(a) Applications shall be evaluated for funding generally within 6 months, but in any event no later than 12 months, from the date of receipt by DOE. After DOE has held an application for 6 months, the applicant may, in response to DOE's request, be required to revalidate the terms of the original application.
(b) DOE shall perform an initial evaluation of all applications to ensure that the information required by this part is provided, that the proposed effort is technically sound and feasible, and that the effort is consistent with program funding priorities. For applications that pass the initial evaluation, DOE shall review and evaluate each application received based on the criteria set forth below and in accordance with the Office of Environment, Health, Safety, and Security Merit Review System developed, as required, under DOE Financial Assistance Regulations,2 CFR 200 as amended by 2 CFR 910.
(c) DOE shall select evaluators on the basis of their professional qualifications and expertise. To ensure credible and inclusive peer review of applications, every effort will be made to select evaluators apart from DOE employees and contractors. Evaluators shall be required to comply with all applicable DOE rules or directives concerning the use of outside evaluators.
(d) DOE shall evaluate new and renewal applications based on the following criteria that are listed in descending order of importance:
(1) The scientific and technical merit of the proposed research;
(2) The appropriateness of the proposed method or approach;
(3) Competency of research personnel and adequacy of proposed resources;
(4) Reasonableness and appropriateness of the proposed budget; and
(5) Other appropriate factors consistent with the purpose of this part established and set forth in a Notice of Availability or in a specific solicitation.
(e) DOE shall also consider as part of the evaluation other available advice or information, as well as program policy factors, such as ensuring an appropriate balance among the program areas listed in§ 602.5 of this part.
(f) In addition to the evaluation criteria set forth in paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section, DOE shall consider the recipient's performance under the existing award during the evaluation of a renewal application.
(g) Selection of applications for award will be based upon the findings of the technical evaluations (including peer reviews, as specified in the Office of Environment, Health, Safety, and Security Merit Review System), the importance and relevance of the proposal to the Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security's mission, and the availability of funds. Cost reasonableness and realism will also be considered.
(h) After the selection of an application, DOE may, if necessary, enter into negotiations with an applicant. Such negotiations are not a commitment that DOE will make an award.