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(c) If necessary, DOE may extend an established application deadline by publishing a timely notice of the extension in the same manner as the solicitation was publicized. The extension of time shall apply to all applicants.

(2) 1992 Supplement to the National Building Code, of the Building Officials and Code Administrators International,

(3) 1992 Amendments to the Standard Building Code, of the Southern Building Code Congress International. These codes provide a level of seismic safety that is substantially equivalent to the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Recommended Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulations for New Buildings, 1988 Edition (Federal Emergency Management Administration 222 and 223). Revisions of these model codes that are substantially equivalent to or exceed the then current or immediately preceding edition of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions (which are updated triennially) shall be considered to be appropriate standards. [47 FR 44083, Oct. 5, 1982, as amended at 57 FR 3, Jan. 2, 1992; 59 FR 18474, Apr. 19, 1994)

$ 600.13 Application deadlines.

(a) Each solicitation shall include a deadline date for submission of applications. The established deadline shall also apply to any amendment to an ap plication initiated by an applicant. An application or amendment shall be timely if it is:

(1) Received at the location specified in the solicitation on or before the established deadline date and time; or

(2) Received after the deadline date, and the application or amendment was sent by first class mail, was postmarked on or before the deadline date, and is received by DOE before technical evaluation of all acceptable applications submitted in response to the solicitation begins. Applicants should obtain a legibly dated mailing receipt from the U.S. Postal Service or use certified or registered mail to enable them to substantiate the date of mailing. Private metered postmarks shall not be acceptable proof of the date of mailing; and

(3) Complete (see $600.10(d) and $ 600.11(c)).

(b) DOE shall not consider and shall return any application that does not meet the requirements of paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2) and (a)(3) of this section.

$ 600.14 Unsolicited applications.

(a) General. An unsolicited application is an application for DOE financial assistance which is not submitted in response to a solicitation or which is submitted in response to a Notice of Program Interest (see $600.15). DOE may award financial assistance to an applicant who submits an unsolicited application for support of a project that involves an innovative idea, method or approach. DOE shall determine whether the application would result in à procurement contract or in a grant or cooperative agreement. An unsolicited application may be considered for DOE financial assistance only if the application is relevant to a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute.

(b) Preapplication contact. Anyone who is contemplating submitting an unsolicited application is encouraged, before expending extensive effort in preparing a detailed application or submitting any proprietary information to DOE, to make preliminary inquiries of DOE program staff as to DOE interest in the type of project contemplated. The potential applicant should not construe any such discussion as either encouragement to submit an unsolicited application or a promise of an award.

(c) Preparation and submission of application. A guide for preparing unsolicited applications/proposals is available from the Field/Headquarters Support Division, Office of Procurement and Assistance Management, Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585.

(d) General evaluation. DOE shall make a general evaluation of an unsolicited application based on the following types of factors:

(1) The overall merit of the proposed project or activity.

(2) The anticipated objectives to be achieved and the probability of achieving the stated objectives.

(3) The facilities or techniques which the applicant proposes to make available to achieve the proposed project's objectives.

(4) The qualifications of the proposed project director or key personnel who are considered to be critical to the achievement of the proposed project's objectives.

(e) Criteria for selection of an unsolicited application. (1) DOE may select an unsolicited application only if:

(1) The application is meritorious based on the general evaluation as in paragraph (d) of this section; and

(ii) The proposed project represents a unique or innovative idea, method, or approach which would not be eligible for financial assistance under a recent, current, or planned solicitation, and if, as determined by DOE, a competitive solicitation would be inappropriate.

(2) Any request for continuation, renewal, or supplemental funding of a project which was originally funded as the result of an unsolicited application shall be evaluated in the same manner as any other request for such funding and shall not be subject to the selection criterion of paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section.

