Providing NASA Headquarters with End-to-End Peer Review Support
Each year, NASA awards millions of dollars to thousands of grant recipients. Before a single dollar of this money can be awarded, grant applicants must navigate a complex application process and endure a rigorous peer review process that draws on the experience and knowledge of subject-matter experts from across the country to evaluate the strength and feasibility of the funding request.
For NASA Headquarters, DB Consulting Group provided end-to-end peer review and grants management support that combined experience and expertise with innovative technology solutions. Over the course of 5½ years, $130 million contract, DB:
Managed 443 tasks containing nearly 858 subtasks and tracked and coordinated: 948 solicitations; 32,623 proposals; 823 panels consisting of 11,907 reviews with 16,695 panel reviewers; 34,681 external reviews with more than 14,773 external reviewers; 22,048 Notices of Intent (NOIs); 173 conferences and workshops; and 1,060 white papers
Received award fee scores averaging over 96 percent for 11 straight performance periods.
Specific tasks performed by DB included:
Establishing the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES), an e-Government grants data management system. Accessible to more than 30,000 NASA and other authorized users, this award-winning, three-tier, web-based enterprise-class logistical support system enables NASA to manage the complete life cycle of NASA Headquarters grant announcement solicitations from solicitation posting, to researcher NOI and proposal submission, to peer review evaluation, to selection. DB helped NASA successfully achieve its OMB metrics for posting of Funding Opportunity Application Packages for FY05 and FY06 to receive a rating of Green on the Presidential Management Agenda score card. To do this, DB developed an interface between NSPIRES and Grants.gov that allows applications received by Grants.gov to be downloaded into NSPIRES for peer review management and selection. To further demonstrate our commitment to e-Government initiatives, DB designed the NSPIRES organization database by integrating it with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). As a result of these efforts, the DB team received a NASA Headquarters Award for Software Development in November, 2006.
Providing information technology (IT) support. DB was responsible for system data, availability, reliability, security, configuration management, data transfer and backup, contingency planning/disaster recovery and system risk management. This included providing Help Desk support for technical assistance to NASA and the scientific community. We provided enhancements to the software to better fit the software to the peer review business processes as they evolved and managed the conversion of the system to a web-based platform. DB documented all requirements for software change, including problem corrections, and conducted design reviews to ensure that the overall system design documentation was amended to reflect the changes.
Preparing program announcement documentation and solicitations. DB assisted with the preparation of solicitations and Federal Business Opportunities Announcements. DB also posted synopses solicitations and other announcements on NSPIRES and additional Internet sites.
Processing NOIs. DB performed initial reviews of NOIs and used NSPIRES to separate NOIs into subgroups. The relevant data was collected and compiled from the NOI into a detailed summary report for submission to NASA.
Providing meeting planning services to various activities that begin with a request for panel or meeting support from NASA. DB ensured that the appropriate meeting site/space was selected; arranged for catering; determined audio-visual requirements; prepared meeting materials, such as orientation presentations, name badges, portfolio folders, invitations and welcome letters, rosters, peer reviewer survey forms, maps, and restaurant lists; arranged travel; supervised mailings; and prepared/reviewed expense vouchers and various invoices. DB implemented CVENT, a web-based, online event planning and management system that has the capability of comparing event budgets to event actual costs. This valuable tool was instrumental in providing a greater visibility and control of the various elements of costs associated with the events.
Providing web-related services to NASA agency-wide. DB was responsible for website development and maintenance for approximately 20 NASA-related websites for the NASA Office of Education.
Offering educational outreach support. DB provided a wide range of outreach services to diverse audiences. DB’s outreach support included: conducting program research, analysis, and assessment; developing a variety of materials, including educational and technical assistance materials, speeches, papers, presentations, and newsletters; coordinating conferences and workshops; and facilitating public meetings, researcher summits, and awareness days.
* Home page photo courtesy of NASA.