May 30, 2014

NSF Clarifies Policy on Abstracts and Titles

The National Science Foundation has issued Important Notice to Presidents of Universities and Colleges and Heads of Other National Science Foundation Awardee Organizations: NSF Abstracts and Titles (Notice No. 136) to clarify the NSF policy on award abstracts and titles. NSF is acting to ensure that abstracts and titles clearly convey to the public justification for NSF actions and funding decisions.

The notice states:

The Title of an NSF supported project must describe the purpose of the research in nontechnical terms to the fullest possible extent.

There are two major components of the NSF Abstract:
  • A nontechnical description of the project that states the problem to be studied, and explains the project’s broader significance and importance, that serves as a public justification for NSF funding. This component should be understandable to an educated lay reader. It may include such information as the theoretical or analytical foundation of the proposed research, the fundamental issues that may be resolved by the research, the project’s relation to NSF’s mission, the project’s place in the context of ongoing research in the field, the project’s potential impact on other fields, and the prospect that it will lead to significant advances or the integration of related lines of inquiry.
  • A technical description of the project that states the goals and scope of the research, and the methods and approaches to be used. In many cases, the technical description may be a modified version of the project summary submitted with the proposal.
Thus, an NSF award abstract which is intended for a broad audience may differ from the Project Summary that is submitted as part of a technically reviewed proposal.

May 21, 2014

Exciting Developments in Phoebe!

The Sponsored Projects Office is committed to making Phoebe available to all departments and units across campus. We also are always looking for ways to make proposal preparation within Phoebe more straightforward and trouble free. In that vein, we are pleased to announce the following recent developments in Phoebe.

Guidance for Small Units Joining Phoebe
Is your department or unit interested in accessing Phoebe? Please consult SPO’s new guidance.

Submit to Sponsor
Want to know if your proposal has been submitted? Contract and Grant Officers (CGOs) at SPO are now able to click on a newly exposed button in the system labeled “submit to sponsor.” The button is only visible to CGOs and, upon submitting proposals to agency sponsors, CGOs will now immediately click on that button, which will update the status of the record to “Approval Pending – Submitted.” The status appears in the upper, right-hand corner of the record and can be viewed by principal investigators (PIs), department approvers, and CSS/department administrators with appropriate access.

Phoebe Proposal Preparation Checklist - Now Available
New to Phoebe or just want to make sure you have completed all the required proposal steps? Please visit our Proposal Checklist for Departments, now included in the Phoebe Instructions.

PHS FCOI PI Certification Form - No Longer Required for Proposals in Phoebe
Note that this form is still required at other stages of the funding cycle – new award, non-competing award, no cost extension – but it is not required as an upload for proposals in Phoebe. PIs now are able to certify to the language on the form as part of the online approval process within Phoebe. See What SPO Requires: PHS FCOI Guide for Department Research Administrators and PIs for more information.

Reminder: Avoid Identity Theft
Please remember a proposal initiator should NEVER log into Phoebe with a PI’s CalNet information. If a PI asks you to use his or her CalNet ID to carry out PI functions within Phoebe explain that a CalNet ID should never be shared with anyone for any reason. This is to protect the PI’s personal data, which should be kept private, and to ensure that PI approvals and certifications within Phoebe are valid. The approvals that we track in the system are serious in nature and we want to avoid any gray areas regarding approval and/or allegations that someone’s sensitive personal information has been misused.

We hope these updates are useful, and please feel free to write to our mailing list at with any questions or ideas for improvements.

May 15, 2014

Phoebe Unavailable on Sunday, May 18, 2014, 8:00-10:00 am

Phoebe, the UC Berkeley system for proposal approvals and routing, will be unavailable on Sunday, May 18, 2014 from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, for scheduled database maintenance.

May 12, 2014

NSF Issues Draft Implementation Plan for OMB Uniform Guidance

The National Science Foundation has published a draft of the NSF implementation plan for the OMB Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200) and a request for comments in the May 9 Federal Register: Comment Request: National Science Foundation Proposal/Award Information-NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

NSF is asking for comments by July 8 on the draft PAPPG, available on the NSF Policy Office site. NSF is interested in public comment on NSF’s implementation of the OMB Uniform Guidance, as well as the policy changes identified in the PAPPG. Comments regarding the content of the Uniform Guidance should not be submitted.

NSF has highlighted text in yellow that implements the Uniform Guidance. Yellow highlighting appears in the following cases:
  • Use of specific references to the Uniform Guidance;
  • Direct replication of text from the Uniform Guidance; and
  • NSF’s implementation of requirements from the Uniform Guidance that are imposed on agencies.
NSF has formally requested from OMB deviations from the Uniform Guidance in only two areas:
  • Limitation to two months salary compensation for faculty. and
  • Alternative to the Federal Financial Report.
NSF has highlighted in blue policy changes that are being made independent of NSF’s implementation of the Uniform Guidance.

January 30, 2014 Research Advocate: COFAR Posts Training Webcast on Federal Grants Reform Uniform Guidance
January 2, 2014 Research Advocate: OMB Publishes Federal Grants Reform Guidance
December 19, 2013 Research Advocate: OMB to Issue “Super Circular” Grant Reform Guidance

May 01, 2014

National Science Board Publishes Report on Reducing Investigators’ Adminstrative Workloads

The National Science Board has released a new report, Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research, based on responses from thousands of scientists to a request for information to identify which federal agency and institutional requirements contribute most to PIs’ administrative workload.

The NSB press release states the report “recommends limiting proposal requirements to those essential to evaluate merit; keeping reporting focused on outcomes; and automating payroll certification for effort reporting. The NSB further recommends an evaluation of animal research, conflict of interest, and safety and security requirements, and encourages universities to review their IRB and IACUC processes to achieve rapid approval of protocols.”

See the press release and report for further information.