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Funding Opportunity to Produce Science Documentary

NIST is offering a grant of up to $500,000 for the development, production and distribution of a documentary film about the world-wide endeavor to redefine the kilogram and reboot the international measurement system.

The application deadline for this federal funding opportunity has now passed. Applications were due to no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday, September 26, 2016.
The federal funding opportunity (FFO) can be viewed on

The full text of this federal funding opportunity (FFO), including application requirements and important dates, can also be downloaded as a pdf file.

Questions about this FFO can be emailed to documentary.questions [at] (documentary[dot]questions[at]nist[dot]gov).

To see all the steps necessary to register your organization as an applicant, visit this page on

An informational webinar for potential applicants was held on August 16:

Webinar: Funding Opportunity to Produce a Science Documentary
Webinar: Funding Opportunity to Produce a Science Documentary

Information contained on this page: 

The story of the "Last Artifact"

In 2018, a metal cylinder in a Parisian vault will be replaced with a new way to measure mass based entirely on the laws of nature.

Why is this important?

The metal cylinder, known as the International Prototype Kilogram (aka "Big K") is the kilogram. It is the standard for measuring mass in almost every country on Earth. It is also, however, an antiquated artifact of a bygone era.

The Last Artifact. An artist's depiction of the international prototype kilogram, aka 'Big K'. Rarely photographed, it resides inside three vacuum-sealed bell jars in an underground vault outside Paris. Three independently controlled keys are required to open the vault. Illustration by Natalie Metzger.
"Big K" is indeed the last "artifact", or physical prototype of measurement, of the International System of Units (the metric system). It represents not only the mass of the kilogram, but an idea that goes back thousands of years, when actual physical objects defined all measurement systems. Think 'hands', 'stones', 'feet' and 'cubits'.

Over the course of the twentieth century, some of the metric units of measurement have been redefined in terms of natural constants, like the speed of light. The meter, for example, was redefined in 1983 as the distance light travels in a tiny fraction of a second. The second was redefined in 1967 as 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a cesium atom. Measurement standards defined by natural phenomena are exceptionally accurate, precise, and reproducible. But the kilogram, and the measurement units derived from it (such as force, which is measured in newtons), are not currently among them.

The race to redefine the kilogram is a tale of scientific ingenuity, international competition, and a hard-headed refusal to give up. There's a reason the kilogram has never been redefined and why "Big K" still has a job: devising something better has been extremely difficult. The story stretches over many years, several countries, and several competing approaches and laboratories. The players are passionate scientists in the United States, Germany, Britain, and other countries who have devoted their life's work to this endeavor. And it is nearly finished.

The new definition starts with an agreed value for a quantum-mechanical quantity called Planck's constant (represented by a lower-case h) and includes precise measurements of electrical and mechanical properties that together produce an equivalent to the mass of Big K. To establish that the new definition is an appropriate and worthy replacement, at least three independent experiments must produce a mass measurement that is accurate to 50 parts per billion, at least one of them must be accurate to within 20 parts per billion, AND it must be confirmed with a completely independent method. The confirmation method requires literally counting the number of silicon atoms in an ultra-pure sphere with exactly the same mass as Big K.

The concept of accurate, reproducible measurement standards sounds simple, almost mundane. But the scientific work necessary to achieve the standards represents pioneering work at the forefront of both theoretical and experimental research.

The 'watt balance' approach pioneered by the British and developed further in Canada, the U.S., and many other countries is an engineering marvel. It is far more than just a better scale; the watt balance precisely measures weight based on electric current and voltage. At NIST, the instrument is housed in an environmentally shielded laboratory deep underground. Amazingly, it provides an accurate, measurable link between how much you weigh on your bathroom scale and the weird world of quantum physics.

The improvements to measurement science made possible by the redefinition of the kilogram will allow unprecedented traceability, meaning that measurements of the impossibly large to the vanishingly small will be linked through fundamental constants of nature.

If past experience is any judge, the implications for the future will be compelling. The last big revision in the definition of just one measurement unit, time, enabled the development of GPS, the internet, and interstellar navigation. This event will redefine not only how to measure a kilogram, but also four other measurement units, those used for measuring temperature, electricity, brightness and chemical amounts. Scientific visionaries have some ideas on what this could mean for the future, but it is impossible to know the full scope of new technologies that the retirement of "Big K" will enable.

