Federal grants are a form of money awarded to an educational institution, nonprofit organization, as well as state, local or city governments that agrees to organize and execute successfully agreed upon projects for the benefit of society (as authorized by the federal statute). A grant has stipulations on the duration of the work to be completed and the funds required to do so. There are 21 categories under which federal grants may be sanctioned by the 26 federal grant making agencies.
There are three types of federal grants. The first consists of project grants, which are awarded to fund scientific research, technology development, education (Federal Pell grants), arts and social services. The second are formula grants, which are provided as dictated by the law and further categorized as categorical grants and block grants. The final type of federal grants are called earmark grants, which are federal appropriation requests for spending on any project that is not explicitly in the President’s budget.
A federal grants application has to be submitted online and the application review process goes through four steps. The first is the application review, where the submitted application is reviewed for registration information to ensure compliance of all eligibility requirements. Next is the programmatic review, during which the grant manager reviews the information and activities put forth in the application to see if they are achievable and within the legal limits as indicated in the solicitation. A peer review of the application by independent, non-federal evaluators and/or expert federal agency personnel is then used to assess the merits of the application. The observations of this programmatic review, along with other relevant information, are placed before decision making bodies for approval.
The next step in the approval for a federal grant is the financial review. In this, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) evaluates fiscal integrity and financial capability of the organization. This office examines all aspects of the proposed cost and compliance with federal cost principles and then reconciles proposed cost with proposed budget. The final step involves the award decisions, where the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) informs applicants of their grant’s approval or denial. After the organization receives the confirmation letter from the federal agency, they are ready to go forth with the project at hand.