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Transcript: Fiscal Year 2023 Research and Evaluation on Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism

Deadline Notice

The solicitation discussed in this webinar is closed.

Following is the transcript of a webinar held February 21, 2023, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET.

STACY LEE: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, “Research and Evaluation on Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism,” hosted by the National Institute of Justice.

At this time, it's my pleasure to introduce Aisha Qureshi, Social Science Analyst with the National Institute of Justice. Aisha.

AISHA QURESHI: Hi. Thank you so much, Stacy. Welcome, everyone, and thank you for joining today's webinar. As Stacy said, my name is Aisha Qureshi, and I'm one of the social science analysts here at NIJ working on the Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism portfolio. The solicitation was posted on February 7th and will close on May 8th. It should be noted that this year's Grants.gov deadline is April 24th and we'll go over what all that means in just a few minutes.

The purpose of today's webinar is to go over the Fiscal Year 2023 Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism solicitation, the application and review processes, and also some specifics about the solicitation and some frequently asked questions. Additionally, we'll highlight several new topical additions to the solicitation, funding for the research program, and very important tips for ensuring application responsiveness to the solicitation.

As many of you know, NIJ has been making awards through this solicitation for 11 continuous years. In its FY 2012 appropriation, Congress first provided NIJ funds for research targeted toward developing a better understanding of the domestic radicalization phenomenon and advancing evidence-based strategies for effective intervention and prevention. And every year since then, NIJ has received dedicated funding to carry out this mission.

The goal of the new Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism research portfolio was to answer the following questions in the first five years.

One, what are the primary drivers of radicalization to violent extremism and how do they vary across cohorts? How is radicalization to violent extremism analogous to other forms of extreme violence? And what policy choices or programmatic interventions prevent or reduce radicalization to violent extremism, induce disengagement from violent extremism, or support deradicalization and desistance from violent extremism?

The program aimed to answer these questions for the benefit of multiple stakeholders but considered criminal justice agencies and their community partners as the primary beneficiaries. Since 2012, NIJ has funded over 50 projects totaling over $30 million through this annual solicitation. Many of the awards funded through these solicitations have helped answer or, at least, shed some light on these research questions.

However, as the field of terrorism and radicalization studies has evolved, in addition to the changing nature of the violent extremist threat in the U.S., NIJ has started funding awards that may help explain some of the more nuanced challenges faced by practitioners and policymakers.

So, broadly, the solicitation seeks applications for funding for research and evaluation projects that will address the knowledge gaps related to preventing radicalization to violent extremism with clear implications for criminal justice policy and practice in the United States. With this solicitation, NIJ is seeking proposals for rigorous research and evaluation projects targeted toward developing a better understanding of the domestic radicalization phenomenon and advancing evidence-based strategies for effective intervention and prevention as the mandate states. This includes research efforts that explore the radicalization of Americans to all forms of extremism. Funded projects will apply an approach that engages researchers and practitioners in an active partnership to develop more effective solutions to specific problems and to produce transportable lessons and strategies that may help other localities with similar problems.

NIJ is seeking proposals in four topic areas this year: research to inform terrorism prevention efforts, research on the role of communications and radicalization, research on the reintegration of individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses into the community, and evaluations of programs and practices to prevent terrorism.

This solicitation has four primary objectives that I just went over. In topic area one, Research to Inform Terrorism Prevention Efforts, NIJ is seeking applications that build and improve on existing national and international research in the area of terrorism prevention, including research that improves on program development, data sources, and methods. More specifically, NIJ is encouraging applicants to propose novel approaches to study risk and protective factors as they relate to radicalization and terrorism within the evolving terrorist threat landscape in the U.S. NIJ is particularly interested in understanding how the radicalization process is similar or different based on the types of extremist ideologies as manifested in the U.S., including but not limited to the full spectrum of political ideologies, or violent political ideologies, I should say. This also extends to an understanding of how strategies for effective intervention and prevention may vary based on the ideology. As it regards the spectrum of ideologies, NIJ has, and continues to be, sort of agnostic to ideology. In other words, Congress has mandated us to fund research projects that study the causes of radicalization to any and all extreme ideologies.

