DEB Numbers: FY 2016 Wrap-Up

DEB Numbers: FY 2016 Wrap-Up


Fiscal year 2016 officially closed out on September 30. Now that we are past our panels in October and early November, we have a chance to look back and report on the DEB Core Program merit review and funding outcomes for FY 2016.

This post follows the format we’ve used in previous years. For a refresher, and lengthier discussions of the hows and whys of the metrics, you can visit the 2015,  2014, and 2013 numbers.

Read on to see how 2016 compares. Continue reading

Fall 2016 DEB Panels status: “When will I have a decision?” edition


DEB’s full proposal panels finished in early November (for those full proposals submitted back in July and August). So, when will you receive review results?

Some of you may have already heard from us. Others will be hearing “soon” (as detailed below).

Right now, all of our programs have synthesized the recommendations of their panels, considered their portfolios, and come up with their planned award and decline recommendations. These are then documented, sent through administrative review, and finally signed off, “concurred,” by the head or deputy for the Division.

DEB’s first priority is processing the decline notices. We’re trying to get your reviews back to you to provide as much time as possible to consider your options for January pre-proposal submissions.

For potential awards, it’s a bit more complicated. We expect award recommendation dates to be later this year than typical. At present, NSF is operating under a temporary budget measure, called a Continuing Resolution (or CR). The current CR runs through December 9, 2016. We won’t have significant funds available to cover new grants until a longer-term funding measure is enacted.

So, while we have a prioritized list of award recommendations, we don’t yet have the funds needed to take action on those recommendations. Moreover, we don’t know how much funding we’ll actually have available so uncertainty is part of the plan. Thus, between “definite award recommendation” and “definite decline recommendation” we have a recommendation gray zone.

How are we handling this?

If your proposal fell into the definite decline group, then you’ll be getting an official notice from DEB. Once the formal decline recommendation is approved, the system updates the proposal status in FastLane and queues up a notification email. We are planning to have all declines approved by December 20, 2016. Note: our IT system sends the notification emails in batches at the end of the day[i]. Thus, if you are frequently refreshing FastLane you will likely see the news there before you get a letter from us.

If your proposal fell into the definite award group or the gray zone, you will first be getting a call or email from your Program Officer. They will be letting you know what the plan is for your particular proposal and how you can get things ready (e.g., submitting budget revisions or abstract language) for an eventual award. Formal action, including the release of reviews, cannot happen until we have funding available. However, folks in this group should also hear from their Program Officers by December 20.

After December 20, if you have not received any communication from us, first check your spam folder and then look up your proposal number and give us a call. But please remember, the lead PI for a proposal or collaborative group is the designated point of contact; if you’re a co-PI you need to get in touch with the lead PI and have them inquire.


[i] We’re not totally sure why this is, but suspect it has to do with email traffic volume and security features: discriminating an intentional batch of emails from an account taken over by a bot.

Preliminary Proposal Evaluation Survey Reminder


TL;DR

Check your inbox.

Check your spam folder.

Complete the survey!

End the reminder messages.

 

Background (if the above doesn’t make sense to you).

This is about the Preliminary Proposal system in use in both NSF BIO’s Division of Environmental Biology and Division of Integrative Organismal Systems.

We are in the midst of an external evaluation of the effects of this system on the merit review process.

We posted an initial notification letter about stakeholder surveys. And, copies of this letter were sent out to everyone in the sample ahead of the formal invitations.

The formal survey invitations with the active survey links were sent out by mid-September from the evaluator, Abt Associates.

Reminder emails are also coming out and will continue to do so at regular interviews while the survey remains open and incomplete.

If you have been receiving these messages, please complete the survey. If your colleagues have been receiving these messages and have not completed the survey, encourage them to do so.

If you received an invitation to take the survey,

  • Please take the 10 or so minutes to register your responses via the link in the email.
  • Remember that these are single-use individualized links.
  • Your response matters. This isn’t a census: your invitation is part of a stratified random sample selected for inference to the population.

Thank you for your participation!

FYI: Merit Review Survey requests, check your inbox


Many (most?) of you likely have gotten an email from NSF asking you to take part in an upcoming survey.  This is a legitimate request. The email from NSF shouldn’t have an actual link to the survey; it’s just a notice that you will receive an invitation.  The actual invitation should follow today; it will be from NSF’s contractor, Insight Policy Research, and contain a link to the online survey. Continue reading

Panel Summaries: Panelist Guidance and PI Expectations


We’ve previously posted about what we are looking for in strong individual reviews of proposals. After receiving individual reviews, most proposals handled by DEB are brought to a panel meeting. After discussing a proposal, the panel prepares a document called the Panel Summary. In this post, we describe Panel Summaries, our goals in what we want them to communicate, and the steps DEB has recently taken to improve them.

What are Panel Summaries? (short version)

Continue reading

The Top 13 Questions on NSF IACUC Documentation


Many people in the DEB community work with vertebrate animals, and therefore require approval from their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) to conduct their research.

Since NSF does not oversee or regulate animal research, it is important for investigators to know that a project’s IACUC approval must be adequately documented before program officers can recommend an award for funding. In this blog post we offer answers to common questions regarding the NSF documenting procedures for IACUC protocols[1]. Continue reading

Are small grants doing well in review?


In contrast to the trend of decreasing numbers of preliminary proposals, we have seen a rapid increase in the category of Small Grant preliminary proposals (these are also included in the total counts in our previous post). Continue reading