Frequently Asked Questions
These questions and answers will help you prepare your application for grant funds.
- Before Beginning
- Q: Whom should I call with questions about whether or not my idea is responsive to a particular solicitation?
- A: For assistance with substantive issues related to a specific solicitation, contact the NIJ staff person listed on the cover page of the solicitation.
Note: For technical assistance with submitting the application, call the Grants.gov Customer Support Hotline at 1-800-518- 4726.
- Q: Does NIJ accept unsolicited proposals?
- A: Most discretionary funding is awarded in response to solicitations issued by NIJ. Although you may submit unsolicited proposals, you are discouraged from doing so unless you have discussed the concept with NIJ staff and have been asked to submit a proposal that does not fit into a specific solicitation. Unsolicited proposals may receive either an external peer review or an internal review. If the proposal fits into an already established solicitation category, it will be returned with a recommendation to resubmit it under that solicitation.
- Q: If I am proposing to evaluate a program, can the evaluation money be used to pay the program staff?
- A: In general, NIJ funds evaluations of programs, not program delivery or development. But funding may be used to support the collection of data by program staff, for example. At the same time, NIJ encourages researcher/practitioner partnerships for the purpose of developing evidence-based practices and policies. A general rule is that the higher the percentage of funds that appears to support the program itself, the less likely it is that reviewers will consider the application to merit research and evaluation funding from limited resources.
- Q: Who is eligible for NIJ awards?
- A: Generally, NIJ provides funding to:
Some solicitations have special eligibility criteria, which are defined in the solicitation. Non-U.S. entities are not eligible for awards. All grant awards are made to U.S. institutions. Where appropriate, however, a U.S. grantee may subcontract with a non-U.S. institution or individual for work necessary to complete project tasks. Such subcontracting is usually anticipated and included in the original grant proposal.
- Educational institutions.
- Public agencies.
- Nonprofit organizations.
- Faith-based organizations.
- Profitmaking organizations willing to waive their fees.
- Federal agencies, unless specifically stated otherwise in the solicitation document.
- Q: Can I use NIJ funds to purchase equipment or supplies?
- A: NIJ typically does not fund proposals that are primarily to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies. However, exceptions follow:
If your need for equipment does not fall under these exceptions, visit our equipment funding page for possible sources.
- You may budget for such items if they are necessary to conduct applied research, development, demonstration, evaluation, or analysis.
- Funds from various laboratory enhancement funding programs, e.g., funds from the National Forensic Science Improvement Act, can be used to purchase equipment and supplies for eligible crime laboratories. Visit NIJ's Forensic Laboratory Enhancement Web pages for more information.
- Q: Can I use NIJ funds to pay for training?
- A: Typically, NIJ funds may not be used for training. However, funds from various laboratory enhancement funding programs, e.g., the National Forensic Science Improvement Act, can be used by eligible crime laboratories for training. Visit NIJ's Forensic Laboratory Enhancement Web pages for more information.
If your needs for training do not fall under these exceptions, the following resources may be of help:
- Q: If multiple NIJ solicitations use the same OMB number, can I apply to more than one of those solicitations with one applications?
- A: You may apply to each of the several solicitations that carry the same OMB number, but each solicitation is separate and independent and requires a separate application. OMB numbers are administrative or inventory number that applies to multiple solicitations.
- Q: Will NIJ consider revised proposals?
- A: Yes. If you are resubmitting a proposal that was submitted under a different solicitation, you can indicate that under Type of Application as you fill out your online application. In the abstract, that your proposal is a revision of a proposal that was submitted before. Also, you should prepare a one-page response to the earlier panel review that includes (1) the title, submission date, and NIJ-assigned application number of the previous proposal; and (2) a brief summary of responses to the review and/or revisions to the proposal. Insert the response after the abstract. The one-page response does not count toward your page limitation.
- About Online Applications and the SF-424
- Q: How do I submit my application?
- A: With few exceptions, applications must be submitted to NIJ online through Grants.gov. Paper copies are not accepted.
Grants.gov. NIJ strongly encourages potential applicants to begin the application process as soon as possible, especially if you are a first-time user. Instructions for applying using Grants.gov are available at Get Registered on Grants.gov. For assistance with the electronic application process, call Grants.gov technical support at 1-800-518-4726.