Under topic area number two, Research on the Role of Communications in Promoting and Countering Extremist Content and Information, we're seeking applications for research that aims to better understand the dynamic role of communications and media platforms, and that's both social media and mass media, in radicalization to violent extremist ideologies. We are encouraging applicants to propose research that identifies strategies and best practices to bolster resistance to extremist material in both the online and offline spaces, as well as research on effective technologies and tools for identification, moderation, and/or content removal of extremist content. Research results from projects funded under this topic should have an end goal of informing effective messaging and counter-narrative campaigns. Throughout the whole solicitation, obviously, but especially under this topic area, NIJ expects applicants to ensure that strategies that are proposed respect constitutional protections for expression, free speech, and association. Further, an applicant's research focus may not rely solely on social media data and should be paired with another research component.

Topics three and four are very similar to those put forward last year, where topic number three looks at Research on Disengagement, Deradicalization, and the Reintegration into Society of Individuals Incarcerated for Terrorism Related Offenses. So NIJ is encouraging applications that build knowledge on how to effectively and efficiently best support reintegration. And topic four, which solicits research for Evaluation of Programs and Practices to Prevent Terrorism, includes formative evaluations and evaluability assessments, and outcome evaluations of terrorism prevention programs. I would like to note that each applicant must clearly delineate which topic area they're applying under, and they must only pick one. So the one that best describes their application.

So what's new in FY23? Obviously a change in funding, right? This year, NIJ has $5.5 million available to award projects under this solicitation. This can change every year, depending on the appropriations bill [Omnibus Appropriations Bill]. So some years, we have listed an estimated amount based on the Senate and House markups for each fiscal year because the solicitation posts before the appropriations bill has passed. This year, we posted the solicitation after the bill had passed, so we have an exact dollar amount, which is $5.5 million.

When it comes to funding, the question of how many awards we anticipate funding and how much each award will be allotted often arises. We're unable to provide a definitive answer on this because both of those numbers really depend on the quantity and the quality of applications that we receive each fiscal year. Since 2012, we've funded as many as eight and as little as two awards per solicitation. Similarly, I'll share that the average award amount under this solicitation to date has been a little under $700,000, so around $685,000. With that being said, however, we have funded awards as high as nearly $1.7 million, and ones that were a lot lower than that average as well. We'll really just emphasize here that the budget proposed should be in line with the research activities that are proposed in the application.

Secondly, we'd like to provide some clarity on NIJ's updated texts on new and emerging topics of emphasis. And so while many of the topics are the same, we've denoted some specifics that we're interested in seeing, right? In topic area one, we've shown interest in really trying to understand the unique violent extremism threat landscape in the U.S. in particular and what grievances are driving the radicalization. We've also placed an emphasis on trying to better understand how the current threat landscape affects our democratic values, what role it plays in the global threat landscape, and how to localize this knowledge and implement it through multidisciplinary means.

In topic area two, NIJ went beyond just mis-, dis-, and mal- information this year and showed interest in research that proposes strategies for effective technologies and tools for identification, moderation, and/or removal of extremist content with the end goal of informing effective messaging and counter-narrative campaigns. We've also emphasized the need for research beyond just standard text analysis and taking into account the role of non-text online content, such as images, videos, and graphics, as well as the role that the mass media, in addition to the social media, plays in promoting or countering radicalization. This topic area requires a lot of careful thought and consideration that needs to be given to constitutional rights, surrounding, as we discussed a few minutes ago, the freedom of speech, expression, and association, and NIJ will be keeping an eye out for these considerations.

Next, you'll see some language in the solicitation that explicitly calls out certain groups or ideologies that promote potential violent extremism. We'd like to reiterate and really underscore the position that NIJ takes on extremist ideology, and that is that we will continue funding research and radicalization to any violent extremist ideology, but we also recognize that the applications that we receive each year are in line with the field and the current and most pervasive threat being faced by our country. It wasn't until FY20 that Congress specifically mandated NIJ to dedicate a portion of the funds to White nationalist extremism. This year, although we did not receive a mandate to focus on any one particular ideology or group, we also recognize that violent White supremacist extremism has come to the forefront of the threat landscape, and we have therefore included some language on this specific threat in the solicitation. NIJ has always been agnostic to the study of radicalization to violent extremism regardless of ideology. In the last 11 years, NIJ has maintained a stance of accepting applications that propose to study all forms of violent extremism.

And, lastly, you'll see that NIJ has added some text in the solicitation on diversity of perspectives on page 14. So, in addition to giving priority consideration to applications designed to promote racial equity, as well as applications for minority-serving institutions, NIJ is interested in increasing diversity and promoting greater inclusion in extremism research. So NIJ encourages diversity of perspectives among applicants to add to the broader scientific understanding of radicalization to violent extremism. Applications are encouraged from researchers of all backgrounds and research partnerships should demonstrate how the researchers and/or practitioners involved in any proposal promote inclusivity and opportunities to be more closely involved in the field of violent extremism prevention.

