NSF ARRA Update

Last week, the NSF distributed and then removed an ARRA-related Dear Colleague letter. Yesterday, Arden Bemet (NSF Director) issued Important Notice No. 131 in which he noted, among other things:

The Recovery Act supplements NSF fiscal year 2009 funding by $3.0 billion. NSF currently has many highly rated proposals that it has not been able to fund. For this reason, NSF is planning to use the majority of the $2 billion available in Research and Related Activities for proposals that are already in house and will be reviewed and/or awarded prior to September 30, 2009.

The Foundation also expects to expeditiously award funds as specified in the Recovery Act for: the Math and Science Partnership program (funded at $25 million); the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (funded at $60 million); the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account (funded at $400 million); the Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI) program (funded at $200 million); and the Science Masters program, (funded at $15 million). Solicitations for these latter two programs will be posted this spring.

NSF will post a solicitation this spring for the Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) in order to make a sufficient number of awards to utilize the $300 million provided in the legislation. The Foundation currently anticipates that no other solicitations will be posted that are solely in response to the Recovery Act.

In keeping with this, NSF’s overall framework for Recovery Act investments emphasizes the following:

    • All grants issued with Recovery Act funds will be standard grants with durations of up to 5 years. This approach will allow NSF to structure a sustainable portfolio.
    • Funding of new Principal Investigators and high-risk, high-return research will be top priorities.

With the exception of the MRI, ARI and Science Masters programs, the majority of proposals eligible for Recovery Act funding include those that are already in house and will be reviewed and/or awarded prior to September 30, 2009.

NSF also will consider proposals declined on or after October 1, 2008. The reversal of the decision to decline must be based on both the high quality of the reviews received on the initial submission and the lack of available funding at the time the original decision was made. The cognizant program officer will contact the institution when a reversal is being considered by NSF. Specific procedural information regarding this new process is available on the NSF Recovery website.

Lucky you if you’ve got something in the pipeline at NSF or a recently declined but well-received proposal. NSF will post additional information on their ARRA Website.

4 Comments »

  1. Odyssey said

    $2 billion in Standard Grants* is going to result in a BIG bolus of renewal apps in 3-5 years (right when I’ll be up for renewal). I hope Congress starts serious work soon on that NSF budget doubling…

    Still, the focus on new investigators can only be a good thing.

    *For the uninitiated, NSF has two funding mechanisms – Standard and Continuing Grants. If you have a Standard Grant you get all the money up front. Continuing Grants are funded year-to-year based on annual project reports. I guess the use of the Standard Grant mechanism lets the NSF get around the requirement that the agency spend all of the money in two years, although I wonder if Congress would approve of that strategy.

  2. D said

    I wonder if NIH would/can consider such a mechanism..Standard Grants. There are several legislative differences between NIH and NSF that make them function differently and make it very hard for them to collaborate.

  3. writedit said

    I’ve added the link to the ARRA Resource Page (reorganized to group all the NSF items together) but should mention here as well that NSF has an ARRA FAQ available.

  4. writedit said

    Science includes a little recap of the NSF plans for ARRA funding and the various views on the decisions made.

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