This is the letter from SARA, a short update for NASA scientists. After much hard work from all of the program officers in the science mission directorate and editing by Paul Hertz and myself, we have completed the draft version of our omnibus solicitation, Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Science (ROSES) – 2009, which will be released in mid-February. The big changes coming compared with this year are:
1. Relevance Simplification. Under ROSES 2009 you will only have to argue relevance to that particular program, and need not include generic statements of relevance to NASA’s broader goals. We wouldn’t solicit proposals in a certain area if it were inconsistent with our strategic plan, so you don’t have to waste a paragraph telling us that it is. See ROSES for details.
2. No proposals for conferences. Some program elements called for proposals for topical conferences, workshops, consortia, symposia. Such proposals will not be considered by any ROSES program elements in 2009.
3. Ban on general purpose equipment only for > $ 5000. The guidebook for proposers currently bans “General-purpose equipment (i.e., personal computers and/or commercial software)” as a direct cost without “written certification that the equipment will be used exclusively for the proposed research activities and not for general business or administrative purposes.” Otherwise such things were to be purchased out of “overhead”, but many institutions simply don’t have funds for purchasing computers in this manner. Starting in ROSES 2009 general-purpose equipment that costs less than $ 5000 will be exempt from this rule, and this will be reflected in the new guidebook for proposers.
4. In ROSES 2009 we will be providing estimated start date for awards. We are doing this for the folks at NASA centers where the funds must be spent in the same fiscal year in which they are received. Proposers from NASA centers are requested to describe in which fiscal year(s) they would like their funds to arrive. Recipients of grants, contracts and inter-agency transfers need not be concerned about this.
One thing that will not be changing is the redaction of budgets. We will continue to show the budget details to reviewers. However, reviewers will be told not to concentrate on salary levels, fringe benefit rates, and overhead rates, but rather to focus on the cost reasonableness and realism of work effort (and procurements) to carry out the proposed investigation.
We here at SMD hope that you all have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Max (a.k.a. SARA)