U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

OJP Grant Process

Grant Process Overview

What is a Grant?

A Grant is a legal instrument which permits the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to: (1) transfer money or anything of value to an eligible recipient to accomplish a public purpose of support as authorized by Federal statute; and (2) requires no substantial involvement between OJP and the recipient during of activity. There are two types of grants: Formula and Discretionary. Discretionary grants are generally awarded to eligible recipients at the discretion of the awarding agency and Formula grants are awarded on the basis of a statutorily created formula. The two types of grants, discretionary and formula, are described below.

  • Discretionary Grants - Discretionary grants are awarded directly by OJP to eligible recipients and are most often awarded on a competitive basis. Some discretionary grants to organization may be awarded on a non-competitive basis, often based on congressional direction. Applicants must find and for OJP competitive discretionary grant solicitations on Grants.gov. Current solicitations are also available online at the Open Solicitations page.
  • Formula or Block Grants - Formula and/or block grants are awarded directly by OJP to eligible recipients as authorized by statute. For formula and/or block grant programs, statutes or appropriations acts specify how the funds will be allocated among the eligible recipients, as well as the method by which an applicant must demonstrate its eligibility for that funding. Examples of this type of grant at OJP are the OJJDP Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Program and the OVC VOCA Victim Compensation Formula Grants.

    The award amount is calculated by a formula, and may vary among programs. Award calculations can consider such factors as population, census data, juvenile offender population, and Part 1 violent crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Formula grant programs can be either for a specific purpose (assisting juvenile offenders, for example) or related to public safety in general. The dollar amount available to applicants under each program is included in the solicitation. The specific recipient for state formula programs should be designated by each state. For state formula programs, OJP maintains a list of the designated agencies authorized by each state to administer the programs.

What is a Cooperative Agreement?

A cooperative agreement is a legal instrument which permits OJP to: (1) transfer money or something of value to accomplish a public purpose of support authorized by Federal statute; and (2) requires substantial involvement between OJP and the recipient during performance of the contemplated activity. This is typically a discretionary award.

What is a Contract?

A contract is a legal document used to acquire goods, construction or services for the Federal government's direct benefit or use.

Overview of the Grant Management Process

Applicant/Grantee and Program Manger Responsibilities

Applicant/Grantee Responsibilities Grant Manager Responsibilities
Application Submission Application Processing

Register to submit application

  • Formula/block grants, earmarks, and continuations applicants register in the Grant Management System (GMS). When first time applicants register on GMS, they will need to create a profile.
  • Register for competitive applications via Grants.gov. Validation, confirmation, and receiving a user name and password will take 5-7 business days prior to the application due date.

Generate application

  • Review solicitation and ensure that all components are complete.
  • Ensure that all reporting requirements are understood, making note of any data that you believe you may not be able to report and determine how your organization will collect the data. Review the Performance Measures section for reporting data requirements.
  • Follow your application’s progress online via: Track My Application on Grants.gov or GMS.
  • Provide information as requested by the grant manager throughout the process.

Review application to ensure that all the requirements are addressed and complete

Manage the ongoing review process:

  • Program review is required for all applications and considers:
    • Application merit in terms of the extent to which it reflects the goals and objectives of the program for which the application was submitted.
    • Application completeness which may vary according to program requirements outlined in the solicitation.
    • Fund request amounts in relation to allowable and available funds as outlined in the solicitation.
  • Peer review is required for competitive discretionary applications. Peer review provides:
    • Objective, independent application review
    • Subject Matter Expert evaluation of application strengths and weaknesses
  • Financial review is required for all discretionary applications and occurs after peer review for those requiring a peer review. Financial review:
    • Evaluates the fiscal integrity and financial capability of the organization.
    • Examines the proposed costs for reasonableness, necessity, and compliance with federal cost principles and agency regulations.
    • Reconciles proposed costs with the budget and budget narrative

Request additional information from applicant as needed.

