On March 18, 2013, the NSF transitioned all project reporting from Fastlane to Research.gov. PIs and Co-PIs who are conducting NSF-funded research will now use Research.gov for annual, interim, and final reporting. For more information, visit Research.gov.
In intellectual property news, the US patent law changed from "first to invent" to "first to file" on March 16, 2013. My understanding is the change was was made so that the US was more in line with international law. If you are working on any sort of innovation that has commercial potential, please contact Tim Atkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jennifer Deering (email@example.com) at 450-3451 before applying for a grant or disseminating your work in any way (even discussing it on a social network may mean you've put your innovation in the public domain and will no longer be able to patent or license it). Disclosure agreements will now be more important than ever as will keeping good notebooks. One convenient change is that you will no longer be required to notarize your notebooks in order to apply for a patent.
As you may have heard, sequestration went into full effect on March 1, 2013. As time has progressed, federal funding agencies have been announcing the potential impact on current and future researchers. Deputy Secretary Poneman of the Department of Energy announced, "For procurement contracts, DOE may decide not to exercise an option or may need to negotiate lower prices or terms via a bilateral modification. DOE may also determine it necessary to stop or suspend work, reduce the scope of work, or partially or completely terminate a contract for convenience. Planned contract actions for new work may be re-scoped, delayed or canceled depending on the nature of the work and the degree to which it directly supports the agency's mission goals. For financial assistance agreements, the department may decide not to issue a continuation award, including not awarding incremental funds on multi-year awards, and may require negotiation of a reduction in the scope of awards." To find out more, view Deputy Secretary Poneman's memo.