I am working on an NSF (in the USA) project report now and wondering what users end up using this information.

  • Do program officers use it when considering me in my next grant application?
  • Does NSF use it to pitch for sustained/more funding from the total federal budget?
  • Is this info made available to the public to explain what all their money is being spent on?
  • Other uses I have not thought of?
  • Every abstract of every grant is public, for the public to be able to see what money is being spent on. Sep 15, 2022 at 17:37
  • 1
    Project annual reports aren't public, but you should probably assume that they can and will be used in any other way program managers deem useful. Sep 15, 2022 at 21:29
  • @WolfgangBangerth if a document can be obtained by anyone through a Freedom of Information Act request (see yourfriendlyresearchadmin’s posted answer), I’m not sure it’s accurate to say it’s not public.
    – Dan Romik
    Sep 25, 2022 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


You can read about the federal requirement to have RPPRs ("progress reports") in the Federal Register. Here's the page for NSF. In general, what you provide will be used to determine if you are making sufficient progress in order for them to provide you and your colleagues (if you have collaborators) with future funding. It also records the outcomes of their funding which they may publish to the public. Further, in the event of an audit of your expenses, they will reference your RPPRs to see that your personnel, travel, and publication costs are sufficiently referenced within your RPPR as relevant to the grant. You can find such "performance audits" on the NSF website.

I would absolutely consider that failure to take the RPPR seriously can permanently damage your reputation with a funding agency, and result in them requesting your removal from a project. I have seen NSF do this in the last year at a top university; they requested we substitute the PI for a new one simply to have the RPPR filed and we would then return the remaining unspent funds (~$200k).

More specific information from the PAPPG (which you should be very familiar with if you have NSF money) should answer your other questions:

NSF requires project reports for all assistance awards. Information from these reports is used in annual reports to Congress to demonstrate the Foundation’s performance as mandated by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. These reports also provide NSF program officers and administrative offices with information on the progress of supported projects and the way these funds are used. Information in these reports may be made available to the general public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These reports are fully consistent with and implement the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR), which is the government-wide standard for use with research and research-related activities. Except where another format is approved by OMB for use by an NSF program, this means that the ‘‘where practicable’’ requirement specified in 2 CFR §200.329 is not required as the RPPR does not relate financial information to performance data.

Please also consider that people who have committed fraud via RPPR have been arrested by the feds.

  • Nice answer! Not sure I follow the anecdote though -- so the NSF was unhappy with the quality of the report, so they requested that the PI be substituted and the original PI's portion of the grant be returned?
    – cag51
    Sep 25, 2022 at 2:47
  • 1
    The PI didn't file the report at all, even after a year had passed. Because of the federal requirements (see Federal Register) for progress reports, NSF pressures the awardee (the institution that receives the fund) to replace the PI in order to get the report filed. They don't want to just take back the money; they still want the RPPR even if it is obviously not going to report ideal results back. Sep 25, 2022 at 2:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .