Designing Accountable Software Systems (DASS)

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Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.

Supports research on the relationships between software systems and the complex social and legal contexts in which they are designed and operated, with a goal of designing software systems that are accountable to social norms and regulatory requirements.


Society is becoming highly dependent on software applications, systems, and platforms, as functionality in all aspects of business, government, and everyday life is increasingly implemented through software. At the same time, there has been an increase in the laws and regulations whose implementation and effectiveness depend on software. Whereas organizations and individuals throughout our history have been expected to comply with laws and regulations, now software systems also must be accountable and comply with them. Software systems need to be designed with legal and regulatory compliance in mind, and should be adaptable to changing laws and regulations, which themselves evolve with changing citizen expectations and social norms.

The Designing Accountable Software Systems (DASS) program solicits foundational research aimed towards a deeper understanding and formalization of the bi-directional relationship between software systems and the complex social and legal contexts within which software systems must be designed and operate. The DASS program aims to bring researchers in computer and information science and engineering together with researchers in law and social, behavioral, and economic sciences to jointly develop rigorous and reproducible methodologies for understanding the drivers of social goals for software and for designing, implementing, and validating accountable software systems. DASS will support well-conceived collaborations between these two groups of researchers. The first group consists of researchers in software design, which, for the purposes of this solicitation, is broadly defined as formal methods, programming languages, software engineering, requirements engineering, and human-centered computing. The second group consists of researchers in law and the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, who study social systems and networks, culture, social norms and beliefs, rules, canons, precedents, legal code, and routine procedures that govern the conduct of people, organizations, and countries.

Proposals for this program must create general advances in both (1) understanding the social, behavioral, economic and/or legal context of accountable software design; and (2) improving the methodology for designing accountable software beyond specific use cases. Each proposal must have at least one Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI with expertise in software design and at least one PI or co-PI with expertise in law or a social, behavioral, or economic science. All proposals must contain a detailed collaboration plan that leverages the complementary expertise of the PIs/co-PIs in the designated areas and describes the mechanisms for continuous bi-directional collaboration. Projects are limited to $750,000 in total budget, with durations of up to three years.

Program contacts

Nina Amla
Program Director, CISE/CCF (703) 292-7991 CISE/OAD
Anindya Banerjee
Program Director, CISE/CCF (703) 292-7885 CISE/CCF
Sara Kiesler
Program Director, SBE/SES (703) 292-8643 SBE/SES
Sol J. Greenspan
Program Director, CISE/CCF (703) 292-8910 CISE/CCF
Reggie S. Sheehan
Program Director, SBE/SES (703) 292-5389 SBE/SES
Jeremy J. Epstein
Program Director, CISE/CNS (703) 292-8338 CISE/CNS
Daniel R. Cosley
Program Director, CISE/IIS (703) 292-8832 CISE/IIS

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