Information for Applicants

This section describes the general process for submission. Specifics on eligibility, definitions, and more detailed instructions are on the following pages as well as within each Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) notice.

It is strongly suggested that applications be submitted through the grants.gov website. Submission forms and instructions for electronic submission are at www.grants.gov. A sample application is available for general guidance purposes only. Applicants must comply with the complete instructions included within each individual FFO notice.


Administrative and Merit Review Overview

Once a full application has been received by NOAA, an initial administrative review is conducted to determine compliance with requirements and completeness of the application. All proposals will be evaluated and scored individually in accordance with the assigned weights of the evaluation criteria listed in the FFO by independent peer mail review and/or by independent peer panel review. Both Federal and non-Federal experts may be used in this process.

Merit reviews of proposals are used as a means to obtain the best available science and information to support NOAA mandates. OAP adheres to the guidelines for the merit review process (i.e., the peer review process) as established by the Department of Commerce (DOC) Grants and Cooperative Agreements Manual, chapter 8. We follow the conflict of interest policy implemented by the DOC, found within the DOC Grants and Cooperative Agreements Manual, chapter 16.

Applicant Eligibility

For most competitions eligible applicants are institutions of higher education, other non-profits, state, local, Indian Tribal Governments, commercial organizations, US Territories and Federal agencies that possess the statutory authority to accept funding for this type of research. The individual FFOs contain the applicant eligibility for that specific competition. DOC/NOAA supports cultural and gender diversity and encourages women and minority individuals and groups to submit applications to the OAP. In addition, DOC/NOAA is strongly committed to broadening the participation of historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, tribal colleges and universities, and institutions that work in underserved areas. We encourage proposals involving any of the above institutions.

Please note that:

  • OAP will not normally fund any Federal Full Time (FTE) salaries, but will fund travel, equipment, supplies, and contractual personnel costs associated with the proposed work. If an applicant thinks that they are eligible for an exception, they should provide the Program Manager with appropriate documentation and obtain approval prior to submitting a letter of intent.
  • Researchers must be employees of an eligible entity listed above, and proposals must be submitted through that entity. Non-Federal researchers should comply with their institutional requirements for proposal submission.
  • Non-NOAA Federal applicants will be required to submit certifications or documentation showing that they have specific legal authority to accept funds for this type of research.
  • Foreign researchers may apply as subawards through an eligible US entity.
  • Non-Federal researchers affiliated with NOAA-University Cooperative/Joint Institutes should comply with joint institutional requirements; they will be funded through grants either to their institutions or to joint institutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What forms are required for the initial application submission?

A. Each competitive program notice specifies what forms are required in the Required Elements of the Federal Funding Opportunity notice. These forms can be found here and on the Grants.gov website.

Q. What detail is required in the budget narrative?

A. Detailed budget narrative guidance can be found here

Q. What documentation is necessary to allow a certain percent for fringe benefits?

A. Fringe is identified separately from salaries/wages. A listing of each percentage for each personnel title should be included. A description of the benefits included should be provided when the fringe rate is more than 35% of the associated salary. Do not charge separately any costs that are included within the fringe rate or indirect costs.

Q. What is a lease vs. cost analysis and when do I need to perform one?

A. . A cost analysis is needed when a piece of equipment $5,000.00 or above is being purchased.

This analysis will compare the cost of purchasing a piece of equipment against the cost of leasing the same piece of equipment. The benefits of leasing or purchasing should be addressed in this analysis also.

Q. Can I submit an application through the Grants Online System?

A. No. All applications must be submitted through the Grants.gov system. The Grants Online system is set up to receive applications from the Grants.gov system. Only when an application has been awarded are recipients able to use the Grants Online system for post award tasks.

Q. Where can I find the correct forms to fill out when I am applying for a grant?

A. Grants.gov website at www.grants.gov or OAP website.

Q. Does a multi year award mean that we are guaranteed to receive a certain amount of funding during the award period of the grant?

A. No, multi-year awards are awards which have an award/project period of more than 12 months of activity. Multi-year awards are partially funded when the awards are approved, and are subsequently funded in increments. Funding for each year’s activity is contingent upon the availability of funds from Congress, satisfactory performance, and is at the sole discretion of the agency.

Q. If my institution has expanded authority; can I carry over funds from one year to the other without prior approval from NOAA?

A. Yes, those institutions with expanded authority can carry over funds to the next year without prior approval from NOAA.

Q. What is expanded authority and what recipients have it?

A. Expanded authority applies to recipients covered under 15 CFR Part 14, Institutions of Higher Education (Colleges and Universities), and Other Non-Profit and Commercial Organizations. Waiver of prior approvals under 15 CFR Part 14.25 applies automatically to awards that support research unless otherwise restricted in the award terms and conditions.

Q. What is the NOAA GMD rule for reprogramming requests?

A. Reprogramming requests include changes in budget categories that do not affect the scope of the project. Prior approval for reprogramming in budget categories is required if the cumulative transfer amount exceeds 10% of the last approved total budget, the transfer will create a new budget category not previously approved by the Grants Officer or the award amount is more than $100,000.

Written request should include:

  1. Clear reason for request
  2. Line item budget showing the requested change(s)
  3. SF424A and Budget Narrative
  4. Any other supporting information to assist in the review.

 

Q. How long after submission will I hear if my proposal has been recommended for funding?

A. NOAA is following the recommendations of the internal Business Reengineering Process and has implemented a 240 calendar day application processing time. The time begins with the application due date and ends with the award obligation date.

