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The NERSC Allocation Request Form (ERCAP)

Requests to use NERSC resources are submitted annually via a web form known as the ERCAP (Energy Research Computing Allocations Process) Request Form. ERCAP is accessed through the NERSC Help Desk system and is available year-round. 

If you are new to NERSC and want to apply for an allocation as a new Principal Investigator please read Applying for your First NERSC Allocation.

In general existing projects should be renewed for the next allocation year - you should not start a new request if you have an existing repository.  Renewing carries forward most of the responses to the request questions and preserves the project's user list.

Preparing an ERCAP Request

The procedures for starting a new project, renewing a current project and editing an in-progress form that you previously saved are all very similar:

  1. Point your browser to, and login using your NIM credentials. Go to "Request Forms" in the navigator (if you don't see the navigator, you may need to toggle it with the top left button):
    ercap step1
  2. Under "How can we help you", select Request a NERSC Allocation
    ercap step2
  3. You will be presented with radio buttons for a "New" or "Existing" allocation. If you are renewing a current project, select "Existing" - this will pre-fill the form - such as the list of users in your project - based on your existing project. A few moments after you select the "Existing" button, a list of current projects and draft requests will appear - you can select one by clicking on its number link

    If you are returning to continue work on a draft request you started earlier, you should also select "Existing", and choose the project by clicking its number link

    For a completely new project, select the "New" radio button, select either "Current" or "Next Year" and hit submit. ("Current" means this year, i.e, you want to start computing before the end of this year. The "Next" allocation year typically starts early in January - see ERCAP Application Deadlines for dates)
    ercap step5
  4. At any point in the form you can save your draft, and either continue editing immediately or return to work on it later. When you return to work on it, follow the same steps as above and be sure to select "Existing (or Draft)"
    ercap step3
  5. Finally, when your request is ready to submit, mark the checkbox at the bottom of the form and hit "submit": 
    ercap step7

ERCAP Request Questions:

Principal Investigators, PI Proxies and Senior Investigators

The Principal Investigator, commonly referred to as the PI, is responsible for the project and for managing any resources awarded to the project. The PI is usually one of the PIs on a grant listed on the DOE Funding tab.

If your project has multiple PIs, please pick one to be the NERSC PI. Other PIs can be listed as Senior Investigators and/or PI Proxies. Senior Investigators are the key contributors in your project. If you need to change the PI for the project contact the Account Support Group at

A Principal Investigator can designate one or more "PI Proxies" as Authorized Preparers who help to to fill out the request form and to manage the project's users.  You can add a PI Proxy to your project by selecting from the Other Authorized Preparers list. This list contains the NERSC users from your organization. If you want to select a user from another organization, click on the "Add External PI Proxy" button. (NOTE: This button is not displayed until after you have clicked on the Save ERCAP Request button the first time.)

Project Title, URL, Image, and Name

Please choose a project title that succinctly describes your project, suitable for display in award lists and in NERSC's Annual Report. The NERSC Project Title is not required to match the title of any existing DOE grant or project.  The Title is limited to 256 characters; shorter titles are preferable (100 or fewer characters). In summary, the title should be short and descriptive.

All projects should provide a project URL; these are useful in obtaining additional information about a project (e.g. when responding to queries for information).

Also choose a short project name (10 characters maximum) that uniquely identifies your project. Examples of such project names are "MPICH" (for the project that supports MPICH software development) and "STAR" (for the project that analyzes data from the STAR experiment). If you wish, you may use a repository name as your project name.

Project Class

Choose one of:

  • ALCC project: only if you have received an ALCC award from DOE.  The ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) awards are solicited and awarded by DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research office once a year.  See the ALCC page.
  • CSGF project: if you have a DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship.
  • DOE Base Funding: for production-ready projects that receive direct grant support from one of the six DOE Offices of Science or whose research reflects the mission of the Office of Science. See Eligibility and DOE Mission.
  • Education: only if the project is for classroom teaching (and not research).
  • SBIR project: if you have DOE Small Business Innovation Research funding.
  • SciDAC: if you have DOE SciDAC funding.
  • Startup: for PIs who wish to investigate using NERSC resources for new projects, or who wish to port or develop new codes. The maximum Startup awards are 50,000 Cray XT4 equivalent hours and 500 GB space in HPSS.

