Proposals, From a Cost Perspective. Adapted from Claude Freaner Office of Earth Science NASA Headquarters.
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Office of Earth Science
De-scope of Instrumentation
Loss of spacecraft/instrument
Loss of resolution
Reduced operational period
The earlier the independent assessment is made, the more taxpayer dollars may be saved.
Proposal PreparationWhy Worry About Cost?
2. PIs write proposals and submit them.
3. Reviewers read the proposals, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and risks
• Other Opportunities (SDB, Commercialization, Public Outreach)
4. Selection Official makes a decision based on the above areas plus funding availability and political necessity.
Proposal PreparationHow are Proposals Selected?
Read the Technical, Management, Cost, Education & Public Outreach, and Proposal Submittal sections with as much attention to detail as you place on the Science Section
The biggest risk to the PI at this stage is that the proposal will not be selected. Some suggestions to prevent rejection:
Provide ALL requested data
Look for”show”, “list”, “provide”, “explain”, “describe”, etc.
Make liberal use of a highlighter
Create a compliance matrix, include it with the proposal
Get a good Project Manager and Systems Engineer right away - they’re experts in what needs to be done
Pay attention to proposal submittal instructions
Proposal PreparationFirst Step for a Prospective PI:
From IIP NRA:
From ESSP AO-3:
Indicate funding for PI and each Co-I in a small table, similar to this, along with the individual’s responsibility in the proposed project.
Why All This Detail?
Risk Reduction. Cost details tell the reviewer you understand the problem, you’ve covered all the costs, and your costs are reasonable.
Vendor ROM (or NTE) quote
Detailed breakdown of time and materials to build it
Similar to one built on another program last year (analogy)
“Engineering judgement” (SWAG)
Proposal PreparationWhat is a “Basis Of Estimate”?
Every cost in the proposal should have a Basis of Estimate!
2. Identify required information for each sub-section. Cut and paste the required info from the proposal submittal instructions or your compliance matrix.
3. Identify which proposal subsections will require outside help - get the help started. Get an experienced and knowledgeable Project Manager and Systems Engineer very early in the proposal process.
4. Begin writing each subsection, paying close attention to the compliance matrix, and updating it as you go.
5. Arrange for an in-house Red Team review of your proposal to take place a couple of weeks prior to the submittal date.
Proposal PreparationProposal Writing Made Easier
If the NRA/AO/RFP mentions student involvement, think about college students helping with the proposal: An undergraduate management student can create the compliance matrix for you, an MBA candidate with technical BS can create and maintain your cost data, your risk assessment section, and your management section as you and other team members develop them.
Find an English major or Journalism graduate student or civil servant to proofread your proposal drafts.
Find an art or graphic design student to help you design the layout and artwork (or contact Center graphics office)
Proposal PreparationProposal Writing Made Easier (Cont.)
Blank at first
Ensures everyone knows
the “big picture”
Proposal PreparationSet Up A “War Room”
Composed of Scientist, Technologist, Management, Cost, Education/Public Outreach personnel
Quickly reads the NRA/AO/RFP
Validates your compliance matrix to the NRA/AO/RFP
Validates your proposal to the compliance matrix
The Red Team offers suggestions to improve all parts of the proposal
Brutally frank, but constructive, criticism
Red Team Review must be completed in just a couple of days max!
Proposal PreparationWhat Does a Red Team Review Do?
When the Red Team is finished, re-write your proposal as appropriate, and complete any remaining unfinished sub-sections
Contact Co-Workers - offer to be on a Red Team for them in the future.
Proposal PreparationWhere do I find my Red Team?
Step 1: Admit there are risks…
Identify what can go wrong
Analyze and Assess consequences
Mitigate the impacts; develop plan to prevent
Proposal PreparationDefinition: Risk Management (7120.5A)
Provide Requested Data
Write Down Assumptions
Provide Basis of Estimate
Be Consistent and Traceable
Adequate Funding Reserves
Bottoms-Up Allocations, Based On Risk
Project Phase Specific
Adequate Schedule Reserves
Along Critical Path
Funded (“marching army”)
Tracking And Control (Earned Value…)
Proposal PreparationHow Is Cost Risk Reduced?
Points of Contact
Area POC email
Research Martha Maiden email@example.com
Applications Ed Sheffner firstname.lastname@example.org
Education Ming-Ying Wei email@example.com
Technology Karen Moe Karen.Moe@gsfc.nasa.gov
SEEDS Kathy Fontaine Kathleen.S.Fontaine.1@
Other questions: Ed Sheffner 202-358-0239