Evaluation Requirements for NSF’s Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems (POSE)

  • July 28, 2023

Like many large, multi-year grant opportunities published through the National Science Foundation (NSF), the new Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems (POSE) comes with mandatory reporting and evaluation requirements. Proposals will be scored with key performance indicators and the evaluation plan in mind. Thusly, hiring an independent external evaluation service for proposal preparation is the best practice. An evaluation provider can help you plan objectives, milestones, and performance indicators and write your evaluation plan for you.

Merit review

Those with experience applying for other federal grants may be familiar with the merit review process. The merit review is the criteria upon which the reviewers score all applications. Additionally, each grant has specific merit review criteria.

A primary merit review principle for both Phase I and Phase II POSE grants is defined as the following. “Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF-funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, considering the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

Additional merit review criteria for Phase II projects include, “Does the proposal present a clear, actionable evaluation plan to measure the success of the OSE concerning its sustainability goals?” These criteria indicate the importance of presenting a solid evaluation plan to the reviewers. An excellent evaluation plan begins with hiring an evaluator. The evaluator can also reduce the burden of proposal preparation for the applicant by writing the evaluation plan.

Evaluation and reporting

What reporting is required? For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report. The report must be submitted to the cognizant Program Officer. It must arrive no later than 90 days before the current budget period ends.

At least 120 days following the grant’s expiration, the PI must submit a final project report. The PI must also submit a project outcomes report for the general public. Failure to provide the required reports will delay NSF review. This could delay processing of any future funding increments (e.g., Phase II) and any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award.

Report requirements

Reports include mandatory data points that are relevant to the project. Research.gov has all the information for applicants who want to learn more about NSF’s electronic project-reporting system. Research.gov offers FAQs on the preparation and submission of annual and final project reports.

Some information the reports require includes information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. The project outcome report will require a summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as the PI submits it.

Hiring an evaluator is the best way to ensure your POSE proposal meets or exceeds the merit review criteria for Phase I and II proposals. Your external independent evaluator can write the critical evaluation section for your proposal. In addition, Your evaluator can help you collect and analyze data for all required reports. This saves time on task and reduces the uncertainty many first-time applicants face surrounding reporting requirements. When building your team for the upcoming POSE grant, do not forget to include your evaluator!

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