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FAQs for Disaster Resilience NOFO

FAQs for the Disaster Resilience 2018 NOFO 

Q: Why do I need to submit a Data Management Plan?
A:In accordance with NIST Policy 5700.00 Managing Public Access to Results of Federally Funded Research, and NIST Order 5701.00, Managing Public Access to Results of Federally Funded Research, applicants must include a Data Management Plan (DMP) for any project that will generate research data.  See Section IV.2.a.(10). of the NOFO for more information.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for the Disaster Resilience (DR) Federal Funding Opportunity (NOFO)?
A: Eligibility for all programs listed in the DR NOFO is open to all non-Federal entities. Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and hospitals. Please note that NIST is not able to accept applications from individuals or unincorporated sole proprietorships. Per the NOFO NIST will not be accepting applications from foreign entities.

Q: Whom do I contact if I have questions?
A: For all questions not answered in the FAQ, refer to Section VII of the NOFO for a list of agency contacts or e-mail: .

Proprietary technical discussions about specific project ideas will not be permitted, and NIST staff will not critique or provide feedback on specific project ideas while the competition is in progress.

Q: The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) mentions 11 pages maximum. Is this single- or double-spaced?
A: The application may be formatted in single space or double space. Applicants should determine the appropriate spacing in relation to the content of their application and the other guidelines described in the NOFO (see Section IV.2.c of the NOFO).

Q: What are we permitted to use the grant funding for?
A: Funds may be used for the conduct (i.e., programmatic activities) and operational activities (i.e., grant administration, management, and oversight) directly associated with the award. General information on permissibility of costs is available in 2 CFR Part 200 Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, accessible at: .

Q: Where can I find information about the relevant technical programs?
A: NIST has a public website,, that provides information pertaining to this Funding Opportunity.

Q: Are Federally Funded Research and Development Centers eligible to receiving funding under this NOFO?
A: For the purposes of this NOFO, we are only considering agencies receiving direct appropriations from Congress as federal entities. Those entities that operate under a contract from a federal agency would be eligible, provided that they are able to demonstrate that accepting the award would not violate the operating agreement with their sponsoring agency.

Q: Can a federal agency apply?
A: No, Federal Agencies are NOT eligible to receive funding under this NOFO.  For more information, please refer to Section III.1 of the NOFO, or to the previous FAQ: Who is eligible to apply for the Disaster Resilience (DR) Federal Funding Opportunity (NOFO)?

Q: Can grant funds be used to pay for federal salaries or the use of federal resources?
A: No, grant funds cannot be used to pay a federal employee or pay for the use of federal resources.

Q: Can federal agencies be sub awardees or contractors for a proposal?
A: Federal agencies may only receive funds as sub-awardees or (sub-)contractors if the Grants Officer has provided prior written approval of the sub-award or (sub-)contract, per Section G.05.e. of the Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions, dated March 31, 2017.

Q: Are collaborations with NIST employees allowable?
A: Collaborations with NIST employees are allowable. Applicants intending to collaborate with NIST employees should carefully read Section VI.2.e. of the NOFO. Any collaboration by a NIST employee must be approved by appropriate NIST management and is at the sole discretion of NIST.

Q: What NIST computational facilities will be available to awards under this program? Can we write these into a proposal?
A: There are no NIST computational facilities available to awardees. 

Q: When will the FAQ site be taken down?
A: The FAQ’s page will remain available for the duration of this competition.

Q: How are Intellectual Property (IP) and Proprietary Data (PD) handled during the review and research processes? 
A: IP and PD included in research proposals are kept confidential during the review process. Proposal reviewers are required to sign a Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement.

Rights for IP generated during a financial assistance award are governed by Federal law.  See Section C.03 of the Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions, dated March 31, 2017.

Q:Will references/citation be counted toward the page count of the proposal?
A: Yes. Any references/citations that are included in the proposal will be counted as part of the 11-page limit of the Technical Proposal.

Q: Would a Cover Page count against the 11-page total for the Technical Proposal?
A: Yes, a cover page will count against the overall Technical Proposal length (see Section IV.2.a).

Q: Do all sub-awardees need to be registered in
A: At the time of application submission, only the actual applicant (i.e., the lead organization whose legal name, legal address, DUNs, and EIN will be provided in the grant application) must be registered in

Q:If a one-year project is awarded in February 2019, does it run only to September 30, 2019, or does it start the following fiscal year and run to September 2020?
A: Neither; periods of performance are based on the start date of the proposal rather than the Fiscal Year (FY) in which the award begins. This means that if your award period begins March 23, 2019, then it would run until March 22, 2020.

