Key Policy Updates

This page contains important updates on proposal preparation and submission. Click on the links below or scroll down the page for details.


* Notes on NSF's new Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide, effective on January 30, 2023

The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted or due on or after January 30, 2023. Significant changes include:

  • Revisions to incorporate as the replacement for FastLane for proposal preparation and submission.
  • Information about the use of Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) and the BAA Management System (BAAM).
  • Revisions to the certification for Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) for proposals submitted on or after July 31, 2023, which expands the training to faculty and other senior personnel as well as requires specific training mandated by the America COMPETES Act, as amended.
  • Use of Concept Outlines as a submission type and the Program Suitability and Proposal Concept Tool (ProSPCT).
  • Requirement for proposers to provide a certification regarding Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus and Off-Site Research.
  • Revisions to the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support formats to include certifications from the individual (as required by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act,  Section 223) regarding information being accurate, current, and complete.
  • Requirement for NSF program officers to request updated Current and Pending Support information prior to making a funding recommendation, in accordance with the NSPM-33 Implementation Guidance.
  • Requirements for use of SciENcv for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support documents.
  • Implementation of Build America, Buy America statutes.
  • New sections on Research Security and Scientific Integrity.

[Posted Oct 31, 2022]


* Notes on NSF's new biosketch formats (SciENcv or fillable PDF) required after Oct. 5, 2020

As of October 5, 2020, NSF requires you to create your biosketch using sciENcv or the NSF provided fillable pdf as explained here. Here are some notes on both formats based on issues reported by faculty during the transition:

  • Tips for SciENcv: We recommend you use SciENcv on Chrome or Safari. Some faculty have had issues trying to use the site from Firefox or IE. If you encounter a problem, you may also want to check that your browser version is up-to-date. Your appointments may show up in a random order in the input system, however they will show up correctly (in reverse chronological order based on start date) once you generate the PDF from SciENcv.
  • Tips for the fillable PDF: We encourage you to use SciENcv rather than the fillable PDF due to formatting restrictions. Please note that if you use the fillable PDF, you must still adhere to NSF's policy that you cannot list more than 5 items under either Product section. (Note, that an exception to the full citation requirement has been made due to the formatting restrictions that allows you to shorten the author list with “et al.”). Additionally, the fillable PDF must be downloaded to your computer before you fill it out. NSF FAQ information below:

    • I do not have enough space to provide complete product citations in the space provided. How should I proceed? The PAPPG requires that publication citations "include full citation information, including (where applicable and practicable) the names of all authors..." Senior personnel that wish to include publications in the products section of the biographical sketch that include multiple authors may, at their discretion, choose to list one or more of the authors and then "et al." in lieu of including the complete listing of authors' names.

    • I am attempting to upload a Biographical Sketch, and am receiving an error that my document is not in an NSF-approved format. How should I proceed? If you populated the NSF-fillable PDF form directly in a web browser (e.g., Chrome or Safari) and selected the "Save to PDF" or "Print to PDF" function from that web browser, this could cause the data that NSF systems use to validate the NSF-approved format to become corrupted, resulting in errors when proposers attempt to upload the PDF document to NSF systems. NSF recommends proposers download and save the blank PDF document prior to adding content to avoid formatting inconsistencies. The completed and saved PDF document can then be uploaded via FastLane, or

  • A note for subaward Research Administrators: do not combine files into one large PDF, please send as original individual PDFs. The biosketch, C&P, and COA PDFs need to be uploaded in the same form (with original metadata) as they were downloaded from NSF or SciENcv, or else the system will think they are invalid and there will be a Fastlane error.

  • NSF has released two separate FAQ pages on SciENcv and the Fillable PDF. Please refer to these for further troubleshooting.

[Posted Oct 1, 2020; updated Nov 3, 2020]


* Revised version of NIH Application Package-FORMS F (Effective May 25, 2020)

The NIH has updated its grant application forms for applications due on or after May 25, 2020 (FORMS-F; NOT-OD-20-026 and NOT-OD-20-077). However there are some exceptions. See the following information: If you aren’t sure how to tell the form version you should using, check out Do I Have the Right Forms for My Application? NIH lists high-level changes. The forms themselves can be found within the online application submission system, such as ASSIST or Workspace. Links to instructions and annotated forms are available from NIH's How to Apply - Application Guide.

[Posted May 20, 2020; added information July 9, 2020]


* Revised version of the NSF PAPPG and the Application Guide (Effective Jun 1, 2020)

NSF has updated its Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG 20-1) which goes into effect on June 1, 2020. See list of significant changes. Also on June 1, NSF will implement the Application Guide  (NSF 20-089). Overall, the Guide has been updated to align with the changes to NSF’s PAPPG 20-1 and to ensure consistency with data contained in NSF systems or guidance located in other NSF or Federal policy documents. This means that the requirement to use an NSF-approved format for submission of the biographical sketch and current and pending support will go into effect for new applications submitted or due on or after October 5, 2020. All other significant changes and clarifications will be effective for applications submitted or due on or after June 1, 2020.

[Posted May 29, 2020] 

* UC Berkeley Institutional Proposal Review Model for all proposals to non-profit and/or government sponsors

On and after September 1, 2019, all proposals submitted through Berkeley's Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) will receive an “institutional review.” This means that SPO Contract and Grant Officers (CGOs) will review proposals only for “institutional issues” that could create financial, audit, and/or policy risks for the University. CGOs will no longer review the technical or administrative sections of proposals for compliance with sponsor’s requirements. The Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) has determined that this approach to proposal review is needed to allow SPO staff more time for award negotiation and set up and to enable campus Principal Investigators (PIs) to access their awarded funds sooner. SPO's page about the Institutional Proposal Review Model provides an overview, rationale, timeline, and FAQs.

