NSF Initiates New Pilot Requiring the Use of a Template for Identifying Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information

On April 24, 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiated a new pilot requiring the use of a template for identifying Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) information for Principal Investigators (PIs), co-PIs, and other senior project personnel identified on proposals submitted in FastLane.

The NSF Proposal and Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 17-1) requires PIs, co-PIs, and other senior project personnel identified on NSF proposals to individually upload COA information as a Single Copy Document (see PAPPG Chapter II.C.1e).

NSF uses this information during the merit review process to help manage reviewer selection. To expedite identification of potential reviewers, having a standard, searchable format for this information is essential. The new pilot will standardize COA information across NSF and will ensure that the information is submitted in a searchable format. Results from the pilot will be assessed and will determine how to proceed with this section of the proposal in the future.

Effective April 24, 2017, NSF will require the submission of a template to identify collaborators and other affiliations. Please note that the template

  • has been developed to be fillable. However, the content and format requirements must not be altered by submitters;
  • must be saved in .xlsx or .xls formats and directly uploaded into FastLane as a Collaborators and Other Affiliations Single Copy Document;
  • will be converted by FastLane from an .xlsx or .xls file to a PDF file;
  • has been tested in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and LibreOffice;
  • will enable preservation of searchable text that otherwise would be lost. Must be uploaded in .xlsx or .xls formats only. Uploading a COA Single Copy Document in any other format may delay the timely processing and review of proposals; and
  • will be directly linked in FastLane. The template and associated instructions may also be accessed directly at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/coa.jsp.

In addition to the merit review process benefits, the COA template will reduce administrative burden and improve efficiencies by providing submitters with a compliant and reusable format to maintain this information for use in subsequent proposal submissions to NSF.

Please be advised that the new COA pilot beginning on April 24 will only be for FastLane proposal submissions. Grants.gov proposal submissions will continue to follow the instructions in NSF Grants.gov Application Guide Chapter VI.2.4.

The new spreadsheet template is part of a pilot activity, and NSF wants your feedback on the use of the template to submit COA information in FastLane. NSF will be collecting your template feedback via Research.gov until COB July 14, 2017.

This timeline will allow NSF to incorporate any changes to the Collaborators and Other Affiliations information requirement into the next PAPPG, which is scheduled to go into effect in January 2018. To submit COA template feedback:

  • Go to the Research.gov Feedback page.
  • Choose “Collaborators & Other Affiliations (COA)” under the Site Area dropdown menu.
  • Include your feedback in the Comments or Suggestions field.
  • Click Submit when you are ready to send your feedback to NSF.

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. For system-related questions, please contact FastLane User Support at 1-800-673-6188 or fastlane@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions regarding the content of the COA template, should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.