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Incentive payments, for example, payments to human subjects or incentives to promote completion of a survey, should be included on line G6 of the NSF budget. Incentive payments should be proposed in accordance with organizational policies and procedures. Indirect costs should be calculated on incentive payments in accordance with the organization's approved US Federally negotiated indirect cost rate(s). Performance based incentive payments to employees as described in 2 CFR §200.430(f) should not be included in this section of the budget.

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Required sections of the proposal differ based on the organization’s role. The following sections are required for a collaborative proposal submitted by:


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Domestic proposing organizations that do not have a current negotiated rate agreement with a cognizant Federal agency, and who are requesting more than a 10% recovery of modified total direct costs should prepare an indirect cost proposal based on expenditures for its most recently ended fiscal year. Based on the information provided in the indirect cost proposal, NSF may negotiate an award-specific rate to be used only on the award currently being considered for funding. No supporting documentation is required for proposed rates of 10% or less of modified total direct costs. The contents and financial data included in indirect cost proposals vary according to the make-up of the proposing organization. Instructions for preparing an indirect cost rate proposal can be found at: . NSF formally negotiates indirect cost rates for the organizations for which NSF has rate cognizance. NSF does not negotiate rates for organizations that are not direct recipients of NSF funding (e.g., subrecipients). The prime grantee is responsible for ensuring that proposed subrecipient costs, including indirect costs, are reasonable and appropriate.


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The Project Description should outline the general plan of work, including the broad design of activities to be undertaken, and, where appropriate, provide a clear description of experimental methods and procedures. Proposers should address what they want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified. These issues apply to both the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions.

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If the proposal is a renewal proposal, or an accomplishment-based renewal proposal, the applicable box must be checked. If yes, the proposer will be requested to select the applicable previous award number.

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As an integral part of its responsibility for strengthening the science and engineering infrastructure of the country, NSF provides support for the construction and operation of major research equipment and facilities. NSF depends on the research communities to provide the justification, planning, development, and implementation of facility projects. This normally occurs through National Academies studies, workshop reports, professional society activities, and other community-based mechanisms, including engineering studies and research projects related to the development of new technologies. Many of these mechanisms are funded by interested NSF Programs on the basis of merit-reviewed proposals. Construction funding depends on the scale of the proposed facility. For large facilities construction, the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account is one option. Proposers are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate NSF Program to discuss the availability of funding and the appropriate funding mechanisms in advance of proposal submission. The Large Facilities Manual (LFM), a public document managed by the Large Facilities Office, contains NSF policy on the planning and management of large facility projects. The policies in the LFM apply to all large facility projects funded by NSF. The purpose of the LFM is to: (1) provide guidance for NSF staff and awardees to carry out effective project planning, management, assistance, assurance, and oversight of large facilities; (2) clearly state the policies, requirements, and recommended procedures pertinent at each stage of a facility’s life cycle, and (3) document best practices that ensure accountability and effectiveness of the program.