Frequently Asked Questions For Computer Science Solicitations

This page supplied answers to the most frequently asked
questions regarding the computer science solicitations.
Current Solicitations:
  • Advanced Architectures and Critical Technologies for Exascale Computing
  • Scientific Data Management and Analysis at Extreme Scale
  • X-Stack Software Research

Q: Is there any limitation on the number of proposals that one can submit as a PI, co-PI, or other funded participant?

A: No, there are no limits on the number of proposals submitted by individuals or institutions.

Q: The FOA includes a list of topics but doesn't mention proposals that explicitly integrate two or more topics? Are these encouraged?

A: Yes, proposals that integrate two or more topics are encouraged. You may also submit multiple proposals that address different topics.

Q: Do you have a preferred start date for proposal submissions to the three ASCR calls currently out?

A: We anticipate a starting date of September 1, 2010, for university and industry proposals and October 1, 2010, for National Lab proposals.

Q: For collaborative proposals spanning multiple organizations, if a Principal Investigator’s (PI) organization submits the main proposal, what does the co-PI’s organization submit, assuming the co-PI is with a different institution or Lab? Do they just submit their budgets and the abstract or should they submit the full proposal like the lead PI will submit?

A: Each organization should submit the full proposal, using the same title across all of the submitting organizations. The proposal should include a table that shows how the budget is distributed each year across all of the organizations, but the budget pages with each submission should reflect only the funding for the submitting organization.

To clarify further - the title, abstract and body of the collaborative proposal should be the same for all participants’ submissions, but each organization provides the budget pages/details for its portion of the whole project.

Q: Do we, as the non-lead collaborator, need to include all bios and all letters of collaboration in our proposal? Also, do we include all Current & Pending or just our own?

A: Yes. Because of the way we review collaborative proposals, we would like the submissions from all collaborators to be identical except for the budget pages that are unique to each organization.

Q: My large corporation is interested in collaborating with universities, small businesses and DOE Labs in responding to the FOA(s). We do not anticipate receiving funding ourselves, but hope that our collaborators will. Is there a preference for having the collaborators serve as prime on these proposals, or should the corporation have that role?

A: See the response above regarding collaborative proposals. Only organizations that will be funded in an award should submit proposals. Corporations that intend to collaborate without receiving funding from the program should provide a letter to that effect for inclusion in each proposal which they intend to support.

Note that we make separate awards to each participating organization in a collaborative proposal, instead of having one organization receive the full amount and make sub-awards.

Q: There are two calls, "Program Announcement to DOE National Laboratories: LAB 10-XXX" and "Office of Science Financial Assistance Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000XXX,” each with the same subtitle. Are these two separate calls?

A: One is the university/industry call (with directions to submit via and the other is the Lab call. They differ in the descriptions of who is eligible to apply and how to submit a proposal, but the technical content is identical.

Q: FOA-10-0000255 states that, “It is anticipated that up to $5,000,000 annually will be available for multiple awards for this program. Multiple (4-6) awards are planned to be made in Fiscal Year 2010�0;2026;.” Does this mean that each proposal should anticipate awards in the range of $800,000 to $1,250,000 per year?

A: The expectation of 4-6 awards is hypothetical, but we believe that there will be a total of $5M available for the program for each of three years. DOE seeks proposals that provide innovative research to address the important problems called out in the FOA. Preferred are proposals that provide clear vision and technically sound approaches to address those problems within the available budget.

Q: FOA-10-0000256 states that, “It is anticipated that up to a total of $5,000,000 will be available for multiple awards in Fiscal Year 2010, contingent on the availability of appropriated funds for this program. Funding will be available annually for up to three years, with out-year support contingent on the availability of funds, progress of the research, and programmatic needs. At this funding level, 10-15 awards are anticipated.” Does this mean that each proposal should anticipate awards in the range of $300,000-$500,000 per year?

A: The expectation of 10-15 awards is hypothetical, but we believe that there will be a total of $5M available for the program for each of three years. DOE seeks proposals that provide innovative research to address the important problems called out in the FOA. Preferred are proposals that provide clear vision and technically sound approaches to address those problems within the available budget.

