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Rotator Programs

Take advantage of a rare opportunity to have an impact on science research and funding in a temporary or rotator position at NSF.

NSF offers a chance for scientists, engineers, and educators to join us as temporary program directors - called rotators. Rotators make recommendations about which proposals to fund; influence new directions in the fields of science, engineering, and education; support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research; and mentor junior research members. As a rotator, you will be in a prime position to collaborate with others and increase your visibility as you survey the entire breadth of U.S. and international science, engineering, and education in real time. In addition, as a temporary program director, you can retain your ties to your current institution and return to it with new insights and experience for your team.

You can become a rotator either as a Visiting Scientist, Engineer, and Educator (VSEE) or as an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignee. While rotators can come on temporary assignment under the IPA program for up to four years, most rotating assignments last one to two years.

Visiting Scientist, Engineer and Educator (VSEE) Program

Visiting Scientist, Engineer and Educator (VSEE) Program

Individuals appointed to the VSEE program are on a non-paid leave of absence from their institution

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignments

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignments

Incoming IPA assignments are funded through grants to the institution as reimbursement for salary and benefits.

Rotator Frequently Asked Questions

Rotator Frequently Asked Questions

Program directors oversee the National Science Foundation's "gold standard" merit review process and may help define new funding opportunities. Key responsibilities include interacting with potential principal investigators, forming and facilitating merit review panels, and recommending funding decisions. Program directors have the opportunity to be involved with a broad spectrum of national scientific programs and initiatives that ultimately increase intellectual awareness and enhance professional growth.

NSF cannot offer direct service in locating housing for its rotators. NSF does provide housing information and local county information, available on the Local Area Information page.

NSF has an Independent Research/Development (IR/D) program that permits individuals with approved IR/D plans to maintain involvement with their professional research. IR/D plans might include time, travel expenses, and research costs, and must be approved in advance (typically annually) by the supervisor and the human resources and legal staffs.

You can only submit a proposal for NSF funds if it is a continuation or extension of previously funded NSF work. Certain other restrictions may apply.

You can apply for funding from other federal agencies if those agencies permit; however, NSF does place some restrictions on such funding. If you wish to pursue such funding, contact your NSF Conflict of Interest Official for further guidance.

You can apply the very next day as the principal investigator, as long as you assign a substitute negotiator for one year.

IPA & VSEE Compensation Information

IPA & VSEE Compensation Information

Effective April 9, 2019
(Includes Locality Adjustment)

Grade

Minimum

Maximum

AD-1

$37,955

$90,458

AD-2

$69,581

$128,923

AD-3

$99,172

$156,228

AD-4

$142,443

$182,627

AD-5

$165,417

$183,395

Description

VSEE

IPA

Salary Limitation

Yes1

No

Cost-Sharing Required by Institution

No

Yes3

Annualized Salary

Yes1

Yes

Lost Consulting Income Eligibility

Yes1

No

Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) Eligibility

Yes1

No

Standard 6% Increase

Yes1

No

Locality Pay Adjustment

Yes1

No

Pay Comparability Increases

No

No

Annual Pay Adjustment

Same as annual federal pay adjustment

Same as university

Performance Bonus Eligibility

Yes

No

Social Security

Yes

Same as university

Fringe Benefits

Same as university OR Eligible for Federal Employee Health Benefits ONLY

Same as university

Retirement Benefits

Same as university OR TIAA-CREF

Same as university

Move to and From NSF or Per Diem

Yes

Yes

Family Travel to NSF and Back

Yes2

Yes2

Independent Research/Development Program Eligibility

Yes

Yes

Footnotes

  1. Total pay (including annualized salary, COLA, lost consulting, standard 6% increase and locality pay) cannot exceed the pay range for the position being filled.
  2. Travel expenses of family members to NSF and back to the home institution may be paid only in conjunction with a household move. When per diem is elected in lieu of a household move, NSF is not authorized to pay family travel expenses.
  3. Cost sharing of 10% of the total cost of base salary and fringe benefits is required. If the institution is unable to provide 10% cost share, a separate detailed justification will be required for consideration by NSF.

Disclaimer

Below are Frequently Asked Questions which former Visiting Scientists and Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) appointees have posed to IRS staff during presentations at NSF. NSF cannot provide advice or assistance on personal income tax issues. Please contact the IRS or your tax advisor if you have any further questions, especially since tax laws and regulations often change annually.

Federal Income Tax

  1. If I plan to be at NSF for less than a year, what expenses are deductible and do I need to save receipts?
    NSF has a non-accountable plan for reimbursing temporary employees who elect to receive per diem as opposed to a household move. This means that you receive per diem from NSF and you do not account to NSF for how it is spent. However, you should keep accurate records of actual expenses in the event of an IRS audit. Per diem received in excess of actual expenses must be claimed as income. Under the new tax law, regardless of length of assignment, none of your expenses are deductible (these include transportation to and from work, lodging, laundry and business phone calls, meals (50% of DC metro area rate), tips on any of these items, automobile actual expenses such as depreciation, maintenance, repairs, gas, oil, or the prevailing mileage rate).
     
  2. If I am at NSF for over 1 year, are these expenses above deductible?
    Under the new tax law, regardless of length of assignment, none of the expenses listed above are deductible.
     
  3. Is it best to get a lump sum of all of my per diem up front or should I request to get it in increments?
    You probably do not want to receive per diem in excess of your eligibility for the calendar year, because per diem received in excess of actual expenses must be claimed as income, as explained in #1. For example, if you arrive in September, you will probably only want per diem for four months (September-December).
     
  4. If I am an IPA and get paid by my university, isn't my tax home where my university (house, family) is?
    If you are here for less than 1 year, you are on a temporary assignment and your tax home remains your home state. If you are here more than 1 year, Virginia (where you work) becomes your tax home. For more information see: https://tax.virginia.gov/.

State Income Tax

  1. Do I have to pay VA, MD or DC taxes if I maintain a residence in another state?
    Virginia law imposes individual income tax filing requirements on virtually all VA residents, as well as nonresidents who receive income from VA sources.  However, residents of DC & MD are exempt from this requirement if the only VA source of income received was from salaries or wages. Income taxes paid to other states are addressed through tax credits. Non-residents are individuals who are neither domiciliary nor actual residents of VA, but who receive income from VA during the tax year. They report their income in the same manner as residents, using VA Form 763. For more information see the website at: https://tax.virginia.gov/.

Motor Vehicle Registration

  1. Do I have to register my car here in VA, MD or DC?
    You need to register your car in the state in which you live (MD, DC, VA) within 30 days of moving here. See more information for Virginia, Maryland or DC.

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