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Peer Review of R&D Contract Technical Proposals SOP

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This SOP has internal roles only.

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.

Purpose

To ensure fair, objective, and uniform peer review of biomedical and behavioral research and development (R&D) contract technical proposals submitted to NIAID.

Procedure

For this SOP, the term "R&D" includes innovative testing, research, development, demonstration, R&D support, and related efforts. For definitions of those terms, see Section H of NIH Policy Manual 6315-1 Initiation, Review, Evaluation, and Award of Research & Development Contracts.

The NIH Policy Manual 6315-1, which supplements HHSAR Part 315, details the policies, procedures, and staff roles for reviewing technical proposals for NIH biomedical and behavioral R&D contracts.

The policies and procedures make no distinction between intramural and extramural contracts for the requirements for peer review of both project concepts and proposals.

Only the scientific review officer (SRO), contracting officer, and contract specialist may discuss evaluations with peer reviewers.

Contracting Officers or Designees

  • Review proposals in the NIAID electronic Contract Proposal Submission (eCPS) system for compliance with the terms of the solicitation, including any stated page limitations.
  • If there are mandatory qualification criteria in the solicitation that must be met at the time of proposal submission, follow the procedures of the Mandatory Qualification Criteria for Offerors SOP before sending proposals to the SRO.
  • In eCPS, send technical proposals to the SRO within three business days after receiving proposals.
  • Conduct administrative review of all proposals.
    • In consultation with the COR verify that the proposal complies with requirements in the solicitation.
    • Verify that the proposal complies with the page limit.
    • Identify key personnel.
  • Assign technical proposals to contracting officer's representative in eCPS.
  • Participate in pre-review meetings and, as needed, explain the acquisition process to scientific review group (SRG) members.
  • Before the meeting, ensure that any non-federal contractor staff from the Office of Acquisitions who are attending the meeting have been approved through a waiver signed by the Director of the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA). The CO should initiate the waiver process.
  • Attend the peer review meeting to do the following:
    • Bring Laptop to review meeting.
    • Present an introduction to inform reviewers about contract policy and to ensure that all SRG members understand their roles and responsibilities in the acquisition process.
    • Serve as a resource on the acquisition process and administrative contracting matters.
    • Ensure that contracting regulations and policies are upheld.
    • Ensure that offerors receive impartial, fair, and equitable treatment during the review.
    • Track all reviewer scores and ensure that all reviewers are entering strengths and weaknesses for each Technical Evaluation Criteria.
    • Assist SRO in ensuring that recommendations and scores reflect the discussions.
    • Assist SRO in ensuring a fair and objective review.
  • Comply with the SRO’s instructions for the conduct of the meeting.
  • Do not take any notes that would identify individual reviewer comments during the meeting.
  • Privately alert the SRO when it appears that the reviewers have overlooked information in a proposal or if you have other concerns regarding the conduct of the review.
  • Work with the SRO to ensure that all reviewers have scored all Technical Evaluation Criteria for each of the proposals including strengths and weaknesses.
  • Complete, sign, and return the post-review conflict of interest certification provided by the SRO.
  • File the following in the official contract file. Under no circumstances should any of the following documents be destroyed or discarded.
    • For the meeting:
      • Final technical evaluation report (TER).
      • Technical Evaluation Summary Score Spreadsheet.
      • SRG Roster.
      • Technical Review Meeting Agenda.
      • Technical Evaluation Meeting Slide Deck.
      • SRP Review Manual.
      • Any notes to the record.
      • Signed Staff pre- and post-review conflict of interest certifications.
    • For each reviewer:
      • Original Technical Evaluation Score Sheet (TESS), including the individual technical evaluation summary page.
      • Reviewers Confidentiality Certifications.
      • Original pre- and post-review conflict of interest certification.
      • Original conflict of interest waivers, if needed.

Scientific Review Officers

  • Bring issues to the contracting officer's attention.
  • Identify areas of scientific expertise needed for the review.
  • Identify and recruit reviewers for the SRG. No more than one-fourth of an SRG may be government employees. See 42 CFR Part 52h.4(c).
  • Screen potential reviewers for conflict of interest. See the Conflict of Interest in Peer Review SOP.
  • Advise reviewers about conflict of interest regulations. Provide peer review guidelines and ensure they are followed.
  • Safeguard confidentiality of materials and restrict the distribution of proposal information in accordance with the Procurement Integrity Act and FAR 3.104-4. Encrypt appropriate files on CD for reviewers.
  • Convene pre-review meetings with project and contracting officers to discuss roles, responsibilities, the review process, and concerns.
  • Convene one or more pre-review meetings with the SRG members, contracting officer, and contracting officer's representative.
  • Conduct the review meeting, provide review instructions, and discuss administrative issues.
  • Ensure that a contracting officer or designee from the Office of Acquisitions (OA) is present at the review meeting. Send reminder to Contracts and Program staff to bring laptops to the review meeting.
  • Ensure that SRG members evaluate proposals and address technical evaluation criteria impartially and completely, basing their evaluations solely upon the content of the proposal.
  • Ensure that SRG members do not bring outside, non-peer reviewed information to the meeting.
  • Instruct reviewers to ensure that each TESS is complete and accurate as described below:
  • Use the original TESS forms to develop the TER for the contracting officer.
  • After the peer review meeting, prepare, sign, and submit the original TER to the contracting officer, with a copy to the contracting officer's representative.
  • Send the following to the contracting officer for the official contract file.
    • For the meeting:
      • Final technical evaluation report (TER).
      • Technical Evaluation Summary Score Spreadsheet.
      • SRG Roster.
      • Technical Review Meeting Agenda.
      • Technical Evaluation Meeting Slide Deck.
      • SRP Review Manual.
      • Any notes to the record.
      • Signed Staff pre- and post-review conflict of interest certifications.
    • For each reviewer:
      • Original Technical Evaluation Score Sheet (TESS), including the individual technical evaluation summary page.
      • Reviewers Confidentiality Certifications.
      • Original pre- and post-review conflict of interest certification.
      • Original conflict of interest waivers, if needed.
  • Archive copies of all the documents sent to the contracting officer except for the TER and TESS, which must be saved only until the award is made. Keep the SRP Document Delivery Form.