Q. How do I get a user name and password for the Grants Online system?

A. NOAA employees are to contact their GMAC representative if you do not currently have a Grants Online user ID. Contact the Grants Online help desk at 301-444-2112 or 800-662-2478 if your account is locked or if you are a recipient.

Q. How do I log into the Grants Online system?

A. Using Internet Explorer, enter the following URL in your address bar: https://grantsonline.rdc.noaa.gov. You must have a valid userid and password in order to access the system.

Q. How do I file progress reports?

A. Progress reports need to be filed through the Grants Online system. You will need to contact your authorized representative or the Grants Online help desk at 877-662-2478 or 301-444-2112 to get a user name and password. The Grants Online Helpdesk can walk you through submitting your progress report.

Q. How do I file financial reports?

A. Financial reports need to be filed through the Grants Online system. You will need to contact your authorized representative or the Grants Online help desk at 877-662-2478 or 301-444-2112 to get a user name and password. The Grants Online Helpdesk can walk you through submitting your financial report.

Q. What can I do if I need more time to complete my research?

A. If a recipient finds additional time, beyond the award end date, is needed to finish the work of a project, a request for a no-cost extension is possible. However, the below guidance must be followed in order for additional time to be granted.

No-Cost Extension - Invocation of Expanded Authority

If a recipient has expanded authority, this option must be used before asking for a no-cost extension without invocation of expanded authority.

1. Extensions to the Period of Performance/Award Period - Expanded Authority

  1. All recipients covered under 15 CFR Part 14 (e.g., educational institutions/non-profits), with non-construction awards are herein granted authority to initiate a one-time no-cost extension to the award period of up to one year without prior approval as long as the Grants Officer is notified in writing at least 10 days prior to expiration of the award with an explanation of the reason for the extension and none of the following conditions apply:
    1. There are other special award conditions that prohibit the extension.
    2. The extension requires additional federal funds.
    3. The extension involves any change in program objectives or scope of the project.
    4. An extension to the project period has already been approved not using the Invocation of Expanded Authority.
  2. This authority to extend the award period without prior approval may not be exercised merely for the purpose of using unobligated funds. Recipients must maintain compliance with all terms and conditions of the award, including submission of required reports, or this expanded authority may be revoked. (This authority should not be utilized to extend continuing awards that are pending determination by the Grants Officer - see Administrative Extensions below.)
  3. For recipients covered under 15 CFR Part 14 (e.g., educational institutions/non-profits), the written notification to the Grants Officer must clearly state that the award is being extended under the expanded authorities of 15 CFR 14.25(e), provide the new expiration date of the award, and explain the reason for the extension.

No Cost Extension - Without Invocation of Expanded Authority

  1. If the recipient believes it is necessary to obtain a no-cost extension to complete the approved program description and objectives beyond the expanded authority granted above or is without expanded authority privileges, then the recipient shall submit a written request to the Federal Program Officer who will in turn forward the request, along with a Program Officer recommendation, to the Grants Officer who will then make the final determination in writing. The written request must clearly justify why the extension is needed and explain what activities are remaining to be accomplished under the award and what funds are still available to support the activity. The written request must contain the following information:
  • What work in the approved proposal remains to be completed?
  • What is the requested new expiration date?
  • Explain why the work was not completed during the original award period.
  • How much unobligated funds remain?
  1. A budget must be provided which explains the work to be completed during the extended period, including Federal and nonfederal share. In addition, the award must be in compliance with all terms and conditions of the award, including submission of all required reports.
  2. The request to extend the award period shall be submitted to the Federal Program Officer at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the award to provide the minimum time needed to review the request. The recipient proceeds at their own risk of incurring costs beyond the award expiration if the request is not submitted to NOAA at least 30 days prior to the expiration.
  3. Any extension request submitted to NOAA after the expiration of the award shall be denied. Requests for reconsideration of extreme circumstances that resulted in failure to request an extension before the end of the award period must be submitted in writing and will only be considered by the Grants Officer on a case-by-case basis. Awards which are not in compliance with all terms and conditions of the award, including submission of all required reports, will not be reconsidered.

 

Q. Does OAP require cost sharing?

A. No.

Q. What is the difference between a grant and a cooperative agreement?

A. The difference between a grant and a cooperative agreement is the amount of substantial involvement by the Federal government. A grant has no substantial involvement by the Federal government. The recipient is expected to perform the project without substantial collaboration or intervention by NOAA.

A cooperative agreement anticipates substantial involvement by the Federal government. The recipient can expect substantial collaboration, participation, or intervention in the management of the project by NOAA.

Examples of substantial involvement by NOAA:

  • Able to halt an activity immediately if detailed performance specifications are not met;
  • Required the recipient to meet or adhere to specific procedural requirements before subsequent stages of a grant project may continue;
  • Specific direction or redirection of scope of work due to the inter-relationships with other projects;
  • Collaborates with the recipient by working jointly with a recipient scientist or technician in carrying out the scope of work, by training recipient personnel, or detailing Federal personnel to work on the project effort; and/or
  • Limits recipient discretion with respect to scope of work, organizational structure, staffing, mode of operations and other management processes, coupled with close monitoring or operational involvement during performance.

 

Q. Does my nonprofit/university needs an indirect cost rate agreement?

A. An applicant needs to either have an approved cost allocation plan or an indirect cost rate agreement if they are going to use grant funds to pay indirect costs for their project.

