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Proposal Submission Guidelines

PIs must submit proposals in PDF format to MSPgrants@nsa.gov.

Index

  1. Selection Criteria
  2. Proposal Evaluation
  3. Disclosure of Information
  4. General Restrictions
  5. Who May Submit
  6. When and How to Submit
  7. Additional Information
  8. What to Submit
  9. Privacy Act Statement
  10. Grant Administration
  11. Sample Pages

Selection Criteria

Awards for grants will be made on the basis of factors that demonstrate the scientific merit of the proposal, including:

  • The prospect that the program will have a positive effect on the advancement of the research community.
  • The prospect that the research will produce innovations or significant improvements in investigative methods, including methods of computation.
  • The investigator's scientific qualifications and accomplishments.
  • The investigator's demonstrated awareness of previous approaches to the problem.

The NSA MSP attempts to have a wide geographic and institutional distribution of support, and NSA encourages proposals from traditionally underrepresented groups. Accordingly, proposals will also be evaluated on the broad impact of the proposed research.


Proposal Evaluation

Conference, Workshops, Special Situation and Research Experience for Undergraduate proposals are reviewed by mathematicians at the NSA. The panels meet throughout the year to discuss, rank, and order the proposals according to the Principal Investigator's ability, scientific merit and broad impact of the activities and/or event. The final ordering will be used by the NSA Mathematical Sciences Program Office to make funding decisions.


Disclosure of Information

Although it is the intent of the NSA MSP that the research it supports will produce only unclassified results, it should be recognized that research in sensitive areas might produce information where disclosure could harm U.S. national security. Thus, the following disclosure policy is incorporated in each NSA grant:

"It is expected that the recipient may make informal public disclosure of the scientific and technical information resulting from this Agreement e.g., release articles for appropriate professional publications or present papers at scientific meetings or symposia. The Performing Organization agrees to provide to the Government, concurrent with public disclosure, a copy of such articles, reports, or information resulting from this work in consulting or discussing this and related information with other qualified individuals or groups of individuals, where appropriate, for furthering research. In the event that the researcher believes information generated during the research may require classification, the researcher shall notify NSA and request that the information be reviewed. The parties shall work expeditiously to evaluate the information and mutually establish appropriate handling and disposition guidelines."


General Restrictions

Awards will be made to non-profit institutions located in the United States only and will be based on a formal proposal submitted by an organization on behalf of the principal investigator(s).


Who May Submit

It is NSA's intent to maintain America's domestic capabilities in mathematics at the highest level. Therefore, for mathematics grants, all participants supported by a MSP grant to include principal investigators, students and collaborators, must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. To be eligible for an award, the organization must have submitted a certificate of Assurance or Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and be constantly in compliance with the Act.


When and How to Submit

The NSA MSP no longer accepts hard-copy submissions. Please submit proposals to MSPgrants@nsa.gov. Proposals may be submitted annually from September 1 to October 15.

Selection notifications for Research Experience for Undergraduate programs will be sent to the PI in early January. It is expected that all awards will be made between March and May. Selection notifications for conferences, workshops and other special situations are made throughout the year.

  1. Conferences, Workshops and Special Situations

    Proposals for conferences, workshops and special situations may be up to two years of support. These types of grants can also fund other innovative programs at a university in one of the designated research areas (i.e., algebra, discrete mathematics, number theory, probability and statistics). Projects in cryptography are considered out of bounds for these grants. Efforts to promote attendance and participation by minorities and women are highly encouraged. The stipend awarded by NSA for a conference or workshop cannot exceed $25,000 for a single year and will normally range between $10,000 and $15,000.

    It is expected that conference, workshop and special situation proposals will be submitted to and may be partially funded by other agencies as well as by the NSA. The budget may include travel expenses and honoraria for principal speakers, and travel, meals and lodging expenses for participants. Registration fees should be set at a level to encourage the participation of students. Grant funds cannot be used to pay for coffee breaks or refreshments; we recommend using registration fees to pay for these items. The budget for conferences, workshops and special situations must not include any salary reimbursement. Therefore, it is inappropriate that any university indirect costs be incurred in this category.

    Conference, Workshop and Special Situation proposals are reviewed by the NSA. Proposals must be submitted between September 1 and October 15, and notification of funding will be made in the spring/summer of the following year. The MSP does not authorize pre-award spending; thus PIs of spring conferences need to apply for funding two submission cycles prior to the conference. PIs cannot make expenditures on the award until a fully executed document is in place at the institution. Please note that all participants whose expenses will be covered by the NSA MSP grant must be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

  2. Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs)

    Proposals for research experience for undergraduates may be up to two years of support. The mathematical content of the REU may be in any area of mathematics or computer science consistent with the policy on cryptographic research mentioned earlier. Efforts to promote attendance and participation by minorities and women are highly encouraged. The stipend awarded by NSA for a REU or special event cannot exceed $125,000 per year.

    It is expected that REU proposals will be submitted to and may be partially funded by other agencies as well as by the NSA. The budget may include PI(s), graduate student and administrative salaries, travel expenses and honoraria for principal speakers, travel, stipends, meals and housing expenses for participants. Indirect costs may also be included in the budget.

    REU proposals are reviewed by the NSA. Proposals must be submitted between September 1 and October 15, and notification of funding will be made in January of the following year. The MSP does not authorize pre-award spending; thus PIs of this grant cannot make expenditures on the award until a fully executed document is in place at the institution. Please note that all participants whose expenses will be covered by the NSA MSP grant must be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents.