Lastly, what are we expecting in terms of deliverables if your application is awarded funding? So besides the standard grant-reporting requirements, like the semi-annual research performance progress reports or quarterly financial reports, there are three key deliverables under the solicitation, and they include a Final Research Report, which any recipient of an award under the solicitation will be expected to submit. Additional information on the final research report requirement for the solicitation is posted on NIJ's webpage. Any datasets and associated files and documentation as applicable. So any recipient of an award under this solicitation will be expected to submit to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, NACJD, all datasets that result in whole or in part from the work funded by the award, along with associated files and any documentation necessary for future efforts by others to reproduce the project findings and/or extend the scientific value of the dataset through secondary analysis.

And, lastly, scholarly products. In addition to these deliverables and the required reports and data on performance measures, NIJ expects scholarly products to result from each award under the solicitation, taking the form of one or more published, peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and/or, if appropriate, law-review journal articles, book chapters, books in the academic press, technological prototypes, patented inventions, or similar scientific products. NIJ expects that there will be an equal effort to make the research findings accessible to practitioners and policymaker audiences as well.

Submitting your application. In this section, I'd like to go over some important reminders and some new updates about how to submit applications in response to this year's solicitation.

Like previous years, there are certain elements of the application that have to be received in order for the application to be considered. If one of these is missing, your application will not move on to the review process. The following application elements must be included in the application for an application to meet the basic minimum requirements, BMR, to advance to peer review and receive consideration for funding, and that is the proposal narrative, budget worksheet and budget narrative, which is now combined in a web-based form, and CVs and resumes for key personnel, and key personnel meaning the principal investigator and any and all co-principal investigators and key project staff.

Additionally, every applicant is required to fill out an SF-424, application for federal assistance, and SF-LLL, disclosure of lobbying activities form, without which an application cannot be completed. This is specified in the solicitation, but I'd also like to make sure that it's emphasized here. The solicitation will close, again, on May 8th at 8:59 p.m. That's when the complete application has to be submitted by. However, it should be noted that this year's Grants.gov deadline is April 24th, and so the two forms, the SF-424 and SF-LLL, must be submitted by April 24th when you register in Grants.gov. Only if this step is completed can an applicant apply in JustGrants with the full application package by May 8th, and if an applicant fails to submit in Grants.gov by the deadline, they will be unable to apply in JustGrants by the JustGrants deadline which is May 8th. So we highly encourage applicants to submit their Grants.gov materials 48 hours before the Grants.gov deadline of April 24th. This way, if you run into any technical issues, you can contact the Grants.gov customer support hotline or email address. And the hotline operates 24 hours a days, seven days a week, except on federal holidays. And all this information is available in the solicitation.

Of course, there are still other requirements that need to accompany the application for full consideration and these include things like a project abstract, goals, objectives, deliverables and timelines, any relevant letters of support, a bibliography and references, and any tools, instruments, charts, or graphs that are applicable to the application, and many others that may or may not apply to your application. The application checklist can be found on pages 33 to 35 of the solicitation. So we ask that you please carefully review the checklist when preparing your application and prior to submission.

Again, this part is really important, especially if you've applied for a solicitation in the past under a different system. In the last few years, NIJ has transitioned to a new grants management and application submission system called JustGrants, and because of this, applications are to be submitted in a new two-step process, each with its own deadline. And I'll just go over this again because I think it's incredibly important.

First, you need to submit an SF-424 and SF-LLL in Grants.gov. The deadline to submit these two forms is April 24th by 11:59 p.m. Next, you'll have to submit the full application, including all the applicable attachments, in JustGrants by May 8th by 8:59 p.m. So, again, these are two deadlines. You have to register with Grants.gov and JustGrants prior to submitting an application. Processing delays up to several weeks can sometimes occur when registering, so that’s why we strongly encourage applicants to register several weeks before the application submission deadline. Even if you're not ready to submit your application yet, please just register early. Additionally, for when you're submitting your application, we're urging all applicants to submit applications at least 72 hours prior to the application due date to allow time for the applicant to receive validation messages or rejection notifications from Grants.gov and to correct in a timely fashion any problems that may have caused a rejection notification. Lastly, to make things easier for processing, please be sure to label your documents and attachments appropriately. So if you're submitting a program narrative, please make sure the words “program narrative” are in your document title. If you don't submit forms in Grants.gov by the deadline, the rest of your application in JustGrants will not be accepted. So please be sure to carefully read the How to Apply section in the OJP Grant Application Resource Guide referenced in the solicitation.

