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Increasing Award Size and Duration
in the Directorate for Geosciences

As stated in the National Science Foundation's Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Strategic Plan for Fiscal Year 2001- 2006, one of the implementation strategies for operating a credible, efficient merit review system is to "reduce the burden on proposers and reviewers while maintaining the quality of decision processes, by increasing award size and duration."

The escalating complexity of science and engineering is moving research toward a collaborative mode with greater focus on intellectual integration. NSF grants must be of sufficient size and duration to enable this collaboration and permit complex issues to be addressed. In addition, writing and reviewing proposals takes valuable time that researchers and educators could better spend in carrying their agendas forward. The National Science Foundation seeks to reduce the burden on proposers and reviewers while maintaining the quality of decision processes and more fully enabling the discovery process by increasing both the size and duration of awards.

For the Foundation overall, it is intended that annual award size increase to $150,000 and that award duration increase to 4 years. Hence the average award would total $600,000.

It is important to NSF that overall proposal success rates be maintained, thus to minimize any short-term negative impacts of implementing this change, the increase in award size and duration will be phased in over a five-year period and new funds are being requested to cover increased research costs.

Over the five-year implementation period, NSF will be working with proposers, reviewers, and staff to ensure that proposals requesting amounts and award durations above those that have traditionally been awarded are properly reviewed. While proposals for larger and longer awards will not be treated preferentially, reviewers will be notified that NSF is seeking to change the way science is conducted by more fully enabling individual projects, and that moving to larger and longer awards is a part of this process.

The Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) fully supports the Foundation's plan to increase award size and duration and will work with its communities to implement these changes over the coming months and years. Since each of the three Division's within GEO (Atmospheric, Earth and Ocean Sciences) have varying average award sizes and durations, we are not setting separate targets for the Directorate or the Divisions. Our goal is to incrementally increase award size and duration through the research programs. GEO Program Officers will work with Principal Investigators and reviewers to more fully fund research projects to allow adequate resources in terms of time and financial support for items such as technicians, graduate students and instrumentation.

NSF Celebrating 50 Years Directorate for Geosciences, NSF
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Last Modified:
Apr 16, 2004

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