HST Grant Funding and Budget Submissions


This section is intended to be an overview only of the budget proposal and funding policies for STScI grant programs. Budget notification letters will include specific details and resources for budget proposal preparation. The letters will be sent after proposers are notified of their successful Phase I programs. Contact STScI Grants Administration with questions concerning funding policies, budget submissions, allowable costs, or grant activities. 

Phone: (410) 338-4200
email: gms_mail@stsci.edu

Budget Proposal Deadline

Budget proposals are due: August 4, 2022 at 8:00pm EDT. Late proposals will not be considered.

Budget proposals are submitted via STGMS (https://stgms.stsci.edu). Contact the Sponsored Research Office at your institution if you need an STGMS account.

STScI General Grant Provisions

STScI grants will be awarded in accordance with the GGP 2018. The terms of this Call for Proposals shall be incorporated into, and are considered to be part of, the GGP 2018.

Eligibility for STScI Grant Funds

Important: Carefully review the GGP 2018, Section 3, Eligibility for STScI Grant Funding, for specific eligibility requirements. Contact STScI Grants Administration if you have any questions regarding requirements or to determine if a person is eligible to request STScI grant funding.

Certifications, Assurances, and Representations

Budgets submitted to STScI or the acceptance of STScI grant awards represent the recipient institution's Authorizing Official or Authorizing Official Representative certification of compliance with the GGP 2018, its appended regulatory certifications, assurances, and representations, and the Budget Submission Certifications in STGMS.

STScI Review of Risk Posed by Applicants

STScI has an obligation and the authority to ensure that recipient institutions are eligible to receive federal awards and meet the requirements related to the award of federal funds. STScI evaluates risks posed by applicants before issuing an award.  If an award is made, special conditions that correspond to the degree of risk assessed may be applied to the award.  See GGP 2018, Sections 7 and 8 for criteria considered in STScI’s evaluation of risk posed by applicants, and examples of specific conditions.

Budget Proposals

The budget is a detailed financial expression of the project or program and it shall be related to performance for program evaluation purposes whenever appropriate. GO/AR budget proposals are reviewed in detail and evaluated by the STScI Financial Review Committee (FRC) to assess funding that is appropriate to reduce and analyze HST data in conjunction with the work in the approved Phase I proposal. 

The responsibility of a complete, accurate proposal rests with each investigator and their institution. It is important to include clear, detailed, and complete information in your budget, budget narrative, and management plan. Missing or incomplete information may result in a reduction of funding allocated to the program.

  • Level of Effort – The level of effort proposed should generally not exceed 24 months.  It is expected that HST data will be analyzed in one to two years, depending on the type and complexity of the project.  Costs for level of effort in excess of 24 months will be removed from the budget unless clearly justified.

Reasonable, Allowable, Allocable

All budgeted costs must be clearly justified in the budget narrative and linked directly to achieving specific science goals described in the approved Phase I proposal. All costs proposed must be reasonable, allowable, and allocable. See GGP 2018, Sections 9-11. Section 12 lists examples of specifically unallowable costs.

Costs that will not be considered during budget reviews:

  • Costs to support Phase II preparation activities. The purpose of funding is to maximize the support provided for the research itself, and not the general proposal process.
  • Costs for work not clearly stated and scientifically justified in the approved Phase I proposal (e.g. ground-based observing, analysis of data from other observatories).
  • Costs for work that extends beyond the original work in the Phase I proposal, based on TAC comments.
  • Costs for work outside the original scope of work (i.e. work not included in the Phase I proposal, then added to the cost proposal and budget narrative).
  • Costs that are over-scoped (i.e. costs for work described in the Phase I proposal, but determined to be in excess of what is required to complete the project).
  • Costs that are disproportionate to the funded level of effort for U.S. investigators.
  • Costs included in the cost proposal, but are not included in the budget narrative, or are not described or clearly justified in the budget narrative.

Grant Administrative PI

Each budget must have an Administrative PI who will have overall fiscal and reporting responsibility for the grant proposal and subsequent award. Grant awards are issued to the proposing institution at which the Administrative PI is employed and not to the PI personally (Ref. GGP 2018, Section 4).

Continuation Programs

Approved GO Continuation programs will have orbits scheduled in more than one cycle. Continuation programs do not require a new Phase I proposal for each cycle. Phase II and budget proposals only, are required for each subsequent cycle of the program. Budgets submitted for the first cycle of a continuation proposal will include costs for the effort to reduce and analyze the data obtained in the first cycle only. Costs for subsequent cycles will be automatically removed by the Financial Review Committee (FRC). Budget narratives will include a description of the overall effort for the multi-year project. Additionally, the narrative will include the same requirements as all other budget proposals.

Funding for Joint Programs

Funding requests submitted to STScI for joint programs should support only the HST portion of the project. Funding for the analysis of data from other observatories should be provided through their budget process. See those websites for more information. If a request is submitted to STScI to support the analysis of data from other than HST, a detailed justification of why the work is crucial to understanding the HST project is required. Clearly describe and differentiate the labor effort for each program in the budget narrative.

