal request, subject to NSF’s judgment of satisfactory progress, availability of funds, and receipt and approval of the required annual report. NSF makes every attempt to honor continuing grant commitments. In order to adjust to changes in the general level of funds for a particular field of science or engineering or to major new opportunities in that field, however, NSF may reduce continuing grant increments below the levels indicated in original award notice. This requires full written justification by program staff and management review and approval. In the absence of major unanticipated fiscal year constraints, reductions are rare. Continuing grant increments will be released by the cognizant NSF Program Officer upon approval of the annual report. The SPO and PI will be notified by the cognizant NSF Program Officer of NSF's approval via email.
c. In order to obtain a committed funding increment and ensure continuity of funding, an annual project report must be submitted by the PI electronically via use of Research.gov no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (See Chapter VII.D for additional information on submission of project reports.)
4. Supplemental Support
a. In unusual circumstances, small amounts of supplemental funding and up to six months of additional support may be requested to assure adequate completion of the original scope of work. Such requests for supplemental funding support must be signed and submitted by the AOR via use of NSF's electronic systems at least two months prior to the need for the additional funds and must be adequately justified. Program Officers may make decisions regarding whether or not to recommend a small supplement without merit review of the supplemental request. Requests for larger supplements may require external merit review.
b. A request for supplemental support must be submitted electronically via FastLane and must include:
(i) A summary of the proposed work;
(ii) A justification of the need for the supplemental funds; and
(iii) A budget and budget justification, highlighting the use by budget category of the additional funding as distinguished from the original funding provided in those categories of cost. AORs are required to electronically sign the supplemental funding request via the Authorized Organizational Representative Functions in FastLane.
c. NSF will not approve requests for supplemental support for such purposes as defraying the costs of increases in salaries, wages or staff benefits or for additional indirect cost (F&A) reimbursement, whether caused by a change in the indirect cost rate or by changes in direct cost expenditures which affect the indirect cost base. (See Chapter X.A.2.a.)
d. If approved, the NSF Grants Officer will amend the grant to provide additional funding for the current support period. The amendment notice will specify both the amount of supplemental funding and the cumulative amount awarded through the end date, which normally will remain unchanged.
e. Special NSF programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates may provide their funding through supplements to other NSF grants. In such instances, the guidance in this section may not be applicable.
f. If supplemental funding is requested to support a postdoctoral researcher and the original proposal did not include a mentoring plan, then the supplemental funding request must include the requisite mentoring plan, as described in Chapter II.C.2.j. The plan should be uploaded to the "Other Supplementary Documents" section of the FastLane Supplemental Funding Request module. The PI must report on the mentoring activities provided to the individual in annual and final project reports.
For purposes of this Guide, except where explicitly noted, the term "grant" is interchangeable with the term "cooperative agreement", and the term "grantee" is interchangeable with the "awardee" of a cooperative agreement.
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NSF has developed a matrix that lists NSF’s electronic capabilities, and whether they can be found in FastLane, Research.gov or both. This matrix will be updated as appropriate, independent of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide revision cycle. The current version is located at: http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/estatus_matrix.pdf.
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In accordance with 31 USC 1552(a), funds will no longer be available for expenditure for any purpose beyond September 30th of the fifth fiscal year after the expiration of a fixed appropriation's period of availability for incurring new obligations – see also Chapter VIII.E for Financial Requirements and Payments.)
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