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May 4 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites public review and comment to OMB by June 3, 2021 regarding the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Proposal Review Form, and Proposal Reviewer Form.

The Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)  is comprised of documents relating to the Foundation's proposal and award process. In FY 2021, NSF expects to receive more than 43,500 proposals annually for new or renewal support for research in math/science/engineering education projects and make approximately 10,700 new awards.  The Foundation exercises its authority primarily by making merit-based grants and cooperative agreements and providing other forms of assistance to individual researchers and groups, in partnership with about 1,800 colleges, universities and other institutions – public and private, state, local and federal – throughout the United States.  The information collected on gender, race, ethnicity, or disability is used in meeting NSF needs for data to permit response to congressional and other queries into equity issues.  Demographic data allows NSF to gauge whether our programs and other opportunities in science and technology are fairly reaching and benefiting everyone regardless of demographic category; to ensure that those in under-represented groups have the same knowledge of and access to programs and other research and educational opportunities; and to assess involvement of international investigators in work supported by NSF.

The information collected on the proposal evaluation forms is used by the Foundation in applying the following criteria when awarding or declining proposals submitted to the agency: (1) intellectual merit; and (2) the broader impacts of the proposed activity.  

The information collected on reviewer background questionnaires is used by managers to maintain an automated database of reviewers for the many disciplines represented by the proposals submitted to the Foundation.  Information collected on gender, race, ethnicity, and disability status is used in meeting NSF needs for data to permit response to congressional and other queries into equity issues.  These data are also used in the design, implementation, and monitoring of NSF efforts to increase the participation of various groups in science, engineering, and education.

There are 120,621 individual researchers and organizations registered in NSF electronic systems.  In FY 2020, 53,491 competitive proposals were submitted electronically to NSF, either via FastLane, Research.gov or Grants.gov.  Electronic submission accounts for 99.9% of all proposals submitted to NSF. In addition, 170,882 reviews were submitted electronically, in FY 2020. It has been estimated that the public expends an average of approximately 120 burden hours for each proposal submitted.  Since the Foundation expects to receive approximately 43,500 proposals in FY 2021, an estimated 5,220,000 burden hours will be placed on the public.  It has been estimated that anywhere from one hour to 20 hours may be required to review a proposal.  We have estimated that approximately 5 hours are required to review an average proposal.  Each proposal receives an average of 3 reviews, resulting in approximately 652,500 burden hours each year.

Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), June 2020 https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf20001
PAPPG submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202104-3145-001 Click on IC List for PAPPG, Proposal Review Form, and Proposal Reviewer Form, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation
Spreadsheet of 71 comments received by NSF, with responses: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=111319800
FR notice inviting public comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/05/04/2021-09388/agency-information-collection-activities-comment-request

For AEA members wishing to provide comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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