Q: Provided a proposal is aligned with an existing NIST EL DR program, are synergies with other related NIST EL efforts (for example, Service Life of PV Polymeric Systems) viewed as positive, neutral or negative (i.e., should not be discussed at all)?
A: The absence or presence of such work will not affect the ranking of the proposals. In general, explaining or highlighting synergies with other projects/programs are acceptable but will count against page limitations.

Q:  Will proposals be categorized based on dollar amount or will all be in one category for funding selection?
A: Proposals will not be categorized by funding amount requested.

Q: For multi-year proposals, are you expecting a proposed budget for the entire duration even though funding will be provided for the first year only?
A: Yes. The budget materials (SF-424A and budget narrative) must include all federal funding being requested, at the time of submission. If you plan a 3-year proposal, the budget materials MUST include detailed information for all 3 years of the proposed project.

Q: Cost share is not required but would it increase funding chances if provided?
A: No. Cost share is not required and will not increase funding chances.

Q: Does a proposal need to identify a lead institution?
A: The institution submitting the application via is the lead institution and assumes legal responsibility for any award made in this competition.

Q: Can a proposal be aligned with more than one NIST Engineering Laboratory Disaster Resilience Programs?
A: No, proposals must be aligned with a single program area, see section IV.6.a of the NOFO for details.

Q: Is there an archive of previously funded projects/proposals?
A:  Award information for the FY16 DR NOFO can be found at

Q: Are the names of graduate students required? Should their resumes be attached?
A: The names and resumes of the graduate students assisting in research are not required. They may be attached at the discretion of the proposer.  These attachments would not be considered part of the page limit, but are limited to two pages each.

Q: What personnel are required to submit resumes?
A: The Principal Investigator (PI)/Project Leader are considered Key Personnel and must submit a resume. Refer to Section IV.2.a.(9) of the NOFO for page limitation and additional information.

Q: Is there any specific font type or size required?
A: Font must be easy to read (12-point minimum). A smaller type may be used in figures and tables but must be clearly legible. See Section IV.2.c.(3) of the NOFO.

Q: When filling out the Standard Form (SF) 424 is the applicant the Principal Investigator or the University/Institution?
A: The applicant is the non-Federal entity submitting the application. Individuals and unincorporated sole proprietorships may not apply to this competition.

Q: Can awarded funds be used to fund sub-contracted work?
A: Yes, so long as the work is within the scope of the award and the guidelines set forth in this NOFO.  If the subcontractor is a Federal Agency, please review the FAQ on subcontracting with Federal Agencies.

Q: Are there conditions for partnership between industry and universities or laboratories for those proposals that have multiple collaborators?
A: There are no additional conditions set forth in this NOFO. If multiple entities are working on a single proposal, each entity’s role must be represented appropriately in the application.

Q: Can someone who participates in the Community Resilience Panel ( also participate in this NOFO?
A: Yes, members of the Community Resilience Panel may participate in this NOFO.

Q: Is there a place in the proposal for letters of support and other supplementary documents?
A: Letters of support and other supplementary documents not listed in the NOFO may be attached to the proposal through as supplementary documents and do not count against the 11-page limit.

Q: Do graphics, photos, and diagrams count against the 11-page limit?
A: Yes.

Q: Is there a limit on indirect costs?
A: There is no limit on indirect costs; however, there are requirements for any participant that seeks to include indirect costs in their proposal. Indirect costs of greater than ten percent (10%) must be accompanied by an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement that was negotiated with a cognizant Federal agency. For more information, please refer to Section IV.2.a.(8) of the NOFO.

Q: Do PI’s need to register through or should the organization?
A: Organizations intending to submit applications must be registered in

Q: What time period should be covered in the Budget Narrative?
A: The Budget Narrative must include all Federal funds requested, for the entire award period.

Q: Will there be an effort to balance the overall funding across the four NIST program areas?
A: Balance across EL Disaster Resilience programs will be considered during the selection process. However, there are no guarantees regarding balance across the program areas. Please refer to Section V.2 of this NOFO for further details.

Q: What is the range of start dates for proposed work to begin?
A: The earliest anticipated start date will be in June of 2019. Proposed start dates later in Fiscal Year 2019 may be negotiated with NIST prior to award.

Q: If there are Co-PI’s from separate entities do both entities need to be registered in
A: The applicant organizations must be registered in

Q: Can guest researchers from other Federal Agencies be involved in a proposal?
A: Yes. However, the applicant must verify whether that researcher’s employer (i.e., the other Federal agency) authorizes the participation. If the researcher is a Federal employee, grant funds cannot be used to pay any portion of the Federal employee’s salary.

