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Guidelines For Support Of Scientific Visitors

This document is intended for Institute sponsors of scientific visitors to STScI, in particular those visitors who will receive full or partial funding of their visits. We ask your cooperation in adhering to the following guidelines.

Scientists invited to STScI under the auspices of the Collaborative Visitor and Journal Club Programs are eligible to receive the following support:

In addition, the Science Mission Office will support the visit through allocations of office space, computer accounts, etc. Your Science Mission Office contact for all such logistic support is the Visitor Coordinator (Flory Hill, Room S413B, 410.338.1081, For policy questions, contact the Visitor Program Manager (presently Robert Hanisch, Room 415, 410.338.4910,

General Policies

Visitors will normally have a PhD in Astronomy or a related discipline. The costs of visitor support may be paid from different budgets depending on policy considerations; the Program Manager is responsible for interpreting these policies. If you hold a research grant which can in principle support your visitor, you will in general be asked to do so. In rare cases, policy might prevent us from supporting your visitor using funds from the Institute's prime contracts with NASA. Examples of such cases are requests for support for a visitor coming for proposal development, for work funded under the HST GO/AR/HF grants programs, or for visits by students or other non-PhDs. Please consult with the Program Manager for alternatives in these cases.

Maximum Allocation

For each visit a maximum dollar amount will be budgeted; the total reimbursed amount will generally not exceed this allocated maximum. This maximum will be pro-rated to the amount of time the visitor actually spends at STScI.


In general the visitor will be reimbursed for one round trip between the visitor's home institution and STScI. All travel must be arranged through the STScI Travel Office. Approvals from GSFC are sometimes required, and a lead time of 4 weeks (for domestic travel) to 8 weeks (for foreign travel) to start the process is therefore necessary. If this lead time is not available it may not be possible to support the travel.

If we are paying for the travel, then U.S. flag carriers must be used. The Travel Office will make sure that all regulations are followed. It should of course be noted that in many cases a non-U.S. citizen must hold a valid visa to enter the country.


Requests for support can be e-mailed to the Visitor Program Manager, and must include a brief scientific justification. See the link "DDRF/JDF Travel Requests" on the SMO website.

Lodging And Subsistence Expenses

Per diem expenses (meals and incidentals) may be reimbursed up to the GSA approved amounts ($71/day in FY2013), which are broken out as $12 for breakfast, $18 for lunch, $36 for dinner, and $5 for incidentals. The first and last day of travel can only be reimbursed at 75% of the daily rate. Any meals provided by other sources (e.g., breakfast included as part of hotel rate) cannot be reimbursed. Long term visits may be subject to a cap on per diem reimbursements, especially in situations where apartment-style accommodations are provided.

Lodging will be reimbursed or direct-billed to STScI at a local hotel or apartment, depending on the length of stay.

Visitors lodging with STScI staff in their private homes are note eligible for reimbursement of lodging expenses.

Rental cars are discouraged except in special circumstances. Receipts are required for other expenses that exceed $25.

Health Insurance

Sponsors should advise their visitors that STScI does not provide health insurance for visitors.


Authorization to provide support for a visitor will be provided by the Visitor Program Manager upon receipt of the completed request form. At that point, both the prospective visitor and the host must complete web-based information forms available through the Science Mission Office web site in order to specify travel times and accommodation needs. This information will be automatically transmitted to the Visitor Coordinator and to the travel office and must be done 4 weeks in advance of the visit for domestic travel and 8 weeks in advance for foreign travel. If sufficient lead time is not available the visit may have to be cancelled or postponed.


Hotel/apartment accommodations should be requested through the Visitor Coordinator by giving the specifics on the Visitor Information Form. The coordinator will then forward the request to the STScI Travel Office. If the hotel arrangements are made through the coordinator, (s)he will have the hotel bill the Institute directly. Please remember to inform the coordinator of any changes or cancellations.

Information/Office Space

Upon arrival the visitor should check in with the Visitor Coordinator. At this point the visitor will be given a visitor information packet. We have only limited office space available for visitors; we will do our best, but please note that it is ultimately the host's responsibility to find office space for the visitor.

The Science Mission Office does not have the resources to provide administrative support to visitors.

Mailbox And Access Cards

There will be a VISITORS mailbox located in the Science Mission Office mailroom (room 425). Unless you request that mail be sent elsewhere, all visitor mail will be sent to Science Mission Office. White access cards for the Muller Building are provided to visitors staying for more than one week.

Computer Accounts

The visitor will be provided with a computer account if needed. Unless prior arrangements have been made, the visitor's password will expire at the end of the visit and all disk space used by the visitor will be erased one month after the completion of the visit.


The visitor must complete an STScI travel expense report (included in the visitor information packet) and give/send it to the Visitor Coordinator with the original receipts and travel tickets. These documents should reach the Visitor Coordinator within ten days after the visit is completed. Please note that it typically takes two weeks to process the reimbursement from the time the visitor gives all completed forms to the Visitor Coordinator.


When publishing work to which the visit will have contributed, or for which any STScI resources have been used, due acknowledgment should be given to STScI. We also ask you to send copies of such papers to the Visitor Coordinator.

(Last revision: 20 February 2013)