The funding rate of proposals submitted to the NSF Geosciences Directorate fluctuated between 25% and 37% between fiscal years 2010 and 2019. While the lowest funding rate years were driven by an increase in the number of proposals submitted, there has been an overall decline in the number of awards issued each fiscal year, with 1,976 awards issued in 2010 to 1,537 awards issued in 2019. The higher number of awards issued in 2010 was partly due to funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
With the exception of 2013-2015, the number of proposals has also been declining, with the largest decline occurring between 2017 and 2018. Between 2018 and 2019, there was an increase in the number of proposals and awards although funding rates remained steady at 37%. Whether this indicates a turn around in the overall declining trend in proposals and awards remains to be seen.
The Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) consistently had the highest funding rate of all NSF Geosciences Directorate divisions, whereas the Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) and Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) have had the lowest funding rates. By far, the EAR and OCE divisions received the most proposals yet only awarded between 350 to 700 awards each year. Although the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) and the AGS division received the fewest proposals, the AGS division issued more awards than the OPP division, ranging between 250 and 365 awards per year.
The average time to final decision on proposals submitted to the NSF Geosciences Directorate ranged between 6.51 to 7.88 months which is longer than the NSF policy guideline of 6 months. By division, the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) took the longest to reach the final decision for proposals, taking from 7.58 to 11.89 months. The longest decision times for OPP proposals have occurred since 2015. The OCE division had the shortest times for making the final decision on proposals, ranging from 5.32 to 6.74 months.
Since 2013, the average duration of awards has decreased from approximately 3.7 years to 2.7 years. While the duration of awards has declined, the median annual award amount has increased since 2010, with the largest increases occurring since 2016. Between 2016 and 2019, median annual award amounts (converted to constant dollars) increased 41% for AGS awards, 48% for EAR awards, 59% for OPP awards, and 38% for OCE awards.
The decline in award duration is primarily a reflection of awards that have not yet been approved for no-cost extensions. With time, this trend will correct with an upward shift in average award duration and a downward shift in median annual award amounts (which are calculated from award durations). For a better estimate of the increase in median awards, we held the award duration constant at 2013 levels and converted the award amounts to constant dollars. This analysis indicates a much smaller increase in median annual award amounts between 2016 and 2019: 23% for AGS awards, 30% for EAR awards, 33% for OPP awards, and 7% for OCE awards.