44 CFR 152.5 - Review process and evaluation criteria.
(a) Every application will be evaluated based on the answers to the activity-specific questions during our initial screening. The applications that are determined to best address the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program's established priorities during this initial screening will be in the “competitive range” and subject to a second level of review. We will use the narratives/supplemental information provided by the applicants in their grant applications to evaluate, on a competitive basis, the merits and benefits of each request for funding. In selecting applications for award, we will evaluate each application for assistance independently based on established eligibility criteria and the program priorities. Eligible applicants that best address the priorities will advance to a second level of review. The second level of review involves an assessment of the financial needs of the applicant, and an analysis of the benefits that would result from the grant award.
(b) In order to be successful at this second level of the evaluation, an applicant must complete the narrative section of the application package. The narrative should include a detailed description of the planned program, uses for the grant funds including details of each budget line item. For example, if personnel costs are included in the budget, please provide a break down of what those costs are for. The narrative should explain why the grant funds are needed and why the department has not been able to obtain funding for the planned activities on its own. A discussion of financial need should include a discussion of any Federal funding received for similar activities. Finally, the applicant's narrative should detail the benefits the department or community will realize as a result of the grant award.
(c) This second level of review will be conducted using a panel of technical evaluation panelists. These panelists are largely made up of non-Federal experts with a fire service background. The panelists will assess the application's merits with respect to the clarity and detail provided in the narrative about the project, the applicant's financial need, and the project's purported benefit to be derived from the cost. Technical evaluation panelists will independently score each application before them and then discuss the merits/shortcomings of the application in an effort to reconcile any major discrepancies. A consensus on the score is not required. The highest scoring applications resulting from this second level of review will then be considered for award. We seek to maximize the benefits derived from the funding by crediting applicants with the greatest financial need and whose proposed activities provide the greatest benefit versus the cost.
(d) In addition to the project narrative, the applicant must provide an itemized budget detailing the use of the grant funds. If an applicant is seeking funds in more than one eligible activity within a program, separate budgets will have to be generated for each activity and then an overall or summary budget will have to be generated. For those applicants applying on line, the summary budget will be automatically generated by the e-grants system.
(e) Specific rating criteria for each of the eligible programs will be published in a Notice of Funding Availability that we will publish pursuant to the program's annual appropriation.