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State Science Information Needs Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Updated July 6, 2021
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Please see below for frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the State Science Information Needs Program (SSINP) and current Requests for Proposals (RFPs). 

Grant Guidelines

Q: Do I have to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI)? Will everyone who submits an LOI be able to submit a full proposal? 
A: Yes, the submission of a LOI is required for RFP #3 (this was not previously required). Yes, everyone who submits an LOI may submit a full proposal.

Q: I did not submit an LOI. Can I still submit a full proposal? 
A: No, for RFP #3 if you did not submit an LOI, you may not submit a full proposal.

Q: What are the minimum and maximum award amounts?
A: For projects awarded in response to RFP #3, awards will range from $200,000-$360,000.

Q: Do you have to identify a funding source that you will apply to for additional funding following the COAST support (as you have to do for the COAST Grant Development Program​)? 
A: No, there is no obligation to seek additional funding at the conclusion of a SSINP award. SSINP awards are not seed grants the way the Grant Development Program awards are. They are intended to fund projects in their entirety.

Q: Are Principal Investigators (PIs) or campuses constrained to being on a single proposal or will multiple proposals be accepted?
A: With the April 2020 revisions to the Grant Guidelines, an investigator is now limited to being lead PI on only one proposal. Investigators may  serve as a lead PI on one proposal and will be allowed to serve as co-PI on additional proposals. E.g., Dr. Smith could be lead PI on one proposal and co-PI on another proposal responding to the same RFP, or co-PI on two proposals responding to the same RFP. There is no limit to the number of proposals submitted by a campus.

Q: Are we to use the standard overhead rates for our campuses?
A: No, indirect costs are not allowed. Justified direct administrative costs up to 10% of modified total direct costs (MTDC) are allowed. See Section 6.3 Allowed Direct Administrative Costs (p.16) for additional detail. 

Q: Are multi-campus collaborations encouraged, discouraged, or is that aspect a neutral component of the evaluation?
A: Multi-campus collaborations are a neutral component of the evaluation of proposals. If collaborators are needed/desired, PIs should seek out the most qualified collaborators that will help them develop the most competitive proposal possible with the caveat that the participation of non-CSU co-PIs must be strongly justified in the application. Additionally, 80% of the total award amount must remain within the CSU.

Q: As long as we do not spend California dollars out of state, is it acceptable to partner with folks outside of California (they would bring in additional funds for their component of the work/sites outside of CA)?
A: There is no stated restriction on where SSINP award funds can or cannot be spent (with the exception of CSU travel bans). The most important restriction to consider is that at least 80% of the total award amount must remain within the CSU. 

With regard to partnering with collaborators outside of California, PIs should seek out the most qualified collaborators that will help them develop the most competitive proposal possible with the caveat that the participation of non-CSU co-PIs must be strongly justified in the application.

Q: Are there any restrictions on working with partners outside the United States? 
A: COAST does not impose any restrictions regarding international co-PIs, partners, or subawardees. Please see Sections 6.1 Mechanism for Transfer of Funds and Designation of Award Financial Management and 6.4 Non-CSU Partner Compliance with State and/or CSU Administrative Policies for additional detail.​

Q: What is the earliest we can begin work, should the proposal be successful?
A: Each individual RFP will have a window during which applicants can select their desired start date. Applicants can select any start date within this time frame. 

Q: How important are clear, management-related deliverables or insights for the proposed projects?
A: The importance of clear, management-related deliverables cannot be overstated. The entire premise of SSINP is to provide the state of California with the science needed for informed policy development and evidence based decision making around marine, coastal, and coastal watershed issues in a timely and actionable manner. 

Q: Will there be a chance for folks to collaborate with other proposers? Some of my recent grant review panels have looked at proposals that are si​milar and asked the proposers to consider collaborating on a revised proposal that brings together or better integrates their two separate proposals?
A: This action is not anticipated. All proposals will be reviewed as submitted and independently of each other. If multiple proposals recommended for funding are extraordinarily similar in nature, COAST may approach PIs to discuss potential collaborations. To reiterate, this would not occur until the final decision-making stage of the process. 

Q: What happens if I am the Lead co-PI and I leave the CSU before the completion of the project?
A: In situations where the Lead PI leaves the CSU before the end of the award period, an existing CSU co-PI with the requisite experience may take on the role of Lead PI with approval from COAST. If no CSU co-PI is available to take the Lead PI role, the award may be terminated and the unused portion of the award returned to COAST.
 
If the CSU PI (Lead or co) leaves the CSU before the end of the award period, that individual may continue to be involved with the project as a co-PI while at their new institution provided that a) a subaward can be made to the new institution by a CSU campus that is already receiving award funding (e.g., the new Lead PI’s campus or another existing CSU co-PIs campus) AND b) no more than 20% of the cumulative total amount of the award is transferred outside the CSU (see section 2.1). If neither of the aforementioned conditions are not met, then the unused portion of the award shall be returned to COAST.

Here is an example: Dr. Smith from CSU Los Angeles is the Lead PI and Dr. Jones is a co-PI (Dr. Jones can be from CSULA also or a different CSU). If Dr. Smith leaves the CSU, Dr. Jones may become the Lead PI (with COAST approval). Dr. Smith may continue as a co-PI from his/her new institution IF Dr. Jones’ campus agrees to subaward to Dr. Smith’s new institution AND IF no more than 20% of the cumulative total amount of the award is transferred outside the CSU.







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