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Indeed, I just found out that to see full proposal or later reports. One needs to file a FOIA request, as described here.

So I am curious if anyone has done so? And how is the process like? In particular, can the requester remain confidential after the request (so other people will not know that I made the request)?

Additional follow up question: What kind of people can file FOIA request? Does it have to be US citizens? Or just anyone working in US? etc..

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Actually, one only needs to file a FOIA request if your polite request to the PI is turned down. Ask the PI first. –  JeffE Feb 20 '13 at 23:59
    
Just for record. For the follow up question. "Any U.S. citizen, foreign national, foreign government, state government, partnership, corporation, or association may make a FOIA request. Agencies are not required to process FOIA requests made by fugitives from justice or by an agency acting on behalf of a fugitive" –  rptr Feb 23 '13 at 1:43

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The name of the requester does not remain confidential.

A friend of mine was recently on the other end. NSF contacted him to tell him that an FOIA request had been made for a copy of his proposal, told him the name of the requester, and asked whether the proposal contained any sensitive information that he wished to have redacted.

The general feeling was that making such a request, rather than contacting the PI directly, was unprofessional and borderline creepy. I second JeffE's comment: Ask the PI first.

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Definitely, filing a FOIA request without even asking the PI is incredibly unprofessional and creepy. But I'd actually go further and say filing a FOIA request at all is more than a little creepy, even if you asked and the PI refused to send you the proposal. In most cases it's an abuse of the FOIA system. (If you are doing it to investigate what the government is funding, then that's a legitimate use. If you are doing it to try to get a behind-the-scenes view of a competitor's research program, then that's unethical.) –  Anonymous Mathematician Feb 21 '13 at 2:34
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I guess maybe I'd analyze it as follows. People such as reviewers or panel members have access to NSF proposals, and they are strictly forbidden from taking advantage of this confidential information. I see someone making a FOIA request as being in a similar situation. They are legally entitled to see the proposal, but scientific ethics do not permit them to use unpublished ideas or data taken from it. Deliberately requesting information you cannot ethically use looks suspicious. –  Anonymous Mathematician Feb 21 '13 at 3:52
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@TCSGrad: You want to see a successful grant proposal? Send me an email. Really. –  JeffE Feb 21 '13 at 4:26
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Also, the PI and their institution's lawyers can censor anything of possible commercial value before sending you the proposal. (Or so my university's lawyers have told my colleagues who have been FOIA'd.) So if the PI is really offended by the FOIA request, you might just receive 15 pages of black rectangles. –  JeffE Feb 21 '13 at 4:28
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@walkmanyi: I certainly think that the public has a right to see the results of research that they fund, and indeed I support open access mandates that require that funded papers be made public. However, there's a big difference between the results of funded research and the grant proposals themselves. The proposals include ideas which don't pan out (which could be embarrassing) and ideas which take time to work out (which could get stolen). –  Noah Snyder Feb 21 '13 at 21:58

OK. Now I have some very clear answer. The list of all requesters is in fact PUBLISHED on NSF website.

See, for example, all NSF FOIA request in 2010 (PDF) http://www.nsf.gov/policies/2010_FOIA_LOG.pdf

The link is found at the bottom of this page: http://www.nsf.gov/policies/foia.jsp

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This is a really interesting list. Thanks for pointing it out! –  Anonymous Mathematician Feb 23 '13 at 0:07
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Wow, the stories that must be behind some of those. Example: On 10/23/2009, Mark Spaulding of "Federal Prison" requested "All available disclosable data on very large industrial lasers, especially as applied to the mining industry." :-O –  Nate Eldredge Feb 23 '13 at 1:29
    
@NateEldredge I think he may be an employee there, and what he requested just his personal hobby.. :) In fact "Any U.S. citizen, foreign national, foreign government, state government, partnership, corporation, or association may make a FOIA request. Agencies are not required to process FOIA requests made by fugitives from justice or by an agency acting on behalf of a fugitive." –  rptr Feb 23 '13 at 1:41
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@rptr: I bet that's just what Auric Goldfinger wants you to think. (By the way, prison inmates are not fugitives.) –  Nate Eldredge Feb 23 '13 at 2:03

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