Competition for the Management of Operations and Maintenance of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

NSF solicits proposals to manage the operations and maintenance of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), an NSF-funded major facility project.  NEON comprises terrestrial, aquatic, atmospheric, and remote sensing measurement infrastructure and cyberinfrastructure that deliver standardized, calibrated data to the scientific community through a single, openly accessible data portal.  NEON infrastructure is geographically distributed across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and will generate data for ecological research over a 30-year period.  NEON is designed to enable the research community to ask and address their own questions on a regional to continental scale around the environmental challenges identified as relevant to understanding the effects of climate change, land-use change and invasive species patterns on the biosphere.  The NSF NEON program, which is part of the Centers and Cooperative Agreements Cluster in the Division of Biological Infrastructure, manages the NEON award in collaboration with the NSF Large Facilities Office and the NSF Division of Acquisition and Cooperative Support. 

The managing organization will work closely with NSF and the scientific community to ensure that NEON capabilities support and advance ecology and related sciences.  In cooperation with NSF and within available resources, the awardee will plan and execute a viable, coherent, and inclusive program to support multi-user research and education, consistent with advice of the scientific community and NSF oversight.

A single award will be made as a cooperative agreement with a duration of five years that is anticipated to begin in November 2021.  NSF may renew the award for an additional five-years, subject to availability of funds, the Awardee's satisfactory performance, and review of a cost proposal for the second 5-year period.  NSF’s decision will be informed by the National Science Board Statement on Recompetition of Major Facilities (NSB 2015-45 or successor).

An organization may only submit 1 proposal as the lead. There is no limit on the number of proposals on which an organization can be included as a subawardee.


  • Duke Internal: Jan. 31, 2020

  • Letter of Intent Deadline Date (required): February 21, 2020

  • Full Proposal Deadline Date: June 19, 2020

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.

The Principal Investigator (PI) must be an employee of the proposing organization.

Amount Description

For planning purposes, proposers can assume a base budget of approximately $65 million during the first year of the award, beginning November 2021 and should plan for no more than a 3% budget increase in each of the subsequent years. All budget amounts given herein are tentative and for initial planning purposes only. Actual annual funding increments will be determined on the basis of the detailed cost estimate required per Section V.B below and an Annual Program Operating Plan that is submitted by the awardee to and approved by NSF. Funding increments are also subject annually to the availability of funds and will be contingent on the performance of the awardee. Escalation factors used for cost estimating should be articulated in the Cost Estimating Plan.

If needed, additional funding of up to $1,000,000 may be requested to support a transition period of up to 6 months in duration. The request of funding for a transition period should be made within the Transition Plan and should not be included in the formal cost estimate or proposed budget for the initial 5-year period but must conform to the same requirements. If this amount is not sufficient for the proposed transition, please contact the NEON program for additional guidance.

Funding Type





Environmental & Life Sciences

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF.

  • NSF Biosketch of project leader
  • 1-2 page document (LOI) containing:
    • Project Title
    • Synopsis (a brief abstract of maximum 2,500 characters of plain text)
    • Point of Contact for NSF Inquiries
    • Project PI Information
    • Participating Organizations

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code ILN)

Instructions for creating an account (if needed) and submitting your materials:

Internal Deadline

January 31, 2020

External Deadline

February 21, 2020