OJP Grants Management System (GMS). When indicated in the solicitation, applications must be submitted through the online GMS. We suggest that you begin the process early, especially if this is the first time you have used the system. Each application requires a separate GMS registration. To learn how to begin the online application process, go to OJP's GMS Training and Technical Assistance. For additional information, please call the GMS Help Desk at 1-888-549-9901.
- Q: How long does it take to register in Grants.gov or set up my account in the OJP Grants Management System?
- A: Grants.gov. The registration process can take 1 to 3 weeks depending on your organization. Many factors contribute to this timeframe. See Get Registered on Grants.gov for details and instructions.
Grants Management System. About 3 to 5 days, but you should begin the application process as soon as possible, especially if you are a first-time user. For assistance with the electronic application process, call the GMS toll-free hotline at 1-888-549-9901. The hotline is available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday.
- Q: How do I access and get started with my online application?
- A: Grants.gov. Go to Search Grant Opportunities on Grants.gov.
Grants Management System. On the Internet, go to "Funding Opportunities at OJP." This site links users directly to GMS and the GMS Application Procedures Handbook, which gives step-by-step instructions. Click on the solicitation that interests you. Then select "Logon directly to the Grants Management System (GMS)" to apply for grant funding. If you have not previously used GMS, click on "New User? Register Here" and follow the onscreen instructions to register. After you register, select the name of the solicitation you are responding to.
- Q: What do I need to have ready before I apply online?
- A: Grants.gov and Grants Management System. You will need a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number to register. Your application will not be considered complete until you provide a valid DUNS number.
EXCEPTION: Individuals who would personally receive a grant or cooperative agreement from the Federal Government apart from any business or nonprofit organization that they may operate are not required to obtain a DUNS number. If this exception applies, enter any nine digits into the space provided.
You can receive a DUNS number at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS number request line at 1-866-705-5711. If you have questions, contact OJP's Office of the Chief Financial Officer's Customer Service Center at 1-800-458-0786.
Grants.gov has additional registration requirements. See Get Registered on Grants.gov for details.
- Q: Do I need a new password if I have applied in the past?
- A: Only if your password has expired.
- Q: Can I submit more than one proposal or concept paper to a single solicitation?
- A: Yes.
- Q: Can I submit a joint or collaborative proposal in response to this solicitation where each collaborating agency receives funding directly from NIJ?
- A: No. You can submit a collaborative proposal but it must be a single application and the award would be made to a single agency, which would have to establish means to fund the collaborating agencies.
- Q: Can anyone from my organization begin an application?
- A: Yes. However, the person in your organization who has signing authority to accept Federal grant funds is your organization's Authorized Representative (also referred to as the Signing Authority). This person must be empowered to receive funds on behalf of the organization and must be legally authorized to enter into agreements on the organization's behalf. If you are not the Authorized Representative, you must enter information about that person when you register.
- Q: How do I know if my application is subject to review by my State under Executive Order 12372?
- A: If a single point of contact for your State is listed on the Office of Management and Budget's Intergovernmental Review (SPOC List), then your application is subject to review.
- Q: Should the start date be the date I submit my application?
- A: No. The start date is the date you estimate that work on the proposed project will begin. Thus, your start date should be at least 6 months after the closing date of the solicitation to allow for NIJ's decision- and award-making processes.
- Q: What types of files can I upload into the OJP Grants Management System?
- A: You must use one of these three formats to upload documents into Grants.gov: Portable Document Format (.pdf), Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx) or ascii (.txt).
- Q: How many separate files can I upload as part of my application?
- A: Grants.gov. The number of files you can upload to Grants.gov varies depending on the application package.
Grants Management System. GMS now allows you to upload any number of files. Please reference the specific solicitation for details on what must be included in your uploaded files.
- About the Program Narrative
- Q: What should be included in my Program Narrative?
- A: The Program Narrative includes an abstract, table of contents, main body, and appendixes. Each solicitation defines the page limit for the program narrative. The page limit does not include the bibliography/references or appendixes, list of key personnel, resumes of key personnel, list of previous and current NIJ awards and products, charts, tables, or other necessary appendixes (such as letters of cooperation from collaborating organizations). You may include additional substantive material in a technical appendix but are advised that reviewers may not read beyond the page limit. All parts of the Program Narrative should be converted to one file for uploading into GMS. Please reference the specific solicitation for details for more detail on what is required.
