Grant Process at the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office issues two omnibus notices in the Federal Register—one in June/July and one in December. Grants announced in June/July typically have an October due date for submission of full proposals, with recommendations made in February. Grants announced in December typically require full proposals to be submitted in March, with recommendations made in April/May. In addition, NOAA has a Broad Area Announcement for proposals that do not fall under a solicitation.

All grants must be forwarded to the NOAA Grants Management Division for official award. This process can take several months, and grantees may not receive official notification of their award until the end of September. Be sure to check the deadlines listed for each individual grant at

How the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office Makes Grant Decisions

Administrative Review: The Federal Program Officer responsible for the program conducts an initial screening to determine compliance with all application requirements.

Evaluating Proposals: Proposals are evaluated based on importance, relevance, and applicability of the proposed project to:

  • program goals
  • technical/scientific merit
  • overall qualifications of applicants
  • project costs
  • outreach and education components

Independent Technical Reviews: All scientific grant applications undergo a technical review process. During this process, all proposals are evaluated and scored individually in accordance with the assigned weights of the above evaluation criteria and any additional criteria published in the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) by an independent technical review. The technical reviewers are individuals with expertise in the subjects addressed by particular proposals, but who do not have a conflict of interest with the applicant. Each reviewer sees only certain individual proposals within their area of expertise. In addition to their review scores, reviewers are asked to comment on each of the five review criteria (listed above) to obtain an overall score for the proposal.

Panel Reviews: Upon completion of the administrative review and technical review (if conducted), the evaluation process moves to a review panel, an ad hoc assembly of four to eight independent reviewers with a range of expertise appropriate to the proposals being considered. Nonfederal and federal scientists, managers, and environmental education experts may be used as panel members. Panelists are asked to evaluate proposals individually. Unlike the technical review process, panelists are asked to also review each proposal in comparison with all submitted proposals being considered in the panel. If technical reviews of the proposals were conducted, the panel has access to all technical reviews and uses the reviews in discussion and evaluation of the entire slate of proposals. All proposals are considered, and each individual panel member numerically scores and/or ranks the proposals. The individual panelist scores/rankings are averaged for each application and this average ranking is the primary factor in final selection. No consensus advice is given by the independent technical review or the review panel.

Selection: NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office program officers neither vote nor score proposals as part of the review panel. The program officer selects the proposals to be recommended for funding based on the averaged panel rankings and/or any specific objectives published in the FFO, and also determines the amount of funds available for each proposal, subject to the availability of fiscal year funds. Most proposals are funded in order of descending score, except in a few cases where proposals are funded out of rank order because they meet program priorities as identified in the FFO more closely than proposals that had higher scores. Recommendations for funding are then forwarded to the selecting official (the Director of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office) for the final funding decision. The Director makes final funding decisions based upon the program officials’ recommendations, project funding priorities, and availability of funds.