March 29, 2012

Federal “Big Data” Multi-Agency Initiative: NSF/NIH Funding Announced

The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health are jointly funding a new program, Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering (BIGDATA). The “program aims to extract and use knowledge from collections of large data sets in order to accelerate progress in science and engineering research. Specifically, it will fund research to develop and evaluate new algorithms, statistical methods, technologies, and tools for improved data collection and management, data analytics and e-science collaboration environments.”

Deadlines are June 13, 2012 for mid-scale projects (between $250,001 and $1 million per year for up to five years), and July 11, 2012 for small projects (up to $250,000 per year for up to three years). Up to $25 million total is available.

The NSF/NIH program is part of a federal “Big Data Research and Development Initiative,” announced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). To launch the initiative, six federal departments and agencies (NSF, NIH, the Department of Defense, DARPA, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the U.S. Geological Survey) will be announcing more than $200 million in new commitments.

A $10 million NSF award to researchers at UC Berkeley is one of the new awards announced in conjunction with the Big Data R&D Initiative, under the NSF Expeditions in Computing program.


March 27, 2012

New UCB Bakar Fellowships Program Supports Early Career Faculty: Applications Due April 23

UC Berkeley is offering a new program supports innovative research by early career faculty at UC Berkeley with a special focus on projects that hold commercial promise. The Bakar Fellows Program is open to tenure-track faculty at the assistant and associate professor level in the fields of engineering, computer science, chemistry, biological sciences, physical sciences, or multidisciplinary work in these disciplines.

Bakar Fellows will receive discretionary research support of $50,000 per year for up to five years. Fellows will become part of a campus network that assists researchers in introducing their discoveries to the market. Five fellowships will be awarded in 2012, and another five in 2013. Applications for 2012 are due on Monday, April 23, 2012. Applications for the 2013 cohort of Fellows will be due in spring 2013.

The program is managed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. The selection process involves both an academic advisory committee and an industry advisory committee.


March 01, 2012

Feds Ask for Comments on Proposed Reforms to Grant Policies

For the past year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and federal agencies have been working with stakeholders to develop ideas for reforming federal grantmaking processes to improve the accountability and performance of federal grants, while reducing administrative burden for grant recipients. This effort is in response to Presidential directive to strengthen accountability for taxpayer dollars and reduce unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens.

On February 28, OMB published a Federal Register notice requesting comments on a collection of ideas for potential reforms to OMB circulars, including A-21, A-133, and A-110. The list includes ideas that would standardize information collection across agencies, adopt a risk-based model for single audits, and provide new administrative approaches for determining and monitoring fund allocation.

Based on feedback, OMB plans to develop a set of proposed amendments to publish for public comment later this year. OMB is also considering implementing reforms through the development of one integrated set of guidelines issued as one consolidated circular, with limited variations by type of entity.

Additional key proposed reforms include:

  • For indirect (“facilities and administrative”) costs, using flat rates instead of negotiated rates
  • Exploring alternatives to time-and-effort reporting requirements for salaries and wages
  • Charging directly allocable administrative support as a direct cost
  • Including the cost of certain computing devices as allowable direct cost supplies
  • Requiring agencies to provide 90-day notice of funding opportunities
  • Providing a standard format for announcements of funding opportunities
Comments are due by March 29, 2012, and may be submitted to

March 23 update: OMB has extended the comment period to April 30, 2012.