I’m in the Biological directorate section now, and we are talking about the two year pilot for the pre-proprosal requirement in several divisions. The pre-proposal process is a stripped down version of the scientific plan for a full proposal. Its fascinating they don’t ask for a budget at this stage.
The interesting comment that the program officer made is that they hope the preproposal process will increase a PI’s chances of being funded to as much as 1 in 3 when selected to write a full proposal. The goal is to reduce the number of mediocre proposals that are resubmitted without incorporating reviewer feedback, and most importantly focus awards on the highest quality science.
Be sure to focus on intellectual merit and broader impacts.
Present a critical view of your scientific idea (controls, etc.)
Not all divisions have chosen to participate in the pre-proposal process. The division website will outline their participation in the pilot program.