Petascale Computing Resource Allocations (PRAC)

Program Solicitation
NSF 14-518

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 08-529, NSF 14-518

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering
Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

     March 10, 2014

     November 14, 2014

     November 13, 2015

     November 09, 2016

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

Revised to reflect Blue Waters deployment in 2013.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Petascale Computing Resource Allocations (PRAC)

Synopsis of Program:

In 2013, a new NSF-funded petascale computing system, Blue Waters, was deployed at the University of Illinois. The goal of this project and system is to open up new possibilities in science and engineering by providing computational capability that makes it possible for investigators to tackle much larger and more complex research challenges across a wide spectrum of domains. The purpose of this solicitation is to invite research groups to submit requests for allocations of resources on the Blue Waters system. Proposers must show a compelling science or engineering challenge that will require petascale computing resources. Proposers must also be prepared to demonstrate that they have a science or engineering research problem that requires and can effectively exploit the petascale computing capabilities offered by Blue Waters. Proposals from or including junior researchers are encouraged, as one of the goals of this solicitation is to build a community capable of using petascale computing.

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.

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

Estimated Number of Awards: 12 to 15 not to exceed $40,000 for each award.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $400,000 to $500,000 total annually, pending availability of funds.

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter I, Section E.

Who May Serve as PI:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

An individual may be PI or co-PI on no more than one proposal that responds to this solicitation. There is no limit on the number of proposals with which an individual may be associated in other capacities, such as senior personnel.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Not required
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not required
  • Full Proposals:
    • Full Proposals submitted via FastLane: NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines apply. The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.
    • Full Proposals submitted via Grants.gov: NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov Guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide)

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: Not Applicable
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

C. Due Dates

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         March 10, 2014

         November 14, 2014

         November 13, 2015

         November 09, 2016

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria: National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations 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: Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.

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/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

In recent decades, the development of powerful computing and data resources has been driven, in part, by the need to solve challenging questions in science and engineering with significant impacts on knowledge about the natural world, on industrial competitiveness, and on national security. At the same time, as researchers in more and more areas of science and engineering have developed techniques for using computation to understand their grand challenges, there has been a steady expansion in the breadth of the research frontier at which large-scale computation with increasingly large amounts of data has become an essential tool. This frontier includes materials science, nano-engineering, fluid dynamics, climate and earth system dynamics, cosmology and astrophysics, chemistry and biochemistry, sustainability, health information technologies, cybersecurity, economics and social science, neuroinformatics and bioinformatics, as well as many different topics within physics, engineering, and increasingly in cross-disciplinary sciences.

In 2013, researchers began to access Blue Waters which is deployed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and funded by NSF. It is an extremely powerful heterogenous computing and storage system capable of delivering sustained performance in excess of one petaflop/s on a broad range of types of calculations. It is designed to complement existing NSF funded resources and services. It provides larger allocations than is typical for other NSF-supported resources. An allocation is accompanied by dedicated application and system expertise from the Blue Waters project.

Because of the expense of acquiring and operating Blue Waters, allocation of time on Blue Waters represents a considerable investment by NSF. The purpose of this solicitation is to solicit requests for resource allocations on the Blue Waters system so that these requests can be reviewed by the scientific community in a timely fashion and to allow sufficient time for research groups to prepare for optimal use of the Blue Waters system. Successful proposals will receive allocations to access Blue Waters to support the research that they have planned, along with limited travel funds to support technical coordination with the Blue Waters project team and with other research teams with allocations on Blue Waters. This program does not provide funds for the research itself or for the development of models or analysis tools.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

This solicitation seeks proposals to make use of Blue Waters for breakthrough research in any domain supported by the National Science Foundation or any other federal agency.

Blue Waters includes the largest NSF-funded system and staff dedicated to supporting a small number of projects at the frontiers of computational science. The system is a heterogenous Cray XE6/XK7 consisting of more than 22,000 XE6 compute nodes (each containing two AMD Interlagos processors) augmented by more than 4000 XK7 compute nodes (each containing one AMD Interlagos processor and one NVIDIA GK110 "Kepler" accelerator) in a single high speed Gemini interconnection fabric. This configuration enables sustained petascale simulations on hundreds of thousands of traditional CPUs for science and engineering discovery, while also supporting development and optimization of cutting-edge applications capable of leveraging the compute power of thousands of GPUs. The system incorporates extremely large memory and a tightly integrated I/O subsystem and is suitable for both integer and floating point computations with very large data requirements. The system is also designed to directly support visualization of large-scale datasets produced by computations that use the system. A large amount of archival storage is associated with the system. The system design responds to input from researchers in a broad range of science and engineering disciplines. Non-proprietary details of the system design may be obtained from https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/hardware-summary .

Trends in HPC architectures are such that current and anticipated production systems typically consist of hundreds of thousand to millions of processor cores with each core capable of executing multiple threads, and, often, arithmetic units that support small vector instructions. These features present a programmer with a variety of mechanisms to exploit the levels of parallelism within algorithms. Optimizing performance involves a number of challenges, including discovering and exploiting parallelism within codes and overlapping different types of operations. Multi-level caches, local and remote main memory, intra-nodal and inter-nodal communication networks and parallel I/O interfaces offer an increasingly deep hierarchy of latency within computing systems. In addition, increasingly, commercial HPC system designs such as Blue Waters, are hybrid systems offering general purpose processors coupled with specialized co-processors, either on-chip or separate. Recent and ongoing developments attempt to simplify the challenge of developing scientific and engineering computer codes that scale.

To effectively use computation at sustained rates of a petaflop/s or more, with memory-resident data of order one petabyte and correspondingly large input-output datasets is a considerable computational science challenge in itself. Some algorithms readily scale across large numbers of processing elements. In general, though, the design and implementation of computing codes that can harness all of the resources of a system like Blue Waters to address complex science and engineering problems that are not readily amenable to attack by other means is not trivial. It is anticipated that research groups may require several years of preparation before being ready to exploit a sustained petaflop/s systems. A number of research groups are currently or have been recently funded by federal agencies and/or industry to develop petascale applications. The purpose of this solicitation is to identify groups who require petascale computing for ground-breaking science or engineering research, who have a need for the unique resource that Blue Waters represents, and that are able to use Blue Waters effectively. Because of the intrinsic value of the Blue Waters resources, a research group will only be granted significant access to the production system after its request for a resource allocation has been successful in a competitive, merit review managed by NSF. Successful proposers to this solicitation will be granted an allocation of Blue Waters resources together with a small amount of funds to cover travel costs. The Blue Waters project team will offer consulting support and assistance to each project team that is granted access through this solicitation. This consulting support includes assistance in performance analysis and prediction.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 12 to 15

Anticipated Funding Amount: $400,000 to $500,000 annual total, pending availability of funds.

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds. The primary purpose of this solicitation is to identify research projects for large allocations of Blue Waters computing resources. This solicitation does not provide direct funding support for the research associated with such projects. Instead it is intended to provide indirect support for research projects requiring petascale computing resources on the Blue Waters system. It is anticipated that the Blue Waters team will provide consulting support to projects that are successful under this solicitation to help those projects prepare to make effective use of the Blue Waters system. To facilitate a project's interaction with the Blue Waters team, funding of up to $40,000 will be provided to support travel by members of the project team and/or the Blue Waters team.

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Who May Submit Proposals:

The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter I, Section E.

Who May Serve as PI:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

An individual may be PI or co-PI on no more than one proposal that responds to this solicitation. There is no limit on the number of proposals with which an individual may be associated in other capacities, such as senior personnel.

Additional Eligibility Info:

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 Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.

  • 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 Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg. Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 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 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: (http://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) 292-7827 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 the NSF FastLane system. Chapter II, Section D.4 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

Important Proposal Preparation Information: FastLane will check for required sections of the full proposal, in accordance with Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) instructions described in Chapter II.C.2. The GPG requires submission of: Project Summary; Project Description; References Cited; Biographical Sketch(es); Budget; Budget Justification; Current and Pending Support; Facilities, Equipment & Other Resources; Data Management Plan; and Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan, if applicable. If a required section is missing, FastLane will not accept the proposal.

Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the GPG instructions. If the solicitation instructions do not require a GPG-required section to be included in the proposal, insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal that states, "Not Applicable for this Program Solicitation." Doing so will enable FastLane to accept your proposal.

Please note that per guidance in the GPG, the Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. Unless otherwise specified in this solicitation, you can decide where to include this section within the Project Description.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Proposers should note that the Project Description section of proposals is limited to be no more than 15 pages in length.

In addition to any sections required in the Grant Proposal Guide, the Project Description must include the following seven sections:

  • Target Problem
  • Intellectual Merit
  • Broader Impacts
  • Description of the Computational Codes to be used
  • Development Plan
  • Source(s) of Development Funding and Development Resources
  • Resources Required

Target Problem: A detailed description of one or more specific research questions that the resources requested will be used to answer. Include an explanation of why a petascale resource of the leading-edge capability that Blue Waters represents is necessary to address this research. If you believe that this research will be transformative, please describe why it is transformative.