Q. When are financial reports due?

A. NOAA Grants Management Division (GMD) sets the requirements for the financial reports. All financial reports are due on a semi-annual basis and use the project periods of 4/1 to 9/30 and 10/1 to 3/31. If the award start date begins other than April 1st, or October 1st, then the first report would only be a portion of the reporting period in which the award starts. As an example: take an award period of 9/1/2007 to 8/31/2010, the first semi-annual financial report will cover 9/1/2007 to 9/30/2007 , the second financial report covers 10/1/2007 to 3/31/2008, the third financial report covers 4/1/2008 to 9/30/2008, the fourth financial reports covers 10/1/2008 to 3/31/2009, the fifth financial report covers 4/1/2009 to 9/30/2009, the sixth financial report covers 10/1/2009 to 3/31/2010 and the last financial report covers 4/1/2010 to 9/30/2010. Semi-annual financial reports are due to GMD 30 days after the end of each reporting period. Final financial reports are due to GMD 90 days after the award expires.

Q. How do I fill out a financial form if I haven’t spent any money yet?

A. Since the financial forms are on a set bi-annual schedule, they need to be submitted even if you have not used any grant funds yet. To do so, place zeros in all of the applicable places and submit the form through the Grants Online system, using the username and password obtained from your authorized representative or the Grants Online help desk at 877-662-2478 or 301-444-2112.

Q. Why does the first progress report only cover 9 months?

A. The grants management division (GMD) requires that the first progress report cover the first nine months of a project so that there is time for the program office to review the project’s progress before the funds for the next year are released. This allows for each report thereafter to cover a year long period, while still leaving time for the report to be reviewed before funds are released for the next year.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Award Period

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

Annual Progress Report Period

01-01-99 to 09-30-99

10-01-99 to 09-30-00

10-01-00 to 09-30-01

10-01-01 to 09-30-02

9 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

Final Progress Report Period

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

 

Q. How long do I get to submit an annual report?

A. You have 30 days after the project period end date to submit the annual progress report.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Award Period

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

Annual Progress Report Period

01-01-99 to 09-30-99

10-01-99 to 09-30-00

10-01-00 to 09-30-01

10-01-01 to 09-30-02

9 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

Final Progress Report Period

01-01-99 to 12-31-02

 

Q. How long do I get to submit a final report?

A. You have 90 days after the award end date to submit the final progress report.

Q. Why do I have to submit an annual report and then 3 months later submit a final report?

A. Annual reports cover one year’s worth of work, while a final report covers the work of the whole project. Therefore, the last annual report will cover just the last year of the project, while the final report will speak about the whole project, which took place over a course of years. We allow the last three months of the project to be included in the final report instead of requiring an additional report covering just those three months.

Q. What can happen if my reports are delinquent?

A. If financial or progress reports are delinquent:

  • The ability to draw down funds might be suspended;
  • Funded actions (i.e., new applications and requests for additional/continued funding) might be jeopardized; and
  • Unfunded requests requiring prior approval from the Grants Officer (GMD) might not be approved; and Debt may be established for the recipient.

 

Q. What is the difference between a SF-424 and a SF-424A?

A. The SF-424 is the Application for Federal Assistance and is required for every application. The SF-424A is the form for Budget Information for Non-construction Programs. On this form an applicant would break down into categories how they plan to spend the grant money.

Q. How long do I have to request a No Cost Extension (NCE) with expanded Authority?

A. Electronic Recipients with expanded authorities are requested to notify the Grants Management Division through the Grants Online system, when they choose to use their authority to give themselves a one-time unfunded extension of up to one year at the end of the project period. Unfunded extension requests must be received at least 10 days before the end of the original project period.

Those recipients without electronic access are requested to notify the Grants Management Division and the OAP Grants Administrator, when they choose to use their authority to give themselves a one-time unfunded extension of up to one year at the end of the project period. Unfunded extension requests must be received at least 10 days before the end of the original project period. Submit the request by email to Arlene.Simpson-Porter@noaa.gov and Erica.Ombres@noaa.gov or in a letter and include the award number, new expiration date and the reason for the extension.

Grants may not be extended merely to allow recipients to spend unobligated funds.

Following is a sample letter which provides the NOAA Grants Management Division and the OAP Grants Specialist with the grant number, new expiration date, and reason for extension. 

Sample email:

"Dear Ms. Simpson-Porter and Dr. Ombres:

This letter is to inform you that we are electing a one-year unfunded extension for NOAA Grant NA06NOS4780000, which is covered by the Expanded Authorities of OMB Circular A-110, Subpart C, Section 25. The new expiration date is August 31, 2008.

Listed below are reasons for the extension:

Additional time is required beyond the original expiration date of August 31, 2007, to assure completion of the original approved project scope and objectives. Project R/C-E-39 needs to conduct additional sampling to validate unexpected research findings related to the effect of propeller scars on seagrass habitat. Estimated time for completion of the work if August 31, 2008.

We will provide final financial and progress reports at that time.

Sincerely

Authorized Signer"

Q. How long do I have to request a NCE without expanded Authority?

A. Recipients of NOAA Financial Assistance (Grants or Cooperative Agreement Awards) may receive an unfunded ("no-cost") extension of their award beyond the original expiration date if they need more time to finish the sponsored project. Electronic recipients without Expanded Authorities need to request prior approval in accordance with the following Unfunded Extension Checklist and submit their request through the Grants Online system 30 days in advance of the original award end date.

