Montana State University

Office of Sponsored Programs

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172470
Bozeman, MT 59717-2470

Tel: (406) 994-2381
Fax: (406) 994-7951
Location: 309 Montana Hall


Sandy Sward

What is FastLane? - FastLane Policies and Procedures

FastLane | Funding | Glossary | Proposal Guidance | Proposal Writing | Resources

FastLane is an interactive real-time system used to conduct National Science Foundation business and to disseminate information to the public over the Internet. Individuals sign on to the system and send/receive their transactions directly to/from NSF. These transactions represent a wide range of activities including Award Search, Proposal Preparation, Proposal Review, Status Reports, Project Reporting and Post Award Notifications and Requests. Some transactions are publicly available, some are self-certifying (user generates own password), and some require registration with NSF.

How to use Fastlane

FastLane is available from the NSF home page or directly at NSF Fastlane. The public functions do not require passwords for initial access. The functions listed in the "PI/Co-PI Functions" section entitled "Proposals, Awards and Status" require the use of a FastLane password. If you want to access one of these functions and do not know your FastLane password, please contact the Pre-Award Office at 994-6240.

Required use of FastLane

NSF issued Important Notice 123, "Working Toward a Paperless Proposal and Award System" in September 1998 describing their vision for paperless proposal and award processing. By October 2000, all transactions were required in FastLane.

When do I use

NSF's Implementation of - Unless otherwise specified in an NSF solicitation, applications to NSF may be submitted via use of or the NSF FastLane System. Please note that simultaneously submitted collaborative applications must be submitted via FastLane as does not currently support this functionality. Upon posting to, the application package will contain the appropriate Research and Related forms, NSF specific forms, and the NSF Application Guide. Applicants are advised to review the solicitation carefully to determine whether or the NSF FastLane system must be used to prepare and submit grant applications to NSF. For submissions, refer to the Guide for Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Refer also to OSP tips.

MSU Fastlane Policies and Procedures

For the Principal Investigator

Proposal Preparation

All PI's and co-PI's must be registered in FastLane. The proposal should be initiated by the lead PI and the cover sheet is completed first. Next the PI should complete the NSF forms that comprise a proposal. A FastLane Proposal Preparation and Submission Guide is available on the web. The Grant Proposal Guide provides authoritative guidance. FastLane now supports file uploads in a variety of formats including PDF, Word, WordPerfect, Postscript, and TeX. Just before submitting the proposal, the PI should select the "Check" button to determine if the proposal is complete. If so, print the proposal, and you can save your proposal as a template for use in future proposals. When the PI submits the proposal using the "Allow SRO Access" button the OSP office is notified by FastLane to submit a final proposal on behalf of the institution. Keep in mind the only information OSP receives from FastLane is that a proposal has been submitted, the PI's last name, and the proposal title.

Note: FastLane does not provide OSP with the deadline date or time information. Please notify your Fiscal Manager of the deadline so it can be met when OSP submits the final proposal. Please respect OSP's 48 hour rule by submitting all documents early for adequate review.

Proposal Status

The Inquiry functions allow the PI to check on the status of either proposal or award actions at NSF. The Proposal Status inquiry reports on the review process and the funding recommendation as it is made for the proposal. The Continuation Funding inquiry reports on the status of the funding increment for the current fiscal year, including any processing problems.

Post-Award Requests and Notifications

These allow the PI to process required award administrative actions for a specific award. Examples of these are no-cost extensions and requests for changes in project objective or scope. As with a proposal, once the PI submits these types of requests, the OSP office is notified by FastLane and is responsible for submitting the final request on behalf of the institution.

Project Reports System

This function is used to submit required annual and final technical project reports for each NSF award and is the complete responsibility of the PI. Results of the project as well as demographic information on project participants are captured as part of the report. Researchers and educators also have the ability to submit interim reports to keep NSF informed of progress throughout the duration of the project.

For Office of Sponsored Programs

Submit Proposals

NSF proposals are initiated and submitted by the PI. It is the responsibility of the OSP office to submit the final proposal on FastLane. At the time of submission by the PI, notification is e-mailed to all Fiscal Managers. It is their responsibility to determine if the PI is in one of their departments and to submit the final proposal. The responsible Fiscal Manager has to contact the PI to determine the deadline date and time, and check if an MSU Electronic Proposal Clearance Form (ePCF) has been or is in the process of being submitted. Then they will compare the ePCF budget to the FastLane budget, and after submission print the budget and certification pages for the OSP file.

The OSP Accounting Associate will also match the submission e-mail to the appropriate Fiscal Manager and follow-up to ensure action is taken. If the appropriate Fiscal Manager is out of the office, it is the discretion of the Accounting Associate to assign the proposal submission to another Fiscal Manager.

Once the final proposal is submitted by the Office of Sponsored Programs, FastLane immediately assigns a NSF proposal number and the proposal process is initiated at NSF. The Office of Sponsored Programs then prints out the NSF proposal cover page for the file. If the proposal is submitted by the Pre-Award office, it is their responsibility to print the budget and certification pages.

Post-Award Requests and Notifications

These are also initiated and submitted by the PI. As with a proposal, notification is e-mailed to all Fiscal Managers. It is their responsibility to determine if the PI is in one of their departments and follow through with the required response. The OSP Accounting Associate will also match the submission e-mail to the appropriate Manager and follow-up to ensure appropriate action.

Institution Reports

FastLane offers various reports to the organizations about their NSF business transactions. These reports include FastLane Users, Recent Proposals, Recent Awards, Final Project Reports, and Continuation Funding Status. Each report offers a download capability for use as a spreadsheet. Fiscal Officers are encouraged to use these reports as needed.

Cash Request

This function is used to request award funds and provides immediate confirmation of the transfer. A Cash Request History report is available. Funds are electronically transferred in two to three business days.

Federal Cash Transaction Report (FCTR)

This is required quarterly to report the financial activity of all grants held at the institution. Part II of the detail report is available as a spreadsheet which can be downloaded and then uploaded upon completion. Details of the process and procedures for both the FastLane Cash Requests and Federal Cash Transaction Report are kept with the Fiscal Officers who are responsible for them.

For more information go to the NSF FastLane web page at NSF Fastlane. Any questions, problems or concerns about MSU FastLane policy and procedures can be discussed with your Fiscal Manager at OSP. Please give them a call at 994-2381.