- Q: Does NIJ require an abstract as part of my application?
- A: Yes. NIJ uses abstracts for several purposes, including assigning proposals to an independent peer review panel. The abstract becomes public if the proposal receives an award. The abstract should serve as a succinct, stand-alone, and accurate description of the proposed work and should not exceed 600 words. See the NIJ Project Abstract template (pdf, 3 pages) for instructions on what should be included in the abstract.
- Q: Is there a limit on how long the proposed project can take?
- A: No.
NOTE: Generally for social science research and evaluation projects, NIJ-funded projects tend to range from 1 to 3 years with all funds awarded at once.
- Q: What does "research independence and integrity" mean and what do I have to include to satisfy that requirement?
- A: NIJ provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to improve criminal justice policy and practice. NIJ accomplishes this mission chiefly through competitively awarded grants, cooperative agreements and contracts. NIJ must be assured of an awardees' ability to identify and to effectively manage the factors that could affect the objectivity and independence of their work
Research independence and integrity pertains only to ensuring that the design, conduct or reporting of research funded by NIJ grants, cooperative agreements or contracts will not be biased by any financial interest on the part of the investigators responsible for the research or on the part of the applicant. Regarding solicitations, this applies only to those using CFDA No. 16.560 (NIJ's Research, Evaluation and Development Project Grants Program).
The application must explain the process and procedures that are the applicant has put in place to identify and manage potential financial conflicts of interest on the part of its staff, consultants and/or sub-grantees and sub-contractors. The application must also identify any potential organizational financial conflicts of interest on the part of the applicant with regard to the proposed research. If the applicant believes that there are no potential organizational financial conflicts of interest, the applicant must provide a brief narrative explanation of why it believes that to be the case.
Where potential organizational financial conflicts of interest exist, the application must identify the safeguards the applicant has put in place to address those conflicts of interest.
A thorough discussion of process and procedures related to identifying and managing potential financial conflicts of interest on the part of researchers can be found on the National Institutes of Health's Conflicts of Interest Web page. Though this information solely reflects the policies of the National Institutes of Health, the guidance offered may be helpful to NIJ applicants. It is offered purely as an example of best practices.
- About the Budget
- Q: What is the total amount available for this grant?
- A: If the total amount available is known, it will be noted in the solicitation, but often the amount depends on future congressional appropriations.
NOTE 1: In general, funding for science and technology research development projects rarely exceeds $500,000 annually, though total funding for projects requiring several years to complete has exceeded $1 million or more. If feasible, NIJ recommends that applicants divide the proposed work into discrete phases, with each phase resulting in the delivery of a measurable deliverable. Applicants should try to structure the phases so that the funding required in any fiscal year will not exceed $500,000. This will enable NIJ to fund the proposed work incrementally, depending on: the quality of the deliverable at the end of each phase, emerging priorities, and the availability of funds. However, applicants should not divide their work if it is not feasible to do so without impairing the technical and programmatic soundness of their approach.
NOTE 2 : Deliverables (e.g., technical reports, proof-of-concept demonstrations, prototypes, etc.) will be required at the end of each phase to enable NIJ to assess the progress of the work and make reasoned determinations as to the suitability of funding the next phase of the work.
- Q: Is there a match required?
- A: A grant made by NIJ under this solicitation may account for up to 100 percent of the total cost of the project. You must indicate whether you believe it is feasible for you to contribute cash, facilities, or services as non-Federal support for the project. Your proposal should identify generally any such contributions that you expect to make and your proposed budget should indicate in detail which items, if any, will be supported with non-Federal contributions.
- Q: Will my organization be required to submit an audit report to receive funding?
- A: If your organization spends $500,000 or more of Federal funds during the fiscal year, you must submit an organization wide financial and compliance audit report as specified in OJP's Financial Guide. The audit must be performed in accordance with the U.S. Government Accountability Office Government Auditing Standards. Detailed information regarding the independent audit is available in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-133.
- Q: How much detail is required in the Budget Detail Worksheet?
