Tips from Roberta Burke, Associate Director for Contracts, OSP
Scenario: You are highly interested in responding to a solicitation from the Department of Defense (DoD) seeking research proposals in your field of study. Per the solicitation, the award may be a Grant, Cooperative Agreement, or Contract. “What is the difference?” you ask. Well, there are significant differences of which you should be well aware.
A grant is an assistance agreement that, in this particular instance, will provide funds to the institution to conduct research for a public purpose. The scope of work is relatively flexible, the reporting is minimal (usually an annual or final report), the government is not involved in the research effort and payments are often made on an annual lump sum basis.
A Cooperative Agreement has most of the characteristics of a grant, as it is a financial assistance; however the government has substantial involvement and requires more reporting than a grant.
In contrast, a contract is a legally binding instrument to acquire research for the direct benefit of the government. A contract contains strict terms and conditions, a relatively inflexible Statement of Work, and frequent reporting requirements. The government is highly involved in the research project to include continual oversight, approves the deliverables and renders payment based on satisfactory completion of contractual requirements. Of particular note, in a DoD contract, you can expect publication and export control restrictions, many clauses to comply with federal statutes and regulations (such as Safeguarding Controlled Defense Information and Cybersecurity Reporting), and firm schedules.
Now, I know that as a researcher you are most interested in exploiting the potential for scientific discoveries or advancing the state of the art in your field of study and probably lack the time (or even the need) to become an expert on DoD grant and acquisition regulations. Well, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) has several Contracting Officers to assist you with DoD proposal preparation/submittal, award, and post award administration. Dan Sibble manages Navy sponsors, Lindsey Jones (Air Force Installation Contracting Agency) Lucy Yarbrough (Army), Jamil Trotter (Air Force), Scott Goodwin (Navy, Army and Air Force Research Offices: ONR/AFOSR/ARO) and I ( Other Department of Defense). Please contact us as soon as you decide to respond to a solicitation so we can aide in submitting an award-winning proposal and manage the resultant Grant, Cooperative Agreement or Contract!