CIMSS Re-Compete Successful
Preparations for the competition for Cooperative Institure for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) to continue to be located at UW-Madison SSEC began 10 months ago, in August 2009, when CIMSS Director Steve Ackerman held an “all hands” meeting to discuss the plans for proposal development. At that meeting Ackerman outlined a plan for many (most) CIMSS scientists to provide materials for the forthcoming proposal. He asked the CIMSS scientists to write “2-pagers” summarizing each of the current CIMSS research projects. The requirements of the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) were not known at that time, but he knew much of the material would find its way into the proposal. The writing team of Ackerman, Tom Achtor, and Paul Menzel (with help from Maria Vasys and Leanne Avila) would integrate these two-pagers into the AO.
The AO was expected to be released in September, but due to delays in legal reviews of the Announcement it was not formally released until 1 December. Proposals were due to NOAA no later than 25 February 2010. Serious work began on 2 January, and an “extended outline” of the proposal was completed in late January. By the 1st week of February the extended outline was turned into a solid draft, and this document was delivered to a “Red Team” for review. This group had just a few days to thoroughly review and comment on the proposal, which left one more week for the proposal to be finalized. Having addressed the comments of the Red Team, the SSEC/UW-Madison proposal to host CIMSS was submitted to NOAA on 23 February. The proposal was one page under the 75-page limit and included numerous appendices that also totaled about 75 pages.
Next came more than two months of waiting for the NOAA reviews and a final decision. While rumors circulated about whether there was any real competition, nothing was known factually until 9 June, when Ackerman was informed that SSEC had won the recompetition. What started on 12 August 2009 ended on 9 June 2010.
One concern was whether NOAA would send any FY2010 funding before the re-competition was completed. In mid-winter there was good news when the several NOAA program managers accelerated the budget process on their end – which allowed SSEC to submit proposals before a cutoff in February. In the space of a few weeks SSEC submitted large GOES-R proposals; a total of 13 proposals were funded by mid-federal fiscal year. During the “wait,” many other proposals were identified to be submitted if and when the award was won.
After the 9 June announcement and before the 30 June end-of-year cutoff that NOAA imposes to accept proposals, CIMSS scientists and the SSEC administrative staff put together another 14 proposals. It was a large effort by many people, with a special effort by Debbie Schroeder, who had the responsibility to review the proposal documents for accuracy, prepare the final formats, and send them to the UW Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) office to submit to the NOAA grants.gov web site. For the year, CIMSS submitted 27 proposals, a huge effort by many people on the SSEC/CIMSS science and administrative teams.
With this award CIMSS will continue to live within SSEC for at least 10 more years. There will be a 5-year review, but SSEC's work with NOAA and the NOAA scientists who work at CIMSS will continue to provide exciting research and enormous benefit to the country.