Information for Researchers, No. 46 | June 2, 2023

NSF-DFG Lead Agency Opportunity on Collaborative Research on Climate Change (NSF-DFG GEO)

Recognising the importance of international collaborations in promoting scientific discoveries, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on research cooperation. The MoU provides for a Lead Agency arrangement whereby proposals may be submitted to either NSF or DFG. To facilitate the support of collaborative work between US researchers and their German counterparts, the Divisions of Geosciences at NSF and DFG are pleased to announce a Lead Agency activity on collaborative research on climate change. The Lead Agency scheme allows for reciprocal acceptance of peer review through unsolicited mechanisms, and its goal is to help reduce some of the current barriers to working internationally.


US-German collaborations are invited to submit joint proposals in the areas covered by NSF/GEO participating programmes (see NSF Dear Colleague Letter NSF 23-113) and the DFG’s review boards (Fachkollegien) 313, 314, 315, 316, 317-01, and 318 of the DFG’s subject classification. The proposals must focus on research on climate change and provide a clear rationale for the need for a US-German collaboration, including the unique expertise and synergy that the collaborating groups will bring to the project.

Timeline for Submissions

Proposals can be submitted on a continuous basis. However, please refer to NSF-GEO programmes for specific timing of deadlines.

Proposal Submission

Researchers will identify a prospective Lead Agency (either NSF or DFG) based on the country with the largest share of the budget. All proposals submitted to this opportunity, regardless of which agency is the lead, must be preceded by an Expression of Interest (EOI), sent to the NSF at least 60 calendar days prior to the date the applicants intend to submit a proposal. This EOI identifies the investigators and their institutions in both countries, provides a brief summary of the project and provides the estimated budget associated with contributions of PIs in each country. The NSF will share submitted EOIs with the DFG for their awareness. The NSF will inform the applicant who submitted the EOI on whether or not the proposed submission is invited to proceed under the Lead Agency process. The applicant will then share that decision with their collaborators. Applicants who are invited to submit a proposal will do so in accordance with the proposal preparation requirements of the agencies. If the NSF is lead, applicants must comply with the NSF GEO proposal submission requirements and submit a proposal through the NSF’s system (see link below) or (see link below). And if the DFG is lead, applicants must comply with the Proposal Preparation Instructions (DFG form 54.01) via the elan system (see links below).

The proposal should indicate that the proposal is to be considered under the Lead Agency Opportunity by prefacing the title with “NSF GEO-DFG:”

If the NSF is the Lead Agency, the proposal should only indicate the US expenses on the NSF budget form. If DFG is the Lead Agency, the proposal should only indicate the German expenses on the DFG’s budget form. A copy of the proposed requested budget of the non-Lead Agency should be included as part of the proposal as a supplementary document. The Budget Justification section of the proposal should justify the full German and US project budgets, both of which must be clearly discussed and differentiated in the budget justification.

Peer Review

NSF-DFG GEO collaborative proposals will be reviewed alongside all other proposals received in the same funding round or call and will not undergo a separate or special review process.

Proposals will be reviewed in accordance with the Lead Agency’s review criteria. NSF and DFG ask reviewers, panelists, and/or members of review boards to evaluate the proposed project on its scientific or intellectual merit. As the NSF has two review criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts), any proposal where the NSF is the lead must also address the project’s broader impacts. For proposals where the DFG is the Lead Agency, the US part of the project must describe the broader impacts of the US part of the project. A description of the NSF merit review process is provided on the NSF merit review website (see link below). An outline of the DFG merit review process is provided on the DFG’s website (see link below).

Notification of Results

Applicants will be informed in writing about the decision and, where applicable, about the subsequent administrative steps according to the respective national regulations.

Equity and diversity

The DFG strongly welcomes proposals from researchers of all genders and sexual identities, from different ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological or social backgrounds, from different career stages, types of universities and research institutions, and with disabilities or chronic illness. With regard to the subject-specific focus of this call, the DFG encourages female researchers in particular to submit proposals.

Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice

Please note that according to a resolution of the DFG General Assembly, since 1 August 2019, DFG funding may only be awarded to institutions that have implemented the guidelines laid down in the Code of Conduct for Safeguarding Good Research Practice in their own regulations in a legally binding manner. This means that also for international proposals, funding from the DFG can only be received if the guidelines for ensuring good research practice (see link below) have been implemented by the institution of the German applicant. If you have any questions on this subject, please contact the Research Integrity team at the DFG Head Office (see contact below). Further information regarding implementation can be found at the webpage on Research Integrity (see link below).

Further Information

Dear Colleague Letter NSF:

Link to NSF’s system:

Link to NSF’s

Guidelines for the Research Grants Programme (DFG form 50.01):

Guidelines on the Duty to Cooperate (DFG form 55.01):

The elan system can be accessed at:

Link to description of the NSF merit review process:

Link to outline of DFG merit review process:

Please note the DFG’s data protection notice on research funding. If necessary, please also forward this information to those individuals whose data will be processed by the DFG due to their involvement in your project:

Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice, Code of Conduct:

Information on the implementation of the Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice, Code of Conduct:

Contact of the DFG´s Research Integrity team (Good Research Practice):

Contact at the DFG:

Contact at the NSF:

  • Lina Patino