Request Process for Cost Recovery Projects


Under certain circumstances, NSF-sponsored observing facilities may be allocated for use by non-NSF-sponsored projects on a cost-recovery basis. All costs for these projects must be covered by the sponsoring agency and are recovered by the LAOF Partner Organization. To be allocated, such non-NSF projects must meet the principle of there being a "net benefit to the NSF community", which can be based on (but is not limited to) one or more of the following criteria:

  • The project supports or enhances the science objectives of the NSF-sponsored community
  • The project provides desirable practical training and experience for facility staff
  • The project provides revenues that significantly enhance the objectives of an NSF-sponsored facility development
  • The project meets a national need to which NCAR or other NSF-sponsored facilities can uniquely contribute

If you are an investigator funded by an agency other than NSF, please ask your Program Officer to initiate contact with the NSF LAOF Program Director to discuss the potential use of an NSF and/or NCAR facility.


  • Letter of Interest
  • Facility Request
  • Scientific Grant Proposal(s)
  • Project overview in the form of a presentation
  • Funding agency endorsement letter


For cost recovery projects, NSF facilities can be requested twice annually. Due dates for receipt of requests for consideration are

  • 1 July FY-2 for use between 1 October and 31 March of FY-0 and
  • 1 December FY-1 for use of a facility between 1 April and 30 September in FY-0.
  • For example, requests for use of a facility between 1 October 2017 and 31 March 2018 will be due by 1 July 2016. Requests for use of a facility between 1 April and 30 September 2018 will be due by 1 December 2016.
  • Please note that deadlines are strictly enforced.

The lead investigator is responsible for taking the outlined actions and for providing the following material to the LAOF Partner Organizations. If you are unfamiliar with the mentioned documentation, please review the Request Documentation Definition section of this website.

FY-n references refer to the fiscal year (October through September) in which an action has to be taken. The campaign will take place in FY-0, FY-1 refers to one fiscal year ahead of the campaign etc.
  • Anytime in FY-2: Initiate contact between NSF LAOF Program Director and funding agency program officer to alert NSF about potential cost recovery request 
  • Anytime in FY-2: Initiate contact with the facility manager to discuss intention and get preliminary advice concerning timing and objectives
  • 1 March / 15 September FY-2: Submit a Letter of Interest to the LAOF Request Coordinator.
  • 1 July / 1 December FY-2Submit an electronic copy of the completed Facility Request Form(s) to the LAOF Request Coordinator and relevant facility managers. 
  • 1 July / 1 December FY-2Submit up to five presentation slides in electronic form to the LAOF Request Coordinator.
  • 31 August / 31 January FY-2: Submit an electronic copy of the scientific project description of the relevant Scientific Grant Proposal(s) to the LAOF Request Coordinator
  • 31 August / 31 January: Provide Endorsement Letter from the agency's Program Officer to the LAOF Request Coordinator, confirming intent of financial and institutional support for the proposed research

Your request will be discussed at either the Fall OFAP or Spring OFAP meeting in the year before your actual deployment phase.



The review and approval of a cost recovery field campaign involve both the agency that will fund the campaign and NSF. The LAOF Program Director will be in direct communication with the relevant Program Officer at the cognizant funding agency before a final decision is made by NSF. The decision by NSF is usually reached within three to four months of the OFAP meeting. The LAOF Program Director will contact you directly with her decision to approve or decline a request.

Please note that NSF-funded programs that need LAOF support have first priority.  Programs funded entirely by government agencies other than NSF (e.g., NASA, NOAA, DOE, ONR) or non-governmental organizations have the lowest priority and will be charged on a full cost-recovery basis. Costs for those projects include all operational expenses, maintenance, and overhead. Maintenance and overhead are charged through the application of overhead and facility use rates approved on an annual basis by NSF. Currently, approved rates are available from each of the LAOF Partner Organizations.


Contact Information: Brigitte Baeuerle (baeuerle @ ucar . edu / 303-497-2061)