Most financial assistance is awarded through a competitive process. Competition ensures awards are given based on merit and results in better research results for the Department of Energy and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Merit review means a thorough, consistent, and independent examination of applications based on pre-established criteria. In addition, applications may be reviewed based on program policy factors such as achieving diversity in geographic distribution; type and size of recipients; and methods, approaches, and kinds of work. See DOE's Merit Review Guide for Financial Assistance.
The competitive solicitation process begins when EERE issues a solicitation. Solicitations identify program objective(s) and requirement(s) as well as information such as the due date, contact(s), available funding, anticipated number of awards and the period of performance. Solicitations also include applicant eligibility requirements cost-share and Energy Policy Act Eligibility requirements.
In response to the solicitation requirements, the applicant develops a technical proposal which explains the proposed method of achieving the technical, budget, personnel and project scheduling requirements of the solicitation. To learn how to create a proposal, see the Catalog of Federal and Domestic Assistance Developing and Writing Grant Proposals.
After the submission deadline, EERE personnel and a field of reviewers conduct an initial review to determine the applicants' response to the criteria set for in the solicitation. Proposals determined to be nonresponsive to the requirements of the solicitation are removed from consideration, and their submitters are notified in writing of the decision. Proposals that pass the initial reviews are forwarded for merit review and/or a program policy review. Proposals selected for funding are notified of their award and begin preparations for their initiation.
In rare circumstances, EERE may award a grant or cooperative agreement on a non-competitive basis. For a grant to be awarded on a non-competitive basis, it must meet one of the criteria of Section 10 CRF 600.6 of the financial assistance rules. The award must:
- Be necessary to the completion of, or be a continuation or renewal of, an activity already funded by the Department of Energy.
- Be conducted with the applicant's resources or resources donated by a third party
- Be awarded to a unit of government for an activity related to a government function
- Be awarded to an applicant with exclusive domestic capacity to perform the activity successfully
- Implement an agreement between the United States and a foreign government to fund a foreign applicant
- Be restricted by time constraints associated with public health, safety, welfare, or national security
- Be awarded for an unsolicited proposal
- Be determined to be in the public interest.
To learn more about the EERE financial assistance process, read about its other stages: