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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials

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FAQ - Applying for a Grant or Cooperative Agreement

 

Questions

Eligibility

  • How do I know if I am eligible or my organization is eligible to apply for a grant funded by DFSR? [answer]
  • Does DFSR accept unsolicited grant applications? [answer]

Grants vs. Cooperative Agreements

  • What is the main distinction between a grant and a cooperative agreement? [answer]

Request for Applications (RFAs)

  • What is a request for applications (RFA)? [answer]
  • How do I know when to expect publication of an RFA? [answer]
  • How are RFAs or funding opportunities announced? [answer]
  • Where can I get a copy of an RFA and the application forms necessary to apply for a funding opportunity? [answer]
  • Who should I contact if I have a question about a specific RFA? [answer]

Preparing to Apply

  • Do I have to register with Grants.gov before submitting an application through Grants.gov? [answer]
  • How long does the registration process take? [answer]
  • Does ORA/DFSR require any agency specific registration in addition to the required Grants.gov registration? [answer]
  • What is involved in the Grants.gov registration process? [answer]
  • Part of the Grants.gov process is registering in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR). What is the CCR and how does an applicant organization know if they have successfully registered in the CCR? [answer]
  • I will be the project director on the proposal. Do I need to register with Grants.gov? [answer]
  • What software do I need to apply through Grants.gov? [answer]

General Questions

  • What process does ORA/DFSR use to evaluate proposals submitted for competitive review? [answer] 
  • How do I know when my application is due and where I should send it? [answer] 
  • What are indirect costs? [answer] 
  • May I include indirect costs in my application budget? [answer]  
  • How do I obtain an indirect cost rate agreement? [answer] 

Electronic Submission 

  • Where can I find the information I need to complete and submit an application via Grants.gov? [answer]  
  • What type of notification will I receive after submitting an electronic application via Grants.gov? [answer]  
  • If I am required to submit Current and Pending Support documentation with my Grants.gov application package what format can I use? [answer]  
  • What is the difference between a Project Summary/Abstract, Narrative and Research Strategy/Plan? [answer]  
  • Where can I find help with the SF 424 (R&R) forms? [answer]  
  • There are a number of places where an attachment must be attached to the application. What type of attachments will ORA/DFSR accept? [answer]  
  • Will applicants have to generate the PDFs? [answer]  
  • What date does ORA/DFSR uses to determine if applications have met the deadline? [answer]  
  • How do I know my application was received by the deadline date and time? [answer]  
  • When do I need to submit my application? [answer]  
  • Should I look for an opportunity by entering the CFDA number on Grants.gov? [answer]  
  • What is the difference between the checks that Grants.gov performs on the application and those performed by ORA/DFSR? [answer]  

 Answers

How do I know if I am eligible or my organization is eligible to apply for a grant funded by ORA/DFSR?
Eligibility for any grant program supported through ORA/DFSR is determined by the authorizing and annual appropriation legislation. For competitive grants and cooperative agreements, you can check the "Eligibility" section of the appropriate Request for Applications (RFA) (located in Part III, A).   Generally, grants and cooperative agreements funded through ORA/DFSR are only available to State, Local and Tribal government agencies with food/feed regulatory authority.

Does ORA/DFSR accept unsolicited grant applications?
No. ORA/DFSR receives annual appropriations that require the agency to fund very specific areas of food, feed and human health issues. Therefore, ORA/DFSR cannot accept or consider unsolicited grant applications for funding.

What is the main distinction between a grant and a cooperative agreement?
The distinguishing factor between a grant and a cooperative agreement is the degree of Federal participation or involvement during the performance of the work activities. Cooperative Agreement: A support mechanism used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities. Grant: Financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity. A grant is used whenever the FDA or its Centers anticipate no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during performance of the financially assisted activities.

What is a Request for Applications (RFA)?
ORA/DFSR announces funding opportunities by publishing requests for applications (RFAs). RFAs provide potential applicants with detailed information about particular funding opportunities (including purpose, eligibility, restrictions, focus areas, evaluation criteria, and regulatory information) and instructions on how to apply.

How do I know when to expect publication of an RFA?
Most programs publish RFAs on an annual basis during the same month each year. ORA/DFSR uses its broadcast system to notify potential applicants that an RFA has been published.

