Virtual Institutes for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ (VICEROY)

Program to Establish Cyber Institutes at Institutions of Higher Learning for purposes of accelerating and focusing the development of foundational expertise in critical cyber operational skills for future military and civilian leaders. 

Important VICEROY Forms

 

The link below is to submit any questions you may have regarding this Request for Proposal/ VICEROY Program. Please note, questions and their answers will be posted on the webpage and not answered individually. We will make our best attempt to post answers within 2 business days of receiving questions. Questions along with their answers will be posted on this webpage in the order in which they are received.

VICEROY Questions Form


Please use the following link to apply for and submit your proposal for consideration in the VICEROY (Virtual Institutes for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ) project. This link is only for a submission of a proposal. When possible, documents should be submitted as a PDF. Any questions should be submitted through the link above this statement.

VICEROY Proposal Submission Form


VICEROY Q&As

 

Q: About 10 days ago, info was sent to us on the VICEROY program and our faculty have decided to apply (it took us a while to see if we could build a strong consortium). The proposal team had some questions about things that were not clear from the announcement and I was hoping that you would be able to provide some guidance for us.

  1. The first question is whether the Virtual Institute should apply to undergraduate students only, or whether it should also include graduate students. Given that groups like ROTC and serving military students can be both undergraduates and graduate students, we were wondering whether to include both in our proposal or only undergrads.
  2. Is it possible to include in the proposal budgets funding for students to attend conferences (travel and conference fees)? We feel that this is an excellent opportunity for students to meet their peers and to be exposed to the latest cutting edge research and techniques. This would not be a lot of the funds (approx. $15k) but we were wondering whether this was allowable under the program.

A: 

  1. The VICEROY program is primarily intended to serve undergraduates, but we welcome participation by graduate students; especially in the capacity of providing additional mentorship and stewardship of research efforts.
  2. We agree that conference attendance is a great activity for students to participate in, but we ask that you please consider the uncertainty of the timing of the return of in-person events and non-essential travel when preparing your cost estimates.

 

Q: I am writing to confirm that the 10-page maximum requirement does, in fact, include the budget and justification pages. Per the RFP, it seems that the 10 pages includes: 

  • Cover sheet: The coversheet should have the title, all consortium institution names and associated PIs.
  • Project Executive Summary (1 page)
  • Project Description: To include a Plan of Action and Milestones or other Work Breakdown Structure
  • Assessment Plan
  • Budget and Budget Justification

For a multi-university proposal, the full budget sheets and budget justifications could easily consume 5 pages, leaving very little room for the "project description", after accounting for the cover sheet (1 page), project summary (1 page), and assessment plan. So, my question is do the budget sheets and budget justifications count against the 10-page limit? If so, is the expectation that the project description only provide a high-level description of proposed activities, etc?

A: It was our intent for the budget and justification pages to count against the page limit. We did not anticipate that those sections would consume half of the allotted page count. To the greatest extent possible, we would like to encourage you to find a more succinct way to present the important budget information, rather than lower the fidelity of the project description.

 

Q: May the Executive Summary for a VICEROY proposal begin on the bottom of the cover page?

A: For readability purposes, we would prefer that the executive summary is on its own page.

 

Q: Is it appropriate in the VICEROY proposal to mention cost sharing in the proposal such as tuition waivers and 0.5 mo. of salary support generated by the Facilities & Administrative (i.e., from institutional overhead) costs?

A: Proposers are welcome to include any information that they feel will enhance the quality of their proposal. This specific information, for example, may be pertinent when discussing not only base year cost-sharing, but also sustainment plans.

 

Q: The VICEROY CFP mentions a foreign language requirement. How much foreign language is required or recommended, e.g., one semester, one year of college credit?

A: In line with an answer above, there are no fixed proficiency requirements. This is likely going to be dependent on the service- and/or mission-specific needs of any prospective government partners.

 

Q: Currently, many research offices are kind of closing in a few days. Do you expect the proposal package to be submitted by VPR (research office) of the university ? Is it possible the lead PIs in the consortium to submit the proposal package?

A: It is expected that the lead PI, or someone on their behalf, will submit the proposal package using the specified web portal.

 

Q: While Element 2 specifically says "strategic foreign language" the subsequent elements say "strategic language". Give the cyber context of 1640 and the local context of each element. Can we assume that elements referencing "strategic language" mean strategic coding languages such as C, Javascript, Python, etc..?

A: Our interpretation is that efforts to meet the required program elements should be complementary in nature, such that "strategic language" and "strategic foreign language" are assumed to be interchangeable in the authorizing language.

 

Q: Typically, what is meant by foreign language proficiency training, e.g., 1 semester or 2 semesters of foreign language coursework or the equivalent? Are there specific languages of interest?

A: The Defense Language and National Security Education Office maintains a corpus of policy and governance related to foreign language proficiency, including a strategic language list: https://dlnseo.org/content/flpb#sll. In the context of the VICEROY program, specific languages of interest and proficiency goals are likely to be dictated by a consortium's envisioned partnership with government, as these are likely to be service- and/or mission-specific decisions. Generally speaking, you can likely expect to see an emphasis placed on Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and Persian languages as being important to the cyber domain.

