Applications for cooperative agreement awards are reviewed by a team of Institute staff members and are subsequently approved or disapproved by the Director of the National Institute of Corrections. Four categories of criteria are used in reviewing applications: programmatic, organizational, project management, and financial/administrative.
Among the specific criteria used to evaluate the applications are:
- Indication of a clear understanding of the problem to be addressed, the key issues underlying the problem, and the relevance of the proposed project;
- Well-defined project objectives, tasks, and resources necessary to meet the objectives;
- Technical soundness of the design and methodology for achieving the project goals;
- Description of all elements and tasks of the project;
- Realistic time frames necessary to complete the tasks;
- Background, experience, and expertise of the proposed project staff, including any subcontractors;
- Sufficient and realistic time commitments from key project staff;
- Reputation or recognized skill of the applicant organization and any proposed subcontractors;
- Financial and administrative integrity of the proposal, including adherence to federal financial guidelines and processes;
- Adequate detail and narrative about the cost elements in the proposed budget;
- Provisions for adequate evaluation of the effectiveness of the project; and
- Potential for using the results of the project in other undertakings or programs.
Once the formal application has been received, a decision is normally made within 90 days.