Call for Proposals: New Technologies and the Future of Deterrence

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Carnegie Corporation of New York is seeking proposals for innovative research projects that examine how new and evolving weapons systems affect nuclear deterrence, and under what circumstances they could lead to nuclear crises.

In the past decade we have seen the development of weapons systems that could potentially upend the strategic balance. These systems include, but are not limited to, cyber, high-precision conventional weapons, hypersonic conventional strike, space or anti-space weapons, and improved ballistic missile defenses. Technological diffusion has given more countries access to these systems, and increased uncertainty about the future.

Do these new and potentially disruptive technologies pose a risk to strategic stability? How do they interact with geopolitical fault lines in the South China Sea, South Asia, the Korean peninsula, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere? Under what circumstances would deployment of these systems increase the risk of conventional or nuclear war? Is the impact of these technologies being oversold and their risks inflated?

The Corporation is soliciting proposals for projects that address these questions and engage with government officials, military planners, and the informed public. Requests should not exceed $500,000 in amount or two years in duration, although proposals of smaller scope are also encouraged.

Proposed projects will be assessed based upon the extent to which their work plans reflect:

  • A novel research question or design that seems likely to deliver new and noteworthy insights;
  • A research team that has a track record of rigorous, policy-relevant analysis;
  • A plan to integrate policymakers into the research process from the start in order to help define the contours of the problems they face;
  • A clear and well-designed strategy to ensure that research findings reach target audiences. Outreach must go beyond simply issuing a report or book, and should drive a broader discussion of the practical implications of the research, including on social media, leading blogs and through the use of multimedia, for example.

While not a requirement, proposals will be given special consideration if they incorporate the following elements:

  • Integration of international perspectives (e.g. Chinese, Russian, or others);
  • An interdisciplinary project team that incorporates both technical and policy expertise;
  • A project team that reflects diverse political or ideological positions;
  • Integration of mid-career experts into the research team;
  • Use of scenario planning, modeling, or Track 1.5/Track 2 meetings, when appropriate;
  • Collaboration with other institutions working on these issues;
  • Demonstration of institutional buy-in and, when possible, funding from other sources.

How to apply:

Please submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) with a succinct presentation of the need or problem you have identified, the proposed solution(s), and your organization's qualifications for implementing the work. LOIs should be no more than four pages; single spaced in twelve-point font, and should contain the following sections:

  • Statement of need: What is the need to be met by your research? Why is this significant? What do you intend to demonstrate or prove? Please offer concrete examples.
  • Organization description: Provide a very brief summary of your current programs and the qualifications of key staff.
  • Methodology: Briefly describe the project and include major activities and desired objectives.
  • Outreach plan: Who are the target audiences for this work? Present the plan for reaching these audiences and driving a broader conversation on this issue. What outcomes do you expect for the project, both immediate and long term?
  • Budget and timeline (one page): What is the estimated overall cost of the project? On what specific activities will the money be spent? (note restrictions below). When will project activities take place? Are there other complementary sources of support (internal and external, current or potential)?

Program Restrictions:

Corporation funding for this initiative is not intended to support or supplement already existing projects. The Corporation does not make grants for basic operating expenses, endowments, or facilities for individual school districts, colleges, universities, or to human services organizations. It does not generally make grants to individuals, nor does it make program-related investments.

Deadline for Applications:

A first round of LOIs should be submitted no later than December 5, 2014, via the Corporation’s web site. Before you begin your application, be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions. This FAQ will be updated throughout the application process.

Please click here to submit your application. For internal processing, when asked to enter ‘Program Area’ please select ‘International Program/ International Peace and Security/ Nuclear Security,’ and when asked to enter ‘Carnegie Corporation Responsible Officer’ please select ‘Carl Robichaud.’ Additional supporting material or clarification may be requested following an initial review. Applicants moving on to the next round of grant consideration will be invited to submit full proposals, with final paperwork instructions and deadlines provided at that time. Given the early internal deadlines for grant requests being submitted for consideration by the Corporation’s Board of Trustees meeting, we anticipate a fairly rapid turnaround for submission of these proposals. Approved grants will commence July 1, 2015.

About the Carnegie Corporation:
Carnegie Corporation of New York has been funding work on the nuclear threat for over thirty years, starting with its “Avoiding Nuclear War” program in the early 1980s. While public consciousness of the threat of nuclear war has disappeared, the threat itself has not. The Corporation remains committed to funding objective analysis and policy outreach on the changing nature of nuclear risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to return to my unfinished application?

Yes. If you begin your application and would like to return to it later, click the “Save and Finish Later” button at the bottom of the web form, and click on this link to return to your application.

Questions Related to Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply under this RFP?

Most academic institutions, research centers, and think tanks are eligible to apply. Individuals are not eligible to apply unless they are affiliated with or sponsored by an institution.

Can we apply if we are not a nonprofit organization?

You may apply, but funding is less likely as the foundation awards the majority of its grants to support public agencies, universities and public charities that are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code or their equivalent.

Can non-U.S. institutions apply for support?

Yes, provided they can demonstrate the relevance of their research to U.S. policymakers and citizens. Note that for an organization to receive indirect costs, it must demonstrate equivalency to a U.S. charitable 501(c)(3) organization.

Can I apply if my institution is currently receiving funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York?

Institutions that already receive Corporation support are eligible to apply for funds under this initiative. However, as noted in the RFP, Corporation funding for this initiative is not intended to support or supplement already existing projects.

Can an institution submit more than one application?

Yes, so long as the applications involve separate project teams. For example, a university might submit one application from its school of engineering and another application from its political science department. However, in such cases it would be worth investigating whether a joint, interdisciplinary application would be stronger.

Can we submit a proposal that involves researchers from multiple institutions or universities?

We welcome proposals from multi-institution research teams. However, one entity will need to be the lead applicant and receive and administer the grant. Other contributors can be brought in as partners or consultants.

Questions Related to Scope

The RFP names some specific technologies: cyber, high-precision conventional weapons, hypersonic conventional strike, space or anti-space weapons, and improved ballistic missile defenses. Are you interested in other technologies as well?

Yes. We are open to proposals related to any technology or combination of technologies that could lead to nuclear crises in the short to medium term (i.e. five to fifteen year time frame). We highlighted a few specific technologies because many believe them to be of the greatest concern during this time frame. But we are open to proposals which make the case that other technologies pose significant risks.

Are you only interested in new technologies?

It is said that there is nothing new under the sun. Modest changes in existing technology systems, when compounded over time and combined with other advances, could disrupt existing strategic relationships. While we are open to looking at proposals on the impact of technological evolution, we are not looking to fund work on problems related to the status quo, and will prioritize work that seeks to anticipate and provide insights into major new developments.

The proposal mentions “disruptive technology”. What if I think that the potential of a particular technology to disrupt the existing strategic balance is being oversold?

We are also interested in proposals that seek, if appropriate, to dispel myths and deflate exaggerated threats.

Are you interested in new or emerging technologies that can make it easier for new states to acquire nuclear weapons?

While nuclear proliferation issues are of concern to the Corporation, they are not the focus of this RFP, and we are not looking for proposals on technologies that could facilitate proliferation (e.g. laser enrichment).

You mention that proposals will be given special consideration if they demonstrate “institutional buy-in.” What do you mean by this?

We are looking for institutions that can demonstrate a commitment to the project. This could mean direct financial contributions or in-kind contributions such as administrative or research support, meeting space, and assistance with publications.

Questions related to the application process

How will LOI’s be selected?

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of external jurors with expertise in these topics, as well as through an internal review process.

What happens if my LOI is selected?

You will be notified in January and invited to submit a full proposal for consideration by the Corporation.

If I do not receive funding under this RFP, will there be another opportunity to apply?

No decision has been made yet about future opportunities on this particular topic.

How should I structure the LOI?

Please address each of the components in order: Statement of need, Organization description, Methodology, Outreach plan, and Budget and timeline.

Can I submit additional materials in addition to the four page LOI?

No. We will notify you if we would like you to provide additional materials.

Does this reflect a shift in Carnegie’s program priorities? Can I submit grants on this topic outside of the RFP?

For the time being, the Corporation is only soliciting proposals on this topic through the RFP process.

Can I schedule a meeting with foundation staff to discuss projects and/or funding opportunities?

Due to the large number of requests we receive, we are unable to accommodate requests for meetings and cannot provide feedback via email.

When and how will we be notified if our application has been declined or if the foundation will be requesting a formal proposal?

Organizations will receive an automated response confirming that their application has been received and are generally notified via email within four to six weeks if their application has been declined or if the foundation would like to request additional information about their funding request.

Does the foundation provide feedback on proposals that are not selected for funding?

Due to the large number of requests we receive, we are unable to respond to requests for feedback. Our decision is focused on the substance of your proposed work, and how well it fits with our grantmaking programs, goals and funding strategies at the time.