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Guidance for Applicants and Awardees


On this page, learn all about applying for and managing funding from NIJ.

What NIJ Funds

NIJ awards grants and agreements for:

  • Research, development and evaluation (CFDA 16.560). NIJ funds physical and social science research, development and evaluation projects about criminal justice through competitive solicitations. The focus of the solicitations varies from year to year based on research priorities and available funding.
  • Forensic laboratory enhancement. NIJ provides funding through formula and discretionary awards to reduce evidence backlogs and improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services. Programs include:
  • Research fellowships. NIJ funds two fellowships through annual solicitations. The focus of the solicitations varies from year to year. 

Other than through the forensic laboratory enhancement programs, NIJ does not fund proposals primarily to purchase equipment, materials or supplies, or to provide direct services.

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Find a Funding Opportunity

Look for current funding opportunities:

You also can:

Unsolicited Proposals. Although you may submit unsolicited proposals, you are discouraged from doing so unless you have discussed the concept with NIJ staff and been asked to submit a proposal that does not fit into a specific solicitation. Unsolicited proposals may receive either an external peer review or an internal review. If the proposal fits into an already established solicitation category, it will be returned with a recommendation to resubmit it under that solicitation.

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What to Do Before You Apply

Get registered! If you are interested in receiving OJP funding, get registered on Grants.gov and in the System for Awards Management, and do it soon. You cannot submit any OJP applications until you do. Registration, especially with Grants.gov, may take approximately 3-5 business days. OJP strongly encourages applicants to start registration as soon as possible. Learn more from OJP's Grants 101.

Read the materials. Familiarize yourself with NIJ and OJP grants and related requirements. Read the solicitation carefully for specific requirements and review:

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Build Your Proposal

Although both Grants.gov and OJP's Grants Management System (GMS) require you to submit application packages online, which includes filling out several online forms, you will still need to write the bulk of your proposal in a word processing application.

Write the Program Narrative. The Program Narrative includes an abstract, table of contents, main body and appendixes that provide details about your proposed project. Each solicitation defines the page limit for the main body of the program narrative.

For further guidance, see:

Develop your budget. Although the degree of specificity of any budget will vary depending on the nature of the project and OJP agency requirements, a complete, well-thought-out budget serves to reinforce your credibility and increase the likelihood of your proposal being funded. Your application must include both a budget narrative and a budget detail worksheet (we strongly recommend that you use the Budget Detail Worksheet Template (pdf, 24 pages).

For further information, review:

Sample Applications

View sample applications from:

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Submit Your Application

Once you have written a grant proposal, you must complete the application package and submit it online.

Competitive, discretionary grant applications generally are submitted through Grants.gov and formula grants, congressional earmarks and continuation grants must be submitted through OJP's Grants Management System (GMS).

It is NIJ's general policy that submission of the following five elements is critical for an application to be submitted to peer review:

  • Program Narrative.
  • Program Budget.
  • Budget Narrative.
  • Resumes or Curriculum Vitae of Key Personnel, if referred to in the solicitation.
  • Tribal Resolution, if applicable.

Learn more about how to submit your application from:

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Application Review and Award Notification

How your application will be reviewed. All proposals are reviewed by independent peer review panels consisting of both researchers and practitioners. Panel members read each proposal, assess the technical merits and policy relevance of the proposed research, and typically meet to discuss their assessments. Panelists are asked to base their reviews on criteria set forth in the solicitation. The panel assessments and any accompanying NIJ staff reports are submitted to the NIJ Director. All final grant award decisions are made by the Assistant Attorney General or the NIJ Director. Learn more about proposal review.

Interested in becoming a peer reviewer for NIJ? Learn how.

Award notification. If you are a successful applicant and your project is selected for funding, NIJ will notify you of the award no later than September 30 of the calendar year via the Grants Management System, regardless of whether the application came through GMS or Grants.gov. If you are unsuccessful, NIJ will issue you a rejection letter by December 30 of the calendar year.

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If Your Proposal Is Funded

If your proposals is funded, you should read carefully each of the following:

  • Award package and special conditions.
  • OJP Postaward Requirements (pdf, 32 pages), provides step-by-step guidance on what you must do and what you should review to successfully manage your award.
  • The DOJ Grants Financial Guide, the primary reference manual for award recipients. Contains compilations of laws, rules and regulations that affect the financial and administrative management of awards.
  • GMS Grant Monitoring for Grantees (pdf, 20 pages) provides step-by-step instructions and screenshots to help manage grant monitoring site visits within the GMS Grant Monitoring Module and in compliance with federal monitoring requirements and deadlines.

Managing Your Funding

If you have questions about your award, contact your grant manager.

In addition to reviewing the Financial Guide, we also encourage you to visit the Grants Financial Management Online Training Module. You will find 24 training modules on the basics of federal grants management, including financial management systems, administrative rules, subawards, reporting requirements, financial monitoring and audit requirements, and award closeout.

Applicants and grant award recipients may visit Post Award Reporting Requirements for an overview of post-award grant management responsibilities for grant recipients. Grant recipients are responsible for complying with the conditions of their grant award and the requirements outlined in the DOJ Grants Financial Guide. Please note that some NIJ grant recipients will have additional post-award responsibilities that are specific to a program or a type of award (e.g., research awards). Grant recipients must read the program solicitation and grant award conditions for more information.

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Research, Development, and Evaluation* Grant Award Requirements

Post-award requirements for research, development, and evaluation awards are outlined below.