How are RFAs or funding opportunities announced?
RFAs are announced in the Open Grants/Cooperative Agreement Programs section of the ORA/DFSR Web site and made available through the government-wide Grants.gov web site. RFAs are also published in the NIH Guide.

Where can I get a copy of an RFA and the application forms necessary to apply for a funding opportunity?
You can access RFAs in the Open Grants/Cooperative Agreement Programs section of the ORA/DFSR Web site. You can also access and download RFAs and grant application forms directly from the Grants.gov webpage.

Who should I contact if I have a question about a specific RFA?
If you have a programmatic question, please contact the individual(s) listed in the Agency Contact(s) section (Part VII) of the program's RFA. If you have an administrative question, please contact the FDA Office of Acquisitions and Grant Services, at 301-827-9363.

Do I have to register with Grants.gov before submitting an application through Grants.gov?
Yes. Before preparing an application, we strongly recommend that you confirm that your institution is registered with Grants.gov. If your institution has a grants office, they should be able to confirm your institution's registration status.

How long does the registration process take?
The entire registration process can take up to 1 month to complete so it is important to begin this process as early as possible.

Does ORA/DFSR require any agency specific registration in addition to the required Grants.gov registration?
No, ORA/DFSR requires no separate registration beyond the Grants.gov and eRA Commons registration.

What is involved in the Grants.gov registration process?
Applicant organizations need to complete a one-time only registration process for Grants.gov that includes obtaining a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, registering in Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and registering in Grants.gov. Details for Grants.gov registration can be found at the Grants.gov Get Registered web page.

Please note that this is a one-time only registration for all Federal agencies using Grants.gov. So if your organization has already completed the Grants.gov registration process to submit electronically for another Federal agency, a separate Grant.gov registration is not necessary for ORA/DFSR submissions.

Part of the Grants.gov process is registering in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR). What is the CCR and how does an applicant organization know if they have successfully registered in the CCR?
For details, go to the CCR Register section of the Grants.gov site. Grants.gov requires that applicant organizations obtain a DUNS number and register with the CCR. CCR is a government-wide registry for vendors doing business with the Federal government. Grants.gov uses CCR to establish roles and IDs for those electronically applying for grants. In the future, the government anticipates requiring all grant applicants to use CCR whether applying for grants electronically or otherwise. To register in CCR, one needs a DUNS number. To register in CCR:

  • Go to CCR.gov
  • Click the Start New Registration link
  • Complete the Registration Worksheet
  • Complete the Registration Acknowledgement and
  • Point of Contact Information

To find out if you are already registered in CCR, go to CCR Search and enter your DUNS number.

I will be the project director on the proposal. Do I need to register with Grants.gov?
Project directors do not need to register with Grants.gov, unless they are also the person authorized to submit an application on behalf of their organization. For example, the project director for a company submitting a proposal to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program may also be the person authorized to submit applications.

What software do I need to apply through Grants.gov?
You will need to download Adobe Reader. The Download Software page includes Adobe Reader, system requirements and other information. Adobe Reader 8.1.3 is recommended.

For ORA/DFSR applicants, software to create PDF files is needed. On the Download Software page you will find a variety of information and tools. This includes a link to Convert Documents to PDF.

What process does ORA/DFSR use to evaluate proposals submitted for competitive review?
ORA/DFSR reviews proposals submitted to individual competitive programs using a peer review process. For more information on the peer review process please see ORA/DFSR Peer Review Process for Competitive Grant Applications.

How do I know when my application is due and where I should send it?
Program-specific deadline dates are identified in the "Submission Dates and Times" section (Part IV, C.) of RFAs. ORA/DFSR only accepts electronic application submitted via Grants.gov

What are indirect costs?
Indirect costs are those costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project. Examples include depreciation and use allowances for an organization's building and equipment, operation and maintenance expenses, sponsored projects administration, and departmental administration. These costs are also known as "Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A)."

May I include indirect costs in my application budget?
It depends on the program. Applicants should consult the "Funding Restrictions" section (Part IV, D.) of the RFA for a particular program to determine if indirect costs are allowable and the amount of indirect costs that they may request.

How do I obtain an indirect cost rate agreement?
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been designated by the Office of Management and Budget as the cognizant agency responsible for negotiating indirect cost rate agreements for a significant number of organizations receiving federal financial assistance awards. An organization's office of sponsored research or business office can assist the applicant in applying the correct rate.

