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Feb 14 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites comments to OMB by March 17, 2023 regarding the proposed information collection for evaluating NSF partnership activities.

Building partnerships is a high priority for NSF, as evidenced by two consecutive Agency Priority Goals (APGs for FY 2018 and FY 2020) focused on developing a partnerships strategy. The importance of partnerships is also echoed in the recent National Science Board's Vision 2030 report and reflected in the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). Partnerships are hypothesized to accelerate discovery in several ways: they can enable access to expertise, resources, and infrastructure; accelerate the flow of knowledge and expertise; and expand communities of researchers. NSF direct partnerships are established by NSF with other federal agencies, industry, private foundations, non-governmental organizations, and foreign science agencies.

NSF is requesting OMB approval for the NSF to collect information from past and present participants and partners in NSF partnership programs. The information collection will enable the Evaluation and Assessment Capability (EAC) Section within NSF to garner quantitative and qualitative information that will be used to inform programmatic improvements related to partnership models at NSF including partnerships between NSF and other entities and funding opportunities that require or encourage partnerships between grantees. This information collection, which entails collecting information from relevant NSF grantees and partners, is in accordance with the Agency's commitment to improving service delivery as well as the Agency's strategic goal to “advance the capability of the Nation to meet current and future challenges.”

The data collected will be used for NSF internal and external reports related to partnerships, program level studies, and evaluations. These outputs will inform decisions NSF makes regarding future activities.

Respondents: Participants in NSF grants (principal investigators, partners, research personnel, etc.). Partners involved in NSF partnership programs.

Estimated Number of Respondents: 171 [FRN says 300 in error.]

The purpose of this work is to identify and measure the outputs and outcomes of NSF partnerships in which NSF has a direct relationship with the private sector partner and to identify ways to enhance the outputs and outcomes. NSF seeks to determine the benefits (if any) realized by stakeholders (NSF, its partners, the research community, or others) that result from NSF partnerships, that is, benefits that would not have materialized in the absence of NSF partnership efforts. Specifically, NSF is interested in gathering evidence to help answer these questions related to NSF-direct partnerships:  

-- What are the benefits, if any, to the investigators in the projects funded by NSF-direct partnerships? 
-- What are the benefits, if any, to NSF from NSF-direct partnerships? 
-- What are the benefits, if any, to the industry partners from partnering with NSF? 
-- What are the benefits, if any, to the area of research involved in the partnership? 
-- How do any benefits to the above entities differ from benefits associated with awards from programs not supported by an NSF-direct partnership?  
-- What improvements could make these partnership programs more effective or easier to implement? 

The information will be used to report on outcomes of projects and to inform programmatic improvements related to partnership models. This information will be crucial to understanding the role of industry partnerships with NSF.
 
The study will use human-assisted machine learning and text analytics techniques to develop a database with basic descriptive information about the in-scope projects. Extant documents will include funded proposals and annual reports submitted through the Research Performance progress report system. These documents will be used to code basic descriptive information about industry involvement, participants, outputs, and outcomes. This will reduce the need to ask these questions on the survey or during the interviews.   
 
The universe of respondents consists of participants in NSF grant programs (principal investigators, partners, research personnel, industry partners, etc.) for the following programs:  

-- NSF/Intel Partnership on Visual and Experiential Computing (Solicitation 15-518 https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15518/nsf15518.htm)
-- NSF/VMware Partnership on Software Defined Infrastructure as a Foundation for Clean-Slate Computing Security (Solicitation 16-582 https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2016/nsf16582/nsf16582.htm)
-- Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace: Secure, Trustworthy, Assured and Resilient Semiconductors and Systems (Solicitation 14-528 https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14528/nsf14528.htm)
-- Partnership on Cyber-Physical Systems Security and Privacy (CPS-Security) – (Solicitation 14-571 https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14571/nsf14571.htm)

28 projects comprise this universe.

84 comparison projects will be chosen based on following structural characteristics:  

Research area (i.e., subfield of computer science and engineering);
Program element code;  
Principal investigator (PI) experience level and history of prior funding;  
Co-PI experience level and history of prior funding;  
Institution/institution type;  
Date of solicitation;  
Date of award; and  
Award amount.   

It is estimated that 171 participants, from a total of up to 28 treatment projects and 28 comparison projects, will be interviewed, with up to 4 individuals for each of the 28 treatment projects and up to 3 individuals for 59 comparison projects (based on a response rate of 70 percent for individuals from the comparison projects). Data will be collected by a third-party contractors [Westat and RAND].

Interview data will be analyzed descriptively and summarized in two formats: a final written report that includes a complete set of detailed findings and a briefing at NSF that summarizes findings across all data collection activities.    

Evaluation and Assessment Capability (EAC) Section: https://beta.nsf.gov/od/oia/eac
NSF submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202302-3145-001 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-03047 [Note: NSF has been alerted that the FRN contains several consequential typographical errors. A correction may be forthcoming.]

For AEA members wishing to submit 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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