Q: What is the mechanism for involving other government funded labs?
A: NIST does not have an established mechanism for engaging Federal partners.  Interested applicants must independently initiate this process.

Q: Can proposals include optional tasks?
A: No. Applications must only include anticipated activities and costs associated with the total proposed research effort.

Q: Are senior personnel or Principal Investigators (PI’s) permitted to be on more than one team or submit multiple proposals?
A: Yes, senior personnel and/or PI’s may be on multiple teams or submit multiple proposals. (their time must be distributed appropriately among the multiple projects.)

Q: Do you have to be a National Flood Insurance Participant to participate in this competition?
A: No.

Q: Is the funding of $3 million over three years (i.e., $1 million per year) or $3 million per year?
A: Total funding for this competition is approximately $3 million.

Q: Can you describe the NIST policy on patents?

A: It is part of NIST's mission to transfer the results of its research, including intellectual property, to industry, academia and government agencies. Generally, inventions conceived in whole or in part by a grantee or contractor of the Federal government are subject to the Bayh Dole Act. Subject to certain conditions, contractors or grantees who invent while using Federal funds are entitled to elect to retain their ownership interest in the invention. If such an invention is co-invented by a Government employee and a Federal grant recipient or contractor, the government will retain its ownership interest in the invention and the contractor or grantee will be entitled to elect to retain their ownership interest in the invention. As such, an invention that is jointly created will be jointly owned when the contractor or grantee elects to retain title. Further, the contractor or grantee may be given the opportunity to apply for an exclusive license to the government's interest in the jointly owned invention. Invention made solely by NIST employees are owned solely by NIST, although such invention may be made available for licensing. Further information can be found in the Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions, Section C.03.


Q: National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program". Could you clarify the section II of this program?  Section II: " developing improved techniques, tools, and guidelines to assess the resilience of civil lifelines at both the individual component and system scales prior to an earthquake"  Are you looking for assessing the "resilience of civil life" before an earthquake or after? If it is before, are you talking about prior considerations to make the civil life resilient during and after an earthquake? Is this about preparation? 

A: The term civil lifelines refers to the engineered infrastructure systems in place that support a community’s normal functioning. These include water and wastewater systems, electric power and power distribution systems, communication systems and other similar engineered systems that reach beyond individual buildings, connecting them and providing essential services to the community.  This section does not refer to emergency preparedness or to emergency response following an earthquake. Those functions are the responsibility of FEMA and the emergency preparedness community.  The intent is not to measure the resilience of life following an earthquake. Rather the focus is on these lifeline systems that are essential for a modern community to function.


Q: Under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, could you clarify section III of this program:  developing approaches and frameworks within the social sciences to improve engagement in mitigation of seismic risk at the state, region, and local community levels.  Could you please have this phrase " engagement in mitigation of seismic risk " clarified? In fact, if the whole statement could be further explained?

A: The intent of the section is the study of the social sciences aspects of mitigation. Specifically, why do some communities make the decision to aggressively pursue mitigation and improved performance of new and existing buildings and lifelines, while other communities do not. There are examples of this difference in the US at the present time. 


Q: Can we use foreign entities as a subcontractor?

A: Yes, as long as an eligible applicant applies through ineligible applicants can be subcontractors or sub awardees. This includes, is not limited to, foreign entities. 


Q: It is not clear what is meant by “social dimensions of resilience” in the context of disaster failure studies?  Please clarify.

A: The full statement for this element of the solicitation is:


“advancement of field reconnaissance methods and analysis of the recovery of critical social dimensions of resilience related to the built environment, while accounting for uncertainty introduced in field data collection;”


This topic asks for study of the field reconnaissance methods as well as evaluation of the recovery of these essential functions following a hazard event. There is a large technical literature in the public domain concerning the social considerations in resilience and those considerations that are essential for community function. We believe that this statement contains a concise summary that adequately describes NIST’s interests concerning this research topic.

Q: Will NIST staff provide review or comment on any proposals, summaries/synopsis of potential applicants?

A: No, NIST staff are not able to review or provide comments on pre-submission proposals or project summaries.


Q: If there are multiple Co-PI’s from separate institutions should a single proposal be submitted in which a single award is requested, or should the institutions submit independently requesting multiple awards?

A: A single proposal should be submitted identifying the lead institutions and the roles of each additional collaborator.



Millie Glick
Senior Operations Advisor
Engineering Laboratory
(301) 975-2585

Created July 26, 2016, Updated February 20, 2020