Scientific Review Groups

  • Comply with conflict of interest regulations. See the Conflict of Interest in Peer Review SOP.
  • Each reviewer must independently review and evaluate all technical proposals and determine strengths and weaknesses according to the technical evaluation criteria in the solicitation.
    • These evaluations will serve as the basis for discussing technical merit of the proposals.
    • Each proposal must be evaluated solely on the content of the proposal. Comparisons between proposals are not permitted.
  • Assigned reviewer for each proposal presents narrative descriptions and critiques, assesses strengths and weaknesses for each technical evaluation criterion, and identifies ambiguities, inconsistencies, deficiencies, and errors in the proposals. Other SRG members then provide their critiques.
  • After general discussion, reviewers independently score each proposal according to all technical evaluation criteria, based on the corresponding weights in the solicitation. Use the Technical Evaluation Score Sheet.
    • For each proposal, revise written critiques as needed to reflect independent judgment of strengths and weaknesses from the SRG discussions.
    • Ensure critiques match the scores provided for each technical evaluation criterion.
  • Reviewers independently rate each proposal as technically acceptable or unacceptable.
  • Reviewers sign and date each TESS.
  • For each acceptable proposal, if required by the solicitation, ensure each reviewer has completed the sections for special considerations such as the following:
  • For unacceptable proposals, do not complete the sections for special considerations as listed above.
  • Remain at the review meeting until the contracting officer or designee has confirmed that each TESS has been completed, signed, and reviewed for accuracy.

Contracting Officer's Representatives

  • Conduct administrative review of all proposals for compliance with the requirements in the solicitation. Bring any issues you identify to the contracting officer's attention.
  • If there are mandatory qualification criteria in the solicitation that must be met at the time of proposal submission, follow the procedures of the Mandatory Qualification Criteria for Offerors SOP.
  • Consult with the Contracting Officer to ensure that the proposals comply with requirements in the solicitation.
  • Participate in pre-review meetings. To ensure that SRG members understand the intent of the solicitation, summarize the background and objectives.
  • Before attending the review meeting, ensure that you have no conflict of interest for any of the proposals submitted, then complete, sign, and return the pre-review conflict of interest certification provided by the SRO. If you have a conflict with any of the offerors, discuss with the SRO. The conflict may require that you be excluded from the review or that you get a waiver, if eligible.
  • Identify any additional Program staff to the CO and SRO who plan to attend the meeting and the reasons for their attendance at least one week prior to the review meeting. Final attendance will be approved by the SRO/CO.
  • Identify to the CO and SRO any non-federal contractor staff who will be attending the meeting. Only allow the contractor staff to attend the meeting if the CO has submitted a waiver and the waiver is signed off by the DEA Director.
  • Bring Laptop to the review meeting.
  • Observe the review meeting and serve as a resource to explain programmatic points SRG members may raise during evaluations. Do not provide comment or opinion regarding technical merit of any proposal.
  • Avoid evaluative comments and any verbal or nonverbal indications of bias toward or against proposals.
  • Do not take any notes that would identify individual reviewer comments during the meeting.
  • Privately alert the SRO when it appears that the reviewers have overlooked information in a proposal or if you have other concerns regarding the conduct of the review.
  • Complete, sign, and return the post-review conflict of interest certification provided by the SRO.

Procurement Technicians

  • Prepare Technical Evaluation Summary Score Spreadsheet template before the peer review meeting.
  • If the procurement technician is a non-government employee, the contracting officer must submit a waiver to the DEA director to request that the technician be allowed at the peer review meeting.
  • Before attending the review meeting, ensure that you have no conflict of interest for any of the proposals submitted. Then complete, sign, and return the pre-review conflict of interest certification provided by the SRO.
  • Attend peer review meetings and assist the contracting officer or designee as needed to perform the following duties:
    • Review each TESS at the review meeting to ensure the following:
    • Populate the Technical Evaluation Summary Score Spreadsheet. Do not include reviewer names.
    • Deliver each original TESS to the SRO once the scores have been recorded and their accuracy has been confirmed.
    • Do not take any notes that would identify individual reviewer comments during the meeting.
  • Within two business days after the review meeting, distribute the Technical Evaluation Summary Score Spreadsheet to the contracting officer for review and approval. Provide the contracting specialist with the signed original and send a copy to the SRO.
  • Comply with the SRO’s instructions for the conduct of the meeting.
  • Complete, sign, and return the post-review conflict of interest certification provided by the SRO.

Contacts

See the OA staff listing for the appropriate contract specialist and contracting officer.

See the SRP staff listing for the appropriate SRO.

If you have knowledge to share or want more information on this topic, email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.

Links

Broad Agency Announcement Development SOP

Conflict of Interest in Peer Review SOP

Contracting Officer SOP

Contracting Officer's Representative (COR) SOP

Mandatory Qualification Criteria for Offerors SOP

NIH Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Rules

Managing Conflict of Interest In the NIH Peer Review of Grants and Contracts

 

Last Updated April 07, 2016

Last Reviewed February 10, 2016