Where can I find the information I need to complete and submit an application via Grants.gov?

  • The relevant Request for Applications (RFA) from the ORA/DFSR Web site; or
  • The Grants.gov Application Guide, which is posted along with the electronic SF 424 R&R application package on Grants.gov.

What type of notification will I receive after submitting an electronic application via Grants.gov
The Authorized Organizational Official (AOR), who submits the application, will receive a series of four e-mails after submission. It is extremely important that the AOR watch for and save each of these e-mails. Please note that Grants.gov validation of the application can take up to 2 business days from application submission. Validation will be indicated by e-mail Number 2. E-mail Number 4 will indicate that the application has reached FDA. Specifically, the e-mails indicate:

  • Grants.gov Submission Receipt Number
  • Grants.gov Submission Validation Receipt
  • Grants.gov Grantor Agency Retrieval
  • Receipt of Grant Application at FDA

Receipt of the above four e-mails does not indicate the application has been accepted for review. The AOR will be notified in up to two subsequent e-mails if the application has been accepted or not-accepted for program review. If accepted, the application will be assigned an ORA/DFSR application number (e.g., 1 R13FD00XXXX-01). This number should be cited on all future correspondence.

If I am required to submit Current and Pending Support documentation with my Grants.gov application package what format can I use?
Applicants are encouraged to complete and submit the Current and Pending Support Template [need to create separate doc for this] as part of their electronic application. This must be converted into a PDF document. For key personnel, individual corresponding Current and Pending Support PDFs should be attached to the R&R Senior/Key Person Profile.

What is the difference between a Project Summary/Abstract, Narrative and Research Strategy/Plan?

A Project Summary/Abstract should be a self-contained description of the overall project and should contain a statement of objectives and methods to be employed.  It is meant to serve as a succinct and accurate description of the proposed work when separated from the application. The Summary/Abstract should be 250 words or less.

The Project Narrative  is seen as a second component of the Project Summary/Abstract (i.e., “Description”) in terms of Relevance. Using no more than two or three sentences; describe the relevance of this proposed work/research to public/animal health. In this section, be succinct and use plain language that can be understood by a general audience.

The Research Plan/Strategy  should include sufficient information needed for evaluation of the proposed project, independent of any other document.   Please note page limits for this section referenced in the instructions of the RFA. 

Where can I find help with the SF 424 (R&R) forms?
You may obtain help from the following:

  • Grants.gov can provide help with the functionality of the Adobe Reader that is necessary to view and submit electronic grant applications.
  • Call the programmatic or technical POC listed in the RFA.

There are a number of places where an attachment must be attached to the application. What type of attachments will ORA/DFSR accept?
ORA/DFSR will accept only PDF attachments with electronic application submissions. On the Download Software page, users will find information on PDF-related tools and software, including a link to Convert Documents to PDF. Files not in PDF format will not be reviewed by ORA/DFSR.

Will applicants have to generate the PDFs?
Yes. For help, visit Grants.gov's Download Software page for PDF Conversion Programs.

What date does ORA/DFSR use to determine if applications have met the deadline?
The date and time the application was received by Grants.gov will be the date the application is considered received by ORA/DFSR. All applications must be received by 5 p.m. local time of the funding opportunity application due date.

How do I know my application was received by the deadline date and time?
After submitting an application to Grants.gov, it provides users with the electronic equivalent of a postmark stamp on a confirmation screen. It contains the date and time the application was received by Grants.gov. Applicants should print out this page for their records.

When do I need to submit my application?
Applications must be submitted to Grants.gov by 5 p.m. local time on the application due date indicated in the Request for Applications (RFA) for the program to which you applying.

Should I look for an opportunity by entering the Funding Opportunity Number on Grants.gov?
We recommend that if applicants know the specific program to which they are interested in applying, they should search by Funding Opportunity Announcement number. The funding opportunity number is listed in the program specific request for applications (RFA), which can be found on the ORA/DFSR Open Opportunities webpage.

What is the difference between the checks that Grants.gov performs on the application and those performed by ORA/DFSR?
Grants.gov validations include checking to make sure no viruses are attached to the application and ensuring the DUNS number is correct. At the Agency level, the application is checked to confirm that you have met the minimum eligibility to apply and met other application criteria including all key pieces of the application. Applicants not meeting minimum eligibility or missing key pieces of information will not be considered for review.