Proposed Changes to Federal Funding for STEM Education Programs
As you may be aware, the President's FY14 budget includes significant eliminations and consolidations of the STEM education and outreach programs managed by various federal agencies, including NSF, ED, NASA, NOAA, and others. The proposed federal budget will accomplish a 50% reduction of STEM programs from 226 down to 112 to eliminate lowest priority programs and increase funding for effective STEM programs. Familiar programs such as the NSF's TUES (formerly CCLI), MSP, and STEP programs as well as the ED's Teacher Quality program have been mentioned in the list of possible eliminations/consolidations, however nothing is finalized yet. The President has proposed an increase of 6.7% in STEM educational programs over FY2012 funding levels, primarily under the NSF and ED umbrellas but the Smithsonian also benefits. While this is only a proposed budget at this point, it is likely that some of these projected changes will occur. Following is a link to an article in the journal Science below. Within the article are included links to the White House's proposal, which provides extensive details.
Until it’s sorted out where the new STEM opportunities will reside, there may be some uncertainty among our long-time recipients of grants under existing programs. As these changes unfold in the coming months, we will keep you apprised of any program changes and push out the new STEM funding opportunities.
Consolidations & Reductions list from FY2014 budget: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/ccs.pdf
Link to Science article: "A U.S. Makeover for STEM Education: What it Means for NSF and the Education Department" http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2013/04/a-us-makeover-for-stem-education.html
We would like to acknowledge Katie Plum, research administrator at Angelo State University for publishing this information to a list serve.
National Science Foundation: Guidance on Project Outcomes Report (POR)
Along with requiring PI's to submit annual progress reports and project end reports, the National Science Foundation (NSF) also requires every grantee to submit a project outcomes report (POR). According to NSF, "project outcomes report for the general public…This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project."
NSF's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently conducted an "Evaluation of Results for Division of Undergraduate Education Programs" and focused in on PORs. In their review, the OIG found there are problems with final reports which could then in turn affect PORs. Many grantees pull information from their final reports, which can be too technical for the general public and not convey the outcomes of the project clearly.
The OIG provides the following advice and observations as a result from their evaluation:
1. "The POR should provide a visible link between the project’s objectives and what was ultimately accomplished toward those objectives. A transparent connection between stated goals and eventual outcomes is important insofar as it shows how well the grantee institution has served as a steward of the taxpayer funds the project received."
2. "To help ensure that project results are presented to the public in a clear and understandable manner, NSF solicitations should explain that to the extent that objectives are listed in the abstract, the POR should describe how the objectives are achieved."
3. The PORs "are not easy for lay people to decipher. We also found very little in the way of concrete quantitative data that supported the specific goals… By defining POR expectations with greater precision in the program solicitation, DUE can alert its awardees to this important new reporting requirement and ensure that results are communicated in a meaningful way to the public and other stakeholders."
It is important to note that NSF does not review or approve the POR. The POR is posted the next business day on Research.gov’s Research Spending and Results website exactly as it is submitted by the PI along with the following disclaimer:
"This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content."
The PI may edit the report for 30 days after it has been submitted. An unlimited number of addenda may be submitted after the 30 days has passed to supplement the report.
Research.gov Project Outcomes Report Fact Sheet: http://www.research.gov/common/attachment/Desktop/ProjectOutcomesReportFactSheet.pdf
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Project Outcomes Report: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/porfaqs.jsp
National Science Foundation Report: Unlocking the Secrets of Science