Procurement Information Circular
January 26, 2004
STANDARD ANNOUNCEMENT FORMAT FOR NASA RESEARCH ANNOUNCEMENTS (NRAs)
PURPOSE: (1) To provide a deviation from NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) 1835.016-71(c); (2) to require use of the standard announcement format for NRAs; and (3) to provide clarification and additional guidance on the use of the standard announcement format.
BACKGROUND: (a) The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a policy directive, “Financial Assistance Program Announcements”, on June 23, 2003, to establish a standard format for Federal agency announcements of funding opportunities under programs that award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements. The format is designed so that similar types of information will appear in the same sections in announcements of different Federal funding opportunities. A government-wide format will help potential applicants more easily and quickly find the information they need about Federal opportunities. Toward that end, there is text in each of the format’s sections to describe the types of information that an agency would include in that section of an actual announcement. The Federal awarding agencies jointly developed this format as part of their grant streamlining efforts to implement the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999.
(b) This standard format applies to all NASA announcements of funding opportunities under programs that may award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, including NRAs. Separate guidance will be issued as a Grant Informational Circular (GIC) to implement the standard announcement format as it applies to announcements of grants and cooperative agreements (other than NRAs). All regulatory revisions to incorporate the standard announcement format will be completed by July 23, 2004.
(c) The standard announcement format and guidance is enclosed.
(d) This Procurement Information Circular (PIC) provides a deviation to Paragraph (c), “Content” of NFS 1835.016-71, “NASA Research Announcements”.
GUIDANCE: The following questions and answers provide for additional clarifications.
(1) Question: What is an announcement and how is it different than a synopsis?
Answer: In the context of this PIC, an announcement refers to a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) used to announce NASA research interests and solicit proposals reflecting those interests. An NRA is a type of announcement. A synopsis is a notice of proposed contract actions and/or a notice of grant and cooperative agreement funding opportunity published in the Government-wide points of entry (GPE), currently FedBizOpps and FedGrants.Gov. The standard announcement format applies to announcements and does not address the format or content of synopses.
(2) Question: Does the standard announcement format apply to all BAAs?
Answer: No. The standard announcement format applies to all BAAs except for Announcements of Opportunity (AOs). The format for AOs is addressed in NFS Part 1872, “Acquisitions of Investigations”. The decision was made to apply the standard announcement format to NRAs and CANs and not AOs because NRAs and CANs typically result in the award of grants and cooperative agreements while AOs typically result in the award of contracts.
(3) Question: Is the standard announcement format applicable to announcements for education, facility, and training grants and cooperative agreements?
Answer: Yes. A Grant Informational Circular will be issued to address the standard announcement format as it applies to announcements for grants and cooperative agreements (other than NRAs).
(4) Question: Is the standard announcement format applicable to Cooperative Agreement Notices (CANs)?
Answer: Yes. Use the standard announcement format included with the Grant Informational Circular entitled: “Standard Announcement Format for NASA Announcements of Grant and Cooperative Agreement Funding Opportunities”.
(5) Question: Does the standard announcement format apply to NRAs issued at NASA Centers?
Answer: Yes. The requirement to implement the standard announcement format applies across the Federal Government. The standard announcement format applies to all NASA NRAs, including NRAs issued at NASA Headquarters and at NASA Centers.
(6) Question: Does the standard format apply to NRAs when a pre-determination has been made that the NRA will result either in the award of a contract(s) only, or in a combination of grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts?
Answer: Yes. The NASA Office of Procurement has decided to require the same format for all NRAs, regardless of the type of award instrument that will result from the NRA. A consistent format for all NRAs will benefit the research community by helping them more easily and quickly find the information they need about NRAs.
(7) Question: If an NRA is currently in the coordination cycle, must the NRA be restructured?
Answer: No. Restructuring the NRA during the coordination cycle may adversely affect the acquisition schedule. The standard announcement format is required for (1) all new NRAs that are initiated on or after publication of this PIC and (2) NRAs that are being drafted, but have not yet reached the concurrence or review cycle.
(8) Question: How is NASA’s standard announcement format for NRAs different than the standard announcement format issued by OMB in the Federal Register?