Over the years, applicants have sometimes experienced difficulties submitting applications, so I'd like to touch on a few points regarding these difficulties and how they can be prevented to ensure successful and timely submissions.

The first issue that we've seen more than once here at NIJ is applicants, whether they are universities or otherwise, utilizing third-party software to submit their applications. In essence, the applicant has submitted all of their required paperwork to the third-party software program well before the deadline and has left it up to the third-party software to then submit all of that paperwork correctly and on time to the NIJ application submission system. However, there have been instances where a third-party software has failed to properly submit the application into Grants.gov or JustGrants, and this has resulted in NIJ not receiving parts or all of the required application, deeming their application incomplete, and therefore failing the basic minimum requirement threshold. These applications cannot move on to the peer review process. This is a really, really unfortunate situation and we can't control how applicants submit their applications and what software programs they use, but we would like to really underscore the importance of submitting your application as early as you can and also going back into the Grants.gov and JustGrants system to ensure that your full application has in fact been submitted.

Another question that we get often is if applicants can submit a letter of support from an agency or an organization relative to their research project after the application deadline. The answer to this question has always been and continues to be no. So all letters of support must be secured from the appropriate parties and attached to the application before the deadline.

And lastly, we often get questions about whether NIJ can grant extensions to the deadline or exceptions to specific applicants based on various circumstances. This is also something that NIJ cannot do. So unless it can be proven that there was a technical glitch with a NIJ system or software while the applicant was submitting an application, NIJ cannot grant any extensions or exceptions to the deadline. Because this is a competitive solicitation, allowing certain applicants to submit a late application is unfair to the applicants that submit their applications in full and on time.

In order to prevent some of these issues that we just discussed from arising, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NCJRS, Grants.gov, or JustGrants support: Whatever is applicable to you, how far along you are in the application process - these are really, really great resources. When in doubt, please reach out.

The NIJ Review Process.

Once the solicitation has closed, all applications are screened for Basic Minimum Requirements or BMR. During the BMR process, we assess the application to make sure its responsiveness to the solicitation, i.e., you're proposing a research project that responds to at least one of the four areas of focus or topic areas, and if it is being submitted by an eligible applicant, like a university or organization, for example. During BMR, we also check to make sure that the application includes the critical elements, those being, again, the Program Narrative, the Budget Detail Worksheet, and Budget Narrative, which is now a web-based form, and CVs and resumes of all key personnel. As a reminder, there are other attachments that should be included within the application such as the application for federal assistance, SF-424, human subjects and privacy documentation, which is required for all projects, whether human subjects are involved or not. All these are critical elements. Failure to include these items among others as they are applicable to your application may result in a less favorable review or a delay in releasing funds if awarded if any of these are missed.

External Peer Review. Once your application passes BMR, it moves on to the external peer review process. The external peer review panels are made up of researchers and practitioners in the fields relevant to the solicitation. They score the application and discuss them, providing NIJ with both the merits and concerns of the proposed research.

External Peer Review Selection Criteria. So external peer review use the following criteria to assess each application. Statement of the Problem being 15%, so understanding of the problem, the research questions, and awareness of the state of current research. Project Design and Implementation, which is at 45%, so the quality and technical merit of the application, the feasibility of project and soundness of methods, awareness of potential pitfalls and how to mitigate them. Potential Impact being 20%, so the ability of the project to contribute a significant scientific or technical advancement to the field, this includes the dissemination plans. Capabilities and Competencies weighed at 15%, so did the applicant demonstrate productivity and experience of the applicant organization and proposed project staff, and the relationship between the capabilities and competencies of the proposed project staff and the scope and strategies of the project. And the Budget being weighed at 5% which should be reasonable and akin to the project activities being proposed.

Internal Review. NIJ then uses these scores and comments to conduct its own internal review of the applications. The internal review comprises a team of science staff and leadership at NIJ, in addition to any other relevant experts who may be able to weigh in on the merits of the application. After reviewing the applications themselves, taking into consideration the scores and comments provided by the external peer review panel, as well as the budget, NIJ science staff then make funding recommendations to present to the NIJ Director. The NIJ Director then decides which application will be awarded funding. It should be noted that all final funding decisions are made at the discretion of the NIJ Director.