Program Management Plans

Management Plans, including a timeline, are required with the budget proposal submission for all proposals. The FRC reviews the Management Plans to determine if the costs requested are commensurate with the level of effort required to complete the project. The FRC cannot accurately assess budget proposals for programs with incomplete or inadequate information.

Program Management Plans should include the following information:

  • An organized, integrated plan that uses a systematic approach for data reduction and analysis.
  • A description of each person's tasks/role and the time commitments of funded and non-funded personnel (name where possible). Additionally, describe who is doing what, and whether any of those roles change throughout the project. If yes, explain. Large programs should include a description of the program manager's responsibilities and how the person will provide cohesive leadership and oversight.

The plan should also include:

  • An outline of the project’s goals and objectives.
  • A quantitative list of actions or tasks required to achieve the goals and objectives of the project.
  • Clearly identify the responsibilities of U.S. and foreign investigators.  Budgets for U.S. investigators should be within the scope of the labor proposed for those investigators.  Foreign teams must contribute a proportionate amount to the project (including publications).
  • Describe any ramp up activities or preparation of ancillary data.
  • Describe the value of any redundant effort.
  • Describe how the expertise of the team members will be leveraged.
  • A schedule with timelines, project milestones, and goals.
  • A list of deliverables, if applicable.
  • A list of tools (if any) that will be developed.
  • Describe how the team plans to collaborate/communicate.

Priorities of the Financial Review Committee

The FRC reviews budget proposals based on the tasks, level of effort, and other costs required to complete the project. Budgets are evaluated based on the work proposed in Phase I.

Proposers should ask themselves these key questions before submitting a proposal:

  • Are the responsibilities, contributions, and level of effort for each team member (including foreign and unfunded) clearly stated, justified, proportional (directly linked), and in conjunction with their role in the project and the approved Phase I proposal? Note that only tasks that are specifically identified or absolutely necessary for the Phase 1 science will be considered.
  • Team members should have separate tasks. If there is overlap, is there a clear description of why it is necessary?
  • Is the budget justification correct and consistent with the budget request?
  • Are costs in the budget included in the budget narrative? Conversely, are all costs described in the budget narrative included in the budget?
  • Is the travel requested really required for the project? Provide the specific reason project personnel must travel to specific conferences. Avoid generic TBD conferences whenever possible. Are higher costs for travel (i.e. international travel or attendance of multiple team members) well justified? Virtual meetings are encouraged.
  • Are the computers (laptops, desktops) and computing costs requested required for the project and well justified in the budget narrative?
  • Is there a clear, detailed justification for any major science software packages expected to be used?
  • Are the publication costs commensurate with the level of the project?  Is there a justification for an unusually high number of pages or publications?
  • Are unusual or particularly high costs well justified?
  • Are the contributions of all unfunded and foreign investigators described in the budget narrative? Is it very clear that unfunded and foreign team members are contributing their proportionate share of the effort and costs (e.g., labor, travel, and publications)?

Budget Review and Approval Process

Following the notification of approved Phase I programs, STScI Grants Administration will send instructions for budget preparation and submission to U.S. investigators. Budget requests are reviewed by the STScI Financial Review Committee (FRC) and funding recommendations are presented to the STScI Director for approval.

Grant Awards and Availability of Funds

After program funding amounts are determined, Program Administrative PIs and their institutions will receive a notification letter with the total approved amount for the program.  The Program Admin PI has the discretion to assign funding allocations to each grant Co-I, and to rebudget the approved funding amount to maximize science results.  It is each Program Admin PIs responsibility to notify their Co-Is of the amount allocated for their grant budget.

All grants are awarded contingent upon the following:

    1. Availability of funds from NASA;
    2. Submission and approval of revised budgets and narratives; and
    3. Submission of overdue reports for current grants.

An official award document for each grant funded on a program will be issued separately to each Co-I institution.

·        General Observers (GO) will be awarded after the receipt of successful observations.

·        Archival Researchers (AR) will be awarded within 30 days of receipt of the PI Notification Letters.  Any AR programs requesting a delay in the start date for funding must provide a justification in the Phase I proposal Analysis Plan (HST Preparation of the PDF Attachment) and must be approved by the STScI Director.

If budget requests and FRC Recommendations exceed the funding provided by NASA for the GO/AR Grants Program, additional reductions may be applied to programs to remain within the funding guideline.

STScI Authority

Allowable costs for all budgets, awards, and expenditures will be determined in accordance with the GGP 2018, the Cycle 30 Call for Proposals, and the applicable institutional, NASA, and federal guidelines, policies, and regulations. STScI has the final authority to determine if costs for budgets, awards, and expenditures are allowable, reasonable, and allocable.  STScI reserves the right to recover grant expenditures that were not in compliance with applicable policies and regulations

Next: Appendix A: Contact Information