Information Regarding National Science Foundation Important Notice No. 144: Sexual Harassment

Page Updated: May 31st, 2018

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On February 8, 2018, the National Science Foundation released Important Notice No. 144. The notice reminds the research community of its obligations to fully investigate complaints of sexual or other harassment and for complying with federal nondiscrimination law. NSF plans to add an award term and condition that spells out core obligations for awardees and imposes new reporting obligations. A notice and request for comment was published in the Federal Register on March 5, 2018.

Anticipated Institutional Requirements

  1. Maintain Harassment-Free Research Workplaces
    • Establish and maintain clear an unambiguous standards of behavior
    • Establish notification pathways for all personnel, include students, regardless of workplace location
    • Provide accessible and evident means for reporting violations, including reporting when personnel are engage in conferences, workshops, field work, or other research facilities
    • Ensure institutional due diligence with timely investigations of allegations and corrective actions
  2. Expanded Reporting to NSF
    • Institution must report to NSF if it places a PI or a Co-PI on administrative leave related to a harassment investigation or finding.
    • Institution must report to NSF if it issues a finding/determination of a violation of conduct, policy, regulation, or statute related to sexual or other harassment, or sexual assault, against a PI or Co-PI.
    • If a Co-PI is affiliated with a subawardee, the subawardee must provide information to the awardee, which will report to NSF.
    • Institution must submit the report to NSF within seven (7) business days from the placements on administrative leave or the date of the finding/determination.

NSF Rights

NSF may decide to unilaterally:

  • Require the institution to remove or replace the PI or Co-PI,
  • Suspend or terminate the award, or
  • Reduce the award funding amount.


  • All grant personnel (PI, Co-PI roles trigger reporting requirement)
  • All locations where grant work is undertaken (including conferences, workshops, field sites, on- and off-campus research facilities, online)

Request for comment

A Federal Register Notice with draft implementation guidance was released March 5, 2018. Comments were due May 4, 2018.

Anticipated NSF Implementation

NSF indicates that they plan to issue final requirement before their typical annual regulatory update cycle, which suggests that the requirements may be implemented sometime in summer/early fall 2018.

A new term and condition will be incorporated into NSF award terms and conditions. The new award term will also be incorporated into the next issuance of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

The new term and condition will be applied to new NSF awards and funding amendments to existing awards made on or after the effective date of the terms and conditions.

Implementation at UW-Madison

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Office of Compliance are working together to determine procedures to report to NSF. Once the NSF has released the final term and condition, we will post final guidance.

Links to UW-Madison Information that Supports NSF Policy

Other Links