 

Q: The VICEROY CFP mentions "student internship ... arrangements in partnership with local industry or government facilities will be executed by the GI (Griffiss Institute)". We have a military lab, several national labs and industry partners who are providing letters of commitment/interest in supporting VICEROY interns. We also have a list of military command options to which students can apply. Is this okay or must the GI make all internship arrangements? For those internships GI does arrange is travel to and from the internship supplied? Will the GI arranged internships be paid by the host or must money come from the VICEROY grant?

A: The VICEROY CFP mentions "student internship ... arrangements in partnership with local industry or government facilities will be executed by the GI (Griffiss Institute)". We have a military lab, several national labs and industry partners who are providing letters of commitment/interest in supporting VICEROY interns. We also have a list of military command options to which students can apply. Is this okay or must the GI make all internship arrangements? This is allowable however GI will meet with internship host site to set up work plan and monitoring of interns, For those internships GI does arrange is travel to and from the internship supplied? Yes Gi will arrange travel to and from host site as well as provide housing stipend and pay for that internship Will the GI arranged internships be paid by the host or must money come from the VICEROY grant? Funding is available for a certain number of interns and Research Assistants in this grant- a number over the allowed interns would be through University received funding.

 

Q: The solicitation states "...proposals should make it clear what, if any, labor costs are being used to support faculty or other advisory or supervisory staff; as the goal of the VICEROY program is to have the students, and not the institutions, be the primary beneficiaries of any award funds." Question:

  1. Is there any additional specific guidance on what percentage of funding can be allocated to faculty or other support personnel that will oversee the VI operations?
  2. Are participating universities allowed to charge their usual indirect cost rates?

A: 

  1. There is no specific guidance or fixed benchmarks.
  2. In line with above answers, for the purposes of budget estimation we make no meaningful distinction between direct and indirect costs.

 

Q: We have active research collaborations with our campus ROTC programs. The cadets have diverse majors beyond computer science and we have found that effectively immersing them in research requires some additional training. There is great value in immersing non CS future officers in cyber research. Is it ok to budget in some on demand cyber training to get them up to speed?

A: If the proposing consortium sees value in including ROTC cadets from non-traditional cyber majors, then we would gladly consider any supporting activities that would optimize their involvement.

 

Q: In subsection a. Objective, under the topic overview Section the solicitation states "The VICEROY program is intended to increase the quantity and quality of students who possess job-ready DoD cybersecurity skills upon graduation." In subsection b. Description under the topic overview Section, the solicitation states "We envision the experiential learning opportunities afforded by VICEROY Virtual Institutes as taking the shape of faculty-led, multi-institution, multi-year research endeavors that specifically target cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum operations challenges of interest to the Department of Defense." Question: The two statements seem to indicate a desire for the proposed VI to focus "cybersecurity", "cyberspace" (which is more general area), and "electromagnetic spectrum" operations. Should the focus/scope span cyberspace operations generally or should the focus be on research specific to

  1. cybersecurity and electromagnetic spectrum operations or
  2. on cybersecurity only as it relates electromagnetic spectrum and wireless communications operations?

A: The use of "cybersecurity skills" in subsection 2.a. was a mistake. This should more accurately be "cyber operational skills" matching the introduction section and the authorizing Congressional language. The emphasis on electromagnetic spectrums operations was added to potentially facilitate partnership with government agencies that may have cyber expertise but serve a different primary mission. Proposals that cover the breadth of combined cyber and electromagnetic spectrum operations or instead focus on a subset of that combination, e.g. cybersecurity, are both acceptable and welcomed.

 

Q: As our team consists of multiple institutions, do we need to put non-PI institutions' budget as subcontracts under PI's institution? Or can each participating institution submit a budget to receive funding separately if awarded?

A: The lead institution is responsible submitting the proposal on behalf of the entire consortium, with a breakout of costs for each member institution expected to be included in this submission. Should the consortium be selected for funding, it is anticipated that member institutions will enter into sub-award contracts directly with the Griffiss Institute.

 

Q: 

  1. We will involve ROTC cadets and civilian cybersecurity bachelor's students with an interest in DoD support careers. These will me mentored in research by PhD students. Do the PhD students who mentor the ROTC cadets and civilian undergraduates need to be US citizens or permanent residents?
  2. Our PhD mentors will be supported for one year each as they are trained in cybersecurity education and as mentors for undergraduates. Will DoD allow us to consider these PhD mentors as participants so we do not have to charge F&A on their support. This will allow us to support a greater number of mentors and a greater number of ROTC and civilian undergraduate cybersecurity trainees.

A: 

  1. Depending on the nature of the partnership between the virtual institute and any government agencies, there may be a requirement that any party involved with a collaborative research effort is eligible for a security clearance. There may be additional requirements related to physical access to government facilities or export controls placed on research materials.
  2. Aside from selection for the hands-on learning opportunities executed by the Griffiss Institute, the VICEROY program makes no significant distinction between students associated with a virtual institute beyond whether or not they are a ROTC cadet.