[Posted July 23, 2019]

* Federal Disclosure of Sponsored Projects Receiving Foreign Support.

Federal agencies are clarifying the requirements for principal investigators to disclose their foreign sources of support and detail how those sources are being used to fund research. Some of these requirements have been in place for some time; others are new or are being interpreted differently and/or more rigorously than in the past. Campus researchers can stay up-to-date on new federal requirements and recent modifications by visiting SPO's webpage on federal disclosure related to sponsored projects.

[Posted Dec 20, 2017]

 Changes in NIH Graduate Training and Career Preparation

Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Biomedical Training, a presentation by Alison Gammie (NIH, Oct 2017), makes the case that the rapid evolution of biomedical research calls for fundamental changes in graduate education and training.  Gammie, Director of the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development & Diversity, details changes in the science career landscape, major issues in training that must be addressed, and specific steps being undertaken by NIH to catalyze change. Of particular interest, she outlines major changes that were implemented with the recently released NIGMS-specific funding announcement, PAR-17-341, NRSA Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant Program (T32).

[Posted Jan 8, 2018]


* Phoebe Search tool for PIs to find information on their proposals and awards

The Sponsored Projects Office at UC Berkeley now offers an important tool to help PIs locate information on their past, current, pending and ongoing awards or proposals: Phoebe Search. This database includes proposal status updates, contact information on research administrators and SPO analysts, and an easy option for generating Current & Pending information. A quick start guide on how to use Phoebe Search can be found here:

[Posted Apr 26, 2017]

* UC Berkeley Proposal Submission Policy (Five Day Rule for SPO submission) - Additional Internal Deadlines and Consequences (Revised March 1, 2016)

Updated policy, July 19, 2019: This policy will be replaced by the new SPO Institutional Proposal Review Model on and after September 1, 2019.

In 2016, campus revised its internal deadlines for proposal submission, adding a deadline for the final proposal and implementing a priority system for proposal review/submission. Failure to adhere to these rules will impact the level of review your proposal receives, as well as its chances for successful submission. Please review the complete set of updated rules and FAQs here:

Some key take aways:

  • To avoid Priority 3 or “late" status (see below), proposals must be received by SPO in a complete form (with a final administrative section and a final or draft technical section) at least five business days before the sponsor’s deadline AND in their final form at least 8 business hours before the sponsor's deadline.
  • After meeting the five day rule, final proposals received at least 16 hours before the deadline are Priority 1, 8-16 hours before the deadline are Priority 2, and proposals received less than 8 hours before the deadline are Priority 3.
  • Priority 3 proposals will require "late submission approval" from VCRO in order to be submitted. Requests for late submission must come from your chair and be received at VCRO by 5pm on the day before the sponsor’s due date.
  • Priority 3 proposals will receive limited SPO review for institutional issues, will not be reviewed for submission errors, and will be submitted only after Priority 1 and 2 proposals.  
  • The VCR limits each PI to three late submission approvals per fiscal year.
  • Incomplete proposals (including those with blank sections in the draft technical sections) will be returned by SPO without review and will be issued a new time stamp when you provide SPO with the complete proposal.

[Posted Feb 23, 2016]


* Funding agencies become increasingly strict about application requirements

"To tame a rising tide of grant proposals, federal agencies are becoming sticklers about enforcing their application requirements — stating deadlines in hundredths of seconds and using software to prevent the submission of error riddled applications. The wrong font size on a proposal could lead to its rejection, forcing the applicant to wait months until the next grant cycle to resubmit. The delay can prove damaging with the tenure and promotion clock ticking." K. Marking, "Grant Programs Get Persnickety," Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/21/15. Read the full article-->

[Posted Oct 22, 2015]


* New NIH Biosketch format (May 2015) (NIH NOT-OD-15-085NOT-OD-15-032; NOT-OD-15-024)

Proposals with due dates on or after May 25, 2015 will require the use of NIH’s new biosketch format, a major departure from the previous format. The biggest change: Instead of simply listing your publications in Section C, you now are asked to describe your five most significant contributions to science in their historical context; each of these contributions may be supported by a list of up to 4 of your publications or other products. Additional changes include the option to include a url to a complete list of your publications (via, e.g. SciENcv, My Bibliography, My NCBI Collection) in Section C, and the option to list up to 4 of your publications/products to support your personal statement in Section A. To accommodate these changes, the allowable biosketch length has been increased from 4 to 5 pages. Instructions and a sample from NIH can be found here. Answers to frequently asked questions are here.

This new descriptive format requires significant sections to be written by the investigator; it cannot easily be compiled by an administrator.  Please make sure that all collaborators on your proposal are aware of the new requirements, as these will be more time consuming to address than they were in the past.

NIH also points towards the use of Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv), NCBI's optional tool to create biosketches for multiple federal agencies. While it will allow for easy transformation among biosketch formats (NIH old, NIH new, NSF, and more to come), it still requires you to complete all fields at least once.

[Posted Mar 25, 2015]


* Free access to "Research Development & Grant Writing News" for faculty and research staff

Berkeley faculty and research personnel now have access to Research Development & Grant Writing News, a monthly publication with articles on opportunities and strategies for successful grant seeking. Members of the campus community may use this resource free of charge through BRDO's institutional subscription. An archive of past issues from Feb 2015 to the present is available here (CalNet ID required).

[Posted Mar 1, 2015]

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