Answer: In most respects, NASA’s standard announcement format is the same format issued by OMB in the Federal Register. There are a few differences. Specific NASA requirements are inserted throughout the format: for example, the NASA Safety Statement is added. The NASA format also includes additional guidance to assist the writer of the NRA. For example, the OMB format states: “If the funding opportunity is subject to Executive Order (EO) 12372, ‘Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,’ you must say so”. The NASA format includes a discussion of when this Executive Order applies and how to find the text of the Executive Order on the Internet. Another change is that the NASA format deletes any requirements that are not applicable to NASA. For example, since NASA does not publish announcements in the Federal Register, that portion of the OMB format that addresses publication in the Federal Register is deleted from the NASA format.
(9) Question: Why does the standard announcement format include references to the “Guidebook for Proposers Responding to NASA Research Announcements (Guidebook)?”
Answer: This Guidebook includes information that is standard for all NASA Headquarters NRAs, for example, proposal instructions, information about Notice of Intents (NOIs), and DUNS Number requirements. The standard announcement format references the information in this Guidebook, rather than repeating it in the announcement. One advantage of the Guidebook is that potential applicants can familiarize themselves with NASA requirements well in advance of writing a proposal. Centers issuing NRAs are encouraged to use the Guidebook to the maximum practical extent, by either including applicable portions directly into the NRA, or by referencing applicable portions in the NRA.
(10) Question: Is the writer of the NRA permitted to add any information that is not covered in the standard announcement format?
Answer: Yes. If the writer of the NRA needs to include information on a subject that the format does not specifically discuss, the writer may address that subject in whatever section(s) is most appropriate. Please note that the standard announcement format was written with much flexibility, and in most cases, there is a logical section in the format to include the information.
(11) Question: Which sections of the standard announcement format are required and which sections are optional?
Answer: Each section is marked “Required” or “Optional”. Within each section, the terms “must”, and “shall” denote required sections. Use of the terms “should”, “may”, or “can” implies that the writer has discretion in including the information.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This PIC is effective as dated and shall remain in effect until canceled or superseded.
HEADQUARTERS CONTACT: Suzan P. Moody, Code HK, (202) 358-0503, email: Suzan.P.Moody@nasa.gov.
Assistant Administrator for Procurement
Standard Announcement Format for NASA Research Announcements (NRAs)
This document is a uniform format for Federal agencies’ announcements of funding opportunities under which discretionary awards of grants or cooperative agreements may be made. The format has two parts: the first part provides overview information, and the second part includes the full text of the announcement.
With respect to electronic methods for providing information about funding opportunities or accepting applicants’ submissions of information, NASA is responsible for compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Therefore, ensure that all Internet sites referenced in NASA announcements are Section 508 compliant, current, and accessible.
(a) Required Overview Content. Display prominently the following information, in the sequential order shown, in a location preceding the full text of the announcement:
(1) Federal Agency Name (Required). The Federal agency name is “NASA”. Also include the specific office(s) within NASA that are involved in the funding opportunity. This specific office(s) may include a Headquarters Enterprise, NASA Center, and/or NASA Program Office. Examples include: “NASA Headquarters, Office of Space Science”; and “NASA, Ames Research Center”.
(2) Funding Opportunity Title (Required). Include the program name if the program name is not referenced in the Funding Opportunity Title. This section can also include a description of the type of announcement, for example: “NASA Research Announcement”.
(3) Announcement Type (Required). Indicate whether this is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity or a modification of a previously announced opportunity. If the announcement modifies a previous announcement, provide the date of that announcement, and identify the portions that are being modified. Note that a modification of an announcement does not need to include all of the sections of the full announcement text. For modifications of announcements, this section may also include an Internet address where the original announcement is located. NASA Headquarters research announcement are typically posted on the NASA Research Opportunities Online site at: http://research.hq.nasa.gov/research.cfm. NASA announcements are typically posted on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS) site, located at: http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/nais/index.cgi.
(4) Funding Opportunity Number (Required, if applicable). Paragraph (d), of NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) 1804.7101, “Policy”, and NFS 1804.7102, “Numbering Scheme” states the solicitation numbering scheme. (Note: This section of the NFS will soon be modified.)
(5) Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s) (Required). NASA has been granted an exemption to this requirement through assignment of a placeholder code and title. State “00.000” (meaning “non-applicable”) in this section.
(6) Dates (Required). List the key dates for potential applicants. Key dates can include due dates for the following: Notices of Intent (NOI); advance notices, pre-applications; Executive Order 12372 submissions; proposals; and/or the projected selection date or selection time frame. For announcements issued before a program’s proposal materials are available, include the date on which those materials will be released.
