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Important Changes to NSF Policies

The National Science Foundation has issued a new Proposals and Awards Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 20-1.  The guide contains several important changes and clarifications affecting PIs and senior personnel. 

Key Dates: the new PAPPG will apply to all proposals submitted or due on or after June 1, 2020. 

Biosketches. NSF is requiring the use of an NSF-approved format for each individual designated as Senior Personnel, including PIs, co-PIs, Project Directors, and Faculty Associates. NSF approved formats include SciENcv and an NSF Fillable PDF. Both formats are available for use now. The requirement to use an NSF-approved format for preparation of the biosketch will go into effect for new proposals submitted or due on or after October 5, 2020. NSF 20-1 also has clarifications on appointments and synergistic activities. 

Current and Pending Support.  NSF has modified the current and pending support instructions to require use of an NSF approved format. The requirement to use an NSF-approved format will go into effect for new proposals submitted or due on or after October 5, 2020. 

Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals have clarifying language on the purpose of the RAPID and EAGER mechanisms and a new requirement for documentation of NSF program officer approval prior to submission.

Other Changes.  NSF 20-1 includes numerous other changes addressing sections of proposals or types of proposals.  Additional changes include:

  • Project Description. The instructions have been revised to remove the requirement for the Project Description to contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a section labeled “Intellectual Merit”.
  • Budgets and Budget Justifications.  Language on service agreements and participant support has been revised.  Additional types of costs that may appear under “Publication/Documentation/Dissemination” have been specified.   
  • Conference Proposals.  Additional requirements for conference proposals are included in NSF 20-1.
  • Projects Requiring High-Performance Computing Resources, Data Infrastructure, or Advanced Visualization Resources.  Instructions have been updated for computation and data-intensive projects requiring resources beyond what may be available locally.

Resources.  NSF has summarized Significant Changes and Clarifications to the PAPPG and the NSF Policy office has a recorded webinar which discusses many of the changes in detail.  Additional resources, including those mentioned above: