The FY 2001 request for Administration and Management (A&M) of $216.62 million provides support for salaries, benefits, and training of persons employed at the NSF, general operating expenses, including key initiatives to advance the agency's information systems technology, and audit and Inspector General activities. The workforce includes Federal employees, Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignees, detailees, and contractors performing administrative functions.
(Millions of Dollars)
1 Totals may not add due to rounding.
The Administration and Management function includes administrative costs that are funded through the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account and the Education and Human Resources (EHR) account as well as the Salaries and Expenses and Office of the Inspector General accounts.
The FY 2001 request for Administration and Management is an increase of 13.7 percent over FY 2000. The increase will fund additional IPA assignees, detailees and contractors performing administrative functions, comparability and locality pay increases for federal employees, a space increase that covers existing and newly-acquired space, staff training, and improved productivity of our staff through investments in information and communications technology. Such investment in information systems technology has been crucial to NSF in the past, as the agency has handled significant increases in program funds and corresponding increases in the quantity and complexity of its workload without equivalent increases in administrative funds.
A&M includes the following components:
IPA costs and administrative contracts funded by R&RA and EHR are included within A&M. An increase in IPAs and contractor personnel is crucial in order for NSF to provide the workforce necessary to carry out program initiatives and maintain the efficient management of our increasingly complex programs. Also, new activities substantially increase the need for coordination and result in heavy demands on the staff. A single coordinated program can involve dozens of program managers from throughout NSF. A few examples of the increased workload are:
An increase in travel funds in FY 2001 is necessary to continue to support the merit review process while increasing the ability for oversight and outreach travel. Beginning in FY 2001, all travel by staff in the program offices will be funded through R&RA and EHR instead of the Salaries and Expenses account. This change is requested to directly associate oversight and outreach travel with the appropriate program. Good management is critical to the success of the research and education activities that we support, and proper and sufficient oversight is vital to this process. Without an increase in total travel authority, the Foundation will be unable to ensure both a reliable merit review process and the oversight recommended by the agency's Inspector General. Inspector General reports continue to cite the lack of travel funds for oversight of NSF awards as a major management challenge. In addition, management reviews call for more oversight travel.
Salaries and Expenses
Office of the Inspector General
Highlights of the FY 2001 A&M request include the following major initiatives that support improvements to the Foundation's information technology infrastructure in areas such as management of proposal submission, review, award and financial activities.
The recent enactment of the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 has significant implications for NSF's activities and development of electronic systems. The new act sets tight deadlines for planning and implementation of a wide variety of functions that are critical to NSF's mission, including streamlining basic assistance processes, participation in interagency efforts for electronic initiatives, and assisting award recipients in their abilities to meet reporting requirements. While NSF has been a leader in many of these activities, the accelerated deadlines of this Act require accelerated system development and greater concentration of resources in activities supporting interagency consistency and customer support. Increased funding is necessary to ensure that the Foundation has the resources not only to meet these challenging deadlines, but also to provide a leadership role in this federal effort.
NSF's business has been changing, and Administration and Management funding has not kept pace with program increases. Therefore, in spite of an aggressive use of technology, NSF has found that it takes a significant effort on the part of the agency staff to implement the complex, interdisciplinary programs that are becoming more inevitable and prevalent. These programs require coordination within the Foundation, with other Federal agencies, and among the numerous and diverse science and engineering communities. The scientific complexity that results from these interdisciplinary programs is reflected in the management of proposal submission, review, award and financial activities. It is critical that the Foundation makes further investments in the agency's information systems that will enable NSF to handle its increasing workload. To meet this growing workload, the Foundation has actively pursued the use of advanced information technologies to improve the way NSF does business and to reduce the administrative burden on NSF customers and staff. The key initiatives to advance NSF's information systems technology are:
With the FastLane project, NSF has moved toward more streamlined, paperless electronic administrative activities. The Foundation initiated FastLane as a research project in 1994 to test the feasibility of complete electronic handling of proposal processing and grant administration and to explore the capability of electronic processing to reduce the workload burden on both NSF and the research community. FastLane enables NSF and its customer community to conduct and facilitate business transactions and exchange information electronically using the World Wide Web.
In September 1998, the Director of NSF issued Important Notice 123 to university and college presidents and the heads of other grantee organizations. It contains NSF's vision for paperless proposal and award processing. In addition to outlining the steps NSF is taking to bring the vision to reality, the Important Notice included a schedule of when five basic functions will be required for use by our grantees. This notice is NSF's public commitment to using electronic processing for its standard business processes. The major and final deadline in the Important Notice is October 1, 2000 (proposal and review submissions required).