The Program Officer must assure that performance progress reports are up to date and include a memo to the Grants Officer recommending approval of the extension.

Those recipients without electronic access are requested to follow the above format in letter form or an email sent to the Program Manager for approval 30 days in advance of the original award end date.

Q. How long do I have to request a Closeout extension?

A. The Closeout period is 90 days following the expiration of the award in which the recipient prepares final reports and must make final funding draw downs and payments.

All final reports (financial and performance) should be submitted during the 90 day closeout period unless a request for an extension is submitted to the Grants Office.

Request to extend the closeout period must be sent directly to the Grants Office through the Grants Online system. A closeout extension is usually requested to complete a Final Progress Report and make final payments. These requests are also routed through the program officer.

A Closeout extension should only be requested to complete closeout activities –completion of program activities requires a no-cost time extension to the award.

Related OMB Circulars and DOC Codifications

OMB Circulars related to grants can be accessed on the OMB website at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_docs

Suggested circulars of interest are listed below:

Also suggested are the Department of Commerce Codification of Government wide Grant Requirements as follows:

  • CFR part 14: Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, Other Non-Profit, and Commercial Organizations, which replace OMB A-110 as the administrative rules applicable to these awards.
  • CFR part 24, Amendment 1: Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments, which replace OMB A-102 as the administrative rules applicable to these awards.

NOAA Grants Management Division Budget Narrative Guidance

All applications must have a detailed budget narrative explaining and justifying the federal and the non-federal expenditures by object class category as listed on SF-424A - Section B (Budget Category) for non-construction awards (and the SF-424C for construction awards). For clarification and simplicity, it is best to discuss each expense by object class in the order that they appear on the SF424A. Include detailed descriptions of all cost justifications (see below for more detail). Additionally, provide any cost sharing and matching funds in the same level of detail as the federal funds. The budget narrative submitted with the application must match the dollar amounts on all required forms. Please explain each calculation and provide a narrative that supports each budget category (the SF-424 must equal total costs identified on the SF-424A form which must match the budget narrative).

Costs proposed to NOAA awards must be reasonable, allowable, allocable, and necessary to the supported activity. Refer to 2 CFR §200 for applicable administrative requirements and cost principles. The SF424 family forms can be accessed at Grants.gov. If your award is for multi-year or multiple year funding, you must provide a budget and budget justification for each year. Show each year in a separate column on the SF-424A and use a separate column for listing any match funds. NOAA expects that applicants will ensure that no Federal or non-Federal grant funds will be expended for in-kind goods or services, for purposes of providing transportation, travel, and other expenses for any Federal employee.

A. Personnel:

Provide the name of the person in each position (if known), and provide both the annual (for multiyear awards) and total: salary/amount each position is paid; the percent of time position contributes to this award; and the number of months the employee is paid. State if any positions are vacant at the time, and if so, anticipated hire date. Also, provide a justification and description of each position (including vacant positions). Relate each position specifically to program objectives. Personnel cannot exceed 100% of their time on all active projects. Recipient should ensure the cost of living increase is built into the budget and justified.

The salaries of administrative and clerical staff should normally be treated as indirect (F&A) costs (2 CFR §200.413c). Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate only if all of the following conditions are met: (1) Administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity; (2) Individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity; (3) Such costs are explicitly included in the approved budget or have the prior written approval of the Grants Officer; and (4) The costs are not also recovered as indirect costs.


Sample budget for NOAA grant application


B. Fringe Benefits:

Fringe benefits are usually applicable to direct salaries and wages. Provide the fringe benefit rate used and a clear description of how the computation of fringe benefits was done. Provide both the annual (for multiyear awards) and total. If a fringe benefit rate is not used, show how the fringe benefits were computed for each position. The budget justification should be reflected in the budget description. Elements that comprise fringe benefits should be indicated. The fringe rate should be proportional among the federal and non-federal share categories. If a fringe rate is greater than 35%, a description and breakdown of the benefits must be provided unless a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) has been provided. If fringe benefits are not computed by using a percent of salaries, provide a breakdown of how the computation is done. The applicant should not combine the fringe benefit costs with direct salaries and wages in the personnel category.


Fringe Benefits Sample Budget


C. Travel:

Provide breakdown of travel costs as follows:

  • Domestic Travel: Domestic travel includes travel within and between the U.S., the commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Island, and the territories and possessions of the United States. Provide a narrative justification describing the travel staff will perform. List origin and destination, number of trips planned, who will be making the trip, purpose of travel and how it relates to the scope of work, and approximate dates. If mileage is to be paid, provide number of miles and the cost per mile. If travel is by air, show cost of airfare and proposed airline (if known). If per diem/lodging is to be paid, indicate number of days and the amount for each day’s per diem and the number of nights and the amount for each night’s lodging. Include any ground transportation when applicable. Total each trip planned.
  • Foreign Travel: Travel outside the areas specified above is considered foreign travel. Provide a narrative justification describing the same information as above. Follow above format. Certify compliance with the Fly America Act. The Fly America Act limits the use of foreign flag carriers to foreign travel. A waiver is only allowed for specific instances and will require prior approval. For more info.

Dollars requested in the travel category should be for staff travel only. Travel for consultants should be shown in the consultant category along with the consultant’s fee. Travel for training participants, advisory committees, review panels and etc., should be itemized the same way as indicated above and placed in the “other” category. Travel should include: origin and destination, estimated costs and type of transportation, number of travelers, related lodging and per diem costs, brief description of the travel involved, its purpose, and explanation of how the proposed travel is necessary for successful completion of the project.

