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Per the 2016 AIST solicitation announcement (NNH16ZDA001N-AIST, element A.41 of the 2016 Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES) solicitation), the Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) has conducted a virtual preproposal bidder's conference to address questions and comments from potential proposers. The submission form is now closed. Questions and responses are as follows:
How to estimate an affordable budget for AIST-16? 1) If the total first year funding is $12.5M and you expect 18-20 awards, does that mean the average award is between $625k and $694k? 2) Is there additional funding available in the second year?
The total budget for the first award year is $12.5M; the second year is the same; however, we conduct an annual review to confirm the second year funding. Proposed budgets should be consistent with the work needed to achieve the objectives. Historically, awards average around the total funds by the number of anticipated awards.
Referring to p A-41.9, Projects are required to identify a target recipient element and understand their needs in order to produce impactful technology development. A representative of that element should be on the proposed team to ensure design and development decisions are made to support element acceptance. If a technology is potentially useful to multiple elements, they should pick one element where they will obtain effective collaboration. Question: Does this paragraph refer to all projects that are funded under this initiative or only those self-identified as Technology Infusion proposals.
The intent of the section is to encourage all AIST Projects to develop technology with a science community in mind. This community would be the end-user or adopter of the technology. However, the AIST Program also encourages new technology development in the low TRL range that may not currently be suited for a well-defined technology infusion path. The proposal should still identify a future planned technology infusion path. Refer to Section 6 of this announcement for more information on how relevance will be evaluated.
One specific question relates to the solicitation's Section 4.3 and the three best practices. Is there a specific location in the proposal where we should include a software engineering plan? I am guessing it should go in the Description of Proposed Technology (described in section 5.3.2).
The proposed software engineering plan should be within the Description of Proposed Technology.
Page A.41-13 specifies that a "Facilities and Equipment" sub-section is to be included in the 15 page Science/Technical/Management section of the proposal. The ROSES-2016 Summary of Solicitation also calls for a Facilities and Equipment section to be include after the "Budget Justification" and before the "Detailed Budget" sections in the proposal. Is this second instance required, and what is the expected difference in content between them?
There is no requirement to duplicate the information from Section 5.3.7: Facilities and Equipment in the proposal submission. The beginning of Section 5.3: Scientific/Technical/Management Section states that it replaces the Guidebook section of similar requirements.
The table on page A.41-11 of the solicitation omits the "Summary of Personnel and Work Efforts" specified in normally included in ROSES proposals as specified in the checklist table on p 42 of the ROSES-2016 Summary of Solicitation. Is this an oversight in the NRA, or should proposers omit this section?
Section 5.3.6 Personnel of the solicitation calls for a submission of this data. "Provide a list of key personnel and identify experience related to the proposed activity"
Is it preferred that we collaborate in applying our AIST technology to earth science research problems that have applicability in the US? For example, using machine learning to analyze sensor data for certain types of volcanoes that do not pose hazards or do not exist in the US -- would this be less preferred than analyzing sensor data for types of volcanoes that do exist in the US? (We are not asking specifically about the value of proposing international collaborations targeting a problem where the earth sciences data are from another country, but instead, about whether such a proposed collaboration where the earth sciences problem is of great concern abroad but does not exist, or is of little interest, in the US, weakens the proposal.)
If possible it is preferred that a science problem have greater applicability in the US. However, much of NASA's science data is global in nature and there is no restriction to only or specifically US concerns.
The AIST Announcement has the following statement in Section 6.3 "If a commercial organization wants to receive a grant or cooperative agreement, cost sharing is required, unless the commercial organization can demonstrate that it does not expect to receive substantial compensating benefits for performance of the work." This statement is also verbatim from the 2016 NASA Grants and Cooperative Agreements Manual. We have several questions regarding this requirement: 1— What is considered compensating value? What is substantial compensating value? 2— What is required to demonstrate that a commercial firm do not receive substantial compensating value? 3— If proposed, how does the level of proposed cost sharing by the offeror factor into the proposal evaluation?
(from ROSES) Determination of whether a commercial firm is eligible to receive a grant is determined after award selections. There is no need to prepare any substantiation of compensating value for the proposal submission. Upon selection, the program, the organization, and NSSC will make the determination collaboratively. As written in the Full ROSES-2016 announcement Section VI: Proposal Review Information: "Except in rare instances where it is explicitly acknowledged in the program element, neither the existence of proposed voluntary cost sharing nor the lack thereof or the magnitude of such cost sharing will be used as evaluation criteria or as a precondition for award."
Going through the NOI submission requirement, we came across this item: "Applicant Proposal Identifier". What is that ?