If all goes right, a small cadre of measurement scientists will reach their goals and decades of work will culminate in a November 2018 meeting at the Palace of Versailles in France. Attended by scientists from around the world, the representatives from the world's national metrology institutes (including NIST) will come together and vote to officially implement the new definition of the kilogram and the units derived from it. The entire world will then adopt these new standards.

In today's contentious times, this will be a rare and historic moment. The whole world will agree at one time and in one place to modernize the measurement system upon which all of modern life depends. It will also be a glorious moment for a typically unsung band of scientists, and the world will be the better for it in ways we have yet to imagine.

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Related information and links*

Scientific Articles and Websites:

Redefining the Kilogram

How to Weigh Everything from Atoms to Apples Using the Revised SI (pdf)

A more fundamental International System of Units (Physics Today)

On the future revision of the SI (


From Artefacts to Atoms by Terry Quinn

A Measure of All Things: The Story of Man and Measurement by Ian Whitelaw

World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement by Robert P. Crease

The Science of Measurement: A Historical Survey by Herbert Arthur Klein

Essays and News Stories:

Kilogram in the Balance

Elusive Quest for One True Kilogram (

The Kilogram's Makeover (

Video and Audio:

≤ kg (Radiolab podcast)

World's roundest object (YouTube video)

Build your own watt balance! (YouTube video)

The kilogram song (YouTube video)

The SI Superheroes in Mass Hysteria (YouTube video)

Laboratories and Organizations Substantially Involved in SI Redefinition (by country):


National Research Council (NRC)

International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM)
Laboratoire National de Métrologie et d'Essais (LNE)

Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

National Metrology Institute of Japan (NMIJ)

United States:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Additional Measurement Science Laboratories:

National Institute of Metrology (NIM)

Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRIM)

New Zealand:
Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL)

Republic of Korea:
Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS)

Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS)

United Kingdom:
National Physical Laboratory (NPL)  
*Links are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion on this page does not imply recommendation or endorsement by NIST.

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Resources for applicants applicant support

Steps to register as an applicant (

System for Award Management (
(applicants must be registered in SAM before submitting an application)

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Questions and Answers

1. Does NIST expect to have similar competitions in the future?
Due to the unique nature of the events inspiring this project, this is a one-time competition.

2. Will proposals that call for a substantial amount of animation be considered?
Any complete and responsive application submitted by an eligible applicant will be considered for funding.

3. Will there be an F&A (Facilities and Administration) limit if an applicant is submitting through a University?
Per 2 CFR § 200.414(c)(1), NIST will accept an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement that has been negotiated with a cognizant Federal agency.

4. How important is previous feature film experience? We haven't yet produced, directed, or distributed a feature film.
The qualifications of the proposed showrunner/director will be evaluated based on their demonstrated experience as a showrunner or director on at least one nationally-distributed science-related documentary. However, experience in directing and/or producing a feature film is not required. The previously directed science-related documentary is not required to be feature length. Showrunners who have directed science-related documentaries of various lengths, including one hour, half-hour, or shorter, will be considered.

5. What's the difference between a grant and a cooperative agreement?
A cooperative agreement is distinguished from a grant in that it provides for substantial involvement between the Federal awarding agency (NIST in this case) or pass-through entity, and the non-Federal entity in carrying out the activity contemplated by the Federal award.

6. If the award is made as a grant, what involvement will NIST have in the filmmaking process?
If the award is made as a grant, NIST will not have substantial involvement in the filmmaking process and will not be involved in the editorial content or creative direction of the film. However, scientific accuracy of the documentary is of paramount importance. Per section IV.6.2.ii of the FFO (page 11), applicants will be expected to form and coordinate a scientific review panel. Prior to an award being made, NIST must review and approve the membership of that scientific review panel, to ensure the scientific accuracy of the finished documentary.

7. How will NIST decide if the award will be made as a grant or a cooperative agreement?
The NIST Grants Officer will make the final determination based on a recommendation from the Selecting Official. The Selecting Official will make their recommendation based on, among other things, the quality of the selected application and whether the applicant is likely to be able to successfully complete the documentary project objectives within the expected timeframe.

