Calling Your Program Officer: The Need to Establish Close Ties

To call or not to call? The decision to contact an agency can make or break a project. Often, faculty do not call or email a program officer about a pending proposal, or if they do, they fail to ask key questions.

Program officers have shared their disappointment at receiving a proposal that might have been fundable but missed key information in the RFP that would have been caught in a conversation, or if the program officer had gotten to read a draft. Some RFPs require interpretation, and others have hidden requirements that only personal contact will bring out.

In other instances, what looks like a good fit based on the RFP or on a web page may have a very different backstory that can be learned in a few minutes on the phone with a program officer. Faculty members can invest hours in proposal development, only to learn later that the idea was outside of the agency’s area of consideration.

Contacting an agency also shows you are serious about the process, especially when you have good questions. Calling and asking questions can save a lot of time. Some key questions you can ask program officers include the following:

  • Does this program still exist and is it funded? Is there still funding available for a new program? A call to the program officer will reveal the agency’s intent.
  • Is my institution the right applicant? In some cases, the RFP may state that institutions of higher education are eligible, but when the funding list comes out, nonprofit agencies other than colleges and universities may dominate.
  • Are certain types of expenses allowed/or not allowed? Finding out the key areas that can and cannot be put in the budget of a grant can help produce a winning proposal, particularly when funding is tight and competition is fierce.
  • Is there a match required for this proposal? What kinds of resources count toward a match (Cash? In-kind contributions?) How do commitments need to be documented at the time of grant submission? Agencies are idiosyncratic in how they view cost-sharing, and missing this key detail can cost you project funding.
  • How is this project going to be evaluated? What evidence of impact/success will be needed as part of the project, which therefore needs to be built into the evaluation component of the application. Agencies are increasingly looking for evidence that the program “makes a difference,” but this can be highly agency- and program-specific.

Even if your proposal is not funded, keep in contact with the agency. Request the comments on the proposal, and if there are questions, contact the program officer to clarify why you were denied. While it depends on the agency and individual, program officers can give you tips for the next time, and help interpret your chances of approval in the future.

If funded, the relationship with the program officer (or other representative of the funding agency) changes. This person will form part of the team that monitors your progress on the project. Always keep in contact with a program officer after being funded—do not make program officers come looking for you.

In summary, the relationships you build and manage with program officers will contribute to your long-term success.

Excerpted from “Reach Out to Your Program Officer,” by Russell Olwell, Inside Higher Ed, an online source for news, opinion, and jobs for all of higher education

Florida Minority Cancer Research and Training Center Announces Grand Opening

The executive leadership, program directors, and council/committee members of the Florida Minority Cancer Research and Training (MiCaRT) Center are pleased to announce the grand opening of the MiCaRT Center, February 16–20, at the University of Florida.

Highlights of the event include the following:

  • Breakfast and Informational Session at the Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy (HPNP) Atrium on Feb 16.
  • Dinner and Prostate Cancer Disparities Research Retreat at HPNP on Feb 17.
  • Lunch and Cancer Health Disparities Research Showcase (poster presentations) for UF and FAMU investigators at the Cancer and Genetics Research Complex (CGRC) Atrium on Feb 18. If you are interested in participating in the research showcase, please forward the following documents to K. Cameron Schiller at by Thursday, Feb 12:
    1. Name, dept/college affiliation, and email address
    2. NIH bio with personal statement that clearly specifies expertise
    3. Expressed interest in poster presentation
  • Virtual Open House on Feb 19.
  • Lunch and Distinguished Lecture by renowned breast cancer scientist, Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade (University of Chicago), at CGRC on Feb 20.

View the complete Grand Opening Celebration announcement on the UFHealth website.

To view the keynote presentations via web video streaming, access as follows:

Feb 17, 4:005:00pm:

Dr. Camille Ragin (Investigating Prostate Cancer Risk in Black men: What Really Matters?)

Feb 18, 11:00 am 12:30pm:

Dr. Clayton Yates (Impact of Epigenetic Regulators on the Outcome of African American Prostate & Breast Cancer Patients)

The Florida MiCaRT Center is an NIH/National Cancer Institute collaborative partnership between University of Florida and Florida A&M University (NIH/NCI P20CA192992)

NSF Completes Updates to FastLane and

On January 26, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released updates to FastLane and

A revised version of the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 15-1) was issued on November 20, 2014, which incorporates the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), as well as other policy updates. FastLane and have been updated to support the revised PAPPG.

Updates to FastLane

The following changes have been made to FastLane:

  • Budget Form Update: The budget form has been updated so that the “Residual Funds” line (Line K) is not editable for all programs except Small Business as such “Residual Funds” has been renamed to “Small Business Fee.”
  • Budget Justification Upload: The budget justification can no longer be entered as text. Awardees are required to upload a budget justification for each organization added to the budget via an upload screen.
  • Cost Sharing Notifications Requirement: The requirement that only awards with cost sharing of $500,000 or more must submit a cost sharing certificate has been modified to support the revised policy which specifies that cost sharing notifications must be submitted by all awardees with awards that include cost sharing.
  • New Funding Mechanism: The FastLane proposal cover sheet has been updated to include the new funding mechanism type, Ideas Lab. Ideas Lab is designed to support the development and implementation of creative and innovative project ideas. These projects are typically high-risk/high-impact as they represent new and unproven ideas, approaches, and/or technologies.