Q: FOA-10-0000257 states that, “It is anticipated that up to $10,000,000 annually will be available for multiple awards for this program, contingent on the availability of appropriated funds. Multiple (10-15) awards are planned to be made in Fiscal Year 2010�0;2026;” Does this mean that each proposal should anticipate awards in the range of $650,000-$1,000,000 per year?

A: The expectation of 10-15 awards is hypothetical, but we believe that there will be a total of $10M available for the program for each of three years. DOE seeks proposals that provide innovative research to address the important problems called out in the FOA. Preferred are proposals that provide clear vision and technically sound approaches to address those problems within the available budget.

Q: Can a single organization submit a proposal for the full budget available to the program?

A: There is no prohibition against such a proposal. However, DOE anticipates that awards will be balanced between the two related solicitations, with roughly half going to Labs and the other half to universities and/or industry. Investigators are encouraged to consider whether the proposal page limit is sufficient to address the requirements for a single proposal that would require the entire budget of the program, as well as how reviewers would be likely to regard such a proposal.
See the question above regarding collaborative proposals that span multiple organizations.

Q: Are the kick-off and the annual PI meetings hosted by DOE? It appears to me that DOE organizes these meetings with their choice of attendees; is that correct? So we need to budget money for travel to these meetings but not for hosting such meetings, right?

A: Kick-off meetings and PI meetings are usually held in major cities, but the locations vary. It is likely that one meeting would be in the D.C. area and another near the location of a National Lab, perhaps in California. Yes, your budget should include expenses for these meetings.

Q: Is the proposal intended to cover one year, with subsequent years requiring separate proposals? So we should propose activities for the period of one year, correct?

A: The proposal should cover three years, with budgets for each year and a summary budget that covers all three years.

Q: The funding is expected to be around $300K-$500K *per year*, correct?

A: See above. The budget is per year, but the imposed limits you suggest do not apply.

Q: Are foreign industry partners allowed? Are they allowed as funded partners? Are they allowed as non-funded partners?

A: Yes, with a few exceptions, you can have international collaborators for a proposal. They can be funded or not funded. If funded, they submit the same proposal that you do, but the budget sheets reflect only their proposed costs. They apply through like you do. They need to register ASAP, since the process can take some time.

Q: For a project with industry partners, should the industry partners also submit copies of the proposal through, or is it better to make them subcontracts of a university or Lab PI's proposal?

A: If the industry partner seeks to be funded, the industry partner should also submit a copy of the proposal through, with the budget pages reflecting the company's portion of the overall budget unless there is a technical reason that being a subcontract is preferred. If the company does not seek to be funded, it should provide a letter that is included with your (and your collaborators') submission, stating the type of collaboration/interaction the company will provide.

Q: We have not applied for funding from your organization before. How can we get a sense of whether our ideas are likely to be a good fit to your needs?

A: The solicitation in question comes from the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, which is focused on high performance computing for science applications that are relevant to the Department of Energy and the Office of Science missions. You can see the range of ASCR interests by reading the titles of relevant reports (/ascr/news-and-resources/program-documents) and workshops (/ascr/news-and-resources/workshops-and-conferences).

Q: I know that a linked proposal between a National Lab and a university is possible and favorably viewed but what about two Universities?

A: A proposal that involves two (or more) universities is fine, as is one that involves a company. An interesting proposal might also involve two (or more) National Labs.

The real point is that ASCR wants exciting proposals that address the problems. There are no preconceptions about ideal funding levels or number of participants, except that the proposal has to make the case to reviewers that the team and funding level are right for the work that is proposed and it has to fit within the budget.

Q: If a high-tech IT company is not CAS compliant or compliant with FAR Part 31 due to FAR Part 12 commercial-item exemptions, in what manner can it proceed with estimating its labor costs? Would it be acceptable to base its labor cost estimates on the actual payroll rates of the researchers who will be working on the proposed project? (It would necessarily forego any inclusion of indirect costs in its budget.) Hourly rates would be verified by a current copy of the researchers’ official company earnings statements. This information would be provided to DOE upon request through the company’s HR Department in order to prevent the employees’ personal information from being disclosed to other researcher and administrative staff during any fact-finding activity prior to actual grant award. Would you please comment on whether or not DOE would accept labor cost estimates being proposed in such a manner?

A: The Office of Grants & Contracts Support finds no problem with the proposed method of disclosure of labor costs. Feel free to submit as you suggested above.

Q: The bio sketch is supposed to be limited to 2 pages, including the standard information required for the reviewers and the COI information.

The instructions that we have for the COI section state:

Collaborators and Co-editors: A list of all persons in alphabetical order (including their current organizational affiliations) who are currently, or who have been, collaborators or co-authors with the investigator on a research project, book or book article, report, abstract, or paper during the 48 months preceding the submission of the proposal. Also, include those individuals who are currently or have been co-editors of a special issue of a journal, compendium, or conference proceedings during the 24 months preceding the submission of the proposal. Finally, list any individuals who are not listed in the previous categories with whom you are discussing future collaborations. If there are no collaborators or co-editors to report, this should be so indicated.


For some of our senior staff and collaborators, the requested COI alone information exceeds 2 pages, without any additional information. Is it possible for the COI information to be excluded from the 2 page limit in the cases where there are an exceptional number of colleagues that need to be identified? If not, can you provide additional guidance on how we might meet these apparently conflicting requirements?

A: The COI information can be excluded from the page limit for bio-sketches.

Q: Should a proposal include information about current and pending support for all senior personnel or only for the PI and co-PIs?

A: If someone contributes enough to the proposed activity that the proposal includes a bio-sketch for him/her, it should include current and pending support info for that person as well. The intent is to make sure that 1) the proposed work would not be duplicative and 2) the researchers have time to do what is proposed if an award is made.

Q: Should current and pending support in a proposal cover federal support only, or all support?

A: Certainly include all current and pending federal support. Include non-federal support to the extent that it is relevant to the work proposed and helps to establish a track record of success.

Q: Which project personnel should have a bio-sketch or curriculum vita included in the proposal? In one place the RFP says "c) Curriculum Vitae: Detailed information about the background and experience of the principal investigator and co-principal investigator (if any)." But elsewhere it says "3.8 Biographical Sketches - This information is required for senior personnel at the institution submitting the proposal and at all subcontracting institutions (if any)."

A: The purpose of the bio-sketches and/or curriculum vitae is to allow reviewers to assess the qualifications and capability of the proposing team to successfully execute the proposed research. It is appropriate to include bio-sketches and/or curriculum vitae for people who contribute to the intellectual definition/direction of the proposed project, whether or not they would be funded by an award. It is also appropriate to include bio-sketches/curriculum vitae for any participant who provides disciplinary and/or research expertise that would be critical to the success of the project and who could not be readily replaced by another person. It is appropriate to include a bio-sketch for a consultant whose input will have a significant impact on the project.

Q: The LAB program announcement and the matching FOA have two differences in their back matter. The LAB RFP has a �0;2018;Long Term Measure’ section beyond those specified in the FOA; the FOA RFP has an �0;2018;Equipment’ section while the LAB RFP does not. To make one complete, collaborative proposal to be submitted to both the LAB and FOA RFP, is it acceptable to include both sections in the full proposal?

A: Yes.

Q: From the call "Awards will not be made for design or development of applications for domain-specific science." Would this restriction not exclude demonstration codes required to provide a proof-of-concept? For example, a proposal advocating domain specific languages must, by its nature, include the development of domain specific codes to verify the approach.

A: The intent is to fund computer science research, not application science research. That said, it is certainly appropriate to ground the computer science research in the context of applications that are of interest to the Office of Science.

Q: The solicitation states, "Collaborations should be limited to filling critical voids in expertise and represent only a modest portion of the overall effort". Does this imply no 50/50 partnerships? I assume DoE will take into account the relative cost of labs vs. universities when evaluating the "modest portion" requirement (i.e. evaluate level of effort vs. level of dollars requested)?

A: Collaborations that enhance the research are encouraged. The passage you cite is from boilerplate text and should not apply to the current Computer Science solicitations, but we didn't catch it.

Q: Is it permissible to include unfunded advisors/collaborators from foreign (e.g. Europe) institutions?

A:Yes. It is also possible to have funded collaborators or consultants. See the related question above.

Q:What is the B&R Code to be used on the FWP?

A:The B&R code is KJ0402.

Q: Can the CD and hard copies of the proposal be sent in after the Mar 18 5 pm deadline, provided the FWP and/or submission is completed by the deadline? The question is specifically with regard to the FedEx requirements.

A: The submission deadline applies to the FWP and submission process. Your approach to sending the pdf, CD and hard copies is fine.

Q: We are submitting a collaborative proposal with partners spanning multiple universities and National Labs. Do the non-lead institutions have to send in CD's and Hard copies as well as the lead institution?

A: Each participating organization should send the CD and hard copies. This is because the detailed budget pages are different for each organization and we need to have the full set of budget details for the entire project.

Q: Why do we have to submit a CD and paper copies when you get the same information from

A: These items expedite the review process and facilitate ASCR's internal processing of proposals.

Q: When we send the CD and two paper copies, what address do we use?

A: Please ship them via Federal Express to:

Teresa Beachley
Computational Science Research & Partnerships Division, SC-21.1
Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research
Office of Science
19901 Germantown Road
Germantown, MD 20874-1290
ATTN: FOA 10-255 (or FOA 10-256 or FOA 10-257, depending on the submission in question)


Note that you may ship on the next business day after submission of the proposal via or the FWP process.

Q: In the proposal packet, there is a form for project site locations. Is each partner supposed to put in only our own locations there, since there are no subawards? What about non-funded collaborators who will participate and whose sites will be involved? Do they get listed here?

A: Except for the detailed budget pages which differ for each organization, the proposal packet should be complete and identical for all participating organizations. This means the project site location forms should be provided for all participating sites, including those that are not funded. A letter of collaboration from unfunded organizations is also appropriate, specifying what resources they will provide since they will not submit a copy of the proposal that indicates their intent to participate.

Q: In the Community Building section of the funding opportunity the following statement is found. "This program requires open source software development. Applications should identify the open source license to be used"

Our software packages are proprietary, but the metadata being managed by them lives within an XML database which can be freely accessed by other software packages. Would this arrangement fulfill the requirement for "open source software development"?

A: Our requirement is that software developed using ASCR funds should be released under open source license. We do not of course require that previously developed software be made open source. Our goal is to ensure that the software we fund has the broadest impact on the research community. You can propose an open source strategy that fits your needs. Some companies have released an open source BSD licensed version and maintained a proprietary version. Sometimes an open API that other people can implement to is acceptable. We evaluate this on a case by case basis.

Q: The FOAs say that narrative should include appendices for bio, current and pending support, references, facilities, equipment, and other attachment. However, the downloaded application package list (allow) all of these (except bio) to be attached. Which way should I go?

A: You should always follow the directions given in the FOA. We prefer that submissions be one PDF file, hence the request that bio, current and pending support, references, facilities, equipment, and other attachments be included in that single file-we state in our FOAs that they will not be counted in the page limitations stated for the narrative itself.

Q: Is it reasonable to assume that the majority of reviewers for the call will be academically trained computer scientists or otherwise experts in the field? On past proposals, information that we assumed to be understood as common knowledge did not seem to be understood by our reviewers.

A: A proposal should be understandable by educated scientists of diverse backgrounds, without assumptions about specialized reviewer expertise relevant to a particular proposal or topic.

Q: Will DOE support winning X-Stack proposals with time allocations on Office of Science machines? If so and we require such resources, need we do anything in the proposal other than state the requirement?

A: Yes, within reason, DOE will support the time. All you need to do is note the requirement in the proposal.

Q: How do I find researchers at DOE Labs who work on operating and runtime system research?

A: Here is a list of a few of them:
Pete Beckman, Argonne National Lab:
Ronald Brightwell, Sandia National Lab:
Arthur Maccabe, Oak Ridge National Lab:
Sriram Krishnamoorthy, Pacific Northeast National Lab:
John Shalf, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab:
Maya Gokhale, Livermore National Lab:
Michael Lang, Los Alamos National