Confidentiality Guidelines

Confidentiality Guidelines for OFAP Members, Project Facilitators and other OFAP Participants


Maintaining confidentiality allows OFAP members to express expert judgments and opinions about proposed projects and facility requests freely and objectively, without concern that these judgments and opinions might become known to the proposers. Confidentiality prevents a third party from gaining a competitive advantage through obtaining privileged information. Confidentiality also eliminates the possibility that incorrect or incomplete information is passed on to outside parties to their detriment or disadvantage.

OFAP members have access to the deliberations and other information that is not generally available to others in the community. In addition to their responsibility to not disclose this information outside the OFAP, members also are responsible for not using such information for personal gain. The guidelines presented here are intended to define and clarify the responsibilities for maintaining confidentiality. The term "Assessment Group" as used below includes OFAP, EOL, and LAOF Partner Organization staff as well as other invited meeting participants.

Confidentiality of Peer Reviews and Reviewer Identities

Reviews and reviewer identities are confidential and are not to be disclosed to persons outside NSF or the Assessment Group, except that verbatim copies of reviews (without the name and affiliation of the reviewer) may be sent to the principal investigators (PIs).

Confidentiality of Discussions within the Assessment Group

The content of all discussions taking place during an executive session of the Assessment Group is confidential and may not to be disclosed to any persons outside NSF or the Assessment Group, except that copies of recommendations from the Assessment Group may be sent to the PIs.

Confidentiality of Proposals and Facility Requests

NSF and LAOF Partner Organizations receive proposals and facility requests in confidence and must protect the confidentiality of their contents. For this reason, Assessment Group members, including LAOF Partner Organizations and OFAP Members are not to copy, quote, or otherwise disclose or use material from any proposal or facility request that they review. This does not preclude LAOF Partner Organization staff from talking directly to the originating PIs about a pending proposal or facility request. If an Assessment Group member believes that a colleague can make a substantial contribution to a review, she should consult the OFAP Chair of the Assessment Group for guidance before disclosing either the contents of the proposal / request or the applicant's name.

Confidentiality of Information not generally available to the Community

Members of the Assessment Group sometimes gain access to information not openly available to the community. Members may not use that information for personal benefit or make it available for the personal benefit of any other individual or organization. This is to be distinguished from the entirely appropriate general benefit of learning more about the NSF, learning from other Assessment Group members, or becoming better acquainted with the state of a given discipline.