Sponsoring Site

The sponsoring site is usually the host institution of the requesting PI.  If your site is not listed or you wish to make the Sponsoring Site an organization other than the PI's, send an email to NERSC Account Support,, provide the name of the organization or if it is a new organization, provide the following information: 

  1. The Organization name.
  2. An appropriate Organization Type (choose one of: DOE Lab, Industry, Non-Profit, Other Gov Lab, Private Lab, University).
  3. One or two lines for the organization's mailing address.
  4. The City.
  5. For the US, the US State.
  6. The Postal or ZIP Code
  7. For non US organizations, enter the Province.
  8. The Country.
  9. The organization's website address in the form (do not prepend http://).

Science Category

Select the Science Category that best categorizes your project. Please do not select Other (this is just a place holder).

The science categories for 2017 are:

  • Accelerator Science
  • Applied Math
  • Astrophysics
  • Biosciences
  • Chemistry
  • Climate Research
  • Combustion
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Fusion Energy
  • Geoscience
  • High Energy Physics
  • Humanities
  • Lattice QCD
  • Materials Science
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Other

For AY 2018, we have a tiered list that looks like this:

Applied Energy
Applied Energy : Delivery/Reliability
Applied Energy : Efficiency
Applied Energy : Fossil
Applied Energy : Nuclear
Applied Energy : Renewable
Biology : Bioimaging
Biology : Cellular
Biology : Molecular
Biology : Multi-Scale
Biology : Systems/Ecology
Chemistry : Catalysis
Chemistry : Combustion/Energetics
Chemistry : Heavy Element
Chemistry : Photo/Electro
Chemistry : Quantum
Chemistry : Separations
Computation/Information : Cybersecurity
Computation/Information : Data Modeling
Computation/Information : Data Science
Computation/Information : Hardware Simulation
Computation/Information : Software Development/Testing 
Engineering : Chemical
Engineering : Civil/Structural
Engineering : Electrical
Engineering : Industrial/System
Engineering : Mechanical
Geology/Planetary : Atmospheric
Geology/Planetary : Climate Impact
Geology/Planetary : Coupled Climate
Geology/Planetary : Cryosphere
Geology/Planetary : Oceanic
Geology/Planetary : Solid Earth
Geology/Planetary : Terrestrial
Health : Bio-Imaging
Health : Biology
Health : Data
Health : Epidemiology
Health : Medical Physics/Bioengineering
Health : Population
Material/Condensed : Chemistry
Material/Condensed : Electronic Structure
Material/Condensed : Light-Matter/Transport
Material/Condensed : Magnetism/Superconductivity
Material/Condensed : Nano
Material/Condensed : Soft/Polymer/Bio
Material/Condensed : Structural
Mathematics : Applied
Mathematics : Computer Aided
Physics : Applied/Accelerator
Physics : Cosmology/Astrophysics
Physics : Fluid Dynamics
Physics : Fusion/Plasma
Physics : Nuclear

Chose the Science Category that most closely fits your research area.

DOE Office and Program

If you are funded by the DOE Office of Science select the Office and Program that fund your project.

If you are not funded by the DOE Office of Science, see Eligibility

DOE Funding

Is this project funded by the DOE Office of Science?

Select either "Yes" or "No."

If you chose "Yes"

  1. Answer the question: Who is your DOE Program Manager? This is the DOE person or people who administer your DOE Office of Science grant. They are not Lab LDRD managers.
  2. List all relevant DOE Office of Science (DOE SC) grant numbers that apply to this project.
  3. If NERSC resources are being used to support research funded by another agency (not DOE SC), list the funding agencies and grant numbers.

If you chose "No"

  1. List all relevant grants that are supporting your project. Include both the grant number and the name of the funding agency in the appropriate box:
    • DOE, other than Office of Science: grants supported by areas of DOE outside the Office of Science (e.g. Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology; Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy). Lab LDRD support can be listed here as well.
    • Work for others at DOE laboratory: the PI is located at a DOE laboratory but receives funding from outside of DOE SC.
    • Other funding agencies: e.g. NASA, NSF, NOAA
    • Other Funding: e.g. University department
  2. Describe your project's relevance to the mission of the DOE Office you selected in question 9. See Eligibility and DOE Mission.  PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of this section is NOT to state how important your project is; that happens in the Project Description Tab.  The purpose of this section is to state how the goals of your project overlap with or align with the mission of DOE Office of Science.  Your startup request will be evaluated partly on the basis of alignment with a DOE office mission.  Find one of the mission statements and give just two or three sentences stating how and why your work is related to it.

Legal Controls Questions

Does this project intend to make use of any information (software or data) subject to the following legal controls on use?

  • Classified or controlled military or defense information
  • Export controlled or ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) information
  • Personally identifiable information
  • Protected health information
  • Proprietary information
  • None

You must click on one of these options, or you will not be able to submit your request. If you select something other than "None", you will be given a text box to explain your answer. If necessary, NERSC will contact you to get more information.

