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NSF 04-521: Digital Government

Program Solicitation

Document Information

Document History

  • Posted: November 26, 2003
Public comment:
This document is current but no longer receiving proposals.

This document has been archived.

Digital Government (DigitalGov)

Program Solicitation
NSF 04-521
Replaces Document 02-156

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation
Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
      Division of Information and Intelligent Systems

Full Proposal Target Date(s):

    March 01, 2004
    November 03, 2004

Summary Of Program Requirements

General Information

Program Title:

Digital Government (DigitalGov)

Synopsis of Program:

Government, on a large scale, is a collector and provider of data and information, a provider of information-based services, and a user of information technologies. The Digital Government Program has two goals:

  1. to support computer and information science research on the application of information/computer technologies to government missions, in partnership with government agencies;
  2. to support multidisciplinary research on the design and use of information technologies in democratic processes, the impact of information technologies on government institutions, and the interaction between citizens and government.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

  • Lawrence E. Brandt, Program Manager, Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, 1175 N, telephone: (703) 292-8912, fax: (703) 292-9073, email:

  • Valerie Gregg, Program Manager, Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, 255 S, telephone: (703) 292-8912, fax: (703) 292-9073, email:

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 47.070 --- Computer and Information Science and Engineering

Eligibility Information

  • Organization Limit: None Specified.
  • PI Eligibility Limit: None Specified.
  • Limit on Number of Proposals: None Specified.

Award Information

  • Anticipated Type of Award: Standard or Continuing Grant
  • Estimated Number of Awards: 10 to 15
  • Anticipated Funding Amount: $9,000,000 pending availability of funds, which may be supplemented by additional funds from other government agencies

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions
  • Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: This solicitation contains information that supplements the standard Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) proposal preparation guidelines. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.
B. Budgetary Information
  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Cost Sharing is not required.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: Not Applicable.
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.
C. Due Dates
  • Full Proposal Target Date(s):
    • March 01, 2004
      November 03, 2004

Proposal Review Information

  • Merit Review Criteria: National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

  • Award Conditions: Standard NSF award conditions apply.
  • Reporting Requirements: Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.

I. Introduction

The emergence of the Internet and related applications has fundamentally altered the environment in which government agencies conduct their missions and deliver services. The changes in underlying mechanisms of democracy and civic discourse are also pivotal. Concurrently, expectations of the public for government are being driven by their experience of the private sector's rapid uptake and use of information technologies in business-critical applications. Government requirements may inform the needs of large enterprises in the private sector. However, business models for IT uptake and usage are not necessarily or easily transferable to government, which is unique in a number of ways including:

  • distributing activities, data, and services across multiple agencies at local, regional, tribal, state, Federal, and international levels of government;   
  • collecting, interpreting, and maintaining large and societally-important public data and government records;        
  • delivering services to citizens, regardless of location, income level, or capability;
  • maintaining a compact of trust, privacy, and reliability with citizens;
  • preserving and archiving important governmental digital objects in perpetuity; and
  • implementing societal mores, expressed in law, regulation, and administrative procedure.

Responding to these unique aspects, Digital Government grants are expected to develop new scientific understanding of the application and impact of information technologies on both government missions and on democracy, drawing on research within the purview of NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering.

II. Program Description

The Digital Government Program is predicated on three viewpoints:

  1. The uniqueness of the government arena presents new opportunities for academic researchers to gain access to important problems and data in real-world large-scale contexts. 
  2. Government can inform its strategic vision through academic research collaborations, thus speeding the development, deployment, and application of advanced technologies, methods, policies and processes into usable systems. 
  3. It is critical to understand the impact of these technologies on government agencies and services, governance, and the democratic process.

Digital Government proposals should focus on:

  • research that advances IT applied in support of governmental missions; and/or
  • research that enhances our understanding of the impact of IT on the structures, processes, impact and outcomes within government, both from the perspective of government agencies and from the viewpoint of the citizenry at large.

Multidisciplinary proposals that simultaneously advance IT in governmental applications and that provide new knowledge of the impact of this work on society are strongly encouraged. These proposals must draw upon the expertise of researchers in computer and information science and in the social sciences as well as other sciences, and in many cases will require a partnership with stakeholders.

Every proposal that seeks to advance IT applied in support of governmental missions is required to involve collaboration with one or more government agencies. Such proposals are expected to inform government strategic planning, but will not in most cases result in technologies that can be directly deployed in production environments.

Proposers should take particular note of requirements indicated in Section V.A of this Program Solicitation.

Example: Digital Government research topics include the capture of government decision-making processes; the application of information technology to law and regulation; large scale data and information acquisition and management; software engineering of large-scale government projects; on-line campaigning and e-voting; new forms of civic engagement and interaction enabled by IT; failures and successes of IT adoption in government; disintermediation - direct citizen-agency interaction and services; implications and impact of IT on democracy and forms of governance;  and the impact of more transparent and understandable government processes and decision making enabled by IT.

