Summary of significant changes to NSF’s Grant Proposal Guidelines 23-1 effective January 2023
Principal Investigators submitting to NSF are expected to have familiarity with 23-1.
Summary of significant changes:
- Beginning in January 2023, all new proposals must be submitted in Research.gov. UMass requires that all NSF proposals use Research.gov and not grants.gov.
- Current and pending forms and Biographical Sketches are now required to be created in SciENcv. The NSF templates for these forms is no longer permitted.
- In addition to the current and pending forms and Biographical Sketches in SciENcv, NSF requires that PIs certify in SciENcv that their Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documents are accurate, current, and complete.
- There is a new proposal section if you propose to conduct research in the field: Plan for Safe and Inclusive Field/Vessel/Aircraft Research (PSI-FVAR).
- Concept outlines are submitted by the prospective PI via use of the Program Suitability and Proposal Concept (ProSPCT).
Please see details on these updates below:
1. Beginning in January 2023, all new proposals must be prepared and submitted in Research.gov or Grants.gov. FastLane will no longer be a preparation and submission option.
2. Beginning in October 2023, current and pending forms and bio-sketches are now required to be be created in SciENcv.
The most recent version of the NSF’s Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 23-1, requires SciENcv for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support(C&P) documents in proposals and progress reports effective October 2023. This is in response to federal sponsors striving to harmonize as per National Security Presidential Memorandum 33(NSPM 33), which is a directive from the President of the United States requiring all federal funding agencies to strengthen and standardize disclosure requirements for federally funded awards.
The NSF fillable PDF for each of the Biosketch and C &P documents will no longer be allowed; if SciENcv is not used to generate a Biosketch and C&P as of October 2023, the research.gov system will prevent submission of the proposal or progress report. For this transition to SciENcv, it is encouraged that individuals to obtain an ORCID ID and use ORCID to facilitate pre-population of their biographical sketch in SciENcv. For progress reports submitted after October 2023, if there has been a change in a PI or Co-PI’s other support, a revised C&P prepared in SciENcv must be submitted with the progress report.
See https://orcid.org for additional information on obtaining an ORCID ID.
This section of the proposal is used to assess how well qualified the individual, team, or organization is to conduct the proposed activities.
A separate biographical sketch (limited to three pages) must be provided for each individual designated as senior personnel through use of SciENcv - Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae. SciENcv will produce an NSF-compliant PDF version of the biographical sketch. Senior personnel must prepare, save, certify, and submit these documents as part of their proposal via Research.gov or Grants.gov. (See Exhibit II-3 for the definitions of Senior Personnel). Individuals are encouraged to obtain an ORCID ID28 to facilitate prepopulation of their biographical sketch in SciENcv. Use of an ORCID ID may help reduce the administrative burden associated with preparation of this section of the proposal.
See https://orcid.org for additional information on obtaining an ORCID ID.
Current and Pending Support
(a) This section of the proposal is used to assess the capacity of the individual to carry out the research as proposed, as well as to help assess any potential overlap/duplication with the proposal being submitted.
(b) Current and pending support information must be provided separately for each individual designated as senior personnel through use of SciENcv. SciENcv will produce an NSF-compliant PDFversion of the Current and Pending Support Section of the proposal. There is no page limitation for this section of the proposal. Senior personnel must prepare, save, certify, and submit these documents as part of their proposal via Research.gov or Grants.gov. (See Exhibit II-3 for the definitions of Senior Personnel.)
3. In addition to the current and pending form and bio-sketches being created in SciENcv, PI’s will need to certify in SciENcv that their Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documents are accurate, current, and complete.
e. Certification Provided by Senior Personnel - FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Section 223
In accordance with the FY 2021, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Section 223, senior personnel are required to certify in SciENcv that the information provided in their Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documents are accurate, current, and complete. Senior personnel are required to update their Current and Pending Support disclosures prior to award, and at any subsequent time the agency determines appropriate during the term of the award.
False representations may be subject to prosecution and liability pursuant to, but not limited to, 18 U.S.C.§§287, 1001, 1031 and 31 U.S.C. §§3729-3733 and 3802.
See additional information on NSF Disclosure Requirements in Chapter II.B.