8. Will NIST help us contact competitors or other national metrology institutes?
Yes, NIST will assist the recipient with contacting and gaining filming access to other laboratories. In fact, NIST director Dr. Willie May has already reached out to several of the directors of these other laboratories to ask for their support in gaining access for this film.

9. Does NIST plan to distribute or show the movie before the premiere?
No, NIST will not distribute or debut the film in any way prior to the premiere. NIST's government use license would only be exercised after the premiere of the film and then only for internal or educational screenings. For example, NIST may show the film at educational STEM events that NIST staff are participating in, or show it as part of a program for high school or college students visiting the NIST campus. NIST will not post the film online or otherwise make it available to the public.

10. Will NIST share information about other interested applicants before the final application deadline, in order to facilitate collaboration between different filmmakers?
NIST is not able to provide any information about other potential applicants prior to the application deadline. However, in the course of the review process, if NIST identifies areas where particular applications are complementary, then NIST may reach out to those applicants to inquire about whether they would be interested in collaborating on the project. As a professional courtesy, NIST will ask applicants if they are interested in collaboration prior to sharing any applicant information.

11. Regarding additional funding, how solid do letters of intent, interest or commitment need to be?
Cost sharing requirements are covered on page 3 of the FFO. Any additional funds included by applicants must be fully committed funds. Voluntary committed cost sharing is discussed in the uniform guidance at 2 CFR § 200.99. If you submit an application that includes cost share and an award is made, the cost share commitment becomes a binding part of the award.

12. Will theatrical distribution be considered if included in proposals?
Yes, if an applicant can provide a letter of intent to distribute the film nationally via theatrical distribution or a plan to secure such distribution, that will be considered as national media distribution.

13. Is a non-U.S. citizen eligible to apply?
A non-U.S. citizen could participate as an employee or a contractor of an eligible organization. Note that individuals, regardless of citizenship, are not eligible to apply on their own. See page 3 of the FFO.

14. How important is the applicant's ability to bring additional funds to the project?
Cost sharing by applicants is not required. If an applicant believes they can complete the project within the funding provided by NIST, then the budget in their application should reflect that fact. NIST will not evaluate the cost share as part of the evaluation criteria. However, the selecting official will take the overall budget and potential cost share into account in determining if what the applicant proposed is feasible.

15. Regarding the 25-page limit for the proposal, is that single or double spaced?
Proposals can be either single or double spaced, but (see FFO page 16) the font must be easy to read and a minimum of 10 points in size. Smaller type may be used in figures and tables but they must be clearly readable. Some elements of the proposal (noted in the FFO) are not included in the page count, like biographies and credit lists of key personnel.

16. Are applicants precluded from creating an LLC for the documentary film for legal purposes?
No, an applicant could incorporate an organization as an LLC and that organization would be eligible to apply as long as the following points are met:

a. It is incorporated in the U.S;
b. It has obtained a DUNS number, which is the Unique Entity Identifier referred to in Section IV.3 of the FFO (see page 17 of the FFO).
Details here on;
c. It has registered with and maintains an active registration.
Details here on;
d. And it has registered with and maintains an active registration in
Details here on;

This page provides an overview of the steps described above.

However, applicants may have difficulty incorporating and registering a new organization in time to meet the application deadline.

17. Regarding letters of commitment and interest, can they be from subawardees and contractors involved in the project or should they come from outside organizations?
Please see page 14 of the FFO: "If the applicant's budget includes subawards or contracts to known third parties, a Letter of Commitment from an authorized representative of each known proposed subrecipient and contractor organization should be included. Each letter should indicate the submitting organization's willingness to participate as a contractor or subrecipient (as applicable), describe what work they will do in relation to the Project Proposal, and specify the associated cost of the proposed subaward or contract to the applicant."

18. Would the inclusion of the development of an online education program, related to the film, be advantageous to an applicant's proposal?
Although it's a great idea and there are obvious potential connections between an educational program and the subject of the documentary, an educational program (or plan to develop one) is beyond the scope of the FFO and is not part of the evaluation criteria.

19. Can you recommend further reading on the history of and current developments in measurement science?
Please see the related information and links section of this page.

20. Is there an advantage to applying from a university versus another type of not-for-profit organization versus a for-profit organization?
No, the nature of the organization is not taken into account, so long as the organization is eligible to apply.