If travel details are unknown, then the basis for proposed costs should be explained (i.e., historical information). Travel costs can be charged on an actual basis, on a per diem or mileage basis in lieu of actual costs incurred, or a combination of the two if applied consistently and results in reasonable charges. Travel support for dependents of key project personnel may be requested only when the travel is for a duration of six months or more either by inclusion in the approved budget or with the prior written approval of the Grants Officer (2 CFR §200.474(c)(2)).


Travel Sample Budget


D. Equipment:

Provide justification for the use of each item and relate them to specific program objectives. Provide both the annual (for multiyear awards) and total for equipment. Equipment is defined as an article of tangible personal property that has a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the non-Federal entity for financial statement purposes, or $5,000. A recipient organization may classify equipment at a lower dollar value but cannot classify it higher than $5,000. For example, a state may classify their equipment at $1,000 with a useful life of a year.

It is recommended that internal policies for equipment are provided in this section in order to avoid requests by NOAA for closeout documents and delays during the closeout period.

General use of equipment (i.e., computers, faxes, etc.) must be used 100% for the proposed project if charged directly to the grant. Maintenance fees for equipment should be shown in the “other” category.

Provide a lease versus purchase analysis. This must accompany every equipment request over $5,000 even if a lease vs purchase analysis cannot be completed, a statement is required to that effect. General purpose equipment such as office equipment and furnishings, and information technology equipment and systems are typically not eligible for direct cost support (2 CFR §200.439).

Provide objective-related justification for all equipment items after the detailed budget. The source for determining the budget price for each unit of equipment should be included in the justification.


Equipment Sample Budget


E. Supplies:

List by supply item. An explanation is necessary for supplies costing more than $5,000, or five percent of the award, whichever is greater. Show unit cost of each item, number needed, and total amount. Provide both the annual (for multiyear awards) and total for supplies. Provide justification of the supply items and relate them to specific program objectives. It is recommended that when training materials are kept on hand as a supply item, that it be included in the “supplies” category. When training materials (pamphlets, notebooks, videos, and other various handouts) are ordered for specific training activities, these items should be itemized and shown in the “other” category. If appropriate, general office supplies may be shown by an estimated amount per month multiplied by the number of months in the budget period.

Requirements for supplies which exceed the thresholds: explain the type of supplies to be purchased, or nature of the expense in the budget narrative; provide a breakdown of supplies by quantity and cost per unit if known; and indicate basis for estimate of supplies, i.e., historical use on similar projects.


Supplies Sample Budget


F. Contractual:

Provide separate budgets for each subaward or contract, regardless of the dollar value and indicate the basis for the cost estimates in the narrative. Describe products or services to be obtained and indicate the applicability or necessity of each to the project.

Please note the differences between subaward, contract, and vendor:

  • Subaward means an award provided by a pass-through entity to a subrecipient for the subrecipient to carry out part of a Federal award, including a portion of the scope of work or objectives. It does not include payments to a contractor or payments to an individual that is a beneficiary of a Federal program.
  • Contract means a legal instrument by which a non-Federal entity purchases property or services needed to carry out the project or program under a Federal award.
  • Vendor is generally a dealer, distributor or other seller that provides, for example, supplies, expendable materials, or data processing services in support of the project activities.

 

Provide both the annual (for multiyear awards) and total for contractual. Do not incorporate contractual indirect costs under the indirect costs line item for the applicant/grantee on the SF-424A or budget narrative.

  • Name of Subrecipient, Contractor, or Vendor: Include the name of the qualified subrecipient, contractor, affiliation, and contact.
  • Method of Selection: Include how selection was made. If sole source, include an explanation. Include qualifications.
  • Period of Performance: Include the dates/length for the performance period. If it involves a number of tasks, include the performance period for each task.
  • Scope of Work: List and describe the specific tasks to be performed.
  • Criteria for Measuring Accountability: Include an itemized line item breakdown as well as total contract/award amount. If applicable, include any indirect costs paid under the contract/award and the indirect cost rate used.

 


Contractual Sample Budget


G. Construction:

Construction activity is allowable only when program legislation includes specific authority for construction and/or when the DOC operating unit specifically authorizes such activity. Activities under an award are considered construction when the major purpose of the award is construction as defined in this chapter. In contrast, alteration of facilities incidental to a non-construction purpose is not considered construction under this chapter.

Most federal programs do not allow construction costs, and those that do typically have detailed instructions describing how to figure construction costs. Estimated construction costs must be supported by documentation including drawings and estimates, formal bids, etc. As with all other costs, follow the specific requirements of the program, the terms and conditions of the award, and applicable regulations.

Whereas non-construction awards use the SF-424A form; construction awards must use the SF-424C form. Detail provided should include: administrative and legal expenses; land, structures, rights-of-way, appraisals, etc.; relocation expenses and payments; architectural and engineering fees, project inspection fees; site work; demolition and removal; equipment; contingencies; and program income.

H. Other:

This category contains items not included in the previous categories. List items by type of material or nature of expense, break down costs by quantity and cost per unit if applicable, state the necessity of other costs for successful completion of the project and exclude unallowable costs (i.e., alcohol, fundraising, meals and coffee breaks). Provide both the annual (for multiyear awards) and total for other. Give justification for all the items in the “other” category (e.g., separate justification for printing, telephone, postage, rent, etc.). All costs associated with training activities should be placed in the “other” category except costs for consultant and/or contractual. List all expenses anticipated for the training activity in the format above. Include rental space for training (if required), training materials, speaker fees, substitute teacher fees, and any other applicable expenses related to the training. It is recommended that subawards fall under the contractual section rather than the other section.


