[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 216 (Friday, November 7, 2014)]
[Pages 66419-66421]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-26444]



Comment Request: National Science Foundation Proposal--Large 
Facilities Manual

AGENCY: National Science Foundation.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is announcing plans to 
request establishment of this collection. In accordance with the 
requirement of Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995, we are providing opportunity for public comment on this action.
    After obtaining and considering public comment, NSF will prepare 
the submission requesting OMB clearance of this collection for no 
longer than 3 years.
    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of 
information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 
the Agency, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; (b) the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden of the 
proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, 
utility, and clarity of the information on respondents, including 
through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of 
information technology; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the 
collection of information on respondents, including through the use of 
automated collection techniques or other forms of information 

DATES: Written comments should be received by January 6, 2015 to be 
assured of consideration. Comments received after that date will be 
considered to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: Written comments regarding the information collection and 
requests for copies of the proposed

[[Page 66420]]

information collection request should be addressed to Suzanne Plimpton, 
Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson 
Blvd., Rm. 1265, Arlington, VA 22230, or by email to splimpto@nsf.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Suzanne Plimpton on (703) 292-7556 or 
send email to splimpto@nsf.gov. Individuals who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339, which is accessible 
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (including federal 

    Title of Collection: ``Large Facilities Manual''
    OMB Approval Number: 3145-NEW.
    Expiration Date of Approval: Not applicable.
    Type of Request: Intent to seek approval to establish an 
information collection for three years.
    Proposed Project:
    The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (Pub. L. 81-507) set 
forth NSF's mission and purpose:
    ``To promote the progress of science; to advance the national 
health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense. . . . 
'' The Act authorized and directed NSF to initiate and support:
     Basic scientific research and research fundamental to the 
engineering process;
     Programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research 
     Science and engineering education programs at all levels 
and in all the various fields of science and engineering;
     Programs that provide a source of information for policy 
formulation; and
     Other activities to promote these ends.
    Among Federal agencies, NSF is a leader in providing the academic 
community with advanced instrumentation needed to conduct state-of-the-
art research and to educate the next generation of scientists, 
engineers and technical workers. The knowledge generated by these tools 
sustains U.S. leadership in science and engineering (S&E) to drive the 
U.S. economy and secure the future. NSF's responsibility is to ensure 
that the research and education communities have access to these 
resources, and to provide the support needed to utilize them optimally, 
and implement timely upgrades.
    The scale of advanced instrumentation ranges from small research 
instruments to shared resources or facilities that can be used by 
entire communities. The demand for such instrumentation is very high, 
and is growing rapidly, along with the pace of discovery. For large 
facilities and shared infrastructure, the need is particularly high. 
This trend is expected to accelerate in the future as increasing 
numbers of researchers and educators rely on such large facilities, 
instruments, and databases to provide the reach to make the next 
intellectual leaps.
    NSF currently provides support for facility construction from two 
accounts: The Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction 
(MREFC) account, and the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) 
account. The MREFC account, established in FY 1995, is a separate 
budget line item that provides an agency-wide mechanism, permitting 
directorates to undertake large facility projects that exceed 10% of 
the Directorate's annual budget; or roughly $100M or greater. Smaller 
projects continue to be supported from the R&RA Account.
    Facilities are defined as shared-use infrastructure, 
instrumentation and equipment that are accessible to a broad community 
of researchers and/or educators. Facilities may be centralized or may 
consist of distributed installations. They may incorporate large-scale 
networking or computational infrastructure, multi-user instruments or 
networks of such instruments, or other infrastructure, instrumentation 
and equipment having a major impact on a broad segment of a scientific 
or engineering discipline. Historically, awards have been made for such 
diverse projects as accelerators, telescopes, research vessels and 
aircraft, and geographically distributed but networked sensors and 
    The growth and diversification of large facility projects require 
that NSF remain attentive to the ever-changing issues and challenges 
inherent in their planning, construction, operation, management and 
oversight. Most importantly, dedicated, competent NSF and awardee staff 
are needed to manage and oversee these projects; giving the attention 
and oversight that good practice dictates and that proper 
accountability to taxpayers and Congress demands. To this end, there is 
also a need for consistent, documented requirements and procedures to 
be understood and used by NSF program managers and awardees for all 
such large projects.
    Use of the Information: Facilities are an essential part of the 
science and engineering enterprise, and supporting them is one major 
responsibility of the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF makes 
awards to external entities--primarily universities, consortia of 
universities or non-profit organizations--to undertake construction, 
management and operation of facilities. Such awards frequently take the 
form of cooperative agreements. NSF does not directly construct or 
operate the facilities it supports. However, NSF retains responsibility 
for overseeing their development, management and successful 
performance. The Large Facilities Manual is intended to:
     Provide step-by-step guidance for NSF staff and awardees 
to carry out effective project planning, management and oversight of 
large facilities while considering the varying requirements of a 
diverse portfolio;
     Clearly state the policies, processes and procedures 
pertinent at each stage of a facility's life cycle from development 
through construction, operations, and termination; and
     Document and disseminate ``best practices'' identified 
over time so that NSF and awardees can carry out their responsibilities 
more effectively.
    This version of the Large Facilities Manual reflects recent changes 
in organization and formatting to improve readability and facilitate 
period revision. It also up-dates sections related to contingency and 
cost estimating requirements. The Manual does not replace existing 
formal procedures required for all NSF awards, which are described in 
the Grant Proposal Guide and The Award and Administration Guide. 
Instead, it draws upon and supplements them for the purpose of 
providing detailed guidance regarding NSF management and oversight of 
facilities projects. All facilities projects require merit and 
technical review, as well as approval of certain deliverables. The 
level of review and approval varies substantially from standard grants, 
as does the level of oversight needed to ensure appropriate and proper 
accountability for federal funds. The requirements, recommended 
procedures and best practices presented in the Manual apply to any 
facility significant enough to require close and substantial 
interaction with the Foundation and the National Science Board.
    This Manual will be updated periodically to reflect changes in 
requirements, policies and/or procedures. Award Recipients are expected 
to monitor and adopt the requirements and best practices included in 
the Manual which are aimed at improving management and oversight of 
large facilities projects and