Data Archiving

Before the end of the grant award period, grant recipients must archive data according to the Data Archiving Plan approved by NIJ, and consistent with the approved Privacy Certificate and any other approved human subject protections documentation at NIJ’s National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) website. Unless otherwise specified in writing by the NIJ Grant Manager, as authorized by the appropriate NIJ authority, data submission is required for all research, development, and evaluation awards, and the requirement may not be unilaterally modified or waived. Please see the grant agreement and grant award conditions for further information.

Grant recipients are strongly encouraged to submit data sets 90 days or earlier prior to the end of the award project period. NIJ may require grant recipients to modify data sets after initial submission to meet the specifications outlined in the grant program solicitation, grant agreement, according to archiving instructions, or due to concerns with data quality. Grant recipients are required to sufficiently address requests for modification in a timely manner, and therefore grantees should leave time within the grant award project period to make these adjustments.

Data deposits must include:

  • The Data Submission Checklist (pdf, 6 pages)
  • Data Archiving Plan (updated for project completion)
  • IRB approval, informed consent, and privacy certificate
  • Data (de-identified)
  • Documentation
  • Syntax
  • Bibliographies
  • Inventory of files
  • Other artifacts that NIJ may request.

For complete details, download the Data Submission Checklist and Secondary Data Analyst User's Guide (pdf, 6 pages).

Data specialists at NACJD review submitted data and documentation and provide a Deposit Review Report to the NIJ grant manager and the NACJD program manager.

If the data as initially submitted require further revision, the grant manager contacts the grantee with specific issues that the grantee, NACJD data specialist, and grant manager work to address. The data or related materials are then resubmitted.

Once approved by the NIJ grant manager, data are processed for inclusion in the archive[1] and fund withholding conditions are removed from the related grant. Once processed, the data are made available at an appropriate level of protection.

See the webinar video on Preparing, Archiving and Accessing Data and the Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving: Best Practice Throughout the Data Life Cycle (pdf, 45 pages).


Reporting Requirements

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)

All organizations or individuals receiving funds from NIJ for research, development, and evaluation projects must submit their semi-annual progress report using the RPPR format. See Research Performance Progress Report Guidelines for NIJ Awardees for guidance on preparing these reports. NIJ will not accept semi-annual progress reports that do not conform to this format under research, development, and evaluation awards.

Final Research Report (Awards Made in 2017 and After)

NIJ expects award recipients to generate scholarly products, such as peer-reviewed journal articles, law review articles, patents, and prototypes, as appropriate. In addition, awardees are required to submit a Final Research Report on, or before, the last day of the grant project period.

The Final Research Report should be a double-spaced manuscript that is well-developed, concise, and suitable for publication. Award recipients should expect that all or part of the final report will be made available to the public.

While there is no specific page limit, award recipients are strongly encouraged to produce succinct Final Research Reports with the expectation that overly long reports may be returned. Final Research Reports should be written in a manner that makes the content accessible to a broad audience which includes practitioners, policymakers, and other researchers.

The Final Research Report should include the following sections, which largely align to the RPPR format, but should be cumulative and prepared with public dissemination in mind.[2] The Final Research Report should be submitted through the ‘Special Report’ function in the Grants Management System:

  • Cover Page with:
    • Federal award number (as it appears on the award document)
    • Project title (as it appears on the award document)
    • Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI)
      • Name
      • Title
    • Contact information (e-mail, address, and phone)
    • Award recipient organization (name and address)
    • Project period (as it appears on the award document)
    • Award amount (as it appears on the award document)
  • Summary of the project
    • Major goals and objectives
    • Research questions
    • Research design, methods, analytical and data analysis techniques
    • Expected applicability of the research
  • Participants and other collaborating organizations
  • Changes in approach from original design and reason for change, if applicable
  • Outcomes
    • Activities/accomplishments
    • Results and findings
    • Limitations
  • Artifacts
    • List of products (e.g., publications, conference papers, technologies, websites, databases), including locations of these products on the Internet or in other archives or databases
    • Data sets generated (broad descriptions will suffice)
    • Dissemination activities

Note that this reporting requirement does not apply to awards made under the Graduate Research Fellowship Program solicitations. For Graduate Research Fellows, the final deliverable is an official signed copy of the doctoral student's defended dissertation.

Summary Overview (Awards Made Prior to 2017)

Recipients of grants issued prior to 2017 are expected to generate scholarly products, such as peer reviewed journal articles, law review articles, patents and prototypes, as appropriate. In addition, grantees are required to submit a Final Summary Overview. This Overview will summarize the research project and include sections that state the purpose, project subjects (if applicable), project design and methods, data analysis, findings, and implications for criminal justice policy and practice in the United States. The Final Summary Overview should not exceed 10 double-spaced pages, and should be submitted 90 days prior to the project’s end date.


If you are unsure which deliverable requirements apply to your award, please contact the assigned grant manager.

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* If a grant recipient is unsure as to whether a grant award is designated as a research, development, or evaluation award, please contact the assigned NIJ Grant Manager.

[note 1] Because of increased submissions of data sets, not all data are processed for dissemination. Some data are processed only for preservation or until they are requested. A study description (metadata) is always added to the NACJD data collection regardless of how the data are processed and published.

[note 2] Please note that the Final Research Report is not a substitution for a final semi-annual progress report for the final reporting period of the project, and that closeout cannot be initiated until all required deliverables are submitted and approved by NIJ.