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Proposal Examples

You can request examples of successful funding proposals from any of the federal funding agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Each agency has a different procedure to follow in order to obtain these documents. Below are the procedures for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Health (NIH), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), in addition to a sample FOIA request.

National Science Foundation

  1. Determine what grant documents you would like to obtain. You can search for various grants that have been awarded through this website: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/index.jsp. If you are looking for any proposal from a specific grant, use the title of that grant in the field titled "Search Award For." Otherwise, all of the other search parameters should be relatively self-explanitory.
  2. Determine which specific award documents you'd like to request. Your search should provide you with a list of awards. Clicking on each award will give you an abstract of the research that is being funded. Pick the awards that you think would be most helpful and note the award number (in the right hand column) and the name of the principal investigator (sixth column from the right).
  3. Once you have the award numbers and P.I. names, you can make a request. The current FOIA Coordinator for NSF is Leslie Jensen (ljensen@nsf.gov). The NSF FOIA Coordinator is best contacted by email. Let the coordinator know what you are looking for, be certain to include the award numbers and P.I. names.
  4. The FOIA Coordinator should be able to write back in a week. They may want more information; otherwise, they should simply acknowledge your request. These requests usually take 20-30 days to process, though they are allotted 90 days to fulfill any FOIA requests.

National Institute of Health

  1. Determine what grant documents you would like to obtain. You can search for various grants that have been awarded through this website: http://crisp.cit.nih.gov/crisp/crisp_query.generate_screen. Use the "Enter Search Terms" field to enter key information about the grants you are looking for. Be sure to use the Institutes and Centers field to select the Institute through which your desired grant is being housed.
  2. Determine which specific award documents you'd like to request. Your search should provide you with a list of awards. Clicking on each award will give you an abstract of the research that is being funded. Pick the awards that you think would be most helpful and note the award number (in the far left hand column) and the name of the principal investigator (third column from the right).
  3. Once you have the award numbers and P.I. names, you can make a request. A list of FOIA Coordinators of the different NIH Institutes can be found at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/foia/coord.htm. Be ready to provide the coordinator with names of the P.I.'s and the award numbers.

National Endowment for the Arts

  1. Determine what grant documents you would like to obtain. You can search for awards by going to http://www.nea.gov/grants/recent/index.html. Click on the link to the grant you are interested and a list of awards for that grant should appear.
  2. Find the specific awards you are most interested in. The list provides short abstracts for every award. Note the title of the award and the name of the P.I.
  3. Once you know which awards you'd like to have, contact the NEA FOIA officer by email, fax, or writing. You can reach that person at:

    FOIA Requests
    Office of General Counsel
    National Endowment for the Arts
    1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 518
    Washington, DC 20506
    202/682-5418
    202/682-5572(fax)
    foia@arts.endow.gov
  4. These requests usually take 30-45 days to process, though they are allotted 90 days to fulfill any FOIA requests.

National Endowment for the Humanities

  1. Determine what grant documents you would like to obtain. You can search for awards by going to http://www.humanities.gov/news/recentawards.html. Click on the link to the grant you are interested and a list of awards for that grant should appear.
  2. Find the specific awards you are most interested in. The list provides short abstracts for every award. Note the title of the award and the name of the P.I.
  3. Once you know which awards you'd like to have, you may make a request to NEH by completing this online form, http://www.neh.gov/whoweare/foia/request.asp.
  4. These requests usually take 30-45 days to process, though they are allotted 90 days to fulfill any FOIA requests.

Sample FOIA Request

Here is an example of a FOIA request from A Citizen's Guide to Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records, published by the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, 1997.

Dear FOIA Officer:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I request that a copy of the following documents be provided to me: [Identify the documents or information as specifically as possible.]

In order to help to determine my status for purposes of determining the applicability of any fees, you should know that I am_______

[Examples:

  • I am a representative of the news media affiliated with the ____newspaper, magazine, television station, etc., and this request is made as part of news gathering and not for a commercial use.
  • I am affiliated with an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, and this request is made for a scholarly or scientific purpose and not for a commercial use.
  • I am an individual seeking information for personal use and not for a commercial use.
  • I am affiliated with a private corporation and am seeking information for use in the company's business.]

[Optional] I am willing to pay fees for this request up to a maximum of $____. If you estimate that the fees will exceed this limit, please inform me first.

[Optional] I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. [Include specific details, including how the requested information will be disseminated by the requester for public benefit. Failure to include such details may result in a denial or a fee waiver.]

[Optional] I request that the information I seek be provided in electronic format, and I would like to receive it on a personal computer disk. [You may receive your request in either paper or, if available, electronic format. Please specify the precise format you prefer.]

[Optional] I ask that my request receive expedited processing because ________________. [Include specific details regarding your "compelling need" and specifics concerning your "urgency to inform the public."]

[Optional] I have included a telephone number at which I can be contacted during the hours of ______, if necessary, to discuss any aspect of my request.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Name
Address
City, State, Zip Code
Telephone number [Optional]
fax number [optional]
email [Optional]