Other Sample Budget


I. Total Direct Costs:

Show total direct costs by listing totals of each category.


Total Direct Costs Sample Budget


J. Indirect Costs:

Indirect costs are those costs incurred for common or joint objectives which cannot be readily identified with an individual project or program but are necessary to the operations of the organization. Please refer to the DOC Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions and the 2 CFR 200 for more information about indirect costs and facilities and administrative costs, including more information regarding pre-determined, provisional, and fixed rates.

Provide the most recent indirect cost rate agreement with the itemized budget. The applicable indirect cost rate(s) negotiated by the organization with the cognizant negotiating agency must be used in computing indirect costs (F&A) for a proposal (2 CFR §200.414). The amount for indirect costs should be calculated by applying the current negotiated indirect cost rate(s) to the approved base(s).

Any non-Federal entity that has never received a negotiated indirect cost rate, except for those non-Federal entities described in Appendix VII to Part 200—States and Local Government and Indian Tribe Indirect Cost Proposals, paragraph (d)(1)(B) may elect to charge a de minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct costs (MTDC) which may be used indefinitely. Foreign grantees that do not have a negotiated indirect cost rate may also elect to charge the de minimis rate limited to an indirect cost rate recovery of 10% of modified total direct costs, and foreign grantees that have a negotiated rate agreement with a U.S. federal agency may recover indirect costs at the current negotiated rate.

(Only mandatory cost sharing or cost sharing specifically committed in the project budget must be included in the organized research base for computing the indirect (F&A) cost rate or reflected in any allocation of indirect costs.)


Indirect Costs Sample Budget


K. Total Direct and Indirect Costs:

Provide the total combined direct and indirect costs budgeted.

L. Cost Share/Match:

If a cost share/non-federal match is required for this award, demonstrate it meets the matching requirements. Provide sources of the match and provide adequate documentation for in-kind match. The match should provide the same level of detail as the federal share outlined in this guidance; therefore, it should be broken down by object class category (personnel, fringe, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual, other, indirect costs, etc.) The non-federal share is subject to the same regulations as the federal share. If the recipient cannot meet the cost share/match stated in its application, the Federal award should be reduced by the same percentage. (See reference under “J. Indirect Costs” regarding cost sharing and indirect (F&A) cost rate computation.)

Application Forms

For application instructions, see the "Required Elements" section of the applicable Federal Register Notice for the required application package details. Work with your Business office representative to ensure a complete application package.

OMB Approved forms for CSCOR Required Information:

Required Standard NOAA Application Package:

  • SF-424: Application for Federal Assistance (In Block 10, put CFDA number ll.478 - Coastal Ocean Program)
  • SF-424A: Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs
  • SF-424B: Assurances - Non-Construction Programs
  • CD-511: Certifications Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters, Drug-Free Workplace Requirements, and Lobbying
  • CD-512: Certifications Regarding Debarment, Suspension, Ineligibility, and Voluntary Exclusion - Lower-Tier Covered Transactions (Remains with Recipient)
  • SF-LLL: Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (If Applicable) - Download to fill form in Adobe Reader
  • Statement of Work
  • Other Requirements and Instructions
  • Sample Application Package - please refer to the individual Federal Funding Opportunity announcement for page length and other details associated with each competition

Working with Grants.gov

NOAA accepts grant application packages electronically through the Grants.gov website. You should useGrants.gov to find, apply for, and track grants.

The information package provided on this website is taken from the current standard NOAA Grants & Cooperative Agreement Application Package released by the NOAA Grants Management Division and also available on the grants.gov website.

If you have not already registered with Grants.gov, you will need to do so. You only need to register once.

The application package has information regarding standard conditions for grants, including the prohibition of lobbying. It is unlawful to use Federal financial assistance awards to:

  • influence legislation pending before Congress;
  • negotiate, award or administer a pending award;
  • facilitate direct contact with legislators or indirect contact with legislators through grassroots lobbying.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Dr. Erica Ombres 
OAP Grants Manager 
(301)734-1072 
Erica.H.Ombres@noaa.gov



INFORMATION FOR RECIPIENTS

Recipients of DOC grant or cooperative agreements are responsible for adhering to the standard and special terms and conditions of their award, appropriate OMB circulars and government public policy requirements. The information below provides the current guidance.


    <span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span><span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span><span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span><span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span>

    Programmatic Special Award Conditions

    Reporting Requirements

    Annual and Final Progress Reports are due according to the schedule found on the Reporting Requirements page. The last interim progress report for the final 90 days of the project should be submitted as part of the comprehensive Final Progress Report. Reports must follow OAP prescribed formats as announced in the Federal Register Notice. 

    Data Accessibility

    Environmental data and information collected or created under this grant/cooperative agreement will be made visible, accessible and independently understandable to users, free of charge or at minimal cost, in a timely manner (typically no later than two (2) years after the data are collected or created), except where limited by law, regulation, policy or by security requirements.

    1. The Data/Information Sharing Plan (and any subsequent revisions or updates) will be made publicly available at time of award and, thereafter, will be posted with the published data.
    2. Environmental data and information produced under this award and which are made public must be accompanied by the following statement: These environmental data and related items of information have not been formally disseminated by NOAA and do not represent and should not be construed to represent any agency determination, view, or policy.
    3. NOAA may at its own discretion, use information from the Data/Information Sharing Plan to produce a formal metadata record and include that metadata in a catalogue to indicate the pending availability of new data.
    4. Failing to share environmental data and information in accordance with the submitted Data/Information Sharing Plan may lead to disallowed costs and be considered by NOAA when making future award decisions.

    Funding Acknowledgement

    Publications based upon results of research supported directly or indirectly by this award should include the following acknowledgment: "This paper is a result of research funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Acidification Program under award (Grant Number) to (Institution)." The U.S. Government is authorized to produce and distribute reprints for governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation.

    Complying with the Paperwork Reduction Act

    The public reporting burden for the annual and final progress reports is estimated at 7.5 hours per response, including time for reviewing instructions, gathering and maintaining data, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspects of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Erica Ombres. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, unless that collection displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number.

    OMB Circulars:

    • 2 CFR 215 – Uniform Administrative Requirements for Institutes of Higher Education, Hospitals, Other Non-Profits
    • A-102 – Uniform Administrative Requirements for State and Local Governments
    • 2 CFR 220 – Cost Principles for Educational Institutions
    • 2 CFR 225 – Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments
    • 2 CFR 230 – Cost Principles for Non-Profits
    • A-133 - Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations

    Be sure to view the Public Policy Requirements located in the DOC Grants and Cooperative Agreements Manual, Chapter 15. The Government-wide and NOAA Standard Award Terms and Conditions can be found within the CD 450 details of each individual award.

    Reporting Requirements

    Progress Reports and Final Report Forms

    OAP requires annual progress reports using the "Format for Annual Progress Report" (OMB Approval No. 0648-0384). The initial progress report covers the first nine month period, while later year progress reports will cover a twelve month period (see example below).

    Final performance report using the “Format for Project Final Report” (OMB Approval No. 0648-0384) is required upon expiration or termination of a financial assistance award and is due no later than 90 days following the end of the final award. This report covers the cumulative award periods of entire project (see example below).

    The PDF versions of the progress report templates are not fillable. These forms must be converted to Word in order to complete (download to your desktop first). The Word version can then be uploaded to Grants Online.

     


        Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4

     
    Award Period 

    09-01-15 to 08-31-19

    09-01-15 to 08-31-19

    09-01-15 to 08-31-19

    09-01-15 to 08-31-19

     

     Annual Progress Report Period

    09-01-15 to 05-31-16

    06-01-16 to 05-31-17

    06-01-17 to 05-31-18

    06-01-18 to 05-31-19

     

     Final Progress Report Period

    09-01-15 to 08-31-19

    NOTE: Final Progress Report includes time period between 06-01-19 and 08-31-19


    Financial Reports

    • Financial Status Reports (SF-425 and SF-425A)
    • Federal Cash Transactions Report (SF-272 or SF-272A)
    • Request for Advance or Reimbursement (SF-270)

    NOAA Grants Management Division (GMD) sets the requirements for the financial reports. All financial reports are due on a semi-annual basis and use the project periods of 4/1 to 9/30 and 10/1 to 3/31. If the award start date begins other than April 1st, or October 1st, then the first report would only be a portion of the reporting period in which the award starts.

    As an example: take an award period of 9/1/2015 to 8/31/2018,

    • The first semi-annual financial report will cover 9/1/2015 to 9/30/2015,
    • the second financial report covers 10/1/2015 to 3/31/2016,
    • the third financial report covers 4/1/2016 to 9/30/2016,
    • the fourth financial report covers 10/1/2016 to 3/21/2017,
    • the fifth financial report covers 4/1/2017 to 9/30/2017,
    • the sixth financial report covers 10/1/2017 to 3/31/2018, and
    • the last financial report covers 4/1/2018 to 9/30/2018.

    Semi-annual financial reports are due to GMD 30 days after the end of each reporting period. Final financial reports are due to GMD 90 days after the award expires. Financial reports need to be submitted through the Grants Online system only to the Grants Management Division (GMD).

    Recipients are responsible for managing, monitoring, and reporting on their expenditures in their financial reports. It is imperative that recipients draw down funds on a regular interval rather than wait until the award has expired.

    No-Cost Extensions

    Recipients of NOAA Financial Assistance (Grants or Cooperative Agreement Awards) may receive an unfunded ("no-cost") extension of their award beyond the original expiration date if they need more time to finish the sponsored project. Electronic recipients without Expanded Authorities need to request prior approval in accordance with the following Unfunded Extension Checklist and submit their request through the Grants Online system 30 days in advance of the original award end date.

    Unfunded Extension Checklist

    Requests for Unfunded Extensions to NOAA grant and cooperative agreement awards to electronic recipients without Expanded Authorities require the following information to be submitted through the Grants Online system:

    1. What work in the approved proposal remains to be completed?
    2. What is the requested new expiration date?
    3. Explain why the work was not completed during the original award period.
    4. How much unobligated funds remain?
    5. Provide a budget for work to be completed during the extended period, including Federal and non-Federal share.

    The Program Officer must assure that performance progress reports are up to date and include a memo to the Grants Officer recommending approval of the extension.

    Those recipients without electronic access are requested to follow the above format in letter form or an email sent to the Program Manager for approval 30 days in advance of the original award end date.

