UNT: Federal Stimulus Funding

Dr. Vish Prasad, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, met with faculty and staff to explain how expected passage of President Obama's Stimulus Package will likely affect research opportunities. When Congress passes the Stimulus Package, then a host of federal agencies (NIH, NSF, DOE, NIST, etc.) will only have 120 days in which to spend about $13 billion. The agencies are gearing up for a flurry of activity, but for now, they can’t solicit or do anything. So if anyone has submissions already in the pipeline, here’s how Dr. Prasad suggests proceeding:

1) If you know your review is completed, but you have not yet been informed, do nothing – unless you are close with the program officer. They are having to sit on these until the stimulus passes.
2) If you have a proposal under review or due in the next couple of weeks, talk to your program officer, especially if you have good relations, and mention that you’re aware that there will be funding that has to be spent quickly, so show your interest & emphasize the importance of the research. Also, work closely with Research to polish proposals.
3) If you already have federal funding, be sure you don’t have any outstanding reports and then…
a. If you could use undergraduate researchers, ask for them & you will likely get them by just submitting a one-pager and a budget
b. If you need a graduate student, it’s a good time to talk to the program manager to see about putting in for one as a supplement
c. If you have good relations at DOE or DoD, you might be able to get a one year extension with money, as they’re more flexible now
d. If you’re considering something exploratory, you might have luck working with a program manager to do something, but it’s not likely that you’ll have time to build a new relationship in the next two weeks
4) Speaking of exploratory research, Rick spoke briefly about the NSF SGER program: Small Grants for Exploratory Research. There are two types of “sugar” grants:
a. Rapid – which are used for responding to a temporal occurrence, like Hurricane Katrina
b. Eager – which provides $200k for 2-3 years, bypassing external review, to support an especially relevant, transformative idea as agreed upon the program manager.

In the 2010 budget year, which begins 10/1/09, all the agencies will have an increase in funding. This means that the competition situation will improve. For example, if 1/10 apps are funded now, it could become as good as 1/5. Within 3 years, the competition will go back to the same levels. This is a window of opportunity, if you’re prepared. The government especially wants to fund more young investigators. Where UNT has been lacking is in developing relationships with program managers. The PEST program will help get faculty out there to meet program managers, and the Research office can even go with. A group of 10-12 is heading out there next week. The Research office is there to help any way they can. As Dr. Prasad says “Your win is my win.”