Additional Information

We also require that the PI obtain and provide institutional approval as part of the proposal submission process. Usually, the approval authority comes from the Sponsored Program Office (SPO). Since securing this approval may add an uncertain amount of time to the completion of your proposal, we urge you to make the acquaintance of the SPO early and to work with them through the submission process.


What to Submit

PIs should submit a single PDF file that comprises each of the following parts of the proposal: Cover Page, Summary Page, Description of Proposed Research, Budget, Personnel, Bibliography, Facilities and Equipment (if applicable), Proprietary Data (if applicable), Other Sponsors (if applicable), and Confirmation of Indirect Rates. Note that, even if indirect costs are not incurred, it is still necessary to include the indirect rate agreement.

  • Cover Page

    Please use the format provided in the Section Sample Pages under Cover Page.

  • Summary Page

    A one-page summary of the work being proposed beginning with the proposal title followed immediately with the name(s) of the PI(s) and the MSC codes (primary and secondary). The summary should be self-contained, avoid symbols, and be expressed in language understandable to a scientifically literate reader.

  • Description of Proposed Research

    A detailed description (no more than 20 pages) of the research to be undertaken, its objectives and approach, and its relationship to the state of knowledge in the field and to comparable work in progress elsewhere. In this section, the PI is also required to provide additional pages that list pertinent literature citations of references for the description of proposed research (literature citations are not counted in the 20-page limit for this section).

  • Budget

    Each grant application must include a budget for each academic year of the proposed time period which provides an itemized estimate of the total cost of the research project in that year. The budget must follow the format given in the Section Sample Budget Pages. Budgets given in narrative format will not be accepted. If a portion of the total cost is to be furnished by the proposing institution, or another funding agency, then the source and amount should be set forth separately from that money requested from NSA and should be indicated in a "cost share" column on the budget page.

    More Budgeting Details

    Recipients of Conference, Workshop, Special Situation and REU grants may allocate their funds to pay for the travel of plenary speakers, advertising costs and registration fees.

    The cost principles of OMB Circular A-21 will be applicable to agreements with educational institutions and the cost principles of OMB Circular A-122 shall be applicable for nonprofit organizations. For projects of more than one (1) year duration, separate estimates are required for each year.

    Additional Budget Considerations and Reminders

    • Collaborators/Consultants: The MSP recognizes collaborative efforts of the PI when hosting events. Travel arrangements that are made to cover the travel expenses of a collaborator/consultant can be included in the budget under the travel category. As with all persons benefiting from the grant, the collaborator/consultant must be either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
    • Travel: Due to the uncertainty of the number of participants for the Conference, Workshop, Special Situation and REU grants, the MSP does not impose a travel limit. The MSP requires that all foreign travel (defined as any travel outside of the United States to include Canada and Mexico) receive prior approval at least a month before the travel occurs.
    • Technology Budget: Note that the budget for technology expenses such as computers, software, etc. is $2,500. All technology purchases must have appropriate documentation justifying the purchase.
  • Personnel

    The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and the time the principal investigator(s) will devote to the research are important factors in the selection of proposals for NSA support. See the section entitled WHO MAY SUBMIT for citizenship/immigration requirement.

    For the principal investigator and the senior staff, include:

    • a short biography and a selective list of major and/or current publications
    • information on other commitments of time, such as sabbatical or extended leave; and
    • proportion of time to be devoted to this and other research. State whether the principal investigator or other key personnel have applied for or received support from other agencies for this or for other research.

    Give the names (if known at the time of the proposal's submission) of other technical personnel who will be working on the research, and describe their association with the project.

  • Bibliography

    Include a complete bibliography for each individual. When relevant to the proposed research or indicative of the applicant's ability, include summaries of these and preprints or reprints of research not yet available in readily accessible journals.

  • Facilities and Equipment Available

    Facilities and existing equipment available for the research should be described on this page. Indicate N/A if this does not apply to the proposal.

  • Proprietary Data

    Identify any proprietary data within the proposal that is to be used for evaluation purposes only. Indicate N/A if this does not apply to the proposal.

  • Other Sponsors

    Provide the names of other parties that have funded, are funding, or have been asked to fund proposed research by any of the investigators during the period of time covered by this proposed grant. Please use the format provided in the Section Sample Pages under Current and Pending Support Page. Indicate N/A if this does not apply to the proposal.

  • Confirmation of Indirect Rates

    Include the name, address, and phone number of the federal government audit agency that will confirm the indirect rates proposed in the budget, and a copy of the latest rate agreement (usually with the Department of Health and Human Services) covering at least the requested starting date of the grant.


Privacy Act Statement

Authority for collecting the requested information is 10 U.S.C. 2358. DoD's Blanket Routine Uses (found at Appendix C of 32 CFR Part 310) apply to this information. The information provided will be used to evaluate the qualifications of those persons who will perform the proposed research. This information may be disclosed to U.S. Government Agencies as appropriate. Disclosure of the requested information is voluntary; however, failure to provide the requested information will delay or prevent evaluation of the proposal.


Grant Administration

The NSA Office of Contracting administers the non-technical aspects of grants. Further details, including General Provisions for NSA Grants and Cooperative Agreements, may be obtained from the following address:

  • Maryland Procurement Office
  • Dr. Charles H. Toll, Director
  • Mathematical Sciences Program
  • Email: chtoll@nsa.gov
  • Phone: (443) 634-4304
  • Fax: (443) 634-4390
  • Ms. Barbara Johnson, Program Administrator
  • Mathematical Sciences Program
  • Email: bajohn1@nsa.gov
  • Phone: (443) 634-4304
  • Fax: (443) 634-4390
Mailing Address:
  • National Security Agency
  • Mathematical Sciences Program
  • ATTN: R1

Sample Pages

Sample Budget Pages