This is a field to be used at the discretion of the proposing organization to cross-reference the submission to an internal tracking number. This field may be left blank if the proposer does not have a response with no effect on the submission.
My team considers to submit a proposal related to "3.1.2 Computational Technologies." More specifically, we target "Techniques to exploit specialized processing units or accelerators and cloud computing technologies for large-scale on-demand data processing, mining, and distribution." For the above topic, are we supposed to exploit existing specialized processing units or accelerators, or can we propose to develop new specialized processing units or accelerators? If we can propose to develop new processing units or accelerators, will a simulation-based study be sufficient or should we prototype the developed architecture for the demonstration?
Developing new hardware is acceptable. The choice of simulation or prototyping is up to the proposing organization, and should be consistent with their objectives for this proposed work.
Does NASA ROSES allow a collaborative submission? I.e., with one "lead" institution but with simultaneous submission of proposals from different organizations, with each organization requesting a separate award.
This solicitation does not allow for separate awards to work on the same team. A proposer can submit a team made up of multiple teammates that have identified their individual work and associated costs. However, the overall management of the team, the progress, and the budget is the responsibility of the lead Principle Investigator (PI) and second year funding for all will be determined by the accomplishments and completed milestones under the PI's supervision.
When is the best time to ask for an account on the Quantum Computer located at NASA Ames? Before submitting an AIST proposal? After being awarded AIST funding? Because the account on the NASA Ames machine is requested with the submission of a proposal to USRA distinct from the AIST proposal, the outcome of each proposal might be different, which would cause problems. Can reviewers of the USRA proposal (to get an account on the Quantum Computer located at NASA Ames) also propose to the AIST solicitation? In the affirmative case, there would be a conflict of interest.
Only successful proposals will need to apply for accounts on the NASA Quantum Computer at Ames.
Commercial Organizations: Is it best to put commercial organizations in as a subcontract? The company is small and has not received federal funds before, so it hasn't gone through the auditing process. If it is a subcontract, would the lead of the subaward be considered a Co-Investigator? Is cost-sharing still required?
The selection of the relationship between the PI’s organization and any commercial firms is a decision completely left to the PI. Note that, in Section 6.1, NASA does not pay fee to commercial firms under this award. Refer to section 6.3 of the solicitation for further information. Your attention is drawn to section 1.4 of the NASA Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Funding Announcement. Cost sharing is not required.
Science Customer: Can a Co-Investigator also be a representative of the customer science community?
Yes, A Co-investigator can also be the representative of the customer science community. The intent is for the candidate community to influence the direction of the technology development to ensure it is usable and useful to them. (Section 4.1)
Instrument Development: How much sensor development is permitted under the AIST-16 solicitation?
Prototype sensor development is generally proposed to other solicitations such as IIP, however, if the prototype development is related to Information Science and Technology than it may be acceptable assuming it is within the cost and time constraints of the solicitation.
Does the reporting requirements identified in the solicitation have to be funded by the award?
Compliance with reporting requirements is an element of the work performance under this Solicitation. Funding outside the award must still produce compliant documentation and presentations.
How to resolve whether the proposal idea is fully relevant to the call, such as advancing an algorithm? Does Section 3.1.2 Computational Technologies, Tools to manage and to accelerate the assessment and validation of model-data inter comparisons (e.g. to more easily evaluate new algorithms and/or quantify data and product uncertainty) refer to model-instrument or multi-instrument data comparisons and not algorithm development in and of itself?
To address whether or not a proposal is relevant to the call, proposers should refer to Section 7: Evaluation Criteria. If the work is more of a mission-specific project looking for a funding stream, or if it is more heavily focused on science than technology, it may be evaluated more poorly. The AIST program supports algorithm development that is described under 3.1.2: Computational Technologies along the lines of the examples. Reviewers will consider if the concept is one where a new computing technique is key to the improved processing and the science is just an demonstration of that technique’s value. Are there advanced information systems technologies (low TRL) involved or is the an algorithm that the program would develop anyway.
Say we can make the case that the algorithm development is in line with the examples given in 3.1.2. Would the target recipient then be a member, or lead, of the science application/mission that we are demonstrating the technique’s value with?
Yes, they could also be sufficiently aware of NASA’s work in the science discipline to ensure that it has the right focus.
In the RFP on page A.41-13 section 5.3.7 is Facilities and Equipment (F&E). This is listed with other components of the Scientific/Technical/Management section. Does the F&E section count against the 15-page count for the S/T/M? In other types of ROSES proposals I have done this is at the end and not part of the count so I just wanted to be sure.
The introductory paragraph for Section 5.3 confirms the inclusion of the Facilities and Equipment sections as being included in the 15 page proposal.