Digital Government research may be conducted in government contexts such as environmental management; electronic rulemaking; long term archiving of digital objects; urban and land-use planning; social services; criminal justice and law enforcement; crisis management and emergency response; public transportation; public records and libraries; and the collection, maintenance, and confidentiality of government statistics.     

Further information and context for Digital Government research can be obtained from the following reports: 

  • "Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government," a report by the National Research Council, is available at This report provides a general overview of IT research in government contexts.     
  • The Web site contains information on all grants made by the Digital Government program, including abstracts and pointers to research sites on the web.
  • "Some Assembly Required: Building a Government for the 21st Century," a report by the Center for Technology in Government of the University at Albany, SUNY, is available at This report explores some of the non-technical research issues related to e-government.
  • "Toward the Digital Government of the 21st Century," a report by the Information Sciences Institute at the U. of Southern California, is available at This report provided the initial foundation and rationale for the NSF Digital Government Research Program.
  • "Research Challenges in Digital Archiving: Towards a National Infrastructure for Long-Term Preservation of Digital Information," a report by the University of Michigan School of Information, is available at This report, co-sponsored by NSF and the Library of Congress, provides a research agenda for the indicated topic.
  • "E-Rulemaking: New Directions for Technology and Regulation," a report by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, is available at . This report explores the potential for on-line rulemaking, and identifies related research topics.
  • "The Digital Government Civic Scenario Workshop," a report by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, is available at This report explores research issues related to identity in the civic arena.
  • "Information, Institutions, and Governance," a report by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, is available at This report provides a social science research agenda for electronic government and governance.      
  • "Responding to Unexpected Events," a report by the Information Sciences Institute at the U. of Southern California, is available at . This document provides a research agenda for social and computer science related to crisis and emergency management.         
  • "Implementing the President's Management Agenda for E-Government," is available at This document defines the Bush administration's implementation plan for strategic improvements in government.

III. Eligibility Information

The categories of proposers identified in the Grant Proposal Guide are eligible to submit proposals under this program announcement/solicitation.

IV. Award Information

The anticipated funding amount is approximately $9 million in FY 2004, pending availability of funds. The estimated number of awards is 10-15 standard or continuing grants.

V. Proposal Preparation And Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal Instructions:

Proposals submitted in response to this program announcement/solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF Website at: Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from

The following information and instructions supplement the GPG Guidelines.

Appropriate project elements might include a collaboration with one or more government agencies at any level (local, state, regional, tribal, Federal, international). The government agency will be a partner in the definition and execution of the proposed work. Agencies are encouraged to partner through sharing of facilities, data, and personnel, as well as either direct funding for researchers or joint funding with the National Science Foundation, for support of non-government project costs. Participation by vendors, industry, private research laboratories, foundations, and/or other non-profit organizations, as appropriate, is encouraged.

As appropriate, proposals should also include: 

  • A description of how the collaboration will be managed. 
  • Letters or other communication from the agencies explaining their commitment to the partnership and the resources they will bring to the partnership. These may be included in the Supplementary Documents section of FastLane.  
  • Plans for evaluation, during the project and at its conclusion, to determine the utility and usability of its research products.  
  • Upon project completion, plans to ensure further use of research results; e.g., involvement of potential commercial partners (systems integrators, software vendors), commitments by other organizations for continued funding, etc.  
  • Integration of stakeholders during the project life cycle

NSF funds may not be used to support costs incurred by other agencies directly related to carrying out their missions, such as staff, travel, and cost of facilities in provision of production or operational services. Inasmuch as NSF does not intend to supplement the budgets of other government agencies, NSF will support only the research elements of the work proposed. Proposers are responsible for identifying and addressing in the proposal any constraints by law or regulation on the collection, creation, dissemination or disposition of data; in particular as related to their government partner agencies.

Proposers are reminded to identify the program announcement/solicitation number (04-521) in the program announcement/solicitation block on the proposal Cover Sheet. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing:

Cost sharing is not required in proposals submitted under this Program Solicitation.

Other Budgetary Limitations:

Under this solicitation, proposals may be submitted for any funding amount up to $400,000 per year for up to four years. In exceptional cases, awards for up to five years may be considered if the justification and promise are compelling; total funding in these cases will be no more than $1,600,000.

Awardees should budget time and funds to 1) attend the yearly conference of Digital Government awardees and their partners, to be held in the United States, and 2) meet with their government partners at least twice annually, as appropriate.

C. Due Dates

Proposals must be submitted by the following date(s):

Full Proposal Target Date(s):

    March 01, 2004
    November 03, 2004

D. FastLane Requirements

Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this announcement/solicitation through the FastLane system. Detailed instructions for proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program announcement/solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this announcement/solicitation.

