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The Grant Review Process

by Beverly Browning on May 14, 2013
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federal peer review and proofreading your grant application before you submitA technical review of a grant application is an assessment to determine whether your application meets the technical points listed in the grant application guidelines, such as soundness of approach and project sustainability. When a federal grantmaking agency receives your mailed or uploaded application through grants.gov, program officers thoroughly examine it to determine grant worthiness.

Here are some examples of areas covered in the federal technical review:

  • Does your organization meet the criteria for eligible grant applicants?
  • Did your application require an intergovernmental review process (Executive Order 12372), and did you comply?
  • Are all the mandatory assurances, certification, debarment, and lobbying forms filled in and signed by your official contact person?
  • Does your application adhere to the narrative section limit and page limit guidelines?
  • Did the grant writer follow all mandatory instructions related to font size, font type, line spacing, use of graphics, and order of pagination?
  • Are all the mandatory attachments or appendices included and are they in the mandatory format?
  • Was your application submitted on time?

If your grant application fails to meet any of the above criteria, it will not proceed to the peer review process. You also won’t receive any telephone calls from any government agency to let you know that there is a problem with the technical aspects of your grant application. The application will simply be set aside until all qualifying applications submitted have completed the peer review process. This timeframe can range from 3 to 6 months or longer, depending on the backlog of grant applications to be reviewed.

What Is Peer Review?

Congress requires that all public monies doled out in the form of competitive grant awards be submitted to the public peer review process. This includes grants from the federal government at any level—direct federal grants, state agency pass-through grants, and even local government grants when the funds are derived from a federal grant award (direct or pass-through).

Each of the 26 federal grantmaking agencies engages experts from various fields to read grant applications (via grants.gov or in person) and provide an analysis and rating of the quality of each application based upon published selection criteria. The agencies’ program officers consider expert reviewer comments and ratings in final funding decisions.

What Are the Responsibilities of Peer Reviewers?

The primary responsibilities of reviewers are to participate in all trainings provided, and to read, analyze, and rate applications. This is done utilizing worksheets, forms, and documents prepared for the review. Depending on the process for a particular grant competition, reviewers may participate in conference calls, and/or may travel at the government’s expense to a central meeting site (typically Washington, D.C.) for reviewer meetings.

The Value of Peer Review Services from eCivis

Having grant professionals review your application before you submit it can make a significant difference when your application is reviewed at the federal level. eCivis offers pre-submission peer review services that also incorporate the technical review process. Team members of the Grants Professional Services have decades of experience as federal peer reviewers and grant writers, with skill sets across the 26 federal grantmaking agencies as well as for state and local government agencies.

About the Author

Dr. Beverly A. Browning (“Dr. Bev”) has been consulting in the areas of grant writing, contract bid responses, and organizational development for nearly four decades. Her clients have included chambers of commerce, faith-based organizations, units of local and county municipal governments, state and federal government agencies, school districts and colleges, social and human service agencies, hospitals, fire departments, service associations, and Fortune 500 corporations. She has assisted clients and workshop participants throughout the United States in receiving awards of more than $200 million. 

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Topics: Grant Articles & News