Substantive Issues and Critiques. I'm going to take a few minutes to walk through this section and share some of the substantive issues and critiques that we've been seeing with this solicitation in particular. NIJ receives hundreds of applications every year. And within those applications, we're able to see some common shortcomings that are brought up by the peer reviewers, during internal review, or both, that we'd like to share with potential applicants, so that they may be mindful about them.

Statement of the Problem. In the Statement of the Problem section, we see that sometimes the Statement of the Problem fails to identify gaps in the current literature or understanding of current research, the lit review is sometimes insufficient, and the scope of the proposed research is extremely limited or conversely too ambitious.

Research Design. In the research design, sometimes we've seen that the overall research design is not well articulated. The proposed research design/methods approach does not logically flow from the problem statement, the research questions, and lit review. The proposed research questions are not derived sometimes from the lit review, and the proposed sample size is not supported by a power analysis, which is incredibly important.

More on the research design. Sometimes the research design is too ambitious and too complex. The proposed research design sometimes is not clearly laid out, the proposed sampling strategy is sometimes flawed or too ambitious, the proposed quantitative analyses are sometimes vague and unclear, and the data collection and analysis plan can sometimes be confusing.

Under the Capabilities and Competencies section, sometimes the Principal Investigator does not demonstrate familiarity or proficiency with the proposed quantitative analysis, sometimes the dissemination plan lacks specificity or it's not innovative.

Overall I think one of the key takeaways from these critiques is that reviewers (and NIJ) want to see research projects that are well-written, that are feasible, impactful, timely, innovative, and clear. Projects should have an understanding of the current extremist threat, of the existing literature, obviously, but also the work that NIJ has already funded. The application itself should be easy to read and explicit, with no mystery around what is being proposed or how it will be achieved. The research design should be as rigorous as possible, and the sampling strategy should be backed with demonstrated relationships and/or letters of support that will make it attainable. Secondary mitigation plans should be in place and articulated should this original sampling strategy fall through. And lastly, the application should articulate the extent and importance of the project's impact on the field. So, the applicant should ensure that the findings from the proposed research, if awarded, will have the potential for high external validity beyond the focus of the study itself.

So what will not be funded? Applications that are not responsive to this specific solicitation will not be funded. Those applications whose primary purpose is to purchase equipment or materials or supplies will not be funded. A budget can include these items if they're necessary to conduct research, development, demonstration, evaluation, or analysis, but not an application whose primary purpose is to do these things. An application whose work is funded under another federal award or there is ongoing work on very similar projects will not be funded. An application that includes training in support of programs or direct services unrelated to or associated with the proposed projects will not be funded. Programs or services unrelated to the scope of the project or existing programs or services being evaluated will not be funded. We also want to really emphasize privacy and anonymized data concerns, which are very big concerns that we wanted to share this year.

NIJ will not be funding applications that do not include an explicit plan to anonymize data and personally identifiable information, applications that employ deceptive or non-privatized data collection practices, or applications that provide identifiable research data to law enforcement or investigative agencies. I also want to reiterate that NIJ will not fund research that solely examines the conventional political views of individuals or groups including their participation in non-violent forms of political activism. NIJ has serious concerns with intentionally exposing research participants to extremist materials and propaganda. NIJ will not award funding to applications that introduce, expose, or disseminate extremist materials and propaganda to study participants. Now, as always, we encourage you to please see the solicitation for more information on what will not be funded.

Some other specific issues related to the domestic radicalization and extremism applications. There are several issues that have come to NIJ's attention related to this portfolio in particular as seen in applications and existing work that need to be addressed and can greatly impact the success or failure of a project, right? So again, letters of support. Letters of support should demonstrate how the partnering organizations will be able to help the researchers achieve the stated sample size if that is what the partnering organization will be used for. And without these critical letters, applicants are unable to fully demonstrate how they will attain and maintain a sufficient sample size.

