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Letters from SARA May 22, 2009

Description: Topics: A call for the Planetary Photogrammetry Guest Facility, the community announcement foretelling a Discovery Program Draft AO in June, budget details for grants, SMD guidelines under which program officers may sponsor conferences.

Dear Colleagues,

This is the letter from SARA, a short update for NASA scientists.  A web version of this email, with hypertext links, can be found at http://sara.nasa.gov and you can also subscribe to the web version of this letter via RSS feed.

In this email I (1) Highlight a call for the Planetary Photogrammetry Guest Facility at the USGS in Flagstaff, due May 31st (2) Draw your attention to the community announcement foretelling a Discovery Program Draft AO in June, (3) Review budget details for grants (4) Present the SMD guidelines under which program officers may sponsor conferences.

1) NASA and the US Geological Survey have jointly established a Planetary Photogrammetry Guest Facility at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona. Applications for the current fiscal year are due to Randolph Kirk of USGS by May 31 2009. You can read the announcement by going to http://sara.nasa.gov and clicking 'Grant Solicitations' on the left navigation bar: it's at the top of the page.

2) We have posted a community announcement foretelling a Discovery Program Draft AO in June. You can find it by going to http://sara.nasa.gov and clicking 'Grant Solicitations' on the left navigation bar: it's at the bottom of the page, under 'Future Solicitations'

3) The folks at the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) sometimes delay a grant asking for extra budget details. Happily, we have come to an agreement with them about using common sense standards and simple minimal requirements for rationalizing costs. For page charges and travel in particular, they recognize that you may not know what the expenses are going to be years in advance. The bottom line is that a quote is not needed for standard things; give the cost and minimal justification in the form of a URL, or an indication that you have assumed the costs are the same last year. For examples, see http://nasascience.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/faqs/#21.
(4) Since the NASA Appropriations Act clarified the spending cap on certain kinds of conferences, SMD is again permitting the sponsorship of scientific or technical conferences and education conferences at which NASA science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content is disseminated. However, before submitting a proposal for a conference you should read the section on Guidelines for SMD Conference Sponsorship in the recent conference spending memo by Associate Administrator (AA) Ed Weiler, which can be found at the SARA library page (go to http://sara.nasa.gov and click 'Library' on the left navigation bar and then search on the word conference). It presents guidelines to ensure that SMD supported conferences, "…in addition to advancing SMD’s goals and objectives, do not appear to be improper, inappropriate, or wasteful." Please note that the memo specifies that "… the size, location, duration, scheduling, and cost of the conference for both sponsors and attendees…"  must be  "and appear to be…appropriate." It is my personal opinion that, in particular, the AA will be paying attention to the conference setting; venues that might appear to be resort locations are less likely to be seen as consistent with the guidelines.

As always, many updates have been made to the SARA web page, including the list of program officer contact information, the latest grant statistics, and grant solicitations. You can now easily keep track of all Amendments, clarifications, and corrections to ROSES 2009 through a convenient ROSES 2009 RSS feed. See: http://sara.nasa.gov/whats-new for more information on what has changed on the SARA site.

Max Bernstein
E-mail SARA at NASA.gov

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