- A: Your Budget Detail Worksheet should clearly present a breakdown of costs associated with each of nine budget categories. Itemize where necessary. For more detail on what is required, reference the specific solicitation. Although it is not required, NIJ strongly recommends that you develop the Budget Detail Worksheet (xls) using the provided template. The template includes an example of a worksheet and descriptions of the details for each category.
- Q: What are allowable costs that can be included in my budget?
- A: Allowable costs are listed in the OJP Financial Guide. Interpretations or clarifications on the Financial Guide can be addressed to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer's Customer Service Center at 1-800-458-0786.
- Q: Is there a cap on indirect costs?
- A: No. However, a basic consideration in funding decisions is the expected yield relative to the total cost of the project, including indirect costs.
- Q: What is the "Negotiated Rate Agreement"?
- A: The Negotiated Rate Agreement refers to the grantee's indirect cost agreement. This agreement establishes the rate you will need to budget your indirect costs. Further details can be found in the OJP Financial Guide, see Indirect Costs.
- About Human Subjects and Privacy Requirements
- Q: Where can I find more information about human subject protection and privacy requirements as they relate to applications for NIJ funding?
- A: Visit the NIJ Protecting Human Subjects section on NIJ.gov. There you will find the applicable regulations, forms, and additional guidance on human subject protection and privacy requirements.
- Q: Must I submit the Privacy Certificate and the documentation on protection of human subjects at the time that I submit my grant application?
- A: No, but you are strongly encouraged to do so. Completing the Privacy Certificate and the documentation on protection of human subjects prior to submitting the application can help improve the overall quality of the application. Before funds can be expended from an award, a proper Privacy Certificate must be submitted with the signatures of the principal and co-principal investigators and an authorized institutional representative. Documentation that the study is exempt from the human subject protection requirements under 28 CFR 46.101(b)(1)-(6) or that the study has been or will be reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) with a current valid assurance must also be submitted. The IRB review may occur after the award, as may submission of the Privacy Certificate, but no funds will be released for research activities involving the human subject component of the study until NIJ's Human Subject Protection Officer receives the required documentation listed above and the special conditions placed on the award to protect human subjects and privacy are removed. Failure to provide this information in a timely fashion may cause significant delay in the startup of a funded research award.
- Q: What if my research does not involve human subjects and I will not be collecting any data identifiable to a private person?
- A: You must still complete the Privacy Certificate and Form titled "Protection of Human Subjects Assurance Identification/IRB Certification/Declaration of Exemption" and include them with your grant application. On the Privacy Certificate , in the section "Brief Description of Project," indicate "No data identifiable to a private person will be collected." In subsequent boxes, insert "Not applicable since this study is not collecting any individually identifiable data." Do not leave sections blank and do not insert "N/A" or "Not Applicable" without providing a reason. On the Form titled "Protection of Human Subjects Assurance Identification/IRB Certification/Declaration of Exemption ," in box 8, indicate "This project will not involve human subjects." Both forms must have the appropriate signatures and date affixed.
- About Selection and Awarding
- Q: How many awards does NIJ plan on funding?
- A: Each solicitation estimates how much money will be available and how many awards might be made.
- Q: How does NIJ decide which applications to fund?
- A: All proposals are reviewed by independent peer review panels consisting of researchers and practitioners. Panel members read each proposal, assess the technical merits and policy relevance of the proposed research, and meet to discuss their assessments. Panelists are asked to base their reviews on criteria set forth in the solicitation. The panel assessments and any accompanying NIJ staff reports are submitted to the NIJ Director. All final grant award decisions are made by the Assistant Attorney General (AAG).
- Q: When will I know if my application is selected for funding?
- A: The application review process (including peer review, decisionmaking, and other considerations) may take 6 months or longer. Notices of award and nonaward are sent about 6 months after the closing date of a solicitation. Information regarding the status of awards is not available until notifications have been sent. Awards are posted annually.
- Q: If I receive an award, what are the reporting requirements?
- A: If your project is funded, you will be required to submit several reports and other materials. See Post Award Reporting Requirements.
Also, you will be required to report information relevant to program performance measures established by NIJ to help measure the performance of Federal funding. See specific solicitations for details.
- Q: Is there a list of previous awards?
- A: Yes. View lists of awards dating back to fiscal year 1995.
Date Modified: January 28, 2014