The next one, politics versus extremism. Lately, especially as the terrorist threat landscape has changed in the U.S., we have received many applications that conflate political views with extremist views. And although applications may propose projects focused on one or more particular form of grievance or ideology, NIJ's purpose is to build knowledge about terrorism and radicalization regardless of specific grievance or ideology. So applicants should include clearly stated definitions of key terms and concepts as well as descriptions and examples of how they will operationalize the radicalization and terrorism-related phenomena that they are proposing to study. It should be noted that NIJ will not fund research that solely examines the conventional political views of individuals or groups, including their participation in non-violent forms of political activism. Accordingly, applicants should clearly indicate in their proposal how they intend to delineate and study radicalism, extremist views, or other forms of illegal political activity like direct action or violent protest separately from lawful political conduct.

And the last one, exposing participants to extremist recruitment material. NIJ recognizes that extremists’ use of online platforms can be a vital mechanism for communication and recruitment to radicalization, especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and post-COVID-19 sort of era. So while applicants may propose research to understand, prevent receptiveness, or build resistance to extremist recruitment material in both the on and offline spaces, NIJ has serious concerns with intentionally exposing research participants to extremist materials and propaganda. NIJ will not award funding to applications that introduce, expose, or disseminate extremist material and propaganda to study participants.

Some frequently asked questions that I'd like to go over very briefly here are as follows. The first one being award amount and period of performance. Again, this depends in large part on quantity and quality of the applications we receive. As I said before, to date, meaning since 2012 when our portfolio was sort of started, our average award amount is right under $700,000 at $685,000. But the highest amount we've ever given to a single award so far under this portfolio is close to $1.7 million. Also, since 2012 we've funded as many as eight and as little as two awards per application. We must also keep in mind that we have a total of $5.5 million. And we're hoping to make several awards with that money. Again, we want to reiterate that the budget proposed should be in line with the research activities that are proposed in the application.

In terms of period of performance, our usual period of performance is two years. But again, that can also be more depending on the project proposed. The period of performance is usually the beginning, January 1st of the next year. So if this is the FY23 solicitation, our anticipated start date for the award will be January 1st, 2024.

Topic areas. Applications cannot be submitted under multiple research topics. They must clearly delineate which topic area they're applying to. If you think it covers more than one, that's fine, but we ask that you submit it under the one that you think it applies to the most.

Notifications of award and non-award. Award announcements are usually made by October 1st. Non-award announcements are usually made by end of the year and non-award applicants are sent their peer reviewed comments. There have been some years in the recent past where award and non-award announcements were delayed due to a rollout of the new Grants Management System. That was an OJP-wide thing. But we don't anticipate this being an issue moving forward.

Are U.S. citizens working outside the U.S. eligible either as a PI or co-PI? Can any grant funds be paid to institutions outside the U.S.? In our solicitation this year, it states that, "Foreign governments, foreign organizations, and foreign colleges, and universities are not eligible to apply." However, the situation with sub-recipients and sub-awards may be different. We'll get into sub-awards in a second. But for the initial question, we encourage everyone to review the Code of Federal Regulations, particularly 2 CFR Part 200, which covers various matters regarding foreign organizations or entities, costs incurred in foreign countries, and several other matters that may arise in connection with non-U.S. based entities, or individuals that may be funded under a federal grant award. The DOJ Grants Financial Guide also covers policies with regard to foreign travel costs under an award. So if you have specific questions, I would submit it through the NCJRS system so it can be routed to the appropriate person.

Can any grants be paid to an institution outside of the U.S.? Again, NIJ’s solicitation language barring applications from foreign entities would not mean that a U.S.-based applicant cannot propose a foreign sub-recipient or submit a proposal under which a U.S citizen would perform work outside of the U.S., but all in all, we're really just encouraging applicants to please familiarize themselves with the Code of Federal Regulations mentioned, and exercise the appropriate cautions when partnering with foreign entities to conduct research. Data archiving, human subjects, and privacy considerations are all major contributing factors to whether a partnership with a foreign entity would be feasible under an NIJ award.

So again, if you have specific questions, and every application is different, please send them in through NCJRS.

Are Ph.D. students eligible to serve as PI's or co-PIs? There's no specific degree requirement to serve as a PI or a co-PI. But applicants should review the solicitation merit and review criteria, which weighs capabilities and competencies at 15% of the peer review score.

Can we submit a proposal if our research team consists of professors and Ph.D. candidates from different U.S. institutions? Yes, different professors from different U.S. institutions, yes, that would be allowed.

Are there any limits on the use of grant funds for overhead costs? For this, we'd ask you to please refer to OJP's Grant Application Resource Guide, and guidance around indirect costs. We don't make decisions on how an organization sets their overhead costs. One thing that is clear, though, is that the indirect cost charges cannot exceed the federally approved indirect cost rate agreement your university or your organization has received. You can also reference the Code of Federal Regulations, CFR Section 200.414, which is indirect F&A costs.