21. Are there any incentives for applicants whose proposals are less than $500,000. That is, is it preferable if an applicant can complete the project for less than the full amount of the grant?
From page 21 of the FFO, there are 100 possible points awarded based on the evaluation criteria. Of those 100 points, 0-10 points are allocated to your proposal's budget narrative. We will evaluate the reasonableness and cost effectiveness of the project budget to successfully meet the project objectives.

22. Please clarify when the documentary needs to be completed. Will the event in November 2018 at the Palace of Versailles need to be included in the documentary?
From page 6 of the FFO, the airdate and online release of the completed documentary must be between December 2018 and March 2019. That's by design so that if something interesting happens at the November 2018 meeting in France, it can be filmed and included in the documentary. However, this is an international event and NIST cannot guarantee what's going to happen at the event.

23. Is there any flexibility in the airdate of the documentary to address potential complications regarding distribution or unforeseen events that affect the narrative content of the documentary?
Yes, after the award is made, the release date of the documentary film can potentially be renegotiated if necessary to facilitate distribution or incorporate unforeseen or extraordinary events.

24. Will we be able to film inside the event in November 2018 at the Palace of Versailles?
The event in November 2018 is not being run by NIST, so while NIST cannot guarantee filming access, we are a participant and have high-level leaders who will participate. NIST has communicated with the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and they are enthusiastic about this project. Please also see question #8.

25. Will proposals from independent producers who can provide a plan to secure distribution, but not a letter of intent to distribute (from a broadcast or other national media distributor) be competitive?
Yes. Distribution is one factor among many that is considered when reviewing proposals. An applicant's demonstrated track record in securing distribution for previous documentary films is evaluated separately from an applicant's letter of intent to distribute or plan to secure distribution. 0-10 points are allocated for an applicant's demonstrated experience in negotiating and securing distribution. An additional 0-10 points are allocated to letters of intent to distribute (or plan to secure distribution), letters of commitment and interest. This is from a total of 100 possible points. Please see the evaluation criteria in the FFO (pages 19-21) for full details.

26. Can applicants propose a true-to-fact dramatic film, like a biographical drama or feature film, rather than a documentary?
The nature of the creative proposal is completely up to applicants in terms of how they approach it. However, we are looking for a documentary film, not a scripted fictional film. This is a documentary project.

27. When will the decision be made regarding whether the award is made as a grant or a cooperative agreement?
That decision will be made some time between when the application period closes and before an award is made to the chosen recipient. During that time there may be negotiations and interviews conducted to determine what will work best for both NIST and the potential recipient.

28. Is it required for filmmakers to acquire additional funding or can filmmakers present a proposal that fits within the $500,000 grant limit?
Filmmakers are not required to acquire additional funding. See response to question #14.

29. Will NIST's use of the film impinge on potential revenue that could be made from the distribution of the film?
No. Please see the answer to question #9.

30. If two commercial organizations are working together and one organization will be the recipient, can the other be a sole source contractor? If so, what sole source documentation is required with or following the application?
Refer to the uniform guidance section 2 CFR Part 200 Subpart D for procurement requirements, which covers sole source contracts. Applicants will need to be compliant with those terms.

31. To help determine the travel budget for a proposal, is there a list of potential filming locations? Is there a list of scientists at those locations who potentially could be included in the film?
The related information and links section of this page contains a list of scientific laboratories, by country, that are involved in the redefinition of the SI. NIST will assist the selected recipient with names of individuals who could potentially be included in the film.

32. Will NIST fund more than one project or just one?
NIST will make one award.

33. What is an acceptable delivery channel for distribution?
One of NIST's goals for the project is that the documentary film reaches a broad national audience. It is up to applicants to propose a delivery channel or channels that meet that objective through a letter of intent to distribute or a plan to secure distribution.

34. Are there any restrictions on for-profit US organizations that can apply?
No; for-profit US organizations are eligible to apply.

35. In the process of producing the film, can the recipient receive funding from additional sources after the award is made, if the additional funding was not part of their proposal? For example, to fund additional methods or lines of distribution?
Yes, that is allowed. However, NIST would not be able to consider post-award funding in its evaluation and selection process, so the applicant must present a budget in its application that is sufficient to complete the project within the expected time frame.

