February 27, 2009

Federal Stimulus Law: Agencies Begin Publishing Details

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also called the “Stimulus Law,” was signed into law on February 17th by President Obama. The Act provides “provides $ 21.5 billion in additional funds for scientific endeavors.”

On February 18th, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the initial guidance for federal agencies, “Initial Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” This document includes some details related to allocation of grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements and on the extensive new reporting requirements for recipients of Recovery Act funds. OMB will be publishing further guidance, including more details on specific reporting instructions and on how the data collection will work government-wide.

Some of the new reporting requirements that may be appearing in terms and conditions for awards made with Recovery Act funds include (from page 14 of the OMB Guidance):
  • Quarterly financial and technical reports
  • Reports on number of jobs created
  • Evaluation of the completion status of a project
  • Detailed information on any subcontracts or subgrants to include data elements required to comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006
General information on the Recovery Act will be published on the new Recovery.gov site, but federal agencies receiving the funds are also required to establish a page with specific information. Agencies have just begun to publish initial plans, and should have further grant information available soon. Federal agencies will generally have two years to spend the Recovery Act funds.

Links to sources of information on the Recovery Act are listed below. The Sponsored Projects Office will update American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Stimulus Funding on the SPO web site as new information is available and provide additional guidance for the campus as needed.

Key Resources

Agency-Specific Information Related to the Recovery Act
Other Resources

Additional Reading

February 23, 2009

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Suspends Grant Programs

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has suspended most of their competitive grant programs for the upcoming year, because of the adverse effect that the current economic situation has had on their endowment. BWF will be accepting applications for only two programs: the Preterm Birth Initiative and Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant programs put on hold include three limited submission programs: Career Awards at the Scientific Interface, Career Awards for Medical Scientists, and Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease.

BWF will focus on fulfilling existing grant obligations and on preserving assets for future awards, with the goal of funding a full complement of grants in future years.

February 22, 2009

Final Federal Stimulus Bill: $21.5 Billion for R&D

The American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide $21.5 billion for federal research and development, including $10.4 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, and $3.5 billion for Department of Energy energy programs.

From AAAS:
Congress finalized a $790 billion economic recovery bill (HR 1) on February 12, and President Obama signed the bill into law on February 17. AAAS estimates the final stimulus bill contains $21.5 billion in federal research and development (R&D) funding, more than the $17.8 billion in the Senate or $13.2 billion in the House versions of the bill. . . .Within the $21.5 billion R&D total, the stimulus bill would give $18.0 billion to federal agencies for the conduct of R&D and $3.5 billion for R&D facilities and large equipment.
For details, see the AAAS analysis of the final stimulus bill on the AAAS R&D web site.

February 19, 2009

New NSF PAPPG, Effective April 6, Updates Postdoc Mentoring Plan Requirements

The National Science Foundation has issued a revision to the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The revision, NSF 09-29, is effective for proposals submitted on or after April 6, 2009. In the interim, the guidelines contained in NSF 09-1 continue to apply. Proposers responding to an NSF funding opportunity with a due date on or after April 6 must comply with the guidelines in NSF 09-29.

The NSF 09-29 revision changes the requirements for mentoring activities for postdocs, for proposals that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers. Currently, the NSF 09-1 Proposal Preparation Instructions require that mentoring activities be described in a separate section in the 15-page Project Description. The new NSF 09-29 Proposal Preparation Instructions change this to require a maximum one-page description in a supplementary document.

From the NSF 09-29 Proposal Preparation Instructions, effective April 6:
Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan. Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include, as a supplementary document, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. In no more than one page, the mentoring plan must describe the mentoring that will be provided to all postdoctoral researchers supported by the project, irrespective of whether they reside at the submitting organization, any subawardee organization, or at any organization participating in a simultaneously submitted collaborative project. Proposers are advised that the mentoring plan may not be used to circumvent the 15-page project description limitation.

Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices. The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation's broader impacts merit review criterion. Proposals that include funding to support postdoctoral researchers, and, do not include the requisite mentoring plan will be returned without review.
NSF 09-29 GPG Summary of Significant Changes

December 2008 Research Advocate: NSF Postdoc Mentoring Plan Required for Proposals Received On or After January 5
October 2008 Research Advocate: Significant Changes in New NSF Policies and Procedures Guide

February 10, 2009

New Coeus Web Report for Subawards

As part of a business process analysis project conducted by the Sponsored Projects Office last year, SPO implemented new business processes for subawards. SPO developed status definitions to track the process of subawards. These status definitions are now entered in Coeus, and the SPO Notice of Award was redesigned to show subawards by status with each distribution from SPO. In an effort to make this detailed information more widely available, the Research Administration and Compliance Office is pleased to offer a new report on Coeus Web that provides current information on the status of subawards. Principal investigators can query subawards on their own grants and contracts, and department administrators can query subawards for the department.

The new report is available at http://coeus.spo.berkeley.edu/. A description of the report and a list of status definitions is available at http://coeus.spo.berkeley.edu/about.html. If you do not currently have a Coeus Web account and would like to request one, please contact Neil Maxwell at nmaxwell@berkeley.edu. Please note that faculty members will have individual accounts; departmental accounts are shared.

February 03, 2009

NSB Requests Comments on NSF Cost-Sharing Policy

The National Science Board (NSB) intends to revise cost-sharing policies at the National Science Foundation and is requesting public comment on the new proposed policies by February 16, 2009.

In the draft report, Investing in the Future: NSF Cost Sharing Policies for a Robust Federal Research Enterprise, NSB is recommending:
(1) to allow, but narrowly circumscribe, the application of mandatory cost-sharing requirements in NSF programs in which such cost sharing is foundational to achieving programmatic goals, and

(2) to prohibit voluntary committed cost sharing in NSF proposals and thus eliminate post-award tracking and reporting requirements.

These recommendations are intended to improve consistency and clarity of NSF cost-sharing practices and policy and to maximize the effectiveness of institutional dollars invested in research. The Board firmly believes that prohibiting voluntary committed cost sharing, and permitting mandatory cost-sharing requirements only in limited and appropriate circumstances, will not reduce institutional commitment and financial contributions to NSF-sponsored projects or negatively impact institutional stewardship of Federal resources. Instead, it likely will enhance the ability of institutions to strategically and flexibly plan, invest in, and conduct research projects and programs and promote equity among grantee institutions in NSF funding competitions.