Usage Monitoring Questions

If this project is given a NERSC award, I agree to monitor the usage associated with it to ensure that, to the best of my ability to determine, usage is for the project described here.

Select either "Yes" or "No."

You must answer this question or you will not be able to submit your ERCAP request.

For continuing projects: I have audited the MPP and/or HPSS usage associated with this project, and to the best of my ability to determine, all usage was for the project specified.

Select either "Yes", "No", or "N/A".

If this is a new project, you can select "N/A" as the answer to this question.

Project Description

Project Summary

Please provide a succinct description of your project that is suitable for the general public (i.e., at a Scientific American level of sophistication). This description should emphasize what the project expects to accomplish and the significance of the work.

You can include a long, technical project description as a PDF document to upload in question 12.2.

Accomplishments Summary

Summarize in non-technical terms the accomplishments made by this project using NERSC resources in the previous year. Explain why your results are important and how the use of NERSC resources allowed you to meet your research objectives. This is optional for Startup requests.

You can include a long, technical description of your project's accomplishemnts as a PDF document to upload in question 13.2.

Refereed Publications

List all refereed publications in the last 12 months based on research using NERSC resources. You may include publications that are accepted and are in press, or published in journals but not publications in preparation. If this is a renewal request, Do Not include publications that were entered here last year. Please indicate if your article was highlighted on a journal cover.

Enter in the order authors, title, journal.

Please do not dump information from latex into this area!  Ideally you will enter all information as plain text.

Other Publications

Here you may include publications that have been submutted but not yet published, as well as non refereed publications.

Resources Requested

Computational Resources

NERSC's computational resources share a common "MPP" (which stands for Massively Parallel Processing) allocation. For 2016, the MPP systems will be Edison and Cori. See Usage Charging.

Under Alloc Type select one of:

  • DOE Production:  for  production-ready projects, including SciDAC projects, awarded by DOE
  • Startup:  for PIs who wish to investigate using small amounts of NERSC resources for new projects
  • ALCC Awards: only if you have received an ALCC award from DOE
  • Director Reserve Allocations: only if your project has been approved by the NERSC director
  • Education: only if the project is for classroom teaching
  • Sponsored Allocations: only if you have a dedicated or sponsored project (the name was changed from dedicated to sponsored for 2014).

Genepool Shares

Joint Genome Institute (JGI) Genepool projects must be pre-approved by the JGI.  Genepool users will see a list of their current shares (GPSHARES). Click the GPSHARE names you need to be renewed for the new AY.

Please do not request a Genepool "GPSHARE" unless you are an Authorized Genepool user.

Project Directories

NGF project directories are renewed by entering the Storage Requested amounts in TiBs. Requested storage amounts over 10 TiBs will be reviewed by NERSC and may require additional justification and approval for higher amounts.

Archival Storage

All NERSC projects have accounts on the mass storage system, HPSS. The storage accounting units are GBs. See HPSS Charging for details.

Also, please enter how much HPSS Archival storage space you anticipate you will need. Please enter the number in Terabytes.

Enter how much Scratch space your project will need. Also in Terabytes.

Brief Justification for Resources Requested Above

Tell us how you determined/estimated the number of MPP hours and storage/scratch space you requested above.

Events or Deadlines Affecting Computational needs Through the Year

Please describe any time(s) this coming allocation year that you expect will spike your demand for resources.

Real-Time Computing Needs

Does your project require real-time computing resources? For example does your project require immediate access to computing resources because it is connected to a live experiment. Please select either "Yes" or "No". If you answer "Yes", you will be presented with a text box to explain your answer.

PDSF Authorization

This section is for PDSF users only - please skip this section if you are not an authorized PDSF user.  PDSF is used by researchers in the high energy physics and nuclear science communities and access must be pre-approved by the PDSF Steering Committee.

Existing PDSF repos are listed on the PDSF tab. Select the box(es) in the Renew? column for each PDSF repo you want renewed for the next allocation year. Then click the black arrow to renew them.

To request a brand new PDSF repository (please do this ONLY if you have been pre-approved):

  1. Select Yes to the question Do you need a new PDSF repo?
  2. Enter a short descriptive name (3 to 8 characters long, all lower case) that describes your physics experiment. If your project is not a "physics experiment" enter a name that describes your research project.
  3. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

You must also answer questions 19.2 - 19.5.

Code Description(s)

The code descriptions you provide are used by DOE and NERSC to evaluate the type and extent of machine resources that users require.