(f) Justification for acceptance of an unsolicited application. Prior to making an award on the basis of acceptance of an unsolicited application, a justification document, which describes the results of the general evaluation conducted in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section and which addresses the selection criteria in paragraph (e)(1) of this section, must be prepared and completed for the award file. The justification must be prepared and signed by the initiating program official (project officer), and approved by the responsible program Assistant Secretary or his or her designee, and the contracting officer. If the amount of DOE funds is $100,000 or less for a proposed noncompetitive financial assistance award under any program for which the HCA has been formally assigned cognizance, the justification shall be approved by the HCA and the Contracting Officer. Concurrence for a particular award or class of awards of $100,000 or less may be waived by local legal counsel, if they so elect. Further, än announcement of the intent to

award based on an unsolicited application and an explanation of why such an award is being made shall be published for public comment in the FEDERAL REGISTER at least 14 calendar days prior to making an award. Such an explanation must address the selection criteria contained in $600.14(e)(1) (1) and (ii).

(8) Funding. An award based on an unsolicited application may be made only if sufficient appropriated funds are available.

(h) Unsuccessful applications. DOE shall promptly notify in writing each applicant whose application does not satisfy the requirements of this section. DOE will return unsuccessful unsolicited applications only if requested by the applicant. This request may be made at the time of application or up to 30 days after the date of the written notification required by this paragraph. (The information collection requirements contained in paragraph (c)(1) have been ap proved by the Office of Management and Budget under control numbers 0348-0005— 0348-0009) (47 FR 44083, Oct. 5, 1982, as amended at 53 FR 5262, Feb. 22, 1988; 53 FR 8046, Mar. 11, 1988; 53 FR 12139, Apr. 13, 1988; 54 FR 23959, June 5, 1989; 57 FR 4, Jan. 2, 1992; 59 FR 53265, Oct. 21, 1994)

$ 600.15 Notice of program interest.

(a) General. (1) DOE may publish a periodic Notice of Program Interest in the FEDERAL REGISTER and other media, as appropriate, which describes broad, general, technical problems and areas of investigation for which DOE may award grants or cooperative agreements.

(2) DOE shall evaluate any application submitted under a Notice of Program Interest as an unsolicited application (see $600.14).

(b) Contents. In addition to the information required under $ 600.9(c), the notice shall include the following:

(1) A brief description of the areas of interest for which DOE may provide financial assistance.

(2) A statement about how resulting applications will be evaluated and the criteria for selection and funding as specified in $600.14.

(3) An expiration date with an expla- has the final decision-making authornation that such a date does not rep- ity. In defining this relationship, the resent a common deadline for applica- system must set out, as a minimum, tions but rather that applications may the decision-making and documentabe submitted at any time before the tion processes to be followed by the aunotice expires.

thorized official responsible for selec(4) The location for application sub- tion when an adverse recommendation mission, which shall be the Unsolicited has been received through the objective Proposals Management Section, Re- merit review process. ports and Analysis Branch, Office of (3)(i) This section applies to all new Procurement and Assistance Manage- and renewal applications (except appliment, Department of Energy, Forrestal cations for conferences/symposia and Building, 1000 Independence Avenue, for awards which come under the criSW., Washington, DC 20585, unless the

teria of paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this secnotice specifies otherwise.

tion) in programs which make discre(47 FR 44083, Oct. 5, 1982, as amended at 59 FR

tionary financial assistance awards and 53265, Oct. 21, 1994)

to any other financial assistance pro

grams in which objective merit review 9600.16 Objective merit review.