    Unfunded Extensions For Recipients With Expanded Authorities

    Electronic Recipients with expanded authorities are requested to notify the Grants Management Division through the Grants Online system, when they choose to use their authority to give themselves a one-time unfunded extension of up to one year at the end of the project period. Unfunded extension requests must be received at least 10 days before the end of the original project period.

    Those recipients without electronic access are requested to notify the Grants Management Division and the OAP Grants Manager, when they choose to use their authority to give themselves a one-time unfunded extension of up to one year at the end of the project period. Unfunded extension requests must be received at least 10 days before the end of the original project period.

    Submit the request by email to Arlene.Simpson-Porter@noaa.gov and Erica.H.Ombres@noaa.gov or in a letter and include the award number, new expiration date and the reason for the extension.

    Grants may not be extended merely to allow recipients to spend unobligated funds.

    Following is a sample letter which provides the NOAA Grants Management Division and the NCCOS/COP Grants Specialist with the grant number, new expiration date, and reason for extension. Submit a similar email to Arlene.Simpson-Porter@noaa.gov and Erica.H.Ombres@noaa.gov.

    Sample Email

    "Dear Ms. Simpson-Porter and Dr. Ombres:

    This letter is to inform you that we are electing a one-year unfunded extension for NOAA Grant NA06NOS4780000, which is covered by the Expanded Authorities of OMB Circular A-110, Subpart C, Section 25. The new expiration date is August 31, 2008.

    Listed below are reasons for the extension:

    Additional time is required beyond the original expiration date of August 31, 2007, to assure completion of the original approved project scope and objectives. Project R/C-E-39 needs to conduct additional sampling to validate unexpected research findings related to the effect of propeller scars on seagrass habitat. Estimated time for completion of the work if August 31, 2008.

    We will provide final financial and progress reports at that time.

    Sincerely

    Authorized Signer"

    Outputs and Outcomes

    Clear articulation of outcome-based management goals is a required component of some OAP proposals (see FFO for specific guidance), and progress toward achieving management outcomes is required in OAP annual progress reports.

    The proposal should articulate the plan for improving management effectiveness, specifying the management agencies that will be targeted, and the outputs and outcomes to be achieved. For the purposes of OAP proposals and reports, outputs and outcomes are defined as the following.

    Outputs are defined as information or products that directly result from OAP-funded projects. Outputs are most frequently reported quantitatively (i.e., 7 publications and 12 presentations). In addition, an output may represent the result of OAP-funded monitoring activities. Also called deliverables from a project management perspective, these direct products can include:

    • New or advanced knowledge;
    • Publications;
    • Patents;
    • Workshops;
    • New methodologies or technologies;
    • New or advanced tools (e.g., biomarkers, models);
    • Presentations;
    • Outreach Products.

    Outcomes are changes in the knowledge or actions of the user (in this case, managers or policymakers) or a societal or environmental benefit that results from a project or program. These may be associated with either the funded research or activity or their resultant outputs. Outcomes are typically placed into three categories.

    Improved Management Knowledge (or skill) tends to be short-term outcomes that can be manifest in a number of ways. However, because nearly all OAP research will directly result in a new or improved knowledge or skill, these outcomes must represent demonstrable changes in knowledge within the management or policy community, in addition to the scientific community.

    Changes in Management Behavior occur when there is a change in management approach, or managers act upon their improved knowledge. These outcomes are often intermediate in duration. These changes in behavior will most likely be manifest through changes in resource management protocols or actions.

    Improved Environmental or Societal Condition, typically long-term, includes those activities that result in changes in values, conditions, or status of an environmental resource or ecosystem. This category comprises the ultimate goal of the OAP.

    In theory each one of these outcome types will lead to the other: Improved Management Knowledge → Changes in Management Behavior → Improved Environmental or Societal Condition (Benefit). Many outcomes, especially long-term changes in behaviors or values, can be difficult to quantify, and may manifest years after output generation. Some outcomes may be expressed as a trend of ecological or societal parameters over time (i.e., increasing acreage of healthy coral reefs). In addition, the transition from one outcome to another is not likely to be linear, but likely the interplay of multiple outputs and outcomes.

    Specific examples of OAP-related outcomes may include:

    Management application or adoption of

    • New fundamental or applied knowledge;
    • Workshop results;
    • New or improved skills;
    • New or improved methods or technology;
    • New or advanced tools (e.g., biomarkers, models);

    Improved environmental or societal conditions

    • Improved water quality;
    • Increased ability to adapt to acidification;
    • Reduced effects of ocean acidification;
    • Improved sustainability of fisheries;
    • Healthy coral reefs.

     

    NOAA Data Policy

    Environmental data and information, collected and/or created under this grant/cooperative agreement will be made visible, accessible and independently understandable to users, free of charge or at minimal cost, in a timely manner (typically no later than two (2) years after the data are collected or created), except where limited by law, regulation, policy or by security requirements.

    1. The Data/Information Sharing Plan (and any subsequent revisions or updates) will be made publicly available at time of award and, thereafter, will be posted with the published data.
    2. Environmental data and information produced under this award and which are made public must be accompanied by the following statement: These environmental data and related items of information have not been formally disseminated by NOAA and do not represent and should not be construed to represent any agency determination, view, or policy.
    3. NOAA may at its own discretion, use information from the Data/Information Sharing Plan to produce a formal metadata record and include that metadata in a catalogue to indicate the pending availability of new data.
    4. Failing to share environmental data and information in accordance with the submitted Data/Information Sharing Plan may lead to disallowed costs and be considered by NOAA when making future award decisions.