36. How cutting edge should the physics that is shown in the documentary be? For example, should possible time dependence of fundamental constants be discussed in the film?
NIST's goal is to reach a broad science-interested lay audience. Cutting edge physics can be included, but in ways that would be understandable to a broad lay audience. From page 2 of the FFO, "...illustrate and break down scientific concepts to make them understandable for a general audience, while maintaining the story line and narrative flow driven by the scientists doing this work."

37. Have the scientific organizations working on the redefinition of the kilogram already successfully reached the precision required?
The effort to redefine the kilogram is ongoing. For an overview of this work, including information on the level of precision necessary, please see Dr. Stephan Schlamminger's presentation 'The New Kilogram' in the webinar video posted on this page.

38. What activities will be taking place at NIST over the next year that could be filmed?
A number of activities at NIST will be occurring in the future that are relevant to this project. NIST will assist the award recipient in providing filming access to these activities.

39. Is there existing footage of the process of creating and using the watt balance? Can completed procedures be reenacted for filming?
Yes, some video footage showing the NIST-4 watt balance does exist. Please note that the NIST-4 watt balance is not the only watt balance involved in the project. The extent to which reenactments can take place would depend on the nature of the reenactment and whether or not it is feasible to recreate the event.

40. Is it possible to film the kilogram prototypes at NIST?
Yes, it is possible.

41. Who from NIST will be attending the November 2018 event in France?
The specific attendees are not known at this time.

42. Is it possible to film material at NIST relating to the other SI units? An atomic clock, for example? Or other devices related to length, electric current, etc.?
Yes, it is possible, and NIST will facilitate access for the selected recipient.

43. The FFO refers to the funding instrument of the award as a "grant or cooperative agreement". There are further details in the FFO regarding the cooperative agreement. Are there further details if the funding instrument is a grant?
Please see the answers to questions #5, 6 and 7 above.

44. Who has final creative control over the film?
Please see the answer to question #6 above.

45. Who has the rights to any video, photographic, or written materials already made?
This FFO does not affect the ownership of any visual, audio or written materials already in existence. It is the responsibility of the recipient to determine ownership of any materials they plan to include in the film and license it appropriately, if required.

46. Regarding the government-use license for the finished film, how do you envision NIST using and displaying the film? If NIST gives the film away for free on its website, there may be less incentive for broadcasters and distributors.
Please see the answer to question #9 above.

47. Is this funding opportunity open to non-US citizens?
Please see the answer to question #13 above.

48. Per pages 9-10 of the FFO, under Eligibility Information, what is the difference between a subawardee and a contractor in relation to the applicant? If key personnel (such as the director/showrunner, producers, etc.) are full or part-time staff members at the eligible institution, are they considered subawardees or contractors or something else?
Subrecipient is defined at 2 CFR § 200.93 and Contractor is defined at 2 CFR § 200.23. It is up to an applicant to submit a proposal with either subrecipients and/or contractors. Staff of the recipient would be neither subrecipients or contractors. Rather, they would simply be employees of the recipient, and their salaries would be accounted for in the "Personnel" line of the budget (along with associated fringe benefits).

49. Regarding indirect cost rate agreements, as specified on pages 14-15 of the FFO, does NIST limit the amount that can be included in the budget? Is a charged rate of 10% acceptable?
NIST is not limiting indirect costs under this FFO.  You are able to charge your Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate, the 10% de minimis indirect cost rate, or propose and negotiate a new rate.

50. My eligible educational institution has an indirect cost rate agreement and the federally negotiated rate is 34.5%, which was negotiated with DHHS. The rate is lower for off campus activities, 19.3%, which we expect most of the film's budget to fall under. Is this rate acceptable, or would it make an application non-competitive if included?
Applicants are allowed to include their negotiated indirect cost rates. Including a negotiated rate will not affect the competitiveness of an application.

51. I do not have film distribution experience, but I have experience in creating 3D animation, motion graphics, post-production, etc. Can I submit a partial proposal or can NIST connect me with participating producers who have the experience necessary for this project?

NIST can only accept complete applications and proposals, from eligible applicants. Please see the answer to question #10 above.

52. Per page 11 of the FFO, can staff members of a university serve as members of the scientific review panel if that university is an applicant?
In the case of an applicant that is a university (or any other type of large organization), an employee of the university may serve as a member of the scientific review panel as long as that employee has the necessary scientific qualifications and agrees to be objective and follow generally accepted ethical standards (for example, related to conflicts of interest).

