February 27, 2013

Federal Budget Sequestration: NIH, NSF Issue Notices

The federal budget sequestration process was included in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which increased the debt limit, cut $1 trillion in discretionary appropriations through lower annual spending caps over nine years, and directed a committee to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in cuts to federal programs over fiscal years 2013-2021. This committee failed to reach an agreement, triggering sequestration to carry out the additional $1.2 trillion in cuts. The budget sequestration, set to begin in January 2013, was delayed until March 1, 2013 by Congressional passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

Federal agencies have begun to issue notices related to the potential impact of sequestration on grants and contracts.

Note: For updated information, see Impact of Federal Budget Sequestration on Sponsored Projects on the Sponsored Projects Office web site.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health published NIH Operation Plan in the Event of a Sequestration (NOT-OD-13-043) on February 21, 2013. This notice states the following.
“The NIH continues to operate under a Continuing Resolution as described in NOT-OD-13-002, and therefore all non-competing continuation awards are currently being funded at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level). Final levels of FY 2013 funding may be reduced by a sequestration. Despite the potential for reduced funding, the NIH remains committed to our mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

Should a sequestration occur, NIH likely will reduce the final FY 2013 funding levels of non-competing continuation grants and expects to make fewer competing awards to allow the agency to meet the available budget allocation. Although each NIH Institute and Center (IC) will assess allocations within their portfolio to maximize the scientific impact, non-competing continuation awards that have already been made may be restored above the current level as described in NOT-OD-13-002 but likely will not reach the full FY 2013 commitment level described in the Notice of Award. Finally, in the event of a sequestration, NIH ICs will announce their respective approaches to meeting the new budget level.”

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation issued Important Notice No. 133: Impact of FY 2013 Sequestration Order on NSF Awards on February 27, 2013. This notice to presidents of universities and colleges and heads of other NSF awardee institutions includes the following statement.
“At NSF, the major impact of sequestration will be seen in reductions to the number of new research grants and cooperative agreements awarded in FY 2013. We anticipate that the total number of new research grants will be reduced by approximately 1,000.

In keeping with the first core principle listed above, and to assure continuity and minimize disruption of scientific research, all continuing grant increments in FY 2013 will be awarded, as scheduled, and there will be no impact on existing NSF standard grants. The same intent applies to annual increments for cooperative agreements, though overall funding constraints may require reductions to certain major investments. These will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

It is also important to advise you that the Foundation is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will expire on March 27, 2013. Once NSF has appropriations in place beyond March 27th, we will revise this notice as necessary.”


NSF Workshop at UC Davis on April 25

The National Science Foundation and UC Davis will be holding a one-day workshop on Thursday, April 25, 2013, from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm at the UC Davis Conference Center.

This NSF Day workshop is primarily designed for researchers and educators less experienced in proposing to the NSF; however, more experienced proposers and NSF grantees may well find the workshop useful and informative. The workshop will provide an overview of NSF, its mission, priorities, and budget. It will cover the NSF proposal and merit review process and NSF programs that cut across disciplines. Additionally, representatives from the seven NSF directorates and the Office of International Science and Engineering and the Office of Integrative Activities will make presentations on their programs and will also be available informally and in breakout sessions for discussions of potential research proposals.

Registration is limited, so please register early. There is a registration fee of $35. See NSF Day at the University of California, Davis for more information.

February 26, 2013

Federal Public Access Policy Expanding

On February 22, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced a new policy to expand the federal public access policy.

OSTP Director John Holdren has “directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.” Each agency will have six months to submit a draft plan to OSTP.

The National Institutes of Health has had a public access policy in place since 2008. Direct Holdren stated, “while this new policy call does not insist that every agency copy the NIH approach exactly, it does ensure that similar policies will appear across government.”

The National Science Foundation issued a same-day response to the new policy, stating that NSF and other federal partners have a “commitment to expand public access to the results of its funded research” and that “NSF has already laid out a tentative timeline for consultation, planning, systems development, and changes to its policies, which will be fine-tuned over the coming months.”


February 14 Research Advocate: NIH Public Access Policy Applies to Awards with July 1 Start Dates

February 25, 2013

Proposal Information: Change in Congressional District, State Assembly District

In January 2013, the U. S. Congressional District for the Berkeley campus changed from the 9th to 13th District, and the California State Assembly District changed from the 14th to the 15th.

