Your main interaction with IOS is most likely with a Program Director (also known as a Program Officer) who manages the review of proposals in a scientific area that aligns with your research and oversees management of awards in that area of science. However, there are many other IOS staff who are essential to the grant review and management process, and who may contact you.
We want to make you aware of three types of staff members within IOS with whom you may interact and their roles. So go grab some coffee, tea or water and prepare to learn a little more about the make-up of IOS!
Program Specialist (PS)
A PS provides administrative support for specific Programs/Clusters. They check submitted proposals to ensure they meet the requirements detailed in the Proposal and Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and relevant solicitation. A PI may receive an email from a PS requesting updates to submitted documents that do not comply with NSF rules and regulations as detailed in the PAPPG. A PS may also contact you or your Sponsored Research Office (SRO) for other reasons such as an overdue annual or final project report. A PS also assists in many aspects of NSF review panels, including pre- and post-panel activities such as running the “ranking board” during a panel and ensuring that once the panel recommends a placement for a specific proposal that it is placed in that appropriate category on the board.
Program Assistant (PA)
A PA provides significant support during panels and handles many aspects of the technical work that occurs “behind the scenes” of a research grant program. In addition to panel support, a PA processes funding recommendations for all submitted proposals (awards, declinations, withdrawals). For awards, they will enter budgets/budget adjustments and add financial tracking codes to grant packages as recommended and approved by a Program Director, among many other activities. You might also meet a PA performing outreach at scientific meetings!
Biologist, Program Analyst, and Science Assistant
You might interact with one of these individuals if you serve on a review panel. During panel, they will introduce you to the workings of the Interactive Panel System (IPS) where you can access reviews and proposals, and where you will draft, submit and approve panel summaries. They are actively involved in reviewing panel summaries to ensure they contain comments on all NSF required elements and provide useful (and well written!) feedback to the PI. You might also meet one of these staff members at a scientific conference as they are active in outreach to promote the various programs/clusters within IOS.
As 2022 nears its end, please join us in thanking all the IOS staff who help enable the important research being supported by IOS!