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Research Updates from the CSU

Revised Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide

On January 26, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will implement changes in FastLane to support the revised version of the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and to run additional automated compliance checks on proposals.

Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 15-1)

A revised PAPPG was issued on November 20, 2014, which incorporates OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), as well as other policy updates. The following changes will be made to FastLane to support the revised PAPPG:

  • Budget Form Update: The budget form will be updated so that the “Residual Funds” line (Line K) will not be editable for all programs except Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR). As this field is currently used for the purpose of collecting fees, “Residual Funds” will be renamed to “Small Business Fee.”
  • Budget Justification Upload: Budget justification can no longer be entered as text. Awardees will be required to upload a budget justification for each organization added to the budget via an upload screen. Already, 95% of proposers take advantage of the upload option.
  • Cost Sharing Notifications Requirement: The existing requirement that only awards with cost sharing of $500,000 or more must submit a cost sharing certificate will be modified to support the revised policy which specifies that cost sharing notifications must be submitted by all awardees with awards that include cost sharing.
  • New Funding Mechanism: The FastLane proposal cover sheet will be updated to include the new funding mechanism type, Ideas Lab. Ideas Lab is designed to support the development and implementation of creative and innovative project ideas. These projects will typically be high-risk/high-impact as they represent new and unproven ideas, approaches, and/or technologies.

Automated Compliance Checks

FastLane will begin to run an additional 24 automated compliance checks on proposals to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the PAPPG, Chapter II.C.2 of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG). These checks will validate a proposal for compliance with page count, proposal sections per type of funding mechanism and budget related rules for proposals submitted in response to the GPG, Program Announcements and Program Descriptions. At this time, these checks will not be enforced for proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations.

  • Page Count: Page count rules will be enforced on the following proposal sections:
  • Project Description: 15-page limit [exceptions: 8-page limit for Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and 5-page limit for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)]
  • Budget Justification: 3-page limit for the proposing institution and a separate, 3-page limit for each sub-recipient organization
  • Mentoring Plan: 1-page limit
  • Data Management Plan: 2-page limit
  • Budget: Budget-related checks will focus primarily on proposal duration and requested amount. For example, the system will enforce a maximum requested amount of $200,000 for a RAPID proposal and $300,000 for an EAGER proposal.
  • Proposal Section: Proposal sections will be enforced by their funding mechanism for Program Announcement, Program Description and other GPG-type funding opportunities. For example, an error message will appear if a Project Description was not provided for an EAGER proposal.

The checks detailed above will be triggered when the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions are selected by a proposer or proposing organization. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message will display when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the organization will not be able to submit the proposal until it is compliant. To view a detailed list of all compliance checks, click here.

Uniform Guidance: Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

On December 26, 2013, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in the Federal Register. This “Uniform Guidance” replaces the administrative, accounting, audit rules and principles currently promulgated in the OMB Circulars, including A-21, A-110, and A-133.  The implementation of Uniform Guidance on December 26, 2014 will affect the daily administration at all institutions of higher education that conduct federally-supported research, including the California State University system.  The CSU HUGE (Harnessing Uniform Guidance Effectively) team has developed a PI quick reference guide. Please feel free to adapt the guide to fit your campus needs.

CSU policy statement regarding the implementation of the Federal Government’s Uniform Guidance, Code of Federal Regulations, Title 2, Section 200 (2 CFR 200) – effective December 26, 2014. One of the requirements of implementation is to identify whether you will follow OMB Circular A-110 for procurement standards or the new procurement standards in the Uniform Guidance. In the announcement we have elected to continue under A-110 until the UG effective date for procurement standard implementation of 7/1/16, while giving each campus/auxiliary the option of implementing the UG standards earlier.

Revised NSF Grants.gov Application Guide

A revised version of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide has been posted to the NSF website and is available electronically. This document is applicable to all applications submitted, or due, to NSF on or after December 26, 2014. Please refer to Page 2 of the Guide for a summary of the significant changes, clarifications and other changes. Any questions regarding the new Guide should be submitted electronically to policy@nsf.gov.

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