Please use the following information for all future proposals:

U.S. Congressional District: 13th
State Assembly District: 15th
State Senate District: 9th

For more information, see:

February 23, 2013

Participant Support Costs in NSF REUs

The National Science Foundation has released a revised Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program Announcement (NSF 13-542). Effective with this REU Program Announcement, NSF no longer permits the recovery of indirect costs on Participant Support Costs in REU awards. NSF states:
“Recovery of indirect costs (F&A) is prohibited on Participant Support Costs in REU Site proposals and REU Supplemental funding requests. This limitation may entail mandatory committed cost sharing by the institution. In such cases, it constitutes an exception to NSF’s cost sharing policy.”
Reminder from the Sponsored Projects Office:

Until a formal change in NSF policy on this issue is announced, UC Berkeley PIs should act in accordance with the following NSF written guidance and not charge F&A on participant support costs, except under exceptional circumstances with the prior approval of NSF.
“(iv) Generally, indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on participant support costs. However, an allowance for indirect costs associated with participant support costs may be established or negotiated in advance when circumstances indicate that the grantee could be expected to incur significant expenses in administering participant payments (other than salary or other direct expenses being reimbursed under the award.”

February 20, 2013

NSF FastLane Begins Automated Proposal Compliance Checking on March 18

Beginning March 18, 2013, the National Science Foundation FastLane system will begin automated compliance checking of all sections of proposals required in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The required sections include: Project Summary; Budget Justification; Project Description; Current and Pending Support; References Cited; Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources; Biographical Sketch(es); Data Management Plan; Budget; Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan (if applicable).

Proposal submission instructions for conferences, symposia, or workshops; international travel grants; or program solicitations may deviate from the GPG instructions. If the submission instructions do not require one of the above sections to be provided, proposers will need to insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal that states, “Not Applicable.”

Additionally, proposers providing Biographical Sketches and/or Current and Pending Support information for Principal Investigators (PIs), co-PI(s), or Senior Personnel in a single PDF file associated with the PI must insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal that states, “Not Applicable,” for any co-PI or Senior Personnel, so that FastLane will accept the proposal.

PIs will receive a warning message if any of the GPG-required sections is missing, however, the PI will still be able to submit the proposal to the Sponsored Project Office. If SPO attempts to submit a proposal that is missing any of the GPG-required sections, FastLane will prevent submission to NSF. SPO must obtain all required sections and then submit the proposal in FastLane by the NSF deadline.

Proposals submitted through Grants.gov must include all GPG-required sections or include a document stating that the section is “Not Applicable.”

For additional information, see Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals. NSF is hosting an NSF Proposal Submission and Project Report Update - Webinar on March 8 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm PST; contact NSF to participate.

February 14, 2013

NIH Public Access Policy Applies to Awards with July 1 Start Dates

The National Institutes of Health has published Changes to Public Access Policy Compliance Efforts Apply to All Awards with Anticipated Start Dates on or after July 1, 2013 (NOT-OD-13-042):

For non-competing continuation grant awards with a start date of July 1, 2013 or beyond:
  1. NIH will delay processing of an award if publications arising from it are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy.
  2. Investigators will need to use My NCBI to enter papers onto progress reports.  Papers can be associated electronically using the RPPR, or included in the PHS 2590 using the My NCBI generated PDF report.
For more information, see Upcoming Changes to Public Access Policy Reporting Requirements and Related NIH Efforts to Enhance Compliance (NOT-OD-12-160).

The NIH Rock Talk post, Update on NIH’s Public Access Policy, provides additional details and resources.

November 20, 2012 Research Advocate: NIH Changing Public Access Policy Reporting Requirements

February 04, 2013

Statement of Economic Interests (700-U) Form Revised for 2013

The State of California has issued a revised 700-U Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators for immediate use. The revised form, dated 2012/2013, is available on the Conflict of Interest Committee web site and is the only version that will now be accepted. If you have any questions please contact Jyl Baldwin (jbaldwin@berkeley.edu, 2-8110). This year, no changes have been made to the form itself, and there are no substantive changes to the instructions.

State of California law requires disclosure of financial interest in the sponsor of a research project; the donor of a research gift; and, under certain circumstances, the provider of materials under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) when that sponsor, donor, or provider is a non-governmental source. For research projects, the Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators (Form 700-U) should accompany the proposal and Proposal Review Form to the Sponsored Projects Office or to the Industry Alliances Office. For MTAs, the Form 700-U should accompany the Material Transfer Agreement Review Form to the Industry Alliances Office.