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NSF 04-583: Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) Project Office

Program Solicitation

Document Information

Document History

  • Posted: May 18, 2004

Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) Project Office

Program Solicitation
NSF 04-583

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation
Directorate for Geosciences

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

    August 18, 2004

Summary Of Program Requirements

General Information

Program Title:

Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) Project Office

Synopsis of Program:

The intent of this solicitation is to invite proposals seeking to establish a DLESE Project Office.  The competition is open to any institution able to submit proposals to NSF. The project office will be responsible for leading community discussions surrounding the growth of the DLESE digital collection, for coordinating the development of the array of services that will support the creation of exemplary resources and their use in enhancing geoscience education, and for leading the community-building activities of the core service groups.  The Principal Investigator of the successful proposal will become the Executive Director of the DLESE Management Council.  This should be an individual who can effectively lead the integration of the core service activities, and serve the necessary role of leadership and focal point for the DLESE enterprise.  The individual will operate a small project office at his/her home institution, and will devote at least half-time to leading DLESE operations. 

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

  • Michael A. Mayhew, Program Director, Directorate for Geosciences, Division of Earth Sciences, 785 S, telephone: (703) 292-8557, fax: (703) 292-9025, email:

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

  • 47.050 --- Geosciences

Eligibility Information

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

Award Information

  • Anticipated Type of Award: Continuing Grant
  • Estimated Number of Awards: 1
  • Anticipated Funding Amount: $250,000 per year in FY 2004 and FY 2005 pending availability of funds

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions
  • Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Standard GPG Guidelines apply.
B. Budgetary Information
  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Cost Sharing is not required.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: Not Applicable.
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Not Applicable.
C. Due Dates
  • Full Proposal Deadline Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):
    • August 18, 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 Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) is a distributed, community-based electronic library dedicated to improving the quality, quantity, and efficiency of teaching and learning about the Earth system at all educational levels.  It capitalizes on developments in modern information technology to make full use of, and bring order to, the World Wide Web for the purpose of empowering any teacher, learner, or citizen seeking to understand the Earth system to easily discover the right educational materials for their purposes and be assured of their high quality.

DLESE is a product of the wide recognition of the need for improved science education across the national, state, and local levels and greater access to quality science education for all.  Emerging information and communications technologies present a means of maximizing investments in science education by providing the necessary integration services and community support to promote synergy across otherwise disparate projects.

Five operational service areas of DLESE have been established to work in an integrated fashion to assist individuals and groups in developing high-quality digital resources suitable for accession into the library, to use the library’s resources to deliver high-quality geoscience education at any level, and to provide a forum for community dialog on best practices.  The five service areas constitute what is known as the DLESE Core.  These five core service areas are:

  • Collections Services:  Extensive outreach to individuals and institutions to identify and enable the accession of high-quality Earth system resources into the library and to facilitate the early establishment of a rigorous peer-review system.  The system enables multiple pathways to a reviewed DLESE collection.    
  • Community Services:  Extensive outreach to individuals and institutions to facilitate the use of and contributions to the library, to enable community interaction via the library, and to nurture the use of best practices to enable learning about the Earth system. 
  • Data Services:  Engagement in projects involving the development and use of tools to facilitate access via DLESE to Earth system data sets residing on remote servers, promote exemplary use of data in educational applications, and organize interaction between data providers and data users.   
  • Evaluation Services:  Ongoing monitoring of efficacy of use of DLESE collections and their value in substantively improving learning about the Earth system.
  • DLESE  Program Center (DPC).  Develops technical infrastructures that enable distributed collections and services to act as an integrated whole.  Provides interoperability services within the DLESE network and with other library and information service providers. Provides tools, components and services that enable the development of high-quality educational collections and resources. Supports community governance.

The current structure of DLESE operations is the result of extensive deliberations within and a resulting recommendation by the DLESE Steering Committee, which has the responsibility for developing policies that guide the development of DLESE and for overseeing DLESE operations on behalf of the broader geoscience community.

All the groups staffing the core service areas are party to the DLESE Core Integrated Work Plan (IWP), which describes the responsibilities of each service group and identifies specific tasks where collaboration among multiple service areas must occur.  The purpose of the IWP is to define tasks and milestones in order to effectively meet the overarching goals articulated in the DLESE Strategic Plan:

  • Enable the library to serve as a catalyst for geoscience educational reform,
  • Establish DLESE as the premier, trusted source for high quality geoscience educational resources, and
  • Promote sustainable library growth through community capacity-building and community participation in library governance, development, and operations. 

The leaders of each Core Service Group, along with other select individuals representing key sectors of DLESE, serve on the Management Council, the purpose of which is to plan and coordinate operational activities in the context of the Integrated Work Plan.  An Executive Director heads the Management Council.  The current Executive Director is serving on an interim basis.  A Letter of Agreement  articulates the collaborative spirit in which the Management Council operates.  The Management Council reports via the Executive Director to the DLESE Steering Committee.

DLESE has grown rapidly in complexity, and can be expected to continue to do so.  The continued success of DLESE will require effective management of its operations, and there is a consensus that this can best be accomplished by the establishment of a DLESE Project Office analogous to project offices serving other NSF-supported facilities.

II. Program Description

NSF invites proposals seeking to establish a DLESE Project Office.  The competition is open to all of the categories of proposers identified in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) who are eligible to submit proposals to NSF. The project office will be responsible for leading community discussions surrounding the growth of the DLESE digital collection.  In parallel, the office will be responsible for coordinating the development of the array of services that will support the creation of exemplary resources and their use in enhancing geoscience education.  Finally, the office will have an important ongoing role in leading the community-building activities of the core service groups.