 

Q: For faculty trainer participants, should we include their Current & Pending support, or only their Biographical Sketches?

A: The proposer is welcome to include this supplemental information in the appendix. But, again, only the information explicitly requested in the special notice will be used for evaluation purposes.

 

Q: 

  1. Per the VICEROY announcement, up to one consortium award will be made per region, as defined by the NCAE-C program. Must all members of a proposed VICEROY Institute be within the same region or will the lead institution’s location determine the region of a proposed VI? We are part of an existing consortium comprising institutions from various regions.
  2. Are there specific forms (cover sheet, budget and budget justification, Bio sketches) that should be used for the proposal submission?
  3. Per the VICEROY announcement, a complete proposal package should not exceed 10 pages. Does this 10-page limit only apply to the project description or do the 1-page project summary, assessment plan, budget/budget justification documents count against the 10-page limit?

A: 

  1. Region will be determined by the location of the submitting/lead institution for the consortium.
  2. No special forms.
  3. See section IV proposal Layout- A complete proposal package should consist of the following elements (not to exceed 10 pages):
  • Cover sheet: The coversheet should have the title, all consortium institution names and associated PIs.
  • Project Executive Summary (1 page)
  • Project Description: To include a Plan of Action and Milestones or other Work Breakdown Structure
  • Assessment Plan
  • Budget and Budget Justification
  • Appendix (not counting against the page limit)
    • Biographical sketches: Biographical sketches are requested for all the PIs.
    • References Cited

 

Q: Per the announcement, “It is highly recommended that this lead institution be classified as having “very high research activity,” per the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education, and a demonstrated history of successfully conducting research under government contract.” Is it a hard requirement that the lead University be an R1 (very high research activity) institution? Would a consortium (comprising both R1 and R2 institutions) led by an R2 institution be ineligible to submit to the VICEROY program?

A: This is not a hard requirement, though please note that the combined qualifications of consortium member institutions, including the proposed consortium management structure, is an element of the evaluation criteria.

 

Q: 

  1. We have internship commitment letters from the Keyport Naval Undersea Warfare Command, two National Labs and and several Industries. Can we append these letters to the 10-page proposal?
  2. Are there guidelines on font size, e.g., 12pt Times Roman, and margins, e.g., 1", font sizes for figure captions and tables, etc.?

A: Commitment Letters may be included in the appendix, not to count against the page limit, but only the content in the in the main proposal package will be used for selection purposes. Suggested font would be 12pt Times New Roman and 1 inch margins.

 

Q: The RFP mentions support of cyber education in regional school systems and up to five institutions. We currently are targeting Washington State University (WSU), the University of Idaho (UI) and Montana State University (MSU). We want to make sure we do not cross over into what may be considered as another region. Would WSU, UI and MSU be considered the same region? We are all in the Pacific Northwest, but we want to make sure. Is the $1.5 million total costs or costs before adding university indirect costs?

A: Per the special notice, regions are defined by the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity program. Washington, Idaho, and Montana all fall within the "North Western Region" of this program. For the purposes of budget estimation, there is no distinction between direct and indirect costs. Estimates should include all anticipated costs and should be respectful of the limits indicated in the special notice.

 

Q: 

  1. Is the $1.5 million cap for direct costs and therefore we can add institutionally approved indirect costs, 53% facilities and administrative costs, above that?
  2. To what extend is PhD and MS level training encouraged vs. Bachelor's degrees.
  3. Can PhD students be trainee participants for which an institution does not charge indirect costs (facilities & administration fees), much like an NSF or NIH Training Program?
  4. Can a part time Project Coordinator be supported on a CI VICEROY grant?
  5. What fraction of the work should be dedicated toward ROTC cadets, and what fraction to civilian students?

A: For the purposes of budget estimation, there is no distinction between direct and indirect costs. Estimates should include all anticipated costs and should be respectful of the limits indicated in the special notice. The VICEROY program is primarily intended to support undergraduate students, although we welcome graduate student involvement especially in the capacity of augmenting research faculty and other staff in providing mentorship and stewardship of research opportunities. In line with this, PhD students, faculty, and other staff to include project coordinators, are all allowable costs; though again we make no differentiation between direct and indirect costs. There is no specified fraction of the work that should be dedicated toward ROTC cadets, though please note the emphasis on ROTC programs is explicit in the authorizing language of NDAA FY19 Sect. 1640 and, thus, their involvement is critically important to meeting Congressional intent.

 

Q: What should be considered as a start date range, e.g., as early as March 1, 2021, as late as August or September, 2021? Is it anticipated that VICEROY program grants will be renewable?

A: Sub-awards will be made as soon as is reasonably possible after the selection process completes, likely in January 2021. Post-award start dates are flexible and should be dictated by the proposed virtual institute structure and associated activities. The special notice asks for a recurring, option year funding estimate, but no follow-on funding is guaranteed at this point in time.


Contact Information:

Jennifer McCullough
Intern Program Project Analyst, Community Relations & Internship/Workforce Development
Griffiss Institute
p: 315-356-2697
e: [email protected]