A code description should be provided for each of your project's 5 most frequently used codes and applications. 

If renewing, please check:

  1. That you still intend to use all of the codes listed - delete those you no longer use.
  2. Add new codes as needed.
  3. Check that the information provided for each code is still accurate.

The following information is requested for each code:

  • Code Name: This is the name by which your code is known, e.g. NIMROD, AMBER.
  • Code Description: Provide a brief description of the code. What does the code do, what are the science questions it addresses?
  • URL for Code Description

Validating Current User List (For Renewal Requests)

As part of the ERCAP renewal process PIs (or PI Proxies) must certify their current user list. This means: review, correct and certify contact information and project role for your active users. DOE asks this to be done once a year.

The ERCAP system will not let you submit your request until you have certified your user list (renewed requests only).

Project roles are:

  • Principal Investigator: Can edit the ERCAP request form and manage user lists. This role cannot be selected; if you need to change the project PI contact
  • PI Proxy: Can edit the ERCAP request form and manage users (add/delete users, adjust their quotas).
  • Project Manager: Can manage users (add/delete users, adjust their quotas).
  • User: Can charge time to the project's repositories.
  • Deleted: Is no longer a member of the project. If you select Deleted: the user will be immediately limited and then restricted in all of the project's repositories (you should not delete a PI or PI Proxy - contact NERSC Account Support for this).

PI and PI Proxy role change requests should be submitted to NERSC Account Support.

You should consider deleting users who have been inactive for six or more months, as well as users who have not signed the current Computer User Agreement Form (this is indicated by a value of "OLDFORM" or "NONE" in the column Signed Policies).

The Next Year Status column allows you to indicate whether your project users should be continued in the upcoming year.  The status has been pre-filled to Keep if they have been active and to Delete next AY if they haven't been active in the past 12 months.  You may change theses statuses if you wish.  You now have the ability to delete a user immediately (set the Role to Deleted in the Role column) or at the start of the next allocation year (set the Next Year Status to "Delete Next AY").

When you are done verifying the information for all of your active users (those with a project role other than "Deleted") click the check box that says I certify that the above user information is correct for all active users in this Project. DOE requires that this be done once a year. Then click the Save button.

Other HPC Support

List High Performance Computing support from outside NERSC for this project you currently have or expect in the next year. Also, indicate if you have applied for a DOE INCITE award.

Additional Information

If your project has special requirements that you would like NERSC to consider, describe them here. Enter any additional information you would like the review committees to consider in support of this request.


Use this space to provide feedback on ERCAP, the NERSC application/allocation process

Submitting your request

When you have completed answering to your satisfaction all the questions on the request form click the checkbox next to Finished.  The "Save ERCAP Request" button will change to "Submit ERCAP Request" and clicking this button will submit your request.

Printing and saving to disk

  1. You should find a "Print ERCAP" button i the top right corner of the request.
  2. Please note that the printing functionality works best in a Chrome or Safari browser.

When you have finished your request it is a good idea to save a copy to disk. Click on "Print ERCAP" for the request you want to save and use your browser's Save as PDF option to save it to your computer.

Advice on answering long text questions

It is not recommended that you directly type in long answers. Rather, compose your answers elsewhere, and paste them into the ERCAP text boxes.

Note for Internet Explorer users: some Explorer browsers interpret a carriage return (the Enter or Return key) in the short text boxes (the text boxes without a scroll bar) as a Save: if you enter a carriage control in a short text box it is as though you had clicked the Save button. Also note that you can use the Tab key to jump to the next text box.

Most of the text boxes have a maximum of 4,000 characters associated with them. If your answer exceeds 4,000 characters you will get an error message when you click Save. You should remove some of your text and try to Save again. 

ERCAP error messages

If you enter invalid data into a text box, ERCAP will detect the error situation when you click the Save button. You will see the following red error message on top of the tabs:

FOUND ERRORS ! Please scroll down to correct.
This form cannot be saved until errors are corrected.

You should scroll down until you find another red error message adjacent to the text box that contains the invalid data. Correct the error and click the Save button again. Your work cannot be saved until you have corrected the error.

A common error is entering more than 4,000 characters into a text box. In that case you would see the error message:

*Entered value too long

Correct your error and try saving your answers again by clicking the Save button.

If you try to Finish your request without first validating your user list (this applies to renewals only) you will see the following message:

Please validate your user list before submitting your request. Request has been saved, but not submitted.

Deleting a request

If you need to delete a request contact the Account Support Office for help: 1-800-66-NERSC menu 2, 1-510-486-8612, or