Lastly, we also received a lot more general questions around submitting forms. So what constitutes a new investigator and other questions related to privacy and human subjects concerns. And for all of these, I'd encourage you to please submit the questions through NCJRS, the method listed on the solicitation, your question will be routed to the most appropriate person who can answer the question.

Again, the information for NCJRS, Grants.gov, and JustGrants is here and in the solicitation.

And these are also some recommended resources for you. We encourage all applicants to review the Department's Grants Financial Guide. Take the online training which is a requirement of all funded grantees. And finally, project descriptions and an overview of the portfolio are available on the NIJ website. We encourage everyone to review this information for an idea of the types of projects and awardees that NIJ has funded in the past.

The last thing I'd like to say is that the solicitation is competitive. So therefore, NIJ staff cannot have individual conversations with prospective applicants, or discuss particulars of an application or a proposed project. Any questions concerning the solicitation should be submitted to the NCJRS number or email address that was provided on the previous slide. You can also see at nij.ojp.gov, the solicitation FAQ page, which might answer some questions. We strongly encourage everyone to utilize the resources that I just mentioned. If you have any questions at all, they will be triaged, they will be sent to the appropriate persons for a response. And I'll also note that this webinar will be available on our website very shortly, so you can refer back to it or share it if need be. At this point, I will turn it back over to Stacy Lee. Thank you so much. And I think we have a few minutes for questions.

STACY LEE: We'll move on to our question-and-answer portion of today's webinar. I will start with the first question we have. “I believe it was stated that for topic area two that the research needs to go beyond social media. Did I hear this correctly? Are there any examples that NIJ is interested in outside of social media as an example?”

AISHA QURESHI: No, I don't think that we're saying that it needs to go beyond social media. But I think we're trying to make that topic area more encompassing for folks who want to submit applications that are beyond social media, such as mass media for example. And we have provided that as an example in the text, in the solicitation as well. So, not necessarily, but we made it a little bit more open, so that it's more inclusive of different forms of media.

STACY LEE: “Does it matter how early step one is accomplished? Can you submit as early as February or March?”

AISHA QURESHI: Yes. And I believe step one is referring to the Grants.gov registration and the submission of forms. You can submit that as early as you'd like.

STACY LEE: “Looking at the letters of support, what types of organizations do people typically partner with on extremism? Are there any restrictions on the kind of organizations you can partner with?”

AISHA QURESHI: I think that that varies for the first part of the question. Certainly, there have been organizations that work with former extremists, certain organizations that are involved in probation and parole. But that’s not our place to say what type of organization they should be partnering with. As long as your proposed research project presents a good justification for partnering with a specific type of organization, and you’re able to articulate that well in the application, and you have a letter of support to back up that relationship and that partnership, that would be appropriate.

STACY LEE: Other part of the question was, “If there are any restrictions against federal partners?”

AISHA QURESHI: I'm going to ask that we post the answers to that question when the webinar is posted on the website, because that is something that OGM and OGC would likely have to weigh in on.

Post-webinar Answer:

For information on eligibility under this solicitation, see the solicitation cover page and the “Eligibility Information” section.

NIJ will consider applications under which two or more entities would carry out the federal award; however, only one entity may be the applicant. Any others must be proposed as subrecipients (subgrantees). For additional information on subawards, see the OJP Grant Application Resource Guide.

Federal agencies are among the entities that would be eligible to apply in response to this solicitation.  (Any award made to a federal agency will be made as an inter-agency reimbursable agreement.)

As only one entity may be the applicant, the entity submitting the application as the applicant must be an entity with the capabilities and capacity to administer the award as the recipient, should the application be selected for award.   The “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal awards,” at 2 C.F.R. Part 200, detail many requirements that may or will apply to recipients under NIJ awards.   An applicant seeking to partner with another entity that would carry out part of the award as a subrecipient should review carefully, among other provisions, requirements for pass-through entities at 2 C.F.R. 200.332.  In addition, other federal grants guidance an applicant should review and consider includes the guidance on “Universal Identifier and System for Award Management” found at 2 C.F.R. Part 25 and the guidance on “Reporting Subaward and Executive Compensation Information” found at 2 C.F.R. Part 170.