[[Page 66421]]

at enabling the most efficient and cost-effective delivery of tools to 
the research and education communities.
    The submission of proposals and subsequent project documentation to 
the Foundation related to the development, construction and operations 
of Large Facilities is part of the collection of information. This 
information is used to help NSF fulfill this responsibility in 
supporting merit-based research and education projects in all the 
scientific and engineering disciplines. The Foundation also has a 
continuing commitment to provide oversight on facilities development 
and construction which must be balanced against monitoring its 
information collection so as to identify and address any excessive 
reporting burdens.
    NSF has approximately twenty-two (22) Large Facilities in various 
stages of development, construction, operations and termination. One to 
two (1 to 2) new awards are made approximately every five (5) years 
based on science community infrastructure needs and availability of 
funding. Of the twenty-two large facilities, there are approximately 
eight (8) facilities annually that are either in development or 
construction. These stages require the highest level of reporting and 
management documentation per the Large Facilities Manual.
    Burden To The Public: The Foundation estimates that an average of 
three (3) Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) are necessary for each facility 
project in development or construction (Total Project Cost of $200-
$500M) to respond to NSF routine reporting and project management 
documentation requirements on an annual basis; or 6240 hours per year. 
The Foundation estimates an average of one (1) FTE for a facility in 
operations; or 2080 hours per year. Assuming an average of eight (8) 
facilities in construction and the balance in operations, this equates 
to roughly 80,000 public burden hours annually.

    Dated: November 3, 2014.
Suzanne H. Plimpton,
Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation.
[FR Doc. 2014-26444 Filed 11-6-14; 8:45 am]