The Principal Investigator of the successful proposal will become the Executive Director of the DLESE Management Council.  This individual must effectively coordinate the work of an exceedingly competent and diverse core service team, lead the integration of the core service activities, and serve the necessary role of leadership and focal point for the DLESE enterprise through a period of change in response to the evolution in technology, the National Science Digital Library, and the education milieu. This will ideally be someone who comes from a geoscientific research background, but who has established credentials in geoscience education, and thus will know and be well-known by both the research and education communities.  The individual will operate a small project office at his/her home institution, and will devote at least half-time to leading DLESE operations.

The Executive Director will facilitate coordinated action by the Core Services groups on a broad array of activities needed to support community use of and contribution to the library, and participation in the development of the library as a community-based effort.  Among the ongoing challenges are:

  • Working with developers of thematic collections to ensure that they are ultimately accessioned into the library in a high-quality, readily usable form.
  • Creating mechanisms for routinely obtaining feedback from the community, especially via the DLESE Annual meeting, and distilling this information into action by the Core Services groups in a timely manner.
  • Developing a cadre of DLESE ambassadors who can develop local support for users, making effective use of existing networks.
  • Creating partnerships between DLESE and large-scale resource developers, such as government agencies and university consortia, so that resources are crafted from the beginning in a form appropriate for a digital library.
  • Establishing a robust outreach program that can meet the wide variety of needs of a highly diverse community.
  • Refining mechanisms for priority-setting and effective, routine monitoring of progress toward established goals.
  • Helping to identify key policy issues and framing them for discussion and action by the DLESE Steering Committee.
  • Developing effective methods for evaluating how DLESE is functioning to meet the needs of the community and assessing the impact of DLESE on the content and pedagogy employed by teachers in the classroom and the impact on student learning.
  • Developing effective methods for assessing the impact of DLESE on public understanding of important problems in the geosciences, including that understanding required for well-informed policy considerations.
  • Conducting workshops and tutorials in the community to assist the process of creating and making significant use of DLESE resources.
  • Creating the capacity for bringing key environmental data sets to desktop applications that provide effective discovery-based learning.

Broadly speaking, the Executive Director will have authority to:

  • Coordinate day-to-day operations, help identify problems on an ongoing basis and pursue them to resolution, identify sources of conflict and arbitrate immediate mutually satisfactory resolutions, maintain all participants' attention on the integrated plan roadmap, and facilitate synergistic interaction of the Core groups.
  • Ensure that the DLESE Core Service groups effectively work together to create, deploy, and maintain content and services--both technical (including the Web interface) and human--that meet the needs of the broad geoscience community of users.
  • Mobilize leadership on behalf of DLESE internally within the DLESE Core and externally within the community, maintaining focus on overarching goals.

The award under this solicitation will be for a duration of two years, its termination coinciding with the expiration of the Core Service awards (other than the DPC award, which runs an additional year).  Toward the end of the award period, it is anticipated that NSF will issue a new solicitation for the purpose of continuing support for DLESE operations.  It is possible that the community, acting through the Steering Committee, will recommend that the current management structure be continued.  It is also possible that it will be deemed desirable to support a new type of management structure.  For example, the Steering Committee has discussed the option of placing DLESE operations within a corporate structure analogous to that of certain other NSF-supported facilities.  During the award period, there will be ongoing discussions within the Steering Committee, supported by the Management Council, and within the broader community of the approach that seems optimal for DLESE.  It is expected that the Executive Director will have an important role in helping to frame this discussion. 

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

NSF expects to make one award to support the establishment of a DLESE project office, as described in this solicitation. The award will be made as a continuing grant, with a duration of 2 years.

Subject to the availability of funds, NSF expects to provide up to $250,000 in FY 2004, and up to $250,000 in FY 2005.

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 (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from

Proposers are reminded to identify the program announcement/solicitation number (04-583) in the program announcement/solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. 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.

C. Due Dates

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

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

    August 18, 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:

    Does the proposer have a strong track record in science education that demonstrates a high degree of familiarity with modern approaches to active learning and electronic delivery and manipulation of learning resources?

    Does the proposer demonstrate a high degree of familiarity with DLESE, including the key policy documents provided on the DLESE Web site?

    Does the proposer demonstrate qualities of leadership and diplomacy essential to creating an effective and robust operational DLESE?

    Does the plan for the project office provide all the essential elements for effectively coordinating DLESE operations, while achieving maximum efficiency and economy?

    Does the proposal demonstrate a full appreciation of the need for DLESE to serve as an important vehicle for increasing the diversity of users and contributors and serving the needs of all parts of a highly diverse community?

    Does the proposal demonstrate an understanding of the current state of development of the national cyberinfrastructure and its role in creating the opportunities for innovation in approaches to and delivery of high-quality geoscience education at all levels?

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.

NSF is striving to be able to tell proposers whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the closing date of an announcement/solicitation, or the date of proposal receipt, whichever is later. 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 (703) 292-7827 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:

  • Michael A. Mayhew, Program Director, Directorate for Geosciences, Division of Earth Sciences, 785 S, telephone: (703) 292-8557, fax: (703) 292-9025, email:

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

  • Brian E. Dawson, Information Technology Specialist, Directorate for Geosciences, 705 N, telephone: (703) 292-4727, fax: (703) 292-9042, email:

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.

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.