Can People at Other Agencies Submit to NSF Programs?

Can researchers at USDA, a National Lab, the Smithsonian, or those in other federal positions be funded? If so, how?

Are you a federal employee whose work might fit an NSF program? Perhaps you are a scientist at a college or university looking to work with a federal employee on an NSF proposal. Can you? How?

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) – Boulder, CO. an NSF-supported FFRDC.

What to Know Before Preparing a Proposal

First, always read the specifications on who can apply listed in the solicitation. These can and often are more restrictive than anything below so be sure to first check them out.

As noted in Chapter I.E.2(d) of  the new NSF Proposal and Awards Polices & Procedures Guide (PAPPG, NSF 23-1), NSF does not normally support research or education activities by scientists, engineers or educators employed by Federal agencies or Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) but there are exceptions.

For example, researchers, engineers, and educators with dual appointments—one with an institution of higher education (IHE) and one at a federal agency or FFRDC (e.g., at a university and a Veterans Administration Hospital)—may submit proposals directly through the IHE. In this case, though, you must first contact the cognizant program officer(s) (POs) overseeing the program to which the proposal is submitted before preparing a submission.

In addition, research by scientists from federal agencies or FFRDC may be supported if:

  • the agency or FFRDC can make unique contributions to the needs of researchers elsewhere or to other specific NSF objectives.
  • the agency or FFRDC is providing logistical support needed to meet the goals of special national and international research programs for which NSF bears responsibility (e.g., the U.S. Antarctic Program).
  • the staff researchers of other federal agencies are helping to ensure appropriate representation or availability of a particular expertise at an international conference (in this case the funding would be through an NSF international travel award).

Again, you must contact the cognizant PO if you think your project meets one or more of these exceptions before preparing a submission.

What to Know When Preparing a Proposal

If an exception is determined, it is important to discuss the various options of proposal submission and eligible costs that can be requested with a PO prior to submitting.

Still have questions?
We always encourage you to reach out to an NSF PO. They are ready to help and answer your questions so that you have all the necessary information before preparing a submission. 

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