Geni Project Office Information Briefing (FAQ)
What roles does NSF anticipate for universities?
Universities are eligible to participate in GPO activities
as the submitting organization or as subawardees. In
addition, we anticipate that college and university faculty
with interests in using the GENI facility to further their
research agendas will have a significant voice in influencing
the GENI design and subsequent construction and operations
through the GENI Science Council and other community fora.
NSF already identified a GPO awardee?
As is NSF’s tradition, this is an open competition, the
outcome of which will be determined using NSF’s merit
- Is the GENI planning group accessible? For teaming?
For questions? As
an organization prepares a proposal?
The GENI design
products being developed by the GENI Planning Group are in
the public domain and are being posted to the geni.net web
site as they are developed, for community comment and input. They
are freely accessible to all proposers. If a proposer
wishes to discuss planning efforts with members of the GENI
planning group, they are free to contact them.
- It seems a technical proposal is not requested? Is this correct?
The solicitation indicates that NSF is soliciting proposals
from organizations wishing to lead GENI pre-construction planning,
and then, on successful completion of the final design phase,
to be responsible for GENI construction and operations.
NSF is NOT asking for proposals that define or refine the
GENI technical design as it is currently described on the publicly
accessible geni.net web site. Rather, NSF has requested
proposals that describe the project management approach a proposing
organization will use to lead the continuation of the iterative
GENI design process, with advice provided by the GENI Science
Council, in the months following the GPO award.
NSF is looking for proposals from organizations who are clearly
capable of assuming responsibility for GENI pre-construction
planning, and ultimately construction and operations, and who
clearly understand that this must be guided by the scientific
priorities of the GENI research community.
- Is the GPO excluded from submitting proposals for future
Let us first address prototyping.
As described in the solicitation, NSF expects to make up to
$10 million/year available to the GPO for development/prototyping
or proof of concept demonstrations in the pre-construction phases
of GENI. Also noted in the solicitation, NSF expects that
development and prototyping activities will be competitively
bid in a process led by the GPO. In some cases however,
the GPO may build due to unique capabilities of the GPO. The
process a proposer plans to use to identify development/prototyping
priorities and to either make subawards or to build themselves,
must be defined in the proposals submitted to this competition.
Please note however, that a specific development/prototyping
plan for GENI will be requested of the GPO after the GPO award
is made. Such a plan should NOT be submitted in proposals
to establish the GPO.
Now on to the construction related issues.
As the solicitation indicates, NSF expects that if all goes
well in pre-construction planning, the GPO will assume responsibility
for GENI construction. The process for managing a competitive
GENI construction project will be developed by the GPO with advice
from the GENI Science Council in the pre-construction planning
activities leading up to construction. The competitive
construction process the GPO develops will be reviewed in the
Preliminary Design Review and later, in the Final Design Review.
- What is the role of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC)?
NSF will work in partnership with the CCC to charter and provide
administrative support to the GENI Science Council such that
the membership includes leaders in the GENI research community,
and is broadly representative of that community.
- Who decides on the awarding of future GENI contracts? Design/prototyping?
The GPO Project Director will recommend design/prototyping
priorities and sub-award selections, in some cases informed
by advice provided by the GENI Science Council. These priorities or recommendations
will be reviewed and approved by NSF when the subaward $ value
is greater than $250k. In some cases, recommendations made
by the GPO Project Director will be reviewed by expert panels
convened by NSF, such as in the formal reviews defined in the
- How much will GENI build on EMULAB/PLANETLAB/ORBIT/DETER?
GENI uses a number of ideas from Planetlab, Emulab, DETER,
and ORBIT, builds on the experience of creating shared facilities,
and uses them for prototyping and demonstrating some of the key
capabilities needed for GENI. Thus, these facilities do
serve as the foundation for GENI. However, GENI goes well
beyond these facilities as explained in the GENI design documents
and the current draft of the Project Execution Plan (PEP).
- Should proposers show expertise in EMULAB/PLANTLAB/ORBIT/DETER?
Proposers should describe expertise in the areas described
in the solicitation – e.g. demonstrated ability
to work collaboratively with and provide service to the computing
research community; effective management of advanced networking
infrastructure projects, including planning, construction and
operations; effective management of large-scale, software-intensive
projects, including design, development, implementation and lifecycle
- What is an example of a large-scale software-intensive
project that has been effectively managed?
Proposers should describe their own relevant experience and
expertise. Software-intensive projects that might be considered
examples are the Firefox browser, which is a robust, tested and
featureful open source software system developed under a product
project management system approach; and the Community Climate
System Model, a very large and very widely used oceanographic
model which has a formal project management structure.
- Should the proposal address the design/construction
of GENI? Approach,
cost, schedule, evolution?
The proposal should describe the proposer’s prior experience
in the areas noted in the solicitation, and the process by which
the proposing organization will work with the GENI Science Council
and the broader community it represents to the successful completion
of GENI pre-construction planning. The construction project
will be funded in a separate, but related award instrument. The
scope and level of effort of the construction project will be
developed by the GPO with advice provided by the GENI Science
Council during the pre-construction planning activities to be
led by the GPO award.
- Will NSF continue to fund the planning group? If
so, at what level?
