NSF Solicitation 15-525

NSF Solicitation: 15-525
Management of UNOLS Marine Technician Pool

This Page was Last Updated On: February 6, 2015

NSF has released a solicitation for the Management of the UNOLS Marine Technician Pool.  Click here to read the solicitation.

Questions regarding the solicitation should be emailed to the UNOLS Office (office[at]unols[dot]org) with the subject line: NSF Solicitation 15-525. The UNOLS Office will send the questions to the NSF Cognizant Program Officer who will prepare responses. All solicitation questions and responses will be posted anonymously below and updated regularly.

1.  One of the suggestions is for there to be two types of tech, long-term and short-term. Do these categories include current employees of institutions operating ships , e.g., the groups at Scripps or Woods Hole, who are on payroll at these institutions, or only people who are not affiliated with the institutions in a full-time capacity?

No. Full time, institutional specific technicians are not covered by this solicitation. They will remain employees of the institutions. It may evolve that some of these people become part of the tech pool but there will always be a need for a core of institution specific full time technicians that are not part of the pool.

2.  As I read the budget requirements, all we are supposed to consider is a pool of 5 techs as specified in the document, together with any additional administrative support over a 5-year period that relates to the whole pool. Is this a correct interpretation? Presumably the final pool will consist of considerably more than the five techs mentioned in the RFP, and annual costs will be negotiated based on the total estimated number of techs.

Mostly correct. I am asking for a one year budget within the framework of a 5-year cooperative agreement. You're correct that 5 techs is the minimum size we would host but this is simply a way to have all the bidders present a simple budget for the same thing. The ultimate operational budget would clearly be more complicated.

3.  Is the TPHI responsible for paying the techs directly, or will it merely put together the necessary contracts for employment with the costs coming (eventually) from the PI for that particular cruise? This makes a huge difference to the overall cost of the proposal, although it doesnt affect the bottom line amount that NSF will eventually pay unless the IDC rates for different institutions are very different.

The TPHI would be responsible for paying the tech directly. They would become employees or contractors of the TPHI. As you point out the cost would be the same to NSF, except for the IDCs. These are another variable to consider in evaluation of the proposals.

4. In section V.A.G of the solicitation, under "Budgeting and Accounting", the following is indicated for the Senior Technician: 
  • 175 days at sea (includes mobilization (mob) days and demobilization (demob) days), 6 cruises, 2 international, 4 domestic plus 30 days shore side work at Moss Landing Marine Lab.
Is the reference to Moss Landing Marine Lab intentional or is the intent here for the Senior Technician to complete 30 days of shore side work at the Host Institution? If the intent is for work to be completed at MLML can you indicate what the intent of that work is? 

It may be necessary from time to time for a member of the tech pool to work shore-side at a particular institution. The reference to Moss Landing Marine Lab is a theoretical location for which all the proposers should budget for (travel, per diem etc.) as applicable. The locations could just as easily been Miami or Duluth.

5. To aid the ability to compare proposals what assumption should be made about the 30 days at Moss Landing?
a. For the 30 days ashore would the technician be working only on weekdays with weekends off?  This would require the technician to be on site for more days to work 30 days.
b. On site 30 days working 8 hours/day weekdays only which means 20 days of work. They would not be paid for weekends. Lodging and meals would be paid.
c. On site 30 days working 8 hours/day weekdays only which means 20 days of work. They would not be paid for weekends. Lodging and meals would not be paid.
d. On site 30 days working 8 hours per day 7 days a week.
e. Some other permutation

For the purposes of this solicitation, let's assume option d: On site 30 days working 8 hours per day 7 days a week. In reality, the TPHI would have flexibility in its approach depending the urgency of the request and the individual situation. For example, if the tech was local it would be handled differently than if the tech came from the East Coast.

6. The solicitation indicates that interested institutions should submit a one year budget yet the NSF plan, as we understand it, is to enter into a 5-year cooperative agreement.  For the purposes of submitting the proposal in Fastlane should the proposal be submitted as a one-year proposal with a one year budget OR should the proposal be entered as a 5-year anticipated agreement with a 5-year budget?  
If a 5-year budget is requested for the purposes of satisfying Fastlane requirements, do you expect the out years to be repeats of the first year budget?  What happens if, in doing this, the 5-year budget exceeds the anticipated funding amount indicated in the solicitation ($1,750,000 to $3,000,000)? 

The budget for the proposal in response for solicitation 15-525 should be for one year. Once a host institution is selected, a 5-year proposal will be necessary.

7. In reading the solicitation, it is unclear on what components of the proposal are being deviated from as outlined in the GPG 15-1.  I had interpreted the solicitation that in addition to the components outlined in the GPG, that additional information – to be uploaded to the 'other supplementary documents' file – would be needed and that information would consist of items A-G listed in the solicitation.  However, the proposal that I have been given in its current form has items A-G as the 'project description' component.  
Clearly, this is a unique mechanism so I understand it may not look like the usual proposal, but as the solicitation says to use the GPG in conjunction with deviations outlined within the solicitation, I want to check on this before we submit.

Please include the additional information in the supplemental documents section of the proposal.  NSF does not want proposers to be limited by the 15-page limit.  The proviso to use more than 15-pages should have been lifted by it is unclear whether it was and we are unsure whether Fastlane will accept proposals over 15-pages.  All things being equal, it is prefered to have everything together under project description as specified in the 15-525 solicitation; it's just easier to read and evaluate. If, however, this puts the proposal over 15 pages, and if Fastlane won't allow it to be submitted, then things can be moved to supplemental documents.