Office of Sponsored Programs Administration & Accounting


REMINDER: Office Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Updates from the Director


NSF Biographical Sketches: Change to Note

Instructions for the Biographical Sketch(es), Products section indicate that "acceptable products must be citable and accessible." Accessibility may be difficult to accomplish in the case of manuscripts submitted or accepted for publication and other documents and materials. Access may need to be provided through institutional or personal websites. Will that be sufficient to meet the proposal submission requirements?
The language was changed from "publications" to "products" in order to allow proposers to receive appropriate credit for research products that may not be traditional publications. The requirement that all products be "citable and accessible" is not a submission requirement, in the sense of blocking a proposal from consideration, but a definition of the standard to which proposers should adhere. It was introduced because of experience with citations that are not readily available, including web references that are inaccessible or out of date and is intended to indicate that such mistakes have demonstrably downgraded a proposal in the judgment of reviewers. References to websites, even private ones, are appropriate, provided that the site is available for a reasonable percentage of the time. Such material is often the best way to demonstrate the applicant's ability to carry out the project.

For Biographical Sketch(es), now that "Publications" has become "Products," are proposers still limited to the same number of Products as they were Publications?
Yes. The proposer may include up to five products most closely related to the proposed project and up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project.

Link to current Grant Proposal Guide's applicable section:


Compliance Corner  

National Science Foundation Wants Investigators to Use Before Mandatory Shift on March 15, 2013

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is asking investigators to "stop submitting new project reports through FastLane," the agency's electronic grants management portal, as of February 1, it said in a "dear colleague" letter issued January 10. "We also urge submission to NSF of any due or overdue project reports prior to this date. Any reports that are prepared in FastLane prior to February 1st, but are not submitted, may need to be re-entered into" After March 15, only will be available as NSF moves the filing of interim, annual and final reports to the new website. In addition, NSF said, "awardee institutions must use to access all online financial services required for grants management." NSF said will be an improvement over FastLane, with features such as a "consolidated project reporting dashboard" and "a federal-wide data dictionary to increase the consistency of implementation across federal research agencies."


Sequestration Still Looms; OMB Reminds Agencies to Prepare

Because Congress delayed the cuts called for under sequestration only until March 1, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is warning federal agencies they need to be looking for ways to save money -- including among their funding recipients. In a memorandum issued January 14, Jeffrey Zients, OMB deputy director for management, said it was not known if, or how, Congress will act to prevent the reductions, so agencies "must continue to prepare for the possibility that they will need to operate with reduced budgetary resources." Among the suggestions are to " review grants and contracts to determine where cost savings may be achieved in a manner that is consistent with the applicable terms and conditions, remaining mindful of the manner in which individual contracts or grants advance the core mission of the agency," Zients wrote. The Budget Control Act called for $1.2 trillion in cuts and tax increases over a 10-year period, with $600 million to occur in 2013 alone. If sequestration begins March 1, those cuts will be spread out over a 10-month period, rather than a year, and will have an even greater impact on federal programs and expenditures. The House is in session this week, but the Senate does not return until January 22, so no legislation is currently under consideration that would affect sequestration.




Timely Topics  

Use Grant evaluation to Add Value in Proposals and Help Secure Additional Funding

Evaluation and assessment is essential at the planning stages of a project (during the proposal stage) and after you have won the award. Once a proposal has been funded, the grant evaluation should not be forgotten. The evaluation can be essential in helping a program to stay on track as well as serve to help secure additional funding in the future. According to Rena Beyer, grant specialist, Cooperative Educational Service Agency Grant Resources of Wisconsin, and owner of Grant Specialist USA, "When you are writing the grant, evaluation helps show the funder the outcomes that will be measured and tracked, and lets them know there will be some unbiased report at the end of the grant cycle that they can look at and use to see what they are giving money to is actually working or not."

Beyer offers the following advice on the grant evaluation process:

  • Determining when to start
    • Beyer emphasizes that, "You need to start planning for evaluation immediately when you begin looking at the funding. The evaluation has to hand in hand with the development of the program and the development of the budget." Evaluation should not be an afterthought. If the evaluator is involved from the beginning, they can help to ensure that the program’s goals are realistic and measurable. This input should be included in the grant proposal with specific and quantifiable metrics.
  • Choosing a method
    • Choosing an evaluation model is dependent on the grant itself, as well as the community and how the grant is going to be implemented.
  • Knowing which model is appropriate
    • During the evaluation process, Beyer continually ask three questions:
      • Is the program positively making an impact?
      • Has the program resulted in changes in behavior and habits as outlined in the goals indicated?
      • Is the program operating on schedule, and is it fiscally sound?
  • Selecting an evaluator
    • Choosing an evaluator is important since you will be working with this person for the entire award term. This could span several years and the report they write should be a reflection of the effort and work you have put into the project. Important aspects to take into consideration when selecting an evaluator include compatibility, as you will have this relationship over a long period of time; the individual’s expertise in the program area; and his or her required background skills.

For more information about Evaluation Plans, see September’s newsletter: