The National Science Foundation (NSF) just issued the “Accelerating Discovery: Educating the Future STEM Workforce” RFP, and it looks like a promising grant source for community colleges and four-year schools interested in STEM education, since the program targets undergrad education. But the grants.gov posting omits two key pieces information: how much money is available and how many grants will be made. Applicants likely won’t be able to decide whether they should apply they know the answer to those two key questions.
Two contact people are listed on the program website: Ellen M. Carpenter, Ph.D., and Laura B. Regassa. I sent an email to both asking about the total amount of funding available and the number of awards that’ll be made. Carpenter wrote back:
We plan to publish a set of FAQs associated with the “Accelerating Discovery” program description (NSF PD 18-1998). We do not plan to respond to individual questions until that FAQ document has been published, since we anticipate that it will answer most of the questions.
I asked when the FAQ will be published. Answer: “I’ve been told ‘soon’, so I’m guessing by the end of the month is a reasonable estimate.” At that point I gave up. As we’ve written before, there’s little point in attempting to get bureaucrats of any kind, but especially federal bureaucrats, to do anything expeditiously—or that they just don’t want to do. Also, irony is often not the strong suit of bureaucrats.
You may think I’m being overly harsh on Carpenter, and maybe I am. But she is listed publicly as a contact person for this program and prospective applicants need to be able to plan their applications. They can’t effectively do so unless they know how much is available. The NSF, meanwhile, is denying timely access to that information for an entire month. The announcement for the “Accelerating Discovery: Educating the Future STEM Workforce” is presently just a tease because it doesn’t include key information.