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Criteria for Proposals for Non-Core Funded Activities

Procedure for PACUR (Formerly URC) Subcommittee on Proposal Review

When NCAR was created in 1960, one of the key purposes was to help the universities “mount an attack” on fundamental atmospheric science problems that were beyond the scale of an individual university department.  The 17 February 1959 University Committee on Atmospheric Research report, Preliminary Plans for a National Institute for Atmospheric Research (the “Blue Book”) that established NCAR also said that this could be done in a way that “preserved the natural alliance of research and education without unbalancing the university programs.”   Over time this partnership has been very effective and has propelled atmospheric sciences well beyond what could have been accomplished by NCAR or the university community acting alone.  To ensure that NCAR maintained this natural alliance with the community when proposing for funding over and beyond its NSF core support for laboratory operations, a process was established to review how non-core proposals were handled within NCAR and UCAR.  This review is currently administered by a subcommittee of the President’s Advisory Committee on University Relations (PACUR).  In April l993, the PACUR began reviewing NCAR's non-core proposals. UCAR Community Programs (UCP) non-core proposals were added in 1995 and UCAR Education and Outreach Office (E&O) proposals in 2001.

The review by PACUR is not focused on critiquing or approving the proposal’s science; in fact, PACUR does not receive the full proposal itself, but rather a subset of the proposal content necessary to comply with the PACUR criteria.  Thus, the PACUR examines whether the UCAR and NCAR senior staff followed the PACUR non-core proposal criteria in approving the submittal of proposals. Having the PACUR regularly examine the proposal review process within UCAR is important for two reasons: it is an assurance to the universities that there is no unfair competition and it serves as a mechanism to encourage collaboration between NCAR and UCAR programs and the university community.  The PACUR reviewers must apply the currently approved criteria and procedures to this retrospective review.  Any suggestions or recommendations on changes to the criteria and procedures should be made to the PACUR committee for approval by NSF, UCAR Management and PACUR.  Continual revisions to the criteria can be burdensome on both UCAR and the PACUR.  Thus, suggested changes should be collected and a formal assessment done every 3-5 years on criteria or process updates. Once the revised criteria have been approved they will be applied to future review cycles.  

Review Criteria.  UCAR proposals for non-core funding must: (1) be mission appropriate, (2) use UCAR facilities fairly, (3) be collaborative or community service oriented, and (4) identify co-sponsorship levels.   To determine whether proposals meet these criteria, UCAR staff must provide the following information:

  1. Mission Appropriate. Explain how the proposal supports the research, facilities, education and/or leadership objectives and strategic plans of the appropriate entity within UCAR (e.g., UCAR, NCAR, UCP, or E&O).

  2. Fair Facility Use. Identify which UCAR facilities will be used for the proposed activity: (check all that apply)
    1. High-Performance Computing,
    2. Observational,
    3. Research Data,
    4. Community Models,
    5. None 
    6. Explain how the proposed activity does not utilize these facilities in a way that is not available to the typical university investigator. 
  1. Collaboration Level.    Identify the collaboration type (pick a, b, c, or d) and provide the requested explanation:

    1. Joint (e.g., separate proposal from UCAR and each university institution). No further explanation needed provided the proposal is clear as to how it supports and complements the community.
    2. Collaborative with funding to or from university partner.  No further explanation needed provided the proposal is clear as to how it supports and complements the community.
    3. Collaborative with no funding to or from university partner. Describe in detail the nature of the collaboration including letters of collaboration.  The collaboration should be significant and meaningful. The level and scope of the collaboration must be clearly stated (including graduate student participation if applicable) in both the Advance Notice Forms and in the letters of collaboration. In addition, it must be clearly stated how this collaboration is supportive of and complementary to the university PI. 
    4. No University Collaboration. Explain how the proposed activity supports and complements the university community through: 1) contribution to the development or support of community facilities, community models, community data sets, or other community projects such as field programs, workshops, visitor programs, or community meetings, or 2) development or transfer of UCAR-developed technology or expertise to the scientific community or to society at large with demonstrable benefit to the community and to society.

  2. Co-sponsorship Level. (NCAR Proposals Only) Describe and justify any activities that are co-sponsored by NSF Base Funds (i.e., NCAR funds from NSF
          that contribute to research sponsored by other organizations -- NOAA, NASA, etc)


Revised and approved by the PACUR in April 2011

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