(b) Optional, Additional Overview Content. Following the required overview information described in paragraph a., “Required Overview Content”, present any optional overview information in a sequential order that parallels the organization of the full text of the announcement. Examples of overview information that could help potential applicants decide whether to read the full announcement are: a concise description of the funding opportunity; the total amount to be awarded; the anticipated amounts and/or numbers of individual awards; the types of instruments that may be awarded (grants, cooperative agreements, etc.); what types of organizations are eligible to apply; whether cost sharing is required; a breakdown of the estimates by research area; and any limitations on the numbers of proposals that each applicant may submit. (Note: Not all categories of overview information will be applicable to every NRA.) This section may also include other information that could later help applicants more quickly and easily find what they need: for example, where to obtain proposal materials.
(c) Method of Presentation. The summary information described in paragraphs a., “Required Overview Content” and b., “Optional, Additional Overview Content” above may be presented in an (1) Executive Summary format or a (2) Cover and/or Inside Cover format. The NASA program may choose which format to use.
(1) Executive summary. The NRA may include an executive summary before the full text of the announcement. Especially for announcements that are long (25 pages or more in length) or complex, consider including an executive summary with at least the required overview information described above in Overview Information, paragraph a., “Required Overview Content”, as well as any additional information described in Overview Information, paragraph b, “Optional, Additional, Overview Content”. The executive summary must be concise and generally should not exceed two pages. The purpose of the executive summary is to provide an overview of the NRA. The executive summary is similar to the “Summary of Solicitation” and “Introduction and Background” sections that were used in previous NRA formats.
(2) Cover and/or Inside Cover. The Cover and/or Inside Cover format is an alternative to the executive summary format. This format provides at least the required overview information described above in Overview Information, paragraph a., “Required Overview Content” on the cover and/or inside cover of the announcement. The cover and/or inside cover is the first screen a potential applicant would see in the case of an electronic announcement. Generally this option is used for announcements that are brief, more straightforward and not complex.
Full Text of the Announcement
(a) The full text of the announcement is organized in sections. The format indicates immediately following the title of each section whether that section is required in every announcement or is optional. The format is designed so that similar types of information will appear in the same sections in announcements of different Federal funding opportunities. Toward that end, there is text in each of the format’s sections to describe the types of information that NASA would include in that section of the actual announcement.
(b) A NASA program needing to include information on a subject that the format does not specifically discuss may address that subject in whatever section(s) is most appropriate. For example, if NASA chooses to address performance goals in the announcement, NASA might do so in the funding opportunity description, the proposal content, or the reporting requirements.
(c) Similarly, when this format calls for a type of information to be in one particular section, a NASA program needing to address that subject in other sections may elect to use cross references between the sections. There should be hyperlinks for cross-references in any electronic versions of the announcement.
(d) All standard information for NASA NRAs are addressed in the “Guidebook for Proposers Responding to NASA Research Announcements” that is located at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/nraguidebook/ .” Throughout the standard announcement format, there are references to the applicable section of this Guidebook.
(1) Sample NRA language can include the following three paragraphs:
“All policies and procedures for the preparation and submission of proposals, as well as those for NASA’s review and selection of proposals for funding, are now presented in a separate document entitled “Guidebook for Proposers Responding to NASA Research Announcements” that is located at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/nraguidebook/.
By reference, the newest edition of this “Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Research Announcement, Edition: 2004 (January 2004)” is hereby incorporated into this NRA, and proposers to this NRA are responsible for understanding and complying with its procedures before preparing and submitting their proposals. Proposals that do not conform to its standards may be declared noncompliant and returned without review.
The other chapters and appendices of this “Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Research Announcement” provide supplemental information about the entire NRA process, including NASA policies for the solicitation of proposals, guidelines for writing complete and effective proposals, the NASA policies and procedures for the review and selection of proposals, as well as for issuing and managing the awards to the institutions that submitted selected proposals, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about a variety of the NASA proposal and award processes and procedures. Note that the NASA policy for proposals involving non-U.S. participants is given in Section (l) of Appendix B of this Guidebook. Comments and suggestions of any nature about this Guidebook are encouraged and welcomed and may be directed at any time to Ms. Rita Svarcas, Office of Procurement, Code HK, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20546-0001; E-mail: Rita.Svarcas@nasa.gov”.
(e) The sections of the full text of the announcement are described in the following paragraphs.
I. Funding Opportunity Description (Required). This section contains the full programmatic description of the funding opportunity. This section may be as long as needed to adequately communicate to potential applicants the areas in which funding may be provided. This section describes NASA’s funding priorities, and/or the focus areas in which NASA intends to provide assistance. As appropriate, this section may include any program history: for example, whether this is a new program or a new or changed area of program emphasis. This section may communicate indicators of successful projects (for example if the program encourages collaborative efforts), and may include examples of projects that have been funded previously. This section can also discuss the mission and strategic goals of NASA and the organization issuing the announcement. For further information on NASA’s mission, vision, and strategic goals, this section can include a reference to the “Introduction to NASA’s Sponsored Research Programs” section in the Preface of the “Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Research Announcement (NRA)” (Hereafter referred to as the “Guidebook”.). Any education and/or public outreach responsibilities must be identified. A table describing the roles and responsibilities of each organization involved in the NRA may be helpful. This section also may include other information the agency deems necessary, such as citations for authorizing statutes and regulations peculiar to the NRA.
(1) This section shall include the following statement: “Safety is the freedom from those conditions that can cause death, injury, occupational illness, damage to or loss of equipment or property, or damage to the environment. NASA’s safety priority is to protect: (1) the public, (2) astronauts and pilots, (3) the NASA workforce (including employees working under NASA award instruments), and (4) high-value equipment and property.”
(2) The following statement shall be included when the announcement is issued before funds are available: “Funds are not currently available for awards under this announcement. The Government’s obligation to make award(s) is contingent upon the availability of appropriated funds from which payment can be made and the receipt of proposals that NASA determines are acceptable for award under this announcement.”
II. Award Information (Required). Provide sufficient information to help an applicant make an informed decision about whether to submit a proposal. Relevant information could include the total amount of funding that NASA expects to award through the announcement; the anticipated number of awards; the expected amounts of individual awards (which may be a range); the amount of funding per award, on average, experienced in previous years; and the anticipated start dates and periods of performance for new awards. (Please note that not all of these award information categories will be applicable to every NRA.) This section also must address whether proposals for renewal or supplementation of existing projects are eligible to compete with proposals for new awards. This section may indicate the type(s) of assistance instrument (for example a grant, cooperative agreement, and/or other instrument) that may be awarded if proposals are successful. If cooperative agreements may be awarded, this section either must describe the “substantial involvement” that the agency expects to have or should reference where the potential applicant can find that information, for example in Section I, “Funding Opportunity Description”, or Section VI, “Award Administration Information”. This section must also indicate whether procurement contracts may be awarded.
(1) Eligible Applicants (Required). This section must clearly identify the types of organizations that are eligible to apply. If there are no restrictions on eligibility, this section may simply indicate that all potential applicants are eligible. If there are restrictions on eligibility, it is important to be clear about the specific types of entities that are eligible, not just the types that are ineligible. For example, if the program is limited to non-profit organizations subject to Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, this section of the announcement must state this fact. Similarly, it is better to state explicitly; for example, that Native American tribal organizations are eligible than to assume that they can unambiguously infer that from a statement that non-profit organizations may apply. Eligibility also can be expressed by exception: for example, open to all types of domestic applicants other than individuals. This section must refer to any portion of Section IV, “Proposal and Submission Information” specifying documentation that must be submitted to support an eligibility determination: for example, proof of 501(c)(3) status as determined by the Internal Revenue Service or an authorizing tribal resolution. To the extent that any funding restriction in Section IV, paragraph 5, “Funding Restrictions” could affect the eligibility of an applicant or project, this section must either restate that restriction in this section or provide a cross-reference to its description in this section. Section §1260.12(e), “Choice of award instrument” of the NASA Grant and Cooperative Agreement Handbook (Handbook), and paragraph (l) of NFS 1852.235-72, “Instructions for Responding to NASA Research Announcements” states NASA policy on grants and cooperative agreements with foreign organizations.
A sample follows: “Participation in this program is open to all categories of U.S. and non-U.S. organizations, including educational institutions, industry, nonprofit institutions, as well as NASA Centers, and other U.S. Government agencies. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s), other minority educational institutions, and small businesses and organizations owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals or women are particularly encouraged to apply. Participation by non-U.S. organizations in this program is encouraged subject to NASA’s policy of no-exchange-of-funds. Further information on foreign participation is provided in Section §1260.12(e), “Choice of award instrument” of the NASA Grant and Cooperative Agreement Handbook. This Handbook is located at: http://ec.msfc.nasa.gov/hq/grcover.htm.”
(2) Cost Sharing or Matching (Required). This section must state whether there is required cost sharing, matching, or cost participation without which a proposer would be ineligible. If cost sharing is not required, this section must explicitly say so. Required cost sharing may be a certain percentage or amount, or may be in the form of contributions of specified items or activities: for example, provision of equipment. It is important that the announcement be clear about any restrictions on the types of cost (for example, in-kind contributions) that are acceptable as cost sharing. The Office of Procurement at NASA Headquarters (Code HK) and NASA Centers can provide additional information about the applicable cost sharing requirements for each announcement.
The NRA should include language substantially similar to the following: “If an institution of higher education, hospital, or other non-profit organization wants to receive a grant or cooperative agreement, cost sharing is not required: however, NASA can accept cost sharing if it is voluntarily offered. Section B, Provision §1260.123, “Cost sharing or matching” describes the acceptable forms of cost sharing. If a commercial organization wants to receive a grant or cooperative agreement, cost sharing is required, unless the commercial organization can demonstrate that they will not receive substantial compensating benefits for performance of the work. If no substantial compensating benefits will be received, then cost sharing is not required, but can be accepted. Section D, Provision §1274.204, “Costs and Payments” of the NASA Grant and Cooperative Agreement Handbook describes the acceptable forms of cost sharing.”
(3) Other (Required, if applicable). If there are other eligibility criteria, the other eligibility criteria must be clearly stated. Other eligibility requirements include criteria that have the effect of making an proposal or project ineligible for award; whether the criteria is referred to as “responsiveness” criteria, “go-no go” criteria, “threshold” criteria, or in other ways. For example, it is important that this section state if entities that have been found to be in violation of a particular Federal statute are ineligible. This section must also state any limit on the number of proposals an applicant may submit under the announcement and make clear whether the limitation is on the submitting organization, individual investigator/program director, or both. Also use this section to address any eligibility criteria for beneficiaries or for program participants other than award recipients.
IV. Proposal and Submission Information.
(1) Address to Request Proposal Package (Required). This section must inform potential applicants how to get proposal forms, kits, or other materials that are required to apply. If this announcement contains all of the proposal materials, this section must include a statement to that effect. This section may give an Internet address where potential applicants can access the materials. This section can reference Chapter 3 of the Guidebook.
(2) Content and Form of Proposal Submission (Required). This section must identify the required content of a proposal and the forms or formats that an applicant must use to submit the proposal. If any requirements are stated elsewhere because they are general requirements that apply to multiple programs or funding opportunities, this section may refer to where those requirements may be found. This section also must address any preliminary submissions (e.g. Notice of Intent) that the agency requires or encourages, either to facilitate its own planning or to provide potential applicants with feedback to help them decide whether to submit a full proposal. This section must include all content and forms or formats that constitute a complete proposal, including: general information (for example, applicant name and address), budgetary information, narrative programmatic information, biographical sketches, and all other required information (for example, documentation that an applicant meets stated eligibility criteria or certifications or assurances of compliance with applicable requirements, such as evidence of compliance with human subjects requirements). This section must either include required forms or formats as part of this announcement or state where the applicant may obtain them. This information is included in NFS 1852.235-72, “Instructions for Responding to NASA Research Announcements” at Appendix B of the Guidebook.
This section must specifically address content and form or format requirements for:
· NOIs, pre-applications, letters of intent, or advance notices that NASA requires or encourages. (Refer to Section IV, paragraph (3), “Submission Dates and Times”). Any limitations on the number of pages or other formatting requirements for the NOIs, pre-applications, letter of intent, or advance notices must be addressed in this section. The most common preliminary submission is the NOI. NOIs are discussed in more detail in Section 3.1 of the Guidebook.
· The proposal as a whole. For hard copy submissions, that could include any limitations on the number of pages, font size and typeface, margins, paper size, number of copies, and sequence or assembly requirements. If electronic submission is permitted or required, that could include special requirements for formatting or signatures. The announcement should refer to Chapter 2 of the Guidebook. Any unique instructions apart from Chapter 2 should be included in this section.
· This section must include language substantially similar to the following two paragraphs: “All applicants must provide the Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number for their organization in the Cover Page of their proposal. This requirement applies to renewals of awards as well as to prospective new awards. The DUNS number is a unique nine-character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Applicants may call D&B at 1-866-705-5711 to register and obtain a DUNS number, or access the D&B website at: http://www.dnb.com/us/. The process to request a DUNS number by telephone takes about 10 minutes, and is free of charge. The process to obtain a DUNS number through the web site takes about fourteen days, and is also free of charge. Organizations will use the same DUNS number with every proposal submitted for a Federal grant and cooperative agreement. Note that the DUNS number is site-specific.
NASA also requires the applicant’s organization to be registered in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database and obtain a Commercial And Government Entity (CAGE) code prior to submitting a proposal. The purpose of this requirement is to help centralize information about grant recipients and provide a central location for grant recipients to change organizational information. Information for registering in the CCR and online documents can be found at http://www.ccr.gov. Before registering applicants and recipients should review the Central Contractor Registration Handbook, which is also located at http://www.ccr.gov. The process for obtaining a CAGE code is incorporated into the CCR registration.”
[Note: Part 4 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provides additional information on the use of the DUNS number and CCR registration. The Office of Procurement at NASA Headquarters, Sponsored Research Business Activity organization (Code HK) can also answer questions about the DUNS number and CCR registration. (The Guidebook will be updated to include information about DUNS numbers, CCR registration, and CAGE Codes.)]
· Component pieces of the proposal. (For example, if all copies of the proposal must bear original signatures on the face page or the program narrative may not exceed 10 pages). This includes any pieces that may be submitted separately by third parties: for example, references or letters confirming commitments from third parties that will be contributing a portion of any required cost sharing.
· Information that successful applicants must submit after NASA notifies them of its intent to make awards, but prior to award. This could include evidence of compliance with human subjects requirements, an updated budget, or information NASA needs to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
(3) Submission Dates and Times (Required). The announcement must identify due dates and times for all submissions, including not only the full proposals but also any preliminary submissions. Examples of submissions include NOIs, pre-applications, letters of intent, or advance notices. This section also includes any other submissions of information before award that are separate from the full proposal. If the funding opportunity is a general announcement that is open for a period of time with no specific due dates for proposals, this section must include a statement to that effect. Note that the information on dates that is included in this section also must appear with other overview information in a location preceding the full text of the announcement: refer to Overview Information, paragraph (a)(6), “Dates” of this format.
For each type of submission that is addressed, indicate whether the submission is encouraged or required and, if required, any deadline date for submission (or dates, if the agency plans more than one cycle of proposal submission, review, and award under the announcement). Section 3.2 and Appendix B of the Guidebook cover on-time and late proposals. The announcement must state (or provide a reference to another document that states):
· Any deadline in terms of a date and local time.
· What the deadline means. For example, whether the deadline is the date and time by which the agency must receive the proposal, the date by which the proposal must be postmarked, or if the deadline represents another event. State how the deadline depends, if at all, on the submission method: for example, mail, electronic, or personal/courier delivery.
· How the receiving NASA office determines whether a proposal, NOI, or pre-application has been submitted before the deadline. This includes the form of acceptable proof of mailing or system-generated documentation of receipt date and time. This section also may indicate whether, when, and in what form the applicant will receive an acknowledgment of receipt. This section must display the above information in ways that will be easy to understand and use. It can be difficult to extract all needed information from narrative paragraphs, even when they are well written. A tabular form for providing a summary of the information may help applicants and give them what effectively could be a checklist to verify the completeness of their proposal package before submission.
(4) Intergovernmental Review (Required, if applicable). If the funding opportunity is subject to Executive Order (EO) 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” this section must state whether this EO is applicable. (This requirement rarely applies to NASA programs.) Executive Order 12372, refers to actions “that have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national governmental and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government”, and is accessible at: http://www.aspe.dhhs.gov/cfda/eo12372.htm. In alerting applicants that they must contact their State’s Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to find out about and comply with the State's process under EO 12372, this section may wish to inform them that the names and addresses of the SPOCs are listed in the Office of Management and Budget's home page at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html. The procurement and legal offices at NASA Headquarters and at each Center may provide additional information.
(5) Funding Restrictions (Required). This section must include information on funding restrictions in order to allow an applicant to develop a proposal and budget consistent with program requirements. Examples are whether construction is an allowable activity, if there are any limitations on direct costs such as foreign travel or equipment purchases, and if there are any limits on indirect costs (or facilities and administrative costs). This section must also tell applicants whether awards will allow reimbursement of pre-award costs.
(6) Other Submission Requirements (Required). This section must address any other submission requirements not included in the other paragraphs of this section. This might include the format of submission: for example, paper or electronic, for each type of required submission. Applicants should not be required to submit in more than one format and this section must indicate whether they may choose to submit proposals in hard copy or electronically, may submit only in hard copy, or may submit only electronically. This section also must indicate where proposals (and any NOIs or pre-applications) must be submitted if sent by postal mail, electronic means, or hand-delivery. For postal mail submission, this should include the name of an office, official, individual or function (for example proposal receipt center) and a complete mailing address. For electronic submission, this should include the URL or e-mail address; whether a password(s) is required; whether particular software or other electronic capabilities are required; what to do in the event of system problems and a point of contact that will be available in the event the applicant experiences technical difficulties. This section should reference Chapter 3, “Proposal Submission Procedures” of the Guidebook.
V. Proposal Review Information.
(1) Criteria (Required). This section must address the criteria that NASA will use to evaluate proposals. This includes the merit and other review criteria that evaluators will use to judge proposals, including any statutory, regulatory, or other preferences (for example, minority status or Native American tribal preferences) that will be applied in the review process. These criteria are distinct from eligibility criteria that are addressed before a proposal is accepted for review and any program policy or other factors that are applied during the selection process, after the review process is completed. The intent is to give applicants visibility into the evaluation process so that they can make informed decisions when preparing their proposals and so that the process is as fair and equitable as possible. This section should include a reference to Appendix C of the Guidebook, “Proposal Processing, Review, and Selection”.
· The announcement must clearly describe all criteria, including any sub-criteria. If criteria vary in importance, the announcement must specify the relative percentages, weights, or other means used to distinguish among them. For statutory, regulatory, or other preferences, the announcement must provide a detailed explanation of those preferences with an explicit indication of their effect, for example, whether they result in additional points being assigned. Appendix B of the Guidebook incorporates NFS Clause 1852.235-72, “Instructions for Responding to NASA Research Announcements”. In accordance with NFS Clause 1852.235-72, the standard evaluation factors used in NRAs are: (1) relevance to NASA’s objectives; (2) intrinsic merit; and (3) cost. These instructions further state the relative importance of the factors as approximately equal in weighting. However each NRA is unique and the description and weighting of the evaluation factors may be tailored to fit special conditions associated with the particular NRA, provided that the NRA clearly define the factors and their relative order of importance. This section can include a reference to Appendix B of the Guidebook. If the standard evaluation criteria are not used, and the criteria are tailored to the particular NRA, the evaluation criteria should be included in this section.
· This section should include language substantially similar to the following: “Cost sharing is not part of the evaluation criteria: however, cost sharing may affect NASA’s evaluation of the intrinsic merit of the proposal.”
(2) Review and Selection Process (Required). This section may vary in the level of detail provided. The announcement must list any program policy or other factors or elements, other than merit criteria, that the selecting official may use in selecting proposals for award. Examples include geographical dispersion, program balance, and diversity.
· Include other details as deemed appropriate. For example, this section may indicate the officials that are responsible for evaluation against the merit criteria (for example peers external to the agency or Federal agency personnel) and/or which official makes the final selections for award. If the program has a multi-phase review process (for example an external panel advising internal agency personnel who make final recommendations to the deciding official), this section may describe the phases. This section may also include: the number of people on an evaluation panel and how it operates, the way reviewers are selected, reviewer qualifications, and the way that conflicts of interest are avoided. In addition, if NASA permits applicants to nominate suggested reviewers of their proposals or suggest those they feel may be inappropriate due to a conflict of interest, that information must be included in this section. This information is addressed in Appendix C of the Guidebook.
(3) Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates (Optional). This section provides applicants with information for planning purposes. If there is a single proposal deadline followed by the simultaneous review of all proposals, this section can include information about the anticipated dates for announcing or notifying successful and unsuccessful applicants and for having awards in place. If proposals are received and evaluated on a “rolling” basis at different times during an extended period, it may be appropriate to give applicants an estimate of the time needed to process a proposal and notify the applicant of NASA’s decision. A “rolling basis” means that there are multiple due dates for the same program. This method is commonly used when the announcement is open for a long period of time and there is a need to level the workload required for evaluating the proposals.