***For further clarification on this question, we encourage applicants to contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service at [email protected] or 1-800-851-3420; TTY at 301-240-6310 (for hearing impaired only).

STACY LEE: “Can you please say when the proposed start date for projects ought to be in applications?”

AISHA QURESHI: Like I said before in the webinar, I think that if you're applying for an FY23 project, or for a funding for FY23, the start date is most likely going to be January 1st, 2024, so January 1st of the next year for whatever fiscal year you applied for.

STACY LEE: “Is it required or recommended that applicants partner with another organization?”

AISHA QURESHI: It is not required, nor is it recommended, but it is an option.

STACY LEE: “Are multi-year awards allowed?”

AISHA QURESHI: Multi-year awards are allowed. Yes, like I said, a majority of our awards are about two years. But it can definitely be more than that. And it really just depends on the project proposed.

STACY LEE: “If using social media information, do applicants need a second source of information for all four proposal categories?”

AISHA QURESHI: I'm not sure I understand what that means.

STACY LEE: Okay. We could probably move on to the next question. And if that person wants to clarify…

AISHA QURESHI: We can post an answer to that on the webinar—when the webinar is posted.

Post-Webinar Answer:

Under Topic Area #2, the solicitation currently reads: “It should be noted that NIJ expects applicants to ensure that strategies that are proposed respect constitutional protections for expression, free speech, and association. Further, an application’s research focus may not rely solely on social media data and should be paired with another research component.” While this is likely most relevant for Topic Area #2, yes, it would be applicable to all four solicitation categories.

STACY LEE: “Is there a list of currently funded projects?”

AISHA QURESHI: There is a list of currently funded projects. They are on the slide that I just shared before the question slide. But you can also just go to nij.gov and type in domestic radicalization, and one of the search results will be our homepage for the portfolio. And you can find a list of all funded, currently funded, and past awards on there as well.

NIJ’s Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism portfolio homepage can be found here: https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/domestic-radicalization-and-violent-extremism

STACY LEE: “Are capabilities evaluated mainly by the past experiences and performances?”

AISHA QURESHI: I think that depends on whatever is provided in the resume or CV. So it can certainly include your past experience and education. And it can also include wherever you're at currently.

STACY LEE: “So both open source data and research data is acceptable?”

AISHA QURESHI: Open source data and research data is acceptable. I'm not quite sure what that means exactly but, yes, we have awards in our portfolio that have looked at open source data, certainly.

STACY LEE: I have a question of, “Why NIJ chose to fund just two awards last time?”

AISHA QURESHI: Like I said before, it depends on the quantity and quality of applications. Those two awards made it through external and internal review. All of the considerations were given to every application that was submitted last year. And that is what came about as a result. We have funded as little as two awards, and as many as eight awards per solicitation. So it really just depends on the quantity and quality of applications that come in that fiscal year.

STACY LEE: “One barrier to receiving the grant is that the PI does not demonstrate proficiency with proposed analyses. Is this proficiency demonstrated through the narrative? Or are you looking for published work using the proposed methodology analysis?”

AISHA QURESHI: I think that can be both. I would say both probably.

STACY LEE: “You have stated a number of awards and average dollar awards. The current performance period, and the RFP is five years. What have you seen as the average period of performance in this grant portfolio?”

AISHA QURESHI: Like I said, I think it's two years. *It should be noted that this year’s solicitation allows for a period of performance “up to” five years – not that your project has to be five years.

STACY LEE: “Are there examples of full successful proposals available, rather than just the summary abstract?”

AISHA QURESHI: I believe NIJ might have been looking into something along those lines to share that. That's not something I can answer at the moment. But I can look into it a bit more, and we can post more information on it if it's available when we post this webinar.

Post-webinar answer:

Please visit https://nij.ojp.gov/funding/guidance-applicants-and-awardees#sampleapps for examples.

STACY LEE: “What exactly is defined as social media? Are you including discussion forums on websites, video transcripts?”

AISHA QURESHI: That can all be included, correct.

STACY LEE: “Has there been any trend to date that points to a dominate factor escalating domestic terrorism, specifically political?”

AISHA QURESHI: I don't think I would be able to answer a substantive question like that.

STACY LEE: If there are any other questions, please enter them in the Q&A. Okay. Well, I don't see any more coming in. On behalf of the National Institute of Justice and our panelist, thank you for joining today's webinar. This will end today's presentation.

AISHA QURESHI: Thank you so much, Stacy.

Date Published: March 16, 2023