FastLane Automated Compliance Checks

Beginning January 26, 2015, FastLane will run an additional 24 automated checks on proposals to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the PAPPG, Chapter II.C.2of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG). Detailed below, these checks validate a proposal for compliance with page count, proposal sections per type of funding mechanism and budget-related rules for proposals submitted in response to the GPG, Program Announcements, and Program Descriptions.

  • Page Count: Page count rules are enforced on the following proposal sections:
    • Project Description: 15-page limit [exceptions: 8-page limit for Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and 5-page limit for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)]
    • Budget Justification: 3-page limit for the proposing institution and a separate, 3-page limit for each sub-recipient organization
    • Mentoring Plan: 1-page limit
    • Data Management Plan: 2-page limit
  • Budget: Budget-related checks focus primarily on proposal duration and requested amount. For example, the system enforces a maximum requested amount of $200,000 for a RAPID proposal and $300,000 for an EAGER proposal.
  • Proposal Section: Proposal sections are enforced by their funding mechanism for Program Announcement, Program Description, and other GPG-type funding opportunities.

The checks detailed above are triggered when the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions are selected by a proposer or proposing organization. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message displays when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the organization will not be able to submit the proposal until it is compliant. For a detailed list of all compliance checks, see Automated Proposal Compliance Checks for Full Proposals Effective January 26, 2015 on the NSF Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals webpage.

Updates to

NSF has completed another round of user enhancements to based on feedback received from the community and recommendations from usability experts. These changes will begin to prepare the research community for the integration while improving the awardee experience.

The following enhancements have been implemented:

  • Updated Branding: The logo, header, footer, and background have been updated for consistency with current NSF branding.
  • Improved Look and Feel: Page widths and font size have been modified in project reports and the Award Cash Management $ervice (ACM$) in order to optimize layout and ease of reading for each visitor’s screen resolution.
  • Streamlined Navigation: The site has been streamlined by removing the left navigation bar and adding top-level navigation across
  • Simplified Login: Login options have been consolidated onto one page in order to simplify the process.
  • Expanded Help: The Live Help service has been expanded to now include support for logging in and changing a password.

NVivo Webinar for Your Department, Research Team, or Class

NVivo is offering a complimentary webinar demonstration of its software for your department, research team, or class.

NVivo is software that helps you organize, capture, manage, explore, and understand your unstructured qualitative and mixed-methods data (e.g., interviews, survey responses, website data, images, videos and social media posts), enabling you to uncover new insight and easily share your findings, individually or as part of a team.

The live webinar provides an overview of what NVivo can do, including how to complete the following:

  • Set up a project
  • Import your text data
  • Organize your content
  • Begin the coding process to assist in identifying possible themes, topics, and trends

To schedule a complimentary demonstration, contact Judith Eastbrook, Business Development Manager, QSR International, at (617) 607-5117 or

Awarded Projects for January 2015

College of Education
Awarded Projects
January 2015
Principal Investigator: Mary McLean (AZCEECS/SESPECS)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: University of Washington (Subcontract: National Institutes of Health Flow Through)
Project Title: Head Start National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning
Project Period: 9/15/2014 – 9/14/2015
Award Amount: $237,251
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Bondy (STL)
Co-PI: Ester de Jong (STL), Suzanne Colvin (STL)
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Education
Project Title: Advancing the Development of Preservice Teachers (ADePT)
Project Period: 8/15/2014 – 7/31/2017
Award Amount: $2,718,695
Principal Investigator: Christy Gabbard (P.K. Yonge)
Co-PI: Catherine Atria (P.K. Yonge)
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Education
Project Title: District Instructional Leadership and Faculty Development Grant
Project Period: 7/1/2014 – 6/30/2015
Award Amount: $7,908


Submitted Projects for January 2015

College of Education
Submitted Projects
January 2015
Principal Investigator:  Linda Behar-Horenstein (SHDOSE)
Co-PI: Virginia Dodd (Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science)
Funding Agency: UF Office of Research
Proposal Title: Enhancing Social Responsibility and Social Accountability Among Prospective Dentists via Community Engagement
Requested Amount: $99,987
Principal Investigator: Sylvia Boynton (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Funding Agency: Alachua County Schools
Proposal Title: Reaching All Readers: A K-5 Series of Reading Modules, Part 2 – Spring 2015
Requested Amount: $12,000
Principal Investigator: Kara Dawson (STL)
Co-PI: Pavlo “Pasha” Antonenko (STL), Albert Ritzhaupt (STL), Carole Beal (STL), Linda Lombardino (SESPECS), Andreas Keil (Department of Psychology)
Funding Agency: UF Office of Research
Proposal Title: Converging Behavioral and Psychophysical Measures: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Multimedia Learning Conditions with Dyslexic Learners
Requested Amount: $94,458
Principal Investigator: Dennis Kramer (SHDOSE)
Co-PI: Kshitij Khare (Department of Statistics)
Funding Agency: UF Office of Research
Proposal Title: E-Success (Supporting Undergraduate Course and Co-curricular Exploration through Strategic Supports): The Integration of Mobile App Technology and Modern Regression Techniques to Improve Student Retention and Matriculation Within Florida Community Colleges
Requested Amount: $98,130
Principal Investigator: Brian Reichow (AZCEECS/SESPECS)
Co-PI: Patricia Snyder (AZCEECS/SESPECS), Maureen Conroy (AZCEECS/SESPECS)
Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health
Proposal Title: Adaptation and Evaluation of World Health Organization Caregiver Skills Training Program for Caregivers of Children with Developmental Disorders in Turkey
Requested Amount: $333,950