Reminder: Project Reports Required for New and Continuing Funding


Note: This is an edited version of a post originally appearing on May 20, 2014.

This is a critical reminder for anyone who currently has a continuing grant[i] OR has been (hopes to be) recommended for funding in the remainder of fiscal year 2016 (i.e. now through October 1, 2016).

We need you to complete your reports now for projects funded in prior years, up to and including FY 2015, in order to release FY 2016 funds.

What will happen if I fail to submit my report?

Failure to do so may result in cancellation of expected funds.

How do I know if this applies to me?

There are two ways this can apply to you:

1) According to Research.gov, you have a report that is already overdue or will become overdue on or before October 15, 2016. Regardless of the date shown on Research.gov it is now overdue to us.

2) You received a formal award letter between May 1 and October 15 of a prior year but requested a late starting date AND have a report that will become due before October 15th, 2016 AND have not completed the report, it is now overdue to us.

For example, if you requested a late starting date well into the next fiscal year, say Jan. 1, 2016, but received the formal award notice on September 1 of 2015, you were funded initially by FY2015 funds. According to Research.gov, your report is due on October 1, 2016. However, per the instructions from your PO you should have submitted that report by May 1, 2015, to obtain your FY2016 increment.

Please get your reports in immediately. This is not a new policy; we’ve been reminding you about this need for a couple of years now.

This requirement was spelled out in the congratulatory letter you should have received from your DEB Program Officer when your award began. Here’s a quick refresher, along with the relevant text from the current version of our congratulatory letter.

Refresher:

If you or your Co-PIs, are in arrears with respect to annual or final reports, NSF will not provide continuing funding increments, grant you any new awards, provide extensions on existing awards, or act on any post-award requests. We need to hear from you before we can release additional funds. This is hardwired into the NSF system and Research.gov.

Your award “anniversary” is not the report due date and never has been. The report is due BEFORE the anniversary date, at least 90 days before, even though you haven’t actually had a year to work on the project. This way, additional funds can become available by the award anniversary and you don’t experience a gap in planned funding. This gets complicated at the end of a fiscal year and even more complicated if you add a delay between receiving the award and your start date on top.

For annual reports, we request that you send us a progress report yearly 1-3 months before each anniversary date of your award and NO LATER THAN May 1 if your award is scheduled to receive an annual funding increment between May 1 and October 15. The May 1 date is driven by the annual fiscal cycle and allows the funds to be released before deadlines for closing our fiscal systems.

For final reports, you need to submit two documents: a final annual project report and a Project Outcomes Report for the General Public. Both are submitted via Research.gov at the close of your grant period, no later than 90 days after your award’s expiration date. Failure to do so prevents any PI or Co-PI associated with the project from receiving additional funds.

Text provided to PIs in congratulation letters at time of award:

Annual and Final Reports: You must send us a progress report yearly 1-3 months before each anniversary date of your award or by May 1 if your award has a start date earlier than October 15.

The terms of this grant require regular progress updates by an annual report through Research.gov. This annual report must be received and approved prior to your actual award anniversary date. Failure to do so, places you in an “overdue” status which will prevent additional award actions for you and any Co-PIs (including blocking additional funding) on this or other grants. Research.gov will remind you that this report is due starting 3 months prior to the anniversary date. However, because of the timing of the annual budget cycle, annual reports for any awards with an anniversary date between May 1 and October 15 are a special case. PIs of those awards must submit their reports by May 1 even if May 1 is more than 3 months before the anniversary. These special cases are not accurately reflected in Research.gov and will not receive an automated report reminder.

These reports must be submitted via Research.gov. The final report, project outcomes report, plus any additional technical summaries and/or publications, is due at the close of your grant period, no later than 90 days after your award’s expiration date.

In Appendix 1, found at the end of this email, we provide specific progress report requirements, as well as tips for tracking activities to make the report writing easier. It is important to remember that the Foundation will not release grant funds to you or process any actions on your awards (e.g., request for a no cost extension) if there are overdue reports for any grant on which you are a PI or Co-PI.

