7 CFR § 4285.69 - Evaluation and disposition of applications.
(1) All proposals received from eligible applicants and postmarked in accordance with deadlines established in the annual program solicitation shall be evaluated by the Assistant Administrator for Cooperative Services through an RDA or its successor agency staff panel. The Assistant Administrator for Cooperative Services will select the evaluation panel from staff determined to be highly qualified in the subject matter areas that were emphasized in the current year's solicitation and from those with no potential conflict of interest with the applicants.
(2) Prior to technical examination, a preliminary review will be made for responsiveness to the program solicitation (e.g., relationship of proposal to research topic(s) listed in solicitation). Proposals that do not fall within the guidelines as stated in the program solicitation will be eliminated from competition and will be returned to the applicant.
(3) Proposals will be ranked based on evaluation criteria established in § 4285.70 of this subpart, and financial support levels will be recommended to the Assistant Administrator for Cooperative Services by the panel within the limitation of the total funding available in the fiscal year. The purpose of these evaluations is to provide information upon which the Assistant Administrator for Cooperative Services may make informed judgments in selecting proposals. Such recommendations are advisory only and are not binding on the awarding official of RDA or its successor agency. To ensure a comprehensive evaluation, all applications should be written with the care and thoroughness accorded papers for publication.
(1) On the basis of the Assistant Administrator for Cooperative Services's evaluation of an application in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the Assistant Administrator for Cooperative Services will either:
(i) Approve support using currently available funds;
(ii) Defer support due to lack of funds or need for further evaluation; or
(iii) Disapprove support for the proposed project in whole or in part.
(3) Any deferral or disapproval of an application will not preclude its reconsideration or reapplication during subsequent fiscal years. However, applicants must reapply if reconsideration is desired.
(4) The Assistant Administrator for Cooperative Services will not make a cooperative agreement funding award, based upon an application covered by this part, unless the application has been properly reviewed in accordance with the provisions of this part and unless said reviewers have made recommendations concerning the scientific merit and relevance to the program of such application.