The Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program grant opportunity is now closed. Awards will be announced in late May.
This is the Frequently Asked Questions page for NIST PSCR's Public Safety Innovation Acceleration Program grant, FY2017.
- Q: The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) says “NIST will only consider one application per applicant,” how is an applicant defined?
A: The primary investigator is considered to be the applicant. That means that a university, company, or public safety agency may submit more than one application. However, if your organization is considering multiple proposals, please respect NIST’s and our reviewers’ time by submitting only your best ideas, and combining logically-related ones.
- Q: We (researchers who know each other) have several ideas. Should we submit them as one single application or as separate ones?
A: We can’t advise you on the details of your proposal, but here are some things to be aware of: Either approach is within the rules of the NOFO, as long as any individual PI doesn’t submit more than one proposal. If you submit separate proposals, they will be evaluated and selected independently. If the different projects have significant synergies or interdependence, that might be a reason to submit them as a combined project. See also other questions in this FAQ.
- Q: What kind of “outputs” are you looking for? Papers, software, widgets?
All of the above / it depends: The solicitation addresses a bunch of different areas with different requirements; you have to look through the NOFO. In general, we’re open to both practical development and more fundamental research -- we’d like to see implementation and real-world testing when the technology is mature enough, but “papers and prototypes” outputs are welcome when that’s where the science is. Our goal is to get better technology into first responders’ hands as quickly as possible, so research that’s further from production should still have a realistic and timely path toward implementation.
- Q: So, this program is for 3-year, $3M projects, right?
No. The maximum duration is 2 years, except for academic institutions supporting PhD students whose dissertation research is part of the application. Further, we strongly value timeliness of results, and all else being equal we will favor proposals with a shorter period of performance. While we have not explicitly defined separate tracks for small, medium, and large projects, we expect to fund a mixture: Large grants are possible, but we cannot fund many projects at that level, and will generally favor smaller grants. As a point of comparison, the median award size from the National Science Foundation has been in the $130,000/year range.
Large awards will only be made for truly transformative projects.
- Q: We are already working with NIST under a CRADA (Cooperative Research And Development Agreement). Are we eligible to apply for this grant?
A: Potentially: Being a CRADA partner does not in itself preclude you from this grant, but conflicts are possible. A sufficiently-detailed answer doesn’t fit in the space of this FAQ, but a key issue is that you cannot receive NIST funds for the same activities involved in the CRADA. If you are a current CRADA partner and considering applying, please contact us directly to discuss your specific situation.
- Q: Are non-US entities eligible for this program?
A: Yes. However, where the NOFO requires letters of commitment from public safety organizations (PSOs), those must be U.S. federal, state, or local organizations.
- Q: Where is the list of interested public safety organizations?
A: The list is available from PSCR. Please e-mail email@example.com to request a copy. Note that we will be updating the list from time to time as new organizations request to be listed.
- Q: Does this grant cover purchasing equipment?
A: Mostly no. This grant does not cover acquiring or operating equipment as such. However, if you are proposing a fundable research and/or development effort, necessary equipment is an allowable expense.
- Q: How can my public safety agency be involved?
A: Lots of ways, but here’s a simple one: Researchers coming from a technology background need insight into the public safety world. Whatever your agency does, if you can consult about it or help evaluate new technology for it, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on our “interested public safety organization” list. Even if you don’t have a particular project in mind, researchers who do can then contact you about possible collaboration. Please at a minimum provide a contact person and the name of your agency. Beyond that, it’s up to you how much or little additional information to include.
- Q: Who owns IP rights to work funded under this program?
A: Generally, the creator does, though the Federal Government gets some use rights. See section D.03 in the Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions. As usual, this FAQ is not legal advice.
- Q: What’s the timeline for applications and NIST’s response?
A: Here are some key dates (and approximate dates):
• Public Safety Organization indication of interest: No deadline, but ASAP: The odds of forming a successful partnership can only improve by having more time.
• Feb 1 2017: Request Letters of intent to apply, but accepted at any point.
• Feb 28 2017: Deadline to submit application. The general consensus is that the grants.gov application process is time consuming. You are encouraged to plan ahead.
• May 2017 : Decisions from PSCR.
• June 1 2017: Earliest start date.
- Q: What’s the “unique entity identifier number” in section IV.7.a?
A: Applicants will need a “D-U-N-S” number, which is free unique identifier provided by Duns and Bradstreet, and an Employer Identification Number (EIN) provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Note that if your organization does not have these numbers, it may take some time to acquire them. Please see the Organization Applicant Registration page on the Applicants tab on Grants.gov.
Q: Do references and citations count towards the ten page limit for the project description in the technical proposal section of the application?
Q: How does NIST determine whether to award a grant vs. cooperative agreement?
A: Per the NOFO, this determination is made at NIST’s discretion. It involves many factors, but will primarily be based upon a determination if substantial involvement by PSCR will be necessary during the implementation of the project.
Q: What if we will be collecting data about people, subjects, or participants during our study?
A: It is very important that you take this into consideration for your proposal; see Section 6.2.g in the NOFO. In addition, we have provided two example statements below that can be used in your proposal depending on whether or not you will be collecting identifiable information. Your protocol does not need to explicitly specify that the data will be shared with NIST (or other named entity). However, we recommend that 1) you make it clear that the data may be shared with external researchers (other than yourselves) so that your institutional review board (IRB) is aware, and 2) provide details on how the participants will be informed if/how their information will be shared. Similar information should be included in the individual consent form.
If you are planning to collect and share identifiable data:
The information (images, specimens, data – whatever is the appropriate term) that we collect will be shared with researchers at other organizations. The information will be shared with the associated identifiers. Each participant has signed an informed consent document that states the identifiable information will be shared with outside researchers. The information will be shared with these researchers in a secure, encrypted manner… describe in more detail how the data will actually be shared.
If you are planning to collect identifiable data, but will NOT be sharing the identifiers:
The information (images, specimens, data – whatever is the appropriate term) that we collect will be shared with researchers at other organizations. The information will be shared without the associated identifiers. The principal investigator will retain the code that links the information to the individual’s identify and will never share it. Each participant has signed an informed consent document that states the coded information will be shared with outside researchers, but never the code that links their information to their identity. The information will be shared with these researchers in a secure, encrypted manner… describe in more detail how the data will actually be shared.
Q: Are federally funded research and development centers (FFRDC) eligible to apply?
A: Each FFRDC is different in how they contract with the Federal Government and what they are allowed to apply for or not. However, generally speaking they are funded through inter-agency agreements (IAA), which is not an appropriate award under the NOFO. In short, NIST would basically have to give an IAA to the federal entity that is funding the FFRDC, and that federal entity would then transfer the funding to the FFRDC. We would, in essence, be funding a federal entity which is not allowable based upon regulations. Interested FFRDCs should discuss this further with their Contracting Officer.
FFRDCs ARE eligible to be subcontractors to other eligible applicants.
Q: Are subcontractors and subawardees required to be registered in SAM or grants.gov?
A: Subcontractors and subawardees must be in SAM to be eligible to receive funds through an award. It is the primary recipient’s responsibility to ensure that any subcontracts or subawards are made to entities that are registered in SAM and are not listed as barred or suspended entities in that system. However, subcontractors and subawardees are NOT required to be registered in grants.gov.
This is Revision 5, February 13, 2017.