Pre-Award Phase

Pre-Award Phase
​The pre-award phase represents the beginning of the grant lifecycle, which includes announcing opportunities, submitting applications, and reviewing applications. Below are explanations of what generally occurs during the pre-award phase.

Funding Opportunity Announcement
​The Office of Employment and Training (OET) within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) solicits applications for projects to help us advance the goals and strategies outlined in the Unified State Workforce Plan. The OET will issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) asking organizations to respond.  The NOFO is typically for a specific activity and will be open for a limited time.  The intent of the NOFOs is to create innovative models that can be replicated and sustained through the local workforce areas. Each NOFO includes detailed instructions for applying and OET will recommend funding applications that best conform to the directives in the NOFO and the mission. Active NOFOs are posted here.

Registering to Apply
​Applicants must "register" or get pre-qualified through the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) Grantee Portal, During pre-qualification, Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) verifications are performed including a check of Debarred and Suspended status and good standing with the Secretary of State. The pre-award process also includes a financial and administrative risk assessment utilizing an Internal Controls Questionnaire. It's not a highly complex process, but it can take 1 to 3 weeks to complete, so please register as early as you can. Go here to get more information on these requirements.

Completing Your Application
​Before jumping into the process of filling out the application, you (i.e., an organization or individual) should spend time analyzing your own capabilities as compared to the specific eligibility and technical requirements detailed in the application instructions. The application planning process is lengthy, but it is critical when considering the importance of carrying out government-related work and the competition you may face for funding. While the specific steps vary widely depending on the type of grant you are applying for, major components of the planning process include developing your ideas, conducting research, writing your proposal, and completing the application.

Application Review Process
​Once the application submission deadline passes, OET staff conduct an initial screening of applications to check for completeness. The specific process for reviewing varies based on the type of grant application submitted.  In addition to an initial screening, the applicable steps may include:

  • Programmatic review and assessment of the substance of the applications
  • Financial review of proposed budgets
  • Award negotiations and announcement

Initial Screening of Application
​In the initial screening OET staff will check each proposal to ensure it includes all the required elements to qualify for the grant. What the specific requirements are will vary for each grant, but common elements are eligibility, program narrative, budget attachment, and  if applicable a complete written agreement with an LWIA with a commitment to participate beyond conducting eligibility. The key for the initial screening is that OET staff is looking for the presence of the required element, not the quality of the element. If your application does not meet all of these basic requirements, then your application is likely to be rejected.

Programmatic Review and Assessment of Applications

Once the initial screening of applications is complete, the remainder of the applications undergo a thorough assessment of their technical quality and programmatic competency (Merit Review). Again, this varies depending on the type of grant in which you applied. The review is conducted by staff who assess the applications using the application review process and criteria outlined in the NOFO.

A common review procedure is a "merit review" that is performed by a panel of at least three people, who assess and score each application independently. Then, the peer review panel will convene to discuss the merits of the applications. A series of policies and assurances are in place to maintain a fair, objective process based on material facts in the applications and without conflicts of interest (COI) for the peer reviewers as required by GATA.

Financial Review
​While an application may have technical and programmatic quality, your budget also needs to be well-documented and reflect the requirements of the grant program. The OET staff conduct a cost analysis, reviewing each line item and the overall proposed budget to ensure compliance with statutory and financial regulations. Additionally, the financial review also factors in the total budget for the grant program in relation to how much money each application requests.