53. How many members should the scientific review panel contain? Are there any other requirements or expectations NIST has for the panel?
The FFO does not specify how many members the scientific review panel should contain. However, the science that will be covered in this documentary could potentially be very broad. The panel must contain enough sufficiently qualified individuals to ensure that the scientific accuracy of all aspects of the film can be evaluated. Prior to an award being made, NIST must review and approve the membership of the scientific review panel (see question #6). Applicants are not required to include names of specific individuals for the panel in their proposal, although applicants can if they choose to (see page 11 of the FFO). Among the other evaluation criteria, proposals will be evaluated based on an applicant's plan to coordinate and manage the panel, not specific names that an applicant might include in their proposal. See page 20 of the FFO.

54. Under Funding Restrictions on page 17 of the FFO, it says, "Profit or fee is not an allowable cost." Does that exclude summer salary for university staff or faculty? If it doesn't exclude summer salary, does NIST allow the funding of a 12th month?
Salaries paid to employees of the recipient are considered personnel costs, not profit or fees. See response to question #48.

55. I think something was mentioned in the informational webinar about July 2017 being a deadline for paper submissions by the research groups. Can NIST elaborate on that?
The revised SI is based on seven defining constants, three of which are already present in the current SI. The additional four are the Planck constant, the elementary charge, the Boltzmann constant, and the Avogadro constant. Of the four new defining constants, for the realization of the kilogram, only the Planck constant is relevant.

Typically the Task Group on Fundamental Constants (TGFC) of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) is responsible for recommending values for all fundamental constants of nature. Usually every four years a recommendation is made. The task group takes into account all published measurements of fundamental constants and calculates an “average” value (it’s more complicated than just an average value) that will be recommended for this constant. The calculation of an “average” value is referred to as an adjustment. The task group has a cutoff date up to which the data is taken into account. For example, the last adjustment, named the CODATA-2014 adjustment, was made with all data published before December 2014. Experiments published after that would be taken into account for the next adjustment.

The revision of the SI is something out of the ordinary. The TGFC will still recommend the value for the defining constants. However, this will be the last time these four constants will be adjusted. Going forward they will keep the same numerical value. The TGFC has deemed July 1, 2017 as the cutoff date for acceptance into the adjustment. The manuscript containing the new measurements will be taken into account if it has been accepted for publication before July 1, 2017. The date was chosen so that the task force has enough time to come up with a consistent set of defining constant for the CCU meeting later that year. The researchers working on these experiments are very busy these days.

56. We have a single sub-awardee who will hire contractors for various jobs. There may also be cost-sharing coming from donations from other sources. Does that cost-sharing go into the budget, and thus the proposed budget amount is the full budget plus cost share?
Yes, cost sharing goes into the budget as either cash or in-kind.

57. Where do we indicate what we are asking for from NIST?
This is reflected on item #18 on the SF-424, “Estimated funding ($)”. It is also listed on the Line Item Budget SF-424a.  It should also be included in your proposal’s budget narrative section.

58. According to page 12 of the FFO, "...key personnel include, at a minimum, the showrunner/director, writer, producer, and director of photography.” Is it expected that we have at least four people that are each tagged with one of those roles or is it up to us to decide how to staff the production?  On many of our projects, one person may take on more than one of these roles. Is that okay?
It’s up to applicants as to how they fill the positions of key personnel and other staff included in their proposal. A single individual could in theory fill multiple roles (e.g. showrunner/director and director of photography) in an applicant’s proposal. However, applicants should include credit list(s) and links to online video samples that reflect the individual’s experience in all of their proposed roles. For example, their work as both a director and a director of photography. The qualifications of key personnel and staff will be evaluated based on their demonstrated experience in whatever role or roles they are filling within a proposal. Please see page 20 of the FFO.

59. If the showrunner and director are two separate people, how would those people be assessed?
The proposed showrunner and director could be two separate people. However, since the responsibilities and qualifications of a separate showrunner and director would in theory overlap considerably, applicants should clearly state what role each individual will have in the documentary. Proposed key personnel will be evaluated based on their qualifications and experience as listed on page 20 of the FFO. See also the response to question #58.

