DDIGs are reviewed using a panel-based system similar to that used to evaluate larger proposals submitted to NSF. The DDIG panel in systematics consists of 20 or so practicing systematists drawn from a wide range of institutions (museums, research universities, liberal arts colleges) and subdisciplines (paleontology, taxonomy, biogeography). The group is supervised by the Systematics and Biodiversity Inventories cluster program officers. Several weeks prior to meeting at NSF headquarters, each proposal will be assigned to three reviewers, one of whom will be designated the primary reviewer. Each of these three reviewers is expected to read your proposal in detail and to provide written comments and a proposal evaluation (excellent to poor) prior to the time the panel convenes. Once the panel has assembled, proposals are dealt with one at a time. When a proposals name is called, the primary reviewer gives a brief overview and assessment before opening things up for discussion. Discussion is generally limited to the three previously assigned reviewers. Others on the panel are free to comment as well, but they’re generally too busy worrying about their own proposals to do so. The panel then arrives at a consensus on each proposal, which generally involves placing into one of three categories: (1) definitely fund, (2) potentially fundable, and (3) unfundable. Once review of all the proposals is completed, there may be a number of proposals in the potentially fundable column that get a second look, perhaps moving to one of the other two columns if it seems warranted with hind sight. The panel does not make final funding decisions, only recommendations.
The point of sharing this information is this: to get a DDIG you need to write a proposal that will impress a potentially diverse group of three practicing systematists.