is required by the authorizing legisla(a) General. (1) Each responsible offi

tion. cial must establish and publish in the (ii) For projects in which multiple reFEDERAL REGISTER the details of the newals are probable, an objective merit system of objective merit review which review need not necessarily be done at covers the financial assistance pro- each renewal, but instead at approgram administered by each cognizant priate points during the course of the program office within his or her juris- project. A determination that a project diction within 120 days of the issuance need not be reviewed at each renewal of this rule for existing programs and

shall be made at the time the initial prior to the review of applications for award is issued, or, in the event that new programs. More than one program unforeseen circumstances arise which may adopt the same system. If a pro- preclude a merit review at a previously gram wants to review an application or scheduled point during the course of a group of applications using the criteria project, the merit review of a renewal and procedures of an already estab- application may be waived prior to the lished review system other than its renewal of the project. The criteria on own, it may do so by following the de- which the determination that a project viation procedure described in para- need not be reviewed at each renewal is graph (8) of this section. DOE employ- based, shall be included in the system ees designated by responsible officials of objective merit review to be estabto carry out the review process shall lished by the responsible official in acensure that the evaluation of applica- cordance with paragraphs (a) (1) and (2) tions is conducted in a fair and objec- of this section. For a waiver to be istive manner.

sued, the project officer shall prepare, (2) Objective merit review of finan- with the concurrence of his or her imcial assistance applications is intended mediate supervisor, a written deterto be advisory and is not intended to mination for the approval of the rereplace the authority of the program sponsible official that a merit review is official with responsibility for deciding not appropriate at the particular point whether an award will be made. It is in time, setting forth the cirexpected that the cognizant project/ cumstances that preclude the merit reprogram officer (scientific monitor) view. The determination shall contain who normally also reviews the propos- an evaluation of the technical merit of als for technical/scientific merit, will, the project being proposed for addiadditionally, review it from a program tional support. This determination policy perspective. Nevertheless, the shall also set forth the facts which objective merit review system must set would support the justification reforth the relationship between the re- quired by 10 CFR 600.7(b)(2)(i). Finally, viewing individuals, or the review com- the determination shall indicate the mittees or groups, and the official who reports required under the award and

a re

shall be placed in the official file by the Contracting Officer.

(4) Each responsible official shall insure consistency among DOE field offices in the implementation of the review system(s) for his/her program area.

(5) Each formal review system must contain the elements listed in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section.

(b) Basic review standards. (1) Each application may be assessed from a policy/programmatic perspective prior to undergoing merit review. Those that meet policy and programmatic considerations shall generally be reviewed by at least three qualified persons in addition to the official responsible for selection.

(2) The reviewers of any particular application may be any mixture of federal or non-federal experts, including individuals from within the cognizant program office, except as indicated otherwise below (see paragraphs (b)(3), (5) and (d)(2)(ii) of this section). The DOE shall select external (non-DOE Federal or non-federal) reviewers on the basis of their professional qualifications and expertise in the field of research.

(3) In selecting persons in accordance with 8600.16(b) (1) and (2) to review applications, such selection of additional reviewers shall not include, to the extent possible, anyone who, on behalf of the Federal Government, performed or is likely to perform any of the following duties for any of the applications:

(i) Providing substantive technical assistance to the applicant;

(ii) Approving/disapproving or having any decision-making role regarding the application;

(iii) Serving as the project officer or otherwise monitoring or evaluating the recipient's programmatic performance;

(iv) Serving as the Contracting Officer (CO), or performing business management functions for the project; or

(v) Auditing the recipient or the project.

Anyone who has line authority over a person who is ineligible to serve as a reviewer because of the above limitations is also ineligible to serve as a reviewer.

(4) It may occasionally be necessary, after the fact, to change project officer

designation, thereby resulting in an individual who participated in the review of an application being appointed as the project officer. This will not be considered a violation of this policy of objective merit review provided the assignment was not expected when the review was conducted.

(5) Persons outside the cognizant program office must not have been employees of that office, including having line authority over that office, for one year prior to participation as viewer in the objective merit review process for the program.

(c) Comparative review. (1) In order to enhance the validity of the evaluation and rating process, applications can be evaluated in comparison to each other.

