0301 Overview

This chapter establishes the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) financial policies for Grant Funding Availability Announcement Process.

Key items covered in this chapter include:

  • VA will appropriately promote the widest possible dissemination of Federal financial assistance information to potential applicants concerning the availability of funding opportunities.
  • VA will follow 2 C.F.R. § 200.203 on funding opportunity announcements requirements when posting publicly on Grants.gov, or the Federal Register.
  • Heads of a grant program office will name an appropriate staff member to hold primary responsibility for approving funding opportunity announcements and ensure that there is an appropriate level of coordination.
  • Whenever possible, grant program offices should provide applicants at least 30 calendar days from the date of issuance of a funding opportunity announcement to prepare and submit applications.
  • The process of developing and issuing a funding opportunity announcement will not restrict competition, unless limited competition has been approved in advance.

0302 Revisions

SectionRevisionOfficeReason for ChangeEffective Date
Various & Appendix BUpdated Notice of Funding Availability to Notice of Funding Opportunity section and deleted Appendix B.GMSThis terminology is in alignment with 2 CFR 200. Template in Appendix B was moved to the Grants Management Practice Guide.October 2023
030503 Content Requirements for NOFOs  Added language specific to compliance with Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act and Build America, Buy America Act.GMSThis language will inform all applicants of the need to comply with IIJA and BABA requirements should they be awarded a grant.  October 2023
See changelog for previous policy revisions.

0303 Definitions

2 CFR § 200 -Federal government grants regulations, which are maintained by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These regulations apply to all federal grant programs, unless exempted by authorizing statute, public law, or other federally binding enactment.

Funding Opportunity Announcement or Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) – a notice in Grants.gov describing the type of funding available on a competitive basis and provides a contact where an application may be submitted. The requirement to provide public notice of Federal financial assistance programs can be found at 2 C.F.R. § 200.203.

Grants.gov – An OMB designated government-wide website for posting summary information about funding opportunities.

0304 Roles and Responsibilities

Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, and Other Key Officials are responsible for ensuring compliance with the policies set forth in this chapter.

Grants Management Service (GMS) is the agency resource for grants management, grants policy, and grants administration support.

Head of a Grant program office has the primary responsibility for the grant program, including grant awards and administration. Heads of grant program offices ensure Federal compliance with applicable statutory, regulatory, and administrative policy requirements and ensure program guidance and NOFOs follow appropriate templates, include correct administrative and national policy requirements, and compliance with OMB and VA regulations.

0305 Policies

030501 General Policies

  1. Grant funding availability announcement or Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) involves developing and issuing electronic synopses of announcements of funding opportunities under financial assistance programs that award discretionary grants and cooperative agreements, using a standard set of data elements in conformance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines and DATA Act implementation guidance, 68 Federal Register 37379.
  2. VA will adhere to the requirements of 2 C.F.R. § 200.203-204 regarding funding opportunity requirements.
  3. VA will promote the widest possible dissemination of Federal financial assistance information to potential applicants concerning the availability of funding opportunities.
  4. Grant program offices are encouraged to streamline and simplify the Notice of Funding Opportunity process to better serve applicants.

030502 Announcements

  1. Heads of the grant program offices will ensure that NOFOs:
    • Are reviewed and concurred on by GMS and published on grants.gov;
    • Comply with the requirements of this chapter;
    • Follow each Administration’s concurrence process; and
    • Meet the programmatic needs established within statute.
  2. VA must notify the public of Federal programs in the Federal Assistance Listings maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA) per 2 C.F.R. § 200.203.
  3. VA must post on information about funding opportunities on Grants.gov, the OMB-designated government-wide website. The funding opportunity synopsis at Grants.gov will include a PDF upload of the NOFO.
  4. VA grant programs may publish NOFOs across multiple external and internal platforms including but not limited to, program websites, the Federal Register, and after publication, emailing to eligible applicants in a universe of known applicants. When multiple platforms are used to disseminate information about funding opportunities, grant program offices will attempt to ensure that potential variations in the information provided and the timing of the release of the information do not create an unfair advantage to the users of one source rather than another.
  5. The process for the development of draft NOFOs should begin early enough to maximize the time available for the applicant to prepare their application, and for the grant program office to carry out its objective and business review. Thus ensuring the award is issued in a timely award.
  6. Whenever possible, grant program offices should provide applicants at least 30 calendar days from the date of issuance of a NOFO to prepare and submit applications. Less than 30 days can be provided, in the case of a limited competition for urgent awards if a full 30 days would adversely affect the project or program and viable applications may be prepared in less time.
  7. NOFOs will be as clear and comprehensive as possible to limit the need for potential applicants to consult with grant program office staff. If grant program office staff members must provide telephone or other informal consultation, they will provide consistent interpretations and treat all requesters equitably.
  8. NOFOs must include a statement that awardees will comply with all laws, rules, regulations, and executive orders (e.g., P.L. 117-58, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included the Build America, Buy America Act; OMB M-22-11, Initial Implementation Guidance on Application of Buy America Preference in Federal Financial Assistance Programs, P.L. 89-665, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, P.L. 91-190, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969).
  9. The process of developing and issuing a NOFO will not restrict competition unless limited competition has been approved in advance.
  10. Each NOFO will follow a uniform naming convention (i.e., VA-Administration-Grant Program-FYXXXX-Shortened Grant Name (VA-VHA-SHC-FY2023- Shortened Grant Name)). Additional designations may be added if the grant program has multiple opportunities in a single fiscal year.
  11. Grant program offices will not unjustifiably tailor announcements to selected projects or outcomes (e.g., by using unduly restrictive evaluation criteria that only select applicants can meet).