In addition to increased efficiency and reduced administrative burden, the benefits to be derived from FastLane are increased access by researchers and the public to information about NSF-supported research, and reduced proposal and award processing time. Since its inception, FastLane has been tremendously successful and award-winning, and continued to experience substantial growth in all areas in FY 1999. The system that began as an experiment with 16 university partners currently has 3000 registered organizations (up from 1500 in FY 1998).
To date, 41 FastLane functions have been developed that handle the processing associated with proposal preparation and submission, proposal review, proposal status inquiry, award notification, project reports, and award search. These modules were used by grantee institutions to submit 12,734 proposals in FY 1999 (NSF receives about 30,000 proposals each year).
Today, NSF handles over $2.5 billion in cash transactions on FastLane. FastLane features include electronic capabilities for cash requests, Federal Cash Transaction Reports (FCTRs) and no cost award extensions. Among the enhancements added in FY 1999 were new means for preparing proposals, allowing principal investigators control over editing their own contact information and professional affiliations, new reports for NSF grantees, interactive ways for panel reviewers to coordinate evaluations of proposals, allowing organizations control of adding new principal investigators to NSF's official lists, support of Portable Document Format (PDF) files in our project reporting function, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for proposal submission. In FY 1999, a FastLane Help Desk was established to provide centralized, dedicated support to our external users.
Currently, FastLane is NSF's preferred method of proposal submission, and our goal under the Results Act is for 60% of all NSF proposals to be received and processed via FastLane during FY 2000. In order to handle the increased FastLane operational workload expected from this initiative, we must continue to support and enhance FastLane operations and maintenance, expand the Help Desk, and train personnel in its use. The required infrastructure includes high-speed servers, additional file space, scanning equipment, monitors, software, and other equipment. It also includes system security and contracts to maintain and enhance the FastLane computer programs.
The FastLane system is being continuously enhanced and updated as new technologies emerge and based on feedback from the research community. When the project began in 1994, we recognized that the opportunities presented by advances in the Internet and World Wide Web would have a significant impact on how work is accomplished. The initial project was based on what was known of the capabilities of the Internet and Web at that time. Based on their experience with FastLane, the user community has identified new opportunities that were not envisioned in 1994. We expect the requirement for new enhancements to continue as new opportunities emerge and as the Web continues to evolve.
Budget Internet Information System (BIIS) and Enterprise Information System (EIS)
The Budget Internet Information System (http://ntalpha.bfa.nsf.gov) contains information on GPRA issues such as processing time and award size. It is easily accessible to the public via the Web and is used extensively by the university community and R&D press. Information currently available includes:
The Enterprise Information System (EIS) is an internal NSF, user-friendly system that informs and empowers NSF program and financial managers as they make budget and planning decisions. The EIS includes financial and personnel information. For example, a summary of grant budgets for all NSF awards is available. This includes budgets for investigator salaries, funding for undergraduates and graduates, indirect costs and equipment costs. Trends and current status of projects also are available.
NSF is the innovator, developer, and custodian for FinanceNet , the government's Internet "home page" for financial management improvement initiatives and the government-wide Internet portal site for information on all Federal, state and local surplus, abandoned and unclaimed property. The Chief Financial Officers' Council is FinanceNet's sponsor through Memoranda of Agreement with its member agencies and departments. In FY 1999, FinanceNet World Wide Web visits increased to the rate of 30 million "hits" per year with subscriptions to its more than 100 topical and organizational Internet list servers increasing to over 100,000. The Foundation also further broadened FinanceNet's outreach. In FY 1999 FinanceNet integrated all of its collaborative Internet tools, developed for more than two dozen governmental organizations, into one seamless turnkey web application. In response to tasking within OMB's "FY 2000 Financial Management Status Report and Five Year Plan," FinanceNet is expanding the scope of its government-wide asset sales web portal to include the development of an interagency support team, government-wide data warehouse and pilot auction site.
Migration to Client-Server Environment
NSF is replacing its aging central mainframe computer by migrating to a client-server computing environment that allows more processing to be performed at individual workstations rather than on the mainframe. This migration is scheduled for completion in FY 2001.
FY 2001 Performance Goals for Administration and Management
The performance goals for NSF's investment process provide information about the means and strategies NSF uses in support of its outcome goals and articulates performance goals for the investment process by which NSF shapes its portfolio of awards. Performance goals for management address whether centrally funded and coordinated administrative activities are managed efficiently and effectively in support of NSF's mission. See the FY 2001 Performance Plan included in this justification for further detail.
Annual Performance Goals for Management 1
1 In FY 2001, NSF continues to emphasize the area of managing information technologies.
Annual Performance Goals for NSF's Investment Process
1 These performance goals are stated in the alternative format provided for in GPRA legislation.
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