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FFO-2017 FAQs

What types of projects are eligible for funding?

This funding competition is directed at Gulf of Mexico living coastal and marine resources and their habitats and has two priorities: 1) research and 2) decision-support tools. The research priority focuses on six specific areas of living coastal and marine resource research (see section I.B.1. of the full announcement). The decision-support tool priority focuses on improving the decision-support tools available to living coastal and marine resource managers to address existing and near-term management challenges. Applicants must propose a project that addresses one of these two priorities to be eligible for funding.

Can I apply to both the research and decision-support tool priority in a single application?

No. Each application must indicate which one of the two priorities is being addressed.

How important is it that I consider the needs of resource managers in developing my proposal? Does an end user for my findings or decision-support tool need to be on the project team?

Improving the understanding and management of living coastal and marine resources and their habitats is the driving factor behind this funding competition. For that reason, all applicants should strongly consider the needs of resource managers in their proposals. For the research priority, a proposal should clearly describe the resource management need the project is addressing, how research results will be communicated to the management community, and how the research will be applied. For the decision-support priority, proposals should address an identified resource management need and integrate end users in all project stages, from design to execution to maintenance. For both priorities, the applicant should provide evidence the management need is real and convey a clear understanding of the management challenge being addressed. Integrating resource managers into the project team is encouraged.

How much funding is available? How many projects will be funded?

The amount of funding available for this competition is up to approximately $17 million. Under the research priority, we anticipate funding approximately 5 to 10 projects for a total of approximately $12 million. Under the decision-support tool priority, we anticipate funding approximately 5 to 10 projects for a total of approximately $5 million.

How many years of funding can be requested?

One to three years

Who is eligible to receive funding?

Eligible applicants are institutions of higher education; non-profit institutions; state, local, and tribal governments; for-profit organizations; and US territories that possess the statutory authority to accept funding for this type of research.

Federal agencies that possess the statutory authority to accept funding for this type of research may also apply. Federal agencies are strongly encouraged to collaborate with partners from a non-federal eligible entity, in which case the federal agency would be collaborators in a multi-institutional submission.

Principal investigators are not required to be employed by an eligible entity that is based in one of the five Gulf of Mexico states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas); however, principle investigators that are not from Gulf of Mexico-based eligible entities are encouraged to collaborate with partners from a Gulf of Mexico-based eligible entity. Foreign researchers may apply as sub-awards through an eligible US entity.

Is there a separate competition for federal and non-federal proposals?

No. The program is holding a single competition.

Is a letter of intent required? If so, when is it due and how do I submit it?

Yes, letters of intent are required. A full application that is not preceded by a letter of intent will not be considered and will be returned to the applicant without review. Letters of intent are due via email to the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Grants Coordinator ( by 11:59pm., Eastern Time on July 8, 2016.

When are full applications due, and how can I submit a full application?

The deadline for receipt of full applications is 11:59 a.m., Eastern Time on September 27, 2016. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their full applications electronically through If the use of is not feasible, an applicant is concerned about possible problems associated with the system, or is unable to accept an application electronically in a timely fashion, an applicant may submit a paper copy of their application to:

Laura Golden
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1305 East West Highway
SSMC 4, Station 8219
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Do I need a data management plan?

Yes. Full applications must include a data management plan of up to two pages. A typical plan should include descriptions of the types of environmental data and information expected to be created during the course of the project, the tentative date by which data will be shared, the standards to be used for data/metadata format and content, methods for providing data access, approximate total volume of data to be collected, and prior experience in making such data accessible. Applicants should consult section IV.G.2. of the full announcement for the funding competition for complete details on the requirements for the data management plan.

How does the Science Program define data sets with respect to the instruction that all biographical sketches include “a list of up to five archived data sets most closely related to the proposed project and five other significant archived data sets” (Section IV.B.3 of funding announcement)?

For the purpose of this funding opportunity, the Science Program defines a data set as the collection of environmental data from a previously funded project (grant, cooperative agreement, or contract). The purpose of this requirement is to assess whether applicants can demonstrate that they have experience with archiving environmental data derived from previously funded projects.

According to NOAA’s new data management policy, effective June 1, 2016, environmental data is defined as recorded and derived observations and measurements of the physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical properties and conditions of the oceans, atmosphere, space environment, sun, and solid earth, as well as correlative data such as socio-economic data, related documentation, and metadata. Digital audio or video recordings of environmental phenomena (such as animal sounds or undersea video) are included in this definition. Numerical model outputs are included in this definition, particularly if they are used to support the conclusion of a peer-reviewed publication. Data collected in a laboratory or other controlled environment, such as measurements of animals and chemical processes, are included in this definition ( NOAA Administrative Order 212-15: Management of Environmental Data and Information).

What type of review process will be used?

The Science Program will conduct a review of each letter of intent to determine whether it is responsive to the announcement. Emails to applicants encouraging or discouraging a full application are scheduled to be sent out three weeks after the LOI due date.

Full applications that pass an initial administrative review will undergo an independent peer mail review and/or independent peer panel review in which each proposal will be evaluated and scored individually by at least three professionally and technically qualified reviewers with expertise in the subjects addressed by particular applications. Following the merit peer-review process, applicants recommended for funding may be asked to modify work plans or budgets, and provide supplemental information required by the agency.

What criteria will be used to evaluate applications?

Proposals will be evaluated on five criteria. These are the project’s importance and applicability to NOAA, federal, regional, state, or local activities (25 percent); technical and scientific merit of the proposed methods, goals, and objectives (30 percent); the qualifications and capabilities of applicants (15 percent); project budget (10 percent); and the applicant’s proposed process for transferring project findings and/or outputs to Gulf of Mexico end users (20 percent). Anyone interested in applying for funding should consult section V.A. of the full announcement for the federal funding opportunity for complete details.

When will awards be made? When will projects be expected to start?

The program anticipates making awards in March 2017 with the earliest possible start date being June 2017.

How will funding be distributed?

The Science Program will use either a research project grant award or a cooperative agreement to distribute funding to non-federal awardees. If there are federal awardees, an intra-agency or inter-agency transfer will be used to distribute the funding.

Can Science Program funds be used to support ongoing or planning NOAA projects?

The Science Program can not support existing or planned research led by NOAA unless agreed to in writing by the grant recipient. NOAA is also prohibited by the RESTORE Act from using funding to implement existing or new regulations or develop a new limited access fisheries program.

Who should I contact to address any additional questions?

General Information:
Frank Parker
Associate Director
Grants Administration Information:
Laura Golden
NCCOS Grants Coordinator