(1) Award Notices (Required). This section must address what a successful applicant can expect to receive following selection. If the practice is for the selection official to provide a separate notice stating that a proposal has been selected before the award is made, this section would be the place to indicate that the letter is not an authorization to begin performance (to the extent that charging to awards of pre-award costs is allowed or at the recipient’s own risk). This section must indicate that the notice of award signed by the grant officer (or equivalent) is the authorizing document, and whether it is provided through postal mail or by electronic means and to whom. This section also may address the timing, form, and content of notifications to unsuccessful applicants. This section must also state the type of funding instrument (grant, cooperative agreement, etc.) that is expected to be awarded as a result of this announcement. If a grant is expected to be awarded, this section must state the type(s) of grants that may be awarded (research, education, training, and/or facilities.) Appendix D of the Guidebook addresses the award process.
(2) Administrative and National Policy Requirements (Required). This section must identify the usual administrative and national policy requirements that NASA’s awards may include. Providing this information lets a potential applicant identify any requirements with which it would have difficulty complying if its proposal is successful. In those cases, early notification about the requirements allows the potential applicant to decide not to apply or to take needed actions before award. The announcement need not include all of the award terms and conditions, but may refer to a document (with information about how to obtain it) or Internet site where applicants can see the terms and conditions. The announcement can include a reference to the Grant and Cooperative Agreement Handbook, located at: http://ec.msfc.nasa.gov/hq/grcover.htm. The Headquarters Office of Procurement (Code HS) or the Center Procurement Office can provide additional information on policy requirements.
If this funding opportunity will lead to awards with some special terms and conditions that differ from NASA’s general terms and conditions, this section must highlight those special terms and conditions. Doing so will alert applicants who have received awards from NASA previously and might not otherwise expect different terms and conditions. For the same reason, this section must inform potential applicants about special requirements that could apply to particular awards after review of proposals and other information, based on the particular circumstances of the effort to be supported: for example, if human subjects were to be involved, or if some situations may justify special terms on intellectual property, data sharing or security requirements. The Headquarters Office of Procurement (Code HS) or the Center Procurement Office can provide additional information on policy requirements.
(3) Reporting (Required). This section must include general information about the type (for example financial or performance), frequency, and means of submission (paper or electronic) of post-award reporting requirements. Highlight any special reporting requirements for awards under this funding opportunity that differ (for example, by report type, frequency, form/format, or circumstances for use) from what NASA awards usually require. The Handbook references the standard required reports for grants and cooperative agreements in Exhibit G to the Handbook. The Handbook is located at: http://ec.msfc.nasa.gov/hq/grcover.htm.
VII. NASA Contact(s) (Required). This section provides potential applicants with a point(s) of contact for answering questions or helping with problems while the funding opportunity is open. The intent of this requirement is to be as helpful as possible to potential applicants, so this section should consider approaches such as giving:
(1) Points of contact that may be reached in multiple ways: for example, by telephone, FAX, and/or e-mail, as well as regular mail.
(2) A fax or e-mail address that multiple people access, so that someone will respond even if others are unexpectedly absent during critical periods.
(3) Different contacts for distinct kinds of help: for example, one for questions of programmatic content and a second for administrative questions.
VIII. Other Information (Optional). This section may include any additional information that will assist a potential applicant. For example, the section might:
(1) Indicate whether this is a new program or a one-time initiative.
(2) Mention related programs or other upcoming or ongoing NASA funding opportunities for similar activities.
(3) Include Internet addresses for agency Web sites that may be useful to an applicant in understanding the program. This section may include the following language: “Links to all material posted on the World Wide Web concerning NASA and its programs may be found through the NASA homepage at http://www.nasa.gov/ and then by selecting the program office of interest. Alternatively, the same menu of NASA’s program offices may be directly accessed through the Web address http://research.hq.nasa.gov/research.cfm. Another alternative is the NASA Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS). NAIS provides an inclusive, searchable database for all solicitations of every type released by the Agency by opening “Business Opportunities” from the menu at http://procurement.nasa.gov/.”
(4) Alert applicants to the need to identify proprietary information and inform them about the way NASA will handle it. This section can include a cross- reference to Appendix B of the Guidebook.
(5) Include certain routine notices to applicants. Examples include confirmation notices; or notices that the Government is not obligated to make any award as a result of the announcement or that only grant officers can bind the Government to the expenditure of funds. This section can include a cross-reference to Appendix D of the Guidebook.
(6) Include appendices. Examples of appendices include definitions of key terms used, and more detailed descriptions of the funding opportunity.