Generate award package for approved applications.

Notify applicant of Approval, Denial, or Change Request status.

Post Award Grant Management

Access the award package in GMS, designate a Financial Point of Contact for your award, and sign and return the award document to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer within 45 calendar days of date of award.

Review the special conditions on the award document and determine what your organization needs to do to be in compliance with them.

Manage the project according to requirements, standards, and guidance contained in the grant terms and conditions, including the OJP Financial Guide (provided in the award package) and award special conditions.

Submit quarterly Financial Status Reports in accordance with the OJP Financial Guide.

Submit Programmatic Progress Reports in accordance with the frequency established in the special conditions of the award document.

Request approval for modifications to your award as defined in the OJP Financial Guide.

Complete all deliverables as stated in your application, the solicitation or in a special condition.

Review the grant terms, objectives, conditions, and grantee organization, and key personnel.

Contact grantee to discuss requirements of the grant.

Monitor grantee compliance with programmatic, administrative, and fiscal requirements of relevant statutes, regulations, policies, guidelines, and with grantee stated objectives, and implementation plan.

Perform desk reviews and/or site visits.

Ensure data reporting from grantee.

Approve Progress Reports.

Approve modifications to awards.

Conduct on-site monitor visits to review the activities of the grant.

For cooperative agreements, grant managers provide additional direction and oversight.

Grantee Closeout Responsibilities Grant Manager Closeout Responsibilities

Submit all closeout documents and complete closeout requirements within 90 days after the end of the grant.

  • Final Programmatic Progress Report
  • Final Financial Report
  • Compliance with all special conditions
  • Financial Reconciliation
  • Submission of all required deliverables

The Program Office must forward the closeout package to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) within 120 days after the end of the grant.

The OCFO must close the grant 180 days after the end of the grant.

Grant Application Review Process

The Grant Application Review Process generally consists of five steps:

  1. Application Review – The application is submitted and reviewed for registration information and completeness, and to ensure that the applicant meets the basic eligibility requirements defined in the solicitation.
  2. Programmatic Review – The grant manager reviews the application to make sure that the information presented is reasonable and understandable and the activities proposed in the application are measurable, achievable and consistent with program or legislative requirements as stated in the solicitation.

    For competitive discretionary solicitations, this step may also include a Peer Review of the application. Peer Review is the process of using non-federal independent evaluators, and/or in-house or other federal agency personnel who are subject matter experts to assess the merits of an application or concept paper for federal funding.

    The results of programmatic review are provided to grant decision makers, who use that review along with other relevant factors to assess applications, and make funding decisions.

  3. Financial Review – The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) conducts a financial review of all discretionary awards and cooperative agreements to evaluate the fiscal integrity and financial capability of applicants, examine proposed costs to determine if the budget and budget narrative accurately explain project costs and determine whether costs are reasonable, necessary, and allowable under applicable Federal cost principles and agency regulations.
  4. Award Decisions – Generally, OJP either notifies an applicant that it will receive a grant award no later than September 30 of the calendar year or issues a rejection letter to unsuccessful applicants by December 30 of the same calendar year.
  5. Final Approved Award – All Final approved award recommendation memoranda for grant programs undergoing external or internal peer reviews must include the following:
    • A list of applications received to include the lowest scoring application to be funded and every application scoring higher, regardless of whether it was funded. This list may be divided into categories and subcategories if they were published in the solicitation.
    • A brief explanation as to why an application on the above list was not funded.

    All discretionary recommendations made absent a peer review process must be documented and clearly explain the choices made, the reasons for the choices, and the policy considerations on which they decisions were based. An otherwise uninformed reader should be able to understand the process used and the final decisions made.

    All final award decisions must be documented including any changes made as a result of discussions between those recommending grants and the decision maker. Such changes in the final approved award decision memorandum must reflect who made the decision to vary from a recommendation memo and his or her reasons for it.

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