We will use this page to post questions and answers concerning the CIF. Please contact Jill Bauman (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions. Thank you.
Q: Do you have any notion as to whether or not there's going to be a "color" limitation to the money? Is it going to be for FTE only, for no FTE at all, or something of that nature? Just want to make sure I weight the budget part accordingly. A: There will be a mix of FTE labor and procurement dollars in the awards; no award will be all procurement, though an award can be all FTE labor
Q: Will the CCT review my concept prior to submission to let me know if the topic is of interest and suitable for CIF consideration, or to critique my proposal so that I may strengthen it? A: This answer has two parts:
If you are concerned that your technology concept may not align with either the CCT-sponsored initiatives or any of the 14 STP roadmaps, recall that the solicitation does indicate that CIF resources may be made available for other topics pending review and acceptance by the CCT as relevant to Ames, the NASA HQ Office of the Chief Technologist, and/or Agency objectives. The onus is on the proposer to show the relevancy of the concept in the proposal. Advance review is not necessary.
The CCT office cannot pre-review concepts without the risking loss of credibility and impartiality. Potential responders should seek feedback from their own management. However, Dr. Langhoff will give informal feedback on all proposals not approved for funding in this CIF cycle, if the proposers seek it.
Q: I am curious to know why the CIF solicitation is open only to CS led efforts? This is ignoring the vibrant ongoing ideas and efforts of numerous non-CS Ames researchers and relegating them to second class citizen status within the community... Why not open this solicitation up to the entire Ames research community and see what innovative concepts are proposed! A: There are several reasons why we are requiring that teams be led by civil servants:
1. The stated goal of the Center Innovation Fund Program is to stimulate and encourage creativity and innovation within the NASA Centers; it calls on “NASA scientists and engineers to lead” projects but encourages partnerships with research laboratories, academia and private industry.
2. The overarching issue that drives the requirement for civil service leads is the paucity of procurement dollars vs. FTE dollars; Centers can distribute a mix of procurement and FTE labor funding, but procurement dollars are so limited it would be next to impossible to set aside awards that are procurement only.
3. Even if we could do so, the CCT office is so small that we would not be able to oversee contractor awards. Our approach enables us to hand oversight of projects to other civil servants who would then be responsible.
4. This is a constraint at all Centers; in fact, the Ames policy may be one of the more liberal in this respect.
Q: In order to calculate the dollar amount for NASA Civil Servants in the budget provided on the CIF Quad Chart template, what labor rate should I use? A: You may use your actual rate (including benefits), if known, or use the Ames average labor rate for FY13: $199.6K.
Q: Is there a set minimum number of FTE hours required of the civil servant CIF lead? A: While there is no set minimum on the number of FTE hours for the civil servant CIF lead, there must be a reasonable level of effort by the CS lead (noted in the budget section) to successfully accomplish their tasks and responsibilities indicated in the work description.
Q: On the budget sheet, how do I calculate a civil servant's FTE's and the equivalent budget ($) based on the number of hours? A: For each civil servant listed in the proposal, determine the number of hours required to complete the tasks for which the CS is responsible. FTE equivalent can be determined by dividing the labor hours by 2080 (i.e., #hours/2080 = FTE). Then, multiply the FTE by the labor rate (including benefits). If this is not known, use the FY13 Center average ~ $199K/year (i.e., FTE*$199K = CS $ budget).
Q: If my proposal lists partners, do I need a Statement of Commitment from that partner? What does the statement have to include? A: If your proposal states that you have a partner (either in academia, private industry, other government agency, non-profit, or other NASA Center), you are required to submit a Statement of Commitment from each partner. The Statement of Commitment must come from the partner and include: the partner name; organization; a statement from the partner indicating knowledge of the proposal; a list of the tasks stated as the partners responsibility; a statement of concurrence of those tasks; and a list of any deliverables from the the partner. It should be signed by the partner, and if possible, be on the partner's organizational letterhead.
Q: How do I submit a Statement of Commitment from a partner? A: A partner Statement of Commitment may be uploaded in the same way (and at the same time) as the Quad and Penta charts (An uploaded document may be any number of file types, including Word, PP, etc.).
Q: Are both the Penta and Quad charts required for CIF submission? Are there any other requirements beyond the Penta and Quad charts? A: Yes, both the Penta and Quad charts are required. If there is a field that does not apply to your particular proposal, than state so with an "N/A". Other than the Penta and Quad charts, if you have partners listed in the proposal, a statement of commitment is required from each partner (see above question for further details).
Q: Should I budget the work done by a university partner under contract labor (WYE) or under procurement? A: Labor performed by either academia or industry (i.e., any non-government civil servant) should be budgeted under Contract Labor (WYE). (If a contractor's effort is a fixed-price, this should also be budgeted under Contract Labor. In this case, just indicate fixed-price, and do not fill in labor hours.)
Q: How do I budget equipment purchased by a contractor? A: Any hardware or software purchased for the project should be budgeted under Procurement ($), regardless of who procures the equipment.
Q: If a proposal requests .2 FTE ($40K equivalent), does that limit the procurement budget to $10K (so as not to exceed the $50K max)? A: The procurement limit, which includes all contract labor (WYE) and hardware/software procurement, is $50,000. The civil servant labor limit is 1 FTE. These are independent limits. However, since the procurement limit includes both contract labor and other procurements, then if your proposal requests $40K for a contractor, then your hardware/software procurement would be limited to $10K.
Q: Can proposers submit partner letters of support that have been signed electronically? A: Yes. We may ask for a paper copy for the record if the proposal is accepted.