030503 Content Requirements for NOFOs

  1. A NOFO, is a grant program office’s formal means of conveying to the public detailed information about the competition for available Federal financial assistance. These NOFOs must be able to withstand scrutiny concerning the fairness and equity of the competition and provide enough information to potential applicants to judge whether to submit an application.
  2. A NOFO template can be found in the Grants Management Practice Guide, which can be obtained by contacting OBO’s Grants Management Service at VAgrantstigerteam@va.gov.
  3. Grant program offices will follow the NOFO template and NOFO content requirements specified in 2 C.F.R. § 200, Appendix I. When applicable, grant program offices will also adhere to statutory NOFO requirements identified in their grant program’s statutory authority found in title 38 Code of Federal Regulations. Grant Program Offices may utilize the agency wide NOFO template provided by the Grants Management Service.
  4. When a grant program office publishes a NOFO, the NOFO will include the following information:
    1. A summary of information about the funding opportunity including:
      1. Federal Awarding Agency Name (i.e., Department of Veterans Affairs).
      2. Funding Opportunity Title.
      3. Announcement Type (whether the funding opportunity is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity or a modification of a previously announced opportunity)
      4. Funding Opportunity Number (required, if applicable). If the VA has assigned or will assign a number to the funding opportunity announcement, this number must be provided.
      5. Assistance Listing Numbers.
      6. Key Dates including due dates for applications or Executive Order 12372 submissions, as well as for any letters of intent or pre-applications.
    2. Full programmatic description of the funding opportunity in 2 C.F.R. § 200, Appendix I to include:
      1. Summary
      2. Program Description
      3. Federal Award Information
      4. Eligibility Information – including any factors or priorities that affect an applicant’s eligibility or its application’s eligibility for selection.
      5. Application and Submission Information – including the applicable submission dates and time – and requirement to be registered in SAM.gov and, if applicable, Grants.gov.
      6. Application Review Information – including the criteria and process to be used to evaluate applications.
      7. Federal Award Administration Information
      8. Federal Awarding Agency Contact(s) – Required
      9. Monitoring Requirements for Selected Grantees – 2 C.F.R. § 200.205 requires Federal awarding agencies to develop and implement a risk assessment framework. This framework will determine whether grantees are high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk and will thus determine their monitoring cadence.
      10. Reporting Requirements for Selected Grantees
      11. Indirect Cost Rate Information – 2 C.F.R. § 200.414 Indirect (F&A) costs)
      12. Applicable laws and regulations
      13. Other Information – Optional
    3. A statement informing applicants of the requirements of the Build America, Buy America Act, enacted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) on November 15, 2021. The IIJA established a domestic preference for all Federal financial assistance obligated for infrastructure projects after May 14, 2022. All applicants must be informed prior to seeking agency funding that the Guidance establishes sourcing requirements for three key types of products that might be used in an infrastructure project, including iron, steel, and manufactured projects.

030504 Deadlines for Submission of Competing Applications

  1. To be considered timely, applications will be submitted on or before the published deadline date.
  2. Applications not meeting the deadline specified in the NOFO are considered late and may not be considered. Grant program offices are responsible for notifying applicants submitting late applications and either returning the application or advising the applicant of its disposition.
  3. Heads of the grant program office may authorize or delegate the authority to grant a general extension of a published application deadline that affects all applicants or only those applicants in a defined geographical area when justified by circumstances such as acts of God (e.g., floods or hurricanes), widespread disruptions of mail service, or disruptions of electronic (e.g., application receipt services) or other services, such as a prolonged blackout, that affect the public at large.

030505 Assisting Applicants

  1. Heads of grant program offices may designate appropriate staff to provide limited technical assistance to applicants in developing their applications. Pre-award technical assistance should be limited to providing:
    • Explanations of programmatic requirements, regulations, guidelines, technical evaluation, and funding criteria;
    • Guidance to applicants on possible linkages with other resources; and
    • Information related to the technical requirements of the funding announcement, completing forms, use of Grants.gov, and other information that while publicly available may need limited explanation.
  2. If technical assistance is provided, the assistance will be provided in written format and made available to all potential applicants via posting on a public-facing website. In all cases, the ultimate responsibility for the quality of the application remains with the applicant. Care will be taken to ensure that the technical assistance provided is consistent among potential applicants and does not affect the review process for applications.
  3. If letters of intent or pre-applications are required, staff may review them to determine relevance to the program announcement’s topics, whether any required activities are included, and the conformance of the project plan with program regulations and guidelines. Letters of intent or pre-applications also may be handled and reviewed by a designated review function external to the Federal financial assistance agency.
  4. All questions asked of potential applicants during the open competition period must be answered in written format and posted on a public-facing website for all potential applicants. Answers to questions posed be potential applicants must not be provided over the phone. For details on the Question-and-Answer process, Grant Program Offices are encouraged to seek assistance from Grants Management Service.

0306 Authorities and References

0307 Rescissions

VA Financial Policies and Procedures, Volume X, Grants; Chapter 3, Grant Funding Availability Announcement, July 2020.

0308 Policy Approval

This policy was approved by the VA Chief Financial Officers’ Council on October 6, 2023.

Appendix A: History of Revisions to this Chapter

See changelog for previous policy revisions.