(2) If a program area has issued a program notice, the responsible official may implement review procedures which will result in applications being evaluated in comparison to each other. Applications in response to that notice may be assigned to a group of field readers, to a standing committee, or to an ad hoc committee, as discussed below, which is capable of reviewing them, and may be considered along with other applications which were submitted in response to the program notice. Such an application may also be eligible for review under an applicable program announcement. For solicitations, review procedures may also permit comparative evaluation with field readers, a standing committee, or an ad hoc committee being used as appropriate.

(d) Types of review groups—(1) Field readers. (i) Objective merit review of applications may be obtained by using field readers to whom applications are sent for review and comment. Field readers may also be used as an adjunct to financial assistance application review committees when, for example, the type of expertise needed or the volume of financial assistance applications to be reviewed requires such auxiliary capacity.

(ii) Safeguards should be instituted to ensure that field readers clearly understand the process, their role, and the criteria upon which the applications are to be evaluated.

(iii) For those situations in which a standing committee is the appropriate review mechanism (see paragraph (d)(2) of this section), but a group of field readers must be used instead, it should function as nearly like a committee as possible. For example, if all members of the standing committee were to evaluate all of the applications under review, then all field readers must receive all of the applications to be reviewed even though they are in geographically separate locations and all field readers should be instructed to follow the procedures established for evaluating the applications.

(2) Standing committees. (1) Standing committees are normally appropriate when required by legislation or when the following conditions prevail:

(A) A sufficient number of applications on specific topics to justify the use of a standing committee(s) is received by the program on a regular basis in accordance with a predetermined review schedule;

(B) There are a sufficient number of persons with the required expertise who are willing and able to (1) accept appointments, (2) serve over reasonably protracted periods of time, and (3) convene at regularly scheduled intervals or at the call of the chairperson; and

(C) The legislative authority for the particular program(s) involved extends for more than one year.

(11) Persons outside the cognizant program office shall constitute at least half the reviewers on such committees unless a deviation from this requirement has been approved under $600.16(8) below.

(3) Ad hoc committees. (1) Ad hoc review committees may not exceed one year in duration and are appropriately used when use of a standing committee is not feasible or when one of the following conditions prevails:

(A) A small number of applications is received on an intermittent basis;

(B) The program is one of limited duration, usually less than one year;

(C) The applications to be reviewed have been solicited to meet a specific program objective and cannot appropriately be reviewed by a standing committee because of subject matter, time constraints, or other limitations;

(D) The volume of applications received necessitates convening an addi

tional committee(s) of available reviewers; or

(E) It is determined that the applications submitted have special review requirements, e.g., construction of a facility, the complexity of subject matter cuts across the areas of expertise of two or more standing committees, or the subject matter is of a special, nonrecurring nature.

(ii) Ad hoc committees may not be used for reviewing financial assistance applications for any program for which a standing committee has been established (except for paragraph (d)(3)(1)(D) of this section) unless a deviation is approved under $600.16(g) below.

(e) Review summary. Upon request, applicants are to be provided with a written summary of the evaluation of their application.

(1) Reviewers with interest in application being reviewed. Reviewers must comply with the requirements for the avoidance of conflict of interest established in 8600.17. In establishing a system of objective merit review required in $ 600.16(a)(1), the responsible official shall develop procedures which will permit DOE to evaluate whether a conflict of interest exists. A committee or group of field readers which includes as objective merit reviewers any individuals who cannot meet the requirements of $ 600.17 or the program's review procedures, with regard to a particular application being reviewed, e.g., officials mentioned in paragraphs (b) (3) and (5) of this section, shall operate as follows:

(1) These individuals or officials may not review, discuss, and/or make a recommendation on an application(s) in which they have a conflict of interest.

(2) In the case of a review committee, the committee member must absent himself or herself from the committee meeting during the review and discussion of the application(s) in which hel she has a conflict of interest.

(g) Deviations. (1) In any instance in which a program's pre-established review system is not to be used to review an application, group of applications, or class of applications, written prior approval for utilization of a different procedure, which itself must, to the extent possible, conform to the provisions of this section pertaining to objective merit review, must be obtained

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