I received my notice a few weeks back that it's time to fill out my annual grant reports for NSF.
I'd like to complain about it; it's a pretty boring process, and their interface isn't that great.
But, really, I can't complain. The NSF provides me (and my students) with money to do our work. In return, they ask for what seems like very reasonable reporting of how that money is being used. What have I been working on? Who I have been working with? Where has the work been published? What other outcomes of the research -- in industry or education -- has there been? These seems like very worthwhile questions for them to be asking.
One thing I don't really know is what is done with these reports after I enter them. I hope they're useful. I have had an NSF program manager discuss my reports with me, so I do have evidence they're being read. (I must admit, after a program manager let me know they actually read these reports some years ago, I started taking them more seriously!)
So, strangely, this year, as I'm going through the mundane task of filling out my annual reports, I actually find that it's leaving me with a feeling a gratitude. Thanks, NSF, for letting me and my students do all this really fun stuff! I know I complain about the NSF when I feel there's something worth complaining about, so it only seems fair to express the gratitude when I'm feeling thankful for all they do.