Submission of Electronically Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required electronic certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Proposers are no longer required to provide a paper copy of the signed Proposal Cover Sheet to NSF. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane Website at:

VI. Proposal Review Information

A. NSF Proposal Review Process

Reviews of proposals submitted to NSF are solicited from peers with expertise in the substantive area of the proposed research or education project. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. NSF invites the proposer to suggest, at the time of submission, the names of appropriate or inappropriate reviewers. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts with the proposer. Special efforts are made to recruit reviewers from non-academic institutions, minority-serving institutions, or adjacent disciplines to that principally addressed in the proposal.

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions.

In an effort to increase compliance with these requirements, the January 2002 issuance of the GPG incorporated revised proposal preparation guidelines relating to the development of the Project Summary and Project Description. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators (PIs) must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative.

Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. It is believed that these changes to NSF proposal preparation and processing guidelines will more clearly articulate the importance of broader impacts to NSF-funded projects.

The two National Science Board approved merit review criteria are listed below (see the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter III.A for further information). The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments.

    What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
    How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?
    What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
    How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

    Integration of Research and Education
    One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives.
    Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities
    Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.
    Additional Review Criteria:

    The following additional evaluation criteria will be employed as appropriate to the nature of the proposal:

    • Degree of government agency involvement including personnel, facilities, and involvement of associated but separately funded projects that will benefit the proposed work.  
    • Potential for impact on government information services. 

B. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard

All proposals are carefully reviewed by at least three other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular field represented by the proposal. Proposals submitted in response to this announcement/solicitation will be reviewed by Ad Hoc and/or panel review.

Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Director. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

In most cases, proposers will be contacted by the Program Officer after his or her recommendation to award or decline funding has been approved by the Division Director. This informal notification is not a guarantee of an eventual award.

NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the date of receipt. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

VII. Award Administration Information

A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program Division administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See section VI.A. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (NSF-GC-1); * or Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreement awards also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions (CA-1). Electronic mail notification is the preferred way to transmit NSF awards to organizations that have electronic mail capabilities and have requested such notification from the Division of Grants and Agreements.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions is contained in the NSF Grant Policy Manual (GPM) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at The GPM is also for sale through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402. The telephone number at GPO for subscription information is (202) 512-1800. The GPM may be ordered through the GPO Website at

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period.

Within 90 days after the expiration of an award, the PI also is required to submit a final project report. Failure to provide final technical reports delays NSF review and processing of pending proposals for the PI and all Co-PIs. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project reporting system, available through FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. This system permits electronic submission and updating of project reports, including information on project participants (individual and organizational), activities and findings, publications, and other specific products and contributions. PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system.

VIII. Contacts For Additional Information

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

  • Lawrence E. Brandt, Program Manager, Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, 1175 N, telephone: (703) 292-8912, fax: (703) 292-9073, email:

  • Valerie Gregg, Program Manager, Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, 255 S, telephone: (703) 292-8912, fax: (703) 292-9073, email:

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

  • None Specified.

IX. Other Programs Of Interest

The NSF Guide to Programs is a compilation of funding for research and education in science, mathematics, and engineering. The NSF Guide to Programs is available electronically at General descriptions of NSF programs, research areas, and eligibility information for proposal submission are provided in each chapter.

Many NSF programs offer announcements or solicitations concerning specific proposal requirements. To obtain additional information about these requirements, contact the appropriate NSF program offices. Any changes in NSF's fiscal year programs occurring after press time for the Guide to Programs will be announced in the NSF E-Bulletin, which is updated daily on the NSF Website at, and in individual program announcements/solicitations. Subscribers can also sign up for NSF's Custom News Service ( to be notified of new funding opportunities that become available.

Other CISE programs of interest include the Digital Society and Technologies program and other programs of the CISE Division of Intelligent Information Systems (,  the NSF-wide Information Technology Research Program (, and various programs in the NSF Division of Social and Economic Sciences (

About The National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. Awardees are wholly responsible for conducting their project activities and preparing the results for publication. Thus, the Foundation does not assume responsibility for such findings or their interpretation.

NSF welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists, engineers and educators. The Foundation strongly encourages women, minorities and persons with disabilities to compete fully in its programs. In accordance with Federal statutes, regulations and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from NSF, although some programs may have special requirements that limit eligibility.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF-supported projects. See the GPG Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

Privacy Act And Public Burden Statements

The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to applicant institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies needing information as part of the review process or in order to coordinate programs; and to another Federal agency, court or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 267 (January 5, 1998), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 268 (January 5, 1998). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to an information collection unless it displays a valid OMB control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to: Suzanne Plimpton, Reports Clearance Officer, Division of Administrative Services, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230.

OMB control number: 3145-0058.