The GENI Planning Group is funded through the spring of 2007
to allow for a seamless transition of responsibilities from
the Planning Group to the GPO and GENI Science Council. This
transition should coincide with the timing of the Conceptual
- Does the GPO evaluate the design of the planning
group? What is NSF’s role in the evaluation?
At this stage, GPO proposals need not evaluate the current
conceptual design of GENI as developed by the Planning Group. However,
proposers may wish to identify perceived risks in the design
in the Risk Mitigation Plan component of proposals – that
is at the proposers’s discretion.
- Should a proposal address the “build” process – plan/budget/evaluation/subcontracts?
No. The construction project will be defined by the
GPO working in collaboration with the GENI Science Council
and the broader research community in the months following
the initial GPO award.
- In some places, the solicitation notes "Provide rationale
for why these activities are identified, who will lead.",
but then later it says "(cite type of backgrounds, rather
than specific participant names.)" This sounds
A proposer should identify by name personnel who will play
leadership or critical roles in the proposed project. For
other identified project activities, if the proposer does not
have specific personnel already on board, then the background,
expertise etc. of personnel to be hired should be provided.
- Does NSF have preferences as to whether the GPO subawards
prototype and development work or perform this work in-house
(make vs. buy)?
The solicitation asks proposers to describe the processes
they will use to identify, prioritize and support necessary
development and prototyping activities. NSF expects the GPO to identify
the best performer for the required work. This may be
the GPO itself or may be a subawardee.
- What organizational conflict tests will GPO personnel,
including consultants, be required to meet when proposing
to perform prototype and development work either as part
of the GPO or as part of a proposal for a subaward? What
about their home organizations in the case of consultants?
As part of the description of the processes the proposed GPO
will use to support development and prototyping and development
activities, proposers are expected to describe how they will
manage organizational conflicts of interests. The processes
defined will determine to what extent GPO personnel, including
consultants, may be involved in development and prototyping
- The principal award will be a cooperative agreement. What
form will development subawards take? Will these awards come
from the GPO or from NSF?
Subcontracts for development activities will be awarded by
the GPO. NSF consent to the award (if necessary) must
be obtained in accordance with the Cooperative Agreement Supplemental
Financial/Administrative Terms and Conditions Article 48.
- The solicitation calls for a Project Development
Plan (PDP) to take the project through Final Design Review.
Does the PDP have to address details of the PEP's content or
just how the PEP will be developed.
It should describe how the PEP and other documents critical
to preconstruction planning will be developed, working in some
cases (such as the PEP) from input drafts. An outline mapping
of document content to pre-construction processes may be presented.
- The solicitation indicates that collaborative proposals
are not permitted, but then indicates that an organization
may make subcontracts. This appears contradictory.
NSF does encourage prime/sub proposals.
A “separately submitted collaborative proposal” as
defined in NSF’s Grant Proposal Guide is submitted simultaneously
by multiple “collaborating” organizations, and all
organizations “collaborating” on the project will
receive an award directly from NSF if the project is selected
for funding. NSF has determined that the GPO
project is too administratively complex to allow for the effective
management of the “collaborative” awards that would
result in such a case.
- May a for-profit company include fee in the budget
Fees may be included at a rate not to exceed seven percent
(7%) of the total direct and indirect project costs. The
actual fees will be mutually agreed by the parties.
- What is included in administrative costs?
In the preconstruction planning activities, administrative costs
are defined as all project costs that are NOT development and
Do you think it is feasible to establish the GPO, and within
two months (co-)host the Conceptual Design Review, and in a
further four months host a successful Preliminary Design Review?
NSF recognizes that the schedule described in the solicitation
is an ambitious one. It reflects the timeline needed for
GENI construction consideration in NSF’s FY09 budget
To prepare for a Conceptual Design Review within two months
of GPO award requires that the GENI Planning Group and the
new GENI Project Office work intensively to transition products
and processes developed by the Planning Group to the GPO. During
the transition process, if it becomes clear that more than two
months is required to ensure both a successful transition and
an optimal Conceptual Design Review, then more time will be accorded. The
time between Conceptual Design Review and Preliminary Design
Review will depend on the recommendations and findings generated
in the Conceptual Design Review. A more accurate projection
of the timeline from Conceptual Design Review to Preliminary
Design Review will be developed collaboratively by the GPO
and NSF following the Conceptual Design Review.
- May we propose operations support staff and operations
activities in the pre-construction phase of GENI for funding
against the development and prototyping funds? Are
those funds limited to software and hardware prototypes?
Staff and operations systems which are used for managing a
portion of the GENI facility, such a prototype segment, or
a resource for experimenters, are not within the GPO’s administrative
role. They would support prototyping or development
of the GENI facility and could be proposed for those funds.
- The solicitation states “The lead Principal Investigator
(PI) will serve as the “Project Director” for the
GPO, will work full-time on the project, and thus will have
direct day-to-day involvement in the effort.” Are
these guidelines or hard and fast requirements?
Due to the intensive nature of the GPO, NSF views the PI/”GENI
Project Director” as an absolutely key leader. His
or her full attention will be needed in order for GENI to be established. Within
the Cooperative Agreement, it may be possible for an awardee
to phase the PI up to full-time over a short period, due to
transition requirements or pre-existing projects.