4. New NSF Proposal Section:
Plan for Safe and Inclusive Field/Vessel/Aircraft Research (PSI-FVAR). Each proposal that proposes to conduct research in the field, including on vessels and aircraft, must upload, under “PSI-FVAR” in the supplementary documentation section of Research.gov, a plan that includes the elements specified below. There is a two-page limitation on the PSI-FVAR. No embedded links may be included within the two page document. If multiple field research excursions (inclusive of multiple visits and/or sites) are proposed, only a single overarching PSI-FVAR must be submitted. If a required section within the PSI-FVAR is not applicable, the proposer should specify that the section is not applicable.
Field research is a necessary component of many STEM fields. Fieldwork presents unique challenges that can increase the likelihood of harassment, including but not limited to, challenging physical conditions, social isolation, and limited communication methods. All research should be done in an environment free from harassment.
It is NSF’s expectation that:
- All personnel will treat others with dignity and respect, will exercise the highest level of professional and ethical behavior, and will work cooperatively to resolve differences; and
It is everyone's responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive workplace. While not exhaustive, the following acts are examples of conduct that do not meet NSF’s expectations:
- Abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form; or
- Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly. The PSI-FVAR will document background information, pre-deployment activities, and plans for conduct while in the field and must include the following two sections:
1. Background Information:
- Description of Field Location(s) – (Note: only one PSI-FVAR is required per proposal if the research involves multiple locations).
- Inclusion/Safety from Harassment (SfH) Challenges for the Location(s) – e.g., communication limitations due to isolation (satellite phone only?); diversity of local Community (using Community to indicate the human community) compared to diversity of field/vessel/aircraft team; cultural/language/legal differences that may present personnel safety challenges.
- Inclusion/SfH Challenges for the Team – e.g., number and type of organizations involved in the
- team; number of experienced versus novice team members.
2. Preparation for Fieldwork:
- Planned Trainings – e.g., Nondiscrimination; Bystander Intervention; Allyship; Privilege; Cultural Competency; Anti-Harassment.
- Planned processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture – e.g., Code of Conduct, Code of Ethics.
- Field Support Plan – e.g., mentor/mentee support; regular check-ins and/or events.
Safety from Harassment:
- Incident Reporting/Communications Plan – e.g., within team, to organization(s); minimizing single points within the plan (e.g., single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone); specifics if multiple organizations involved; consideration of involvement outside the funded organization(s).
- Field Incident Support Plan – e.g., real-time assistance resources (points of contact, hotlines); response activities (safety standdowns, return to organization guidance).
In addition, the supplementary documentation section should alert NSF officials to unusual circumstances that require special handling, including, for example, proprietary or other privileged information in the proposal, matters affecting individual privacy, required intergovernmental review under E.O. 12372 (Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs) for for activities that directly affect State or local governments, or possible national security implications.
5. New ProSPCT tool for concept papers:
Some NSF proposal types (see Chapter II.E for additional information) or funding opportunities may require submission of a concept outline in advance of submission of a full proposal. The primary purposes of requiring a concept outline are to ensure that the concept being proposed by the prospective PI is appropriate for the proposal type/funding opportunity, and to help reduce the administrative burden associated with submission of a full proposal. Concept outlines may also be submitted at any time by prospective PIs seeking early feedback on the general appropriateness and potentially relevant funding opportunities for a project idea prior to developing a full proposal.
Concept outlines are submitted by the prospective PI via use of the Program Suitability and Proposal Concept (ProSPCT) tool. ProSPCT consists of a dashboard and webform for prospective PIs to prepare, send, and track the status of their submissions. ProSPCT users must have a valid Login.gov account to access the tool. (See www.login.gov for additional information.)
The ProSPCT tool ensures users provide information about the prospective PI(s), potentially germane NSF organizational unit(s), and the project idea based on the initial selection of the relevant proposal type. This information aids in routing the submission and determining the appropriateness of the work prior to preparation of a full proposal. The prospective PI will receive an email from the cognizant NSF program officer that specifies whether a full proposal may be submitted. Full proposals submitted without this “Program Officer Concurrence Email” for proposal types/funding opportunities requiring a concept outline will be returned without review or not accepted.