Intellectual Merit: A description of the intellectual merit associated with the targeted research problem. If there is substantial intellectual merit associated with the work to be done preparing to use the Blue Waters system effectively, this may be described in addition to, but not in place of, the intellectual merit of the specific research topic.

Broader Impacts: The broader impacts of this work where broader impacts are defined in the description of NSF’s second primary review criterion. (See Section VI.A, below.)

Description of the computational code(s) to be used: Describe the structure of the application codes that you intend to use. These may either currently exist, but might require enhancement, or they may be in development. Include descriptions of any novel computational or data driven approaches. Include details about the algorithms involved and the approach that you intend to use to ensure that the code scales effectively on the Blue Waters architecture. Describe how your code(s) will use each of the major system elements: the memory hierarchy, the communications network, the computational elements, GPU nodes, and the I/O subsystem. Identify which system element(s) is/are likely to be the main bottlenecks and how the design of your application minimizes the impact of these bottlenecks. Describe the data requirements and how you intend to analyze the output resulting from your use of Blue Waters. Describe any planned visualization. IMPORTANT: Please describe any specific libraries or software required.

Development plan: Describe the current state of readiness of the application codes that you intend to use and your plans, with milestones, for developing these to the point where they are ready to run in production mode on the Blue Waters system. Estimate the type of access that you will need, for development purposes, to Blue Waters system , to systems that are smaller than Blue Waters but that are still relatively large-scale systems, such as NSF’s XD or NCAR systems, and topics requiring consulting help from the Blue Waters project team. Proposers are encouraged to contact the Blue Waters project team, before submitting a proposal, to obtain a better understanding of the type of help that it can provide: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu . Proposers must list approved or planned allocations on other resources or access to resources that will be used in development.

Source of Development Funding and Development Resources : If your application requires development to conduct the planned research at petascale, please identify the source, amount and duration of funding and computer resources that will be used to develop the necessary methods or algorithms.

Resources Required to Conduct the Planned Research: Describe the Blue Waters resources required to complete research on the Target Problem and the basis for the estimation. This description should include the number and type of system nodes needed for your runs, the anticipated memory usage, the expected number and duration of runs required for each phase of the research, the total number of node-hours required, the anticipated I/O requirements, the amount of data that you anticipate transferring to or from the Blue Waters. Please see the following to assist in calculating node hours: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/node_core_comparison Indicate whether access to other resources for similar research has been awarded, planned or is pending, the allocation amount, and the resource requested. The request must also be summarized in a table entitled “Summary of Resources Required”, with rows for each project year and the following columns: node-hours of CPU-only (XE) nodes; node-hours of GPU (XK) nodes; required storage and type, if greater than default allocations. Million node-hours and terabytes should be used as units and indicated in the table caption.

BUDGET:

The project budget must include attendance by PI or co-PI at an annual PI meeting organized by the Blue Waters project where progress and results will be shared and discussed.

SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTS: DATA MANAGEMENT PLAN

Please see http://www.nsf.gov/cise/cise_dmp.jsp for Data Management Plan Guidance. Note in particular the required content which will be evaluated in the Data Management Plan.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited

Other Budgetary Limitations: To facilitate a project's interaction with the Blue Waters team, funding of up to $40,000 will be provided to support travel by members of the project team and/or the Blue Waters team. Funding requests must not exceed $40,000. Funds may only be requested in the following two budget categories: Travel (members of the project team) and/or Participant Support Costs (travel of the Blue Waters team).

Budget Preparation Instructions: Budget must include attendance by PI or co-PI at an annual PI meeting organized by the Blue Waters project where progress and results will be shared and discussed.

C. Due Dates

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         March 10, 2014

         November 14, 2014

         November 13, 2015

         November 09, 2016

D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane:

To prepare and submit a proposal via FastLane, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. 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: http://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 are strongly encouraged to use FastLane 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 the GPG as Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: http://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 Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation's Future: NSF Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. 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. (GPG 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 GPG 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 and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate whether the research question(s) described represent breakthrough science and engineering research and the degree to which their investigation requires the capability of a resource such as Blue Waters.

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 be completed and submitted by each reviewer. 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 http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 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 Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

Special Award Conditions: PIs will be required to attend an annual PI meeting.

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 at least 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). Within 90 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 Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

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:

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

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 at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USNSF/subscriber/new?topic_id=USNSF_179.

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 http://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 provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 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 http://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

4201 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22230

  • 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) 292-7827

  • 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 Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). 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
Arlington, VA 22230

Policies and Important Links

|

Privacy | FOIA | Help | Contact NSF | Contact Web Master | SiteMap

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: (703) 292-5111, FIRS: (800) 877-8339 | TDD: (800) 281-8749

Last Updated:
11/07/06
Text Only