During the Award Phase of the grant process, NIFA conducts reviews of applications, sends notices of funding decisions to all applicants, and issues awards to those who are successful. Applicants for competitive programs are also provided with reviews and rankings of their proposals. The review and award processes for competitive grants, capacity grants, and non-competitive grants are described below. Differences in procedures for the primary funding mechanisms are noted below the procedural steps.
Applications undergo a series of reviews before funding decisions are made:
- NIFA program staff ensures Request for Applications (RFA) requirements are met
- NIFA’s Awards Management Division conducts an administrative review to assess applicants’ adherence to federal cost principles and regulations
- Competitive grant applications are reviewed by a panel of peer reviewers convened by NIFA, as applications are subject to peer review as required by the Agricultural Research, Extension, And Education Reform Act Of 1998 and 7 CFR 2.21. The peer review process is fair, timely, and conducted in an unbiased manner. Panels are composed of peer scientists, ad hoc reviewers, and other recognized specialists in specific program areas who review applications for compliance with a program’s statutory requirements and the scientific validity of the proposed project.
- Capacity grant applications are administratively reviewed by NIFA to ensure eligibility of the institution, receipt of all required documents, compliance with reporting requirements, and fulfillment of RFA requirements.
After all required reviews have been conducted in accordance with applicable legislation, regulations, and NIFA procedures, NIFA determines which applications will be funded. All applicants are notified of the funding decision by the email, which is sent to the address included on their application.
Feedback to Applicants of Competitive Grant Programs
Following the funding decision, applicants in NIFA competitive grant programs receive copies of their proposal reviews, the panel summary, and information on their proposal’s relative ranking. Please contact the appropriate National Program Leader (NPL) with questions regarding reviewer comments.
Once applicants have been notified of their funding decision, NIFA’s Awards Management Division conducts a final administrative review of the applications selected to receive an award. Applications are checked to ensure that RFA requirements were met and that all forms included in the applications package are accurate.
Competitive and Non-Competitive grant applications are specifically reviewed to ensure:
- Project costs are reasonable and allowable
- The award recipient has the capacity to manage the grant
Capacity grant applications are specifically reviewed to ensure:
- The institution has an approved NIFA Reporting System or Program of Research on file with NIFA.
- The institution has fulfilled all previous financial and accomplishments reporting requirements.
Refer to the Award Issuance section of the NIFA Federal Assistance Policy Statement for additional information on award processing.
Notice of Award
Applicants who are selected for grants receive an award notification email from NIFA with an Award Face Sheet attached to that email (for capacity grants, the email goes to the Program Director (PD) due to system configurations). The Award Face Sheet is the legal document issued to the recipient organization that indicates an award has been made and that funds may be requested from the Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP). The face sheet provides much of the critical information about administering and complying with the terms of the grant, including:
- Project title and duration
- Awardee organization and project director
- Legal authority
- Total award amount
- CFDA number, Award number and ASAP account number
- Terms and conditions
- Program and administrative points of contact at NIFA
Award Face Sheets for capacity grants also include an itemization of funds to be distributed through the NIFA payment system by program or project, as applicable. When necessary, NIFA issues amended face sheets to increase or decrease the award amount previously authorized.