60. From page 23 of the FFO, "…NIST GMD will review and consider the publicly available information about that applicant in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)."  Is it required (or suggested) to be part of FAPIIS?
No, it is not required or suggested to be part of FAPIIS. 

61. Do we need letters of commitment from key staff at our production company? Or would those be irrelevant because it’s the production company that’s applying?
Letters of commitment from an applicant’s employees are not required.

62. After reading pages 11-12 of the FFO, we did not understand how much detail or what sorts go things, regarding key personnel’s experiences and qualifications, should be included in the proposal narrative (with the 25 page limit), versus in the separately attached biographies and credits. Can you clarify what personnel information you want in the proposal and what you want in the “biography and credits”?
The biographies and credit lists of key personnel and other staff are part of the project proposal, but are not included in the page count. The contents of a proposal are described in detail on pages 11-13 of the FFO. Note that section iV.6.2.i of the FFO (page 11) states that proposals should include, ‘A description of the proposed roles and level of planned effort of all key personnel’. The qualifications and experience of key personnel and project staff will be evaluated according to the criteria listed on page 20 of the FFO.

63. If we have found people who we think would be qualified for the scientific review panel should we name them in our proposal?
See response to question #53.

64. I expect to submit a budget and proposal for the successful completion of the film without any additional funds. However, I am planning to raise additional funds after the application deadline to enhance the film. Should I describe my plans to raise additional funds and explain how it would enhance the quality of the film and its distribution, but emphasize that these funds are not needed to successfully complete the film?
Yes, according to section IV.2.a.6.2.iv of the FFO (page 11, under “Management of the Project”), applicants should include in their project proposal, “A description of the applicant’s plan to raise additional funds toward the successful completion of the documentary including examples of previous successful fundraising efforts for documentary films.” See also the responses to questions #14, #21, and #56.

65. Can a teaser or trailer for the film we intend to make be included in our proposal?
Yes. If an applicant creates a speculative trailer or teaser video and includes a link to it as part of their creative proposal, it will be evaluated using the criteria in section V.1.a of the FFO (page 19, under “Plans to Meet the Project Objectives”).

66. Is this grant money taxable?
NIST is unable to provide tax advice.

67. If we make cash contributions (e.g. a portion of a person’s salary) and we have savings later in other areas, will we be able to recoup that contribution from the grant (e.g. pay that portion of that person’s salary)? Or is the contribution “locked” once our proposal is submitted?
These budget changes would require prior approval from the Grant Officer, and would be reviewed on a case by case basis.  We cannot provide a yes or no response to your question at this time.

68. Related to #67 above, if the contribution we identify is from our federally recognized indirect rate (e.g. we are approved at 30% but submit at 20% showing a 10% contribution); would we be able to recoup some or all of that “contribution” if we come in under budget on other lines?
These budget changes would require prior approval from the Grant Officer, and would be reviewed on a case by case basis.  We cannot provide a yes or no response to your question at this time.

69. What application filing name should be on the title page?
The application filing name is the name of your organization.

70.  At, it says to enter the amount during the first budgeting period. That is four quarter-intervals of one year I'm assuming? Then it lists required funds for after the first budgeting period. So, are you saying that in harmony with the project instructions, which bypasses the general instructions, the entire award should be scheduled within the first year and it is left up to the recipient for distribution?
The FFO (page 10, under “SF-424A, Budget Information - Non-Construction Programs”) states the following:

“The budget should reflect anticipated expenses for the project, considering all potential cost increases, including cost of living adjustments. The Grant Program Function or Activity on Line 1 under Column (a) should be entered as “Science, Technology, Business, and/or Education Outreach”. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number on Line 1 under Column (b) should be entered as “11.620”. These sections of the SF-424A should reflect funds for the whole term of the award: Section A; Section B; Section C; and Section D.”

The budget period on this award will be the full life of the award, as we anticipate fully funding this grant.

71. We’ve run into roadblocks with the SAM certification. If this isn’t ready by Monday, will that prevent us from submitting our application?
Not having an active SAM account will prevent you from submitting an application. The FFO (page 1) states the following: “Applications must be received at no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday, September 26, 2016. Applications received after this deadline will not be reviewed or considered.” See also the response to question #16.

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Created June 14, 2016, Updated June 2, 2021