Project Outcomes Report for the General Public. Within 90 days of the expiration of the grant, a Project Outcomes report for the general public must be submitted electronically via Research.gov. This report is as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the general public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. Note that this report is submitted via Research.gov, and is not approved by NSF; rather, it is released directly to the public. For this reason we encourage you to be thoughtful and informative in describing the outcome of your project in non-technical language.

Appendix 1

Guidance for Preparing and Submitting Annual, Final, and Project Outcome Reports

Because you received funding, you will need to complete annual and final project reports through Research.gov. These reports are not cumulative, but are designed for you to report progress for each year of your project. The Final Report should include activities and findings from the final year of your project only; it should not summarize the entire project’s activities. These reports are often used by the NSF to show Congress the activities and contributions of PIs and to justify why funds should be allocated to NSF programs. Therefore, PIs should take all parts of reporting seriously. This appendix describes the NSF reporting requirements and provides hints on organizing your bookkeeping of activities to facilitate the creation of annual and final reports.

1. The roles that scientists play go far beyond producing scientific results, and similarly reports are not limited to the important scientific results you have obtained. NSF needs to know, and be able to describe, how its funded research contributes to the human-resource base for science and technology and especially, how it has provided a basic understanding of science to non-scientists. All training and outreach activities are an important component of every grant, and reviewers evaluated your grant proposal on these criteria. Accordingly, the reports should describe your training and outreach activities.

2. All training of undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, technicians, etc. on a grant needs to be reported. For the report, you will need to know the name, citizenship and email of every person who has worked on your project, whether or not they were paid by the grant. We need to know how these individuals have contributed to the project. Because it is often hard to remember all of the undergraduates who have worked in your lab through the years, it may be advisable to keep a summary list of participants and their contact information as they work on your grant. Be certain to list REU students as REUs, not simply as undergraduate students.

3. You will also need a summary list of all collaborators and collaborating organizations.

4. The Research.gov template will ask in more detail about training and outreach activities. These categories are very important. Some things to keep in mind include how your project has contributed to human resource development in science, engineering, and technology by how it:

  1. provides opportunities for research and teaching in science and engineering;
  2. improves the performance, skills, or attitudes of members of underrepresented groups in ways that will improve their access to or retention in research and teaching;
  3. develops and disseminates new educational materials;
  4. provides exposure to science and technology for pre-college teachers, young people, and other non-scientist members of the public. (It is often easy to forget to record all the times you reached out to high school teachers, etc. Good bookkeeping will save time!);
  5. contributes to regulatory policy or has other applications.

In all cases, keeping good summary lists will help in reporting your activities.

5. Remember that annual reports need to be submitted for all NSF grants 1-3 months before the anniversary date, and that all grants require a final report within 90 days after termination date. Research.gov is organized so that if you, your Co-PIs, or associated students are in arrears with respect to annual or final reports, NSF will not grant you any new awards, extensions on existing awards, or act on any post-award requests.

Similarly, after you submit your final report to NSF you are required to submit a final “outcomes report” on Research.gov.  The outcomes report is not reviewed by NSF; it is posted as a public document.  So, please take care to describe what was accomplished with your award in language that will be understood by the general public.

6. Interim reports can be submitted at any time to update the program director if warranted.
7. In addition to keeping track of your activities for annual and final progress reports, you should know that personally informing your Program Director about any and all important discoveries in your research is very important. Never hesitate to contact your Program Director to inform him/her about any results you feel are particularly exciting or interesting or about problems you may have encountered with your research. Often, this type of information is used in reports prepared by NSF to the higher administration, the White House, and Congress. We would also appreciate a heads up on any paper that will be appearing in Science, Nature, PNAS or the popular press. Please let us know about these upcoming publications as soon as the paper is accepted so we can coordinate publicity here at NSF.

We hope this information will be valuable to you in fulfilling your reporting requirements to the National Science Foundation.

[i] Any grant that is not distributed as a single lump-sum to the institution.

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