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Negotiated R&D Contract Awards Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

How does NIAID decide to award a contract instead of a grant?

NIAID uses a contract when it wants to acquire a product or service, such as research. Contracts are legally binding, with specific deliverables and deadlines. See the Contract Deliverables and Reporting Requirements SOP. Work done under a contract requires programmatic oversight by NIAID staff.

A grant is an assistance mechanism provided to an organization to conduct research in a designated scientific area.

Visit Contracts, Application, and Standard Operating Procedures for more information.

What kinds of organizations submit proposals for NIH R&D contracts?

Academic and other research organizations, such as commercial organizations and non-profits, submit proposals for NIH R&D contracts. Learn more about R&D contracts at Why You May Want to Consider a Contract.

May a subcontractor subcontract with another organization?

For contracts, NIAID may provide consent for a subcontractor to enter into a subcontract. Read the Providing Consent to Subcontract SOP.

Do subcontractors need an eRA Commons account?

No. Neither prime contractor nor subcontractor organizations need to register with eRA Commons.

Where can I find details on NIAID contracting procedures?

Find information at About NIAID Research and Development Contracts or go to Extramural Standard Operating Procedures or Contracts SOPs by Stage.

Where do I find solicitations?

You can find solicitations in FedBizOpps, the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. NIAID's are listed at Extramural R&D Solicitations and Station Support and Simplified Acquisition Solicitations.

Do R&D contracts undergo peer review?

Yes. For details on the process, go to About NIAID Research and Development Contracts, the Peer Review of R&D Contract Technical Proposals SOP, and NIH Policy Manual 6315-1, Initiation, Review, Evaluation, and Award of Research and Development (R&D) Contracts.

Are R&D contract proposals reviewed by Council?

No. R&D contract proposals undergo peer review, which is conducted by a scientific review group composed of experts in the field(s). See the Peer Review of R&D Contract Technical Proposals SOP. For more information, see NIH Policy Manual 6315-1, Initiation, Review, Evaluation, and Award of Research and Development (R&D) Contracts.

What factors are used to evaluate a contract proposal?

That depends on the solicitation. Potential offerors should check Section M of the solicitation for the evaluation factors and their relative importance.

For R&D contracts, technical merit is usually the most important evaluation factor. Most NIAID contracts are awarded to the proposal that represents the best value to the government. Cost and past performance are also evaluated in a best value determination.

Review criteria are solicitation-specific. To learn more, read Why You May Want to Consider a Contract.

Do offerors have an opportunity to revise their proposals?

Yes, if discussions are to be conducted. Based on the ratings of each proposal against all evaluation factors, the contracting officer establishes a competitive range composed of all the most highly rated proposals. Discussions are tailored to each offeror’s proposal, and must be conducted by the contracting officer with each offeror within the competitive range.

Offerors in the competitive range will have a chance to respond about deficiencies, significant weaknesses, and adverse past performance information to which the offeror has not yet had an opportunity to respond. Offerors may be asked to provide written responses to scientific questions raised by the peer reviewers, as well as other questions; for example, questions about the business proposal or costs.

For details, see the Competitive Range for Contracts SOP, Contracting by Negotiation SOP, and About NIAID Research and Development Contracts.

What is source selection?

At the conclusion of the negotiation process, each offeror will be given an opportunity to provide a revised final proposal. NIAID reviews all the revised final proposals based on the solicitation's evaluation factors and selects a contractor for award. This process is called source selection.

For more information, go to About NIAID Research and Development Contracts.

Can I request a debriefing after a competition is over?

Yes. If you are excluded from the competitive range or otherwise excluded from the competition before award, you can request a preaward debriefing within three days after receipt of the notice of exclusion from the competition. At your request, we can delay this debriefing until after award and will include all information normally provided in a post-award debriefing.

If your proposal was in the competitive range but was not selected for award, you may request a post-award debriefing within three days after receipt of a notification of contract award.

How can I find an archive of NIAID R&D contract awards and names of awardees?

We don't archive this information on our Web site, but you can review a list of awards at NIH RePORTER. Here's how to execute the search:

  • For Funding Mechanism, click the blue button and select R and D Contracts.
  • Include any other search criteria you'd like. For example, you could choose NIAID for Agency/Institute/Center.
  • Click Submit Query.

After your search is complete, click on an opportunity to see the contract award amount, summary, awardee information, and other details.

Where can I get guidance on audits and rate calculations for direct labor, fringes, and overhead on R&D contracts?

Check with your business office. If you're an institutional business official, contact NIH's Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS) or read DFAS - FAQ.

Where is the NIAID contracting office located?

For the mailing address, go to Contact Information; also find Directions to Our Office.

How do I find contact information for NIAID contracting staff?

Go to Office of Acquisitions on the Division of Extramural Activities Contacts list. For solicitation-specific questions, see the contacts listed in the solicitation.

What if my question wasn't answered here, or I'd like to suggest a question?

Email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. We answer questions by email and post them here. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.

Last Updated December 22, 2014

Last Reviewed December 22, 2014