Frequently Asked Questions

Select a FOA to view questions and answers for the specific funding opportunity. Alternatively select "Non-FOA related items" to view system FAQ items.

Question 1: With regard to formatting requirements for the Hub proposal. The type size/face is specified as Times New Roman, 11 point type. Does this apply only to the narrative text? Can different type faces and smaller (but still easily readable) point size type be used for labeling graphics?
Answer 1:

 For information regarding font size in the Project Narrative File, please refer to Section IV.C.3.  

Question 2: What type of entities are eligible to submit an application to this FOA?
Answer 2:

For information regarding eligible applicants, please refer to Section III.A of the FOA.

Question 3: Can the costs of upgrading the facility's lighting to meet the Applicant Lighting Efficiency Certification be incorporated into the proposal’s first year costs, within the $10M devoted to infrastructure start-up for the Hub?
Answer 3:

Costs associated with complying with the Lighting Efficiency Certification from Section 316 of Division B of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2012 may be considered allowable and allocable in accordance with the applicable cost principles as set forth in 10 CFR 600.  Please note that this requirement applies only to grant awards in excess of $1,000,000.  It does not apply to any other form of financial assistance. Under this FOA, DOE may award a cooperative agreement, Technology Investment Agreement (TIA), field work authorization, or interagency agreement.  Please see Section II.A of the FOA. 

Question 4: The “Current and Pending Support Template” posted to Exchange requests an “Annual Award Amount.” The FOA states that applicants are only required to provide the total award amount. Could you provide clarification on which is the correct one to use?
Answer 4: Applicants are required to provide the total award amount.  A revised “Current and Pending Support Template” has been uploaded to Exchange.
Question 5: Does FY2012 funding need to be awarded (obligated) prior to September 30?
Answer 5:

No. Selection, award and initial funding will be in Fiscal Year 2013.


Question 6: Q1: In our review of the FOA we did not find an identified section for submittals where we can attach additional information, e.g., Letters of Support? If we should have such items, what would be an appropriate Appendix? Q2: Instructions for the “The Letter of Intent” state that the letter shall include the name and email address of the Project Director/Principal Investigator; however, it does not mention the Hub Director. Is identification of the Hub Director required for the Letter of Intent?
Answer 6:

A1: Please refer to Section IV.C for required application forms/files.  Applicants should use their judgment in deciding if and where to include documents not required by this FOA.

A2: For information regarding the Letter of Intent, please reference Section IV.B of the FOA.


Question 7: The online form includes a box for entering an abstract with a max. of 4,000 characters, and a red advisory to "Please ensure that this Abstract matches the Abstract in your application document". My understanding is the abstract is required as part of the Project Summary/Abstract file due with the full application by August 30. Please clarify regarding the web page form request and instructions with regard to the abstract.
Answer 7:

When submitting your Letter of Intent, the "Abstract" field in EXCHANGE should contain a brief description of your project as presented in the Letter of Intent.

Question 8: When entering information for our Letter of Intent into the EERE portal, it requires us to list not only our expected partner institutions, but the percentage of project total for each of our partners. We are also required to enter federal and non-federal costs. It is impossible for us to accurately estimate these items at this (Letter of Intent) stage. Please confirm that we can change these figures, as well as the partnering team percentages of effort, in the full proposal.
Answer 8: Yes, these numbers can be changed before submission of the full application. Estimated costs and percentage of effort are acceptable when submitting the Letter of Intent.
Question 9: Question 1: Are there any other steps to be taken after submitting the Letter of Intent (LOI) besides the submittal of the Full Application (along with the other required application documents) by 5PM on 8/30/12? Question 2: Can we see who else has submitted a Letter of Intent? Can we know how many other Letters of Intent have been submitted? Is this information public or private?
Answer 9:

Answer 1: No other steps need to be taken. 

Answer 2: This information is considered procurement sensitive/private.  Therefore, the DOE will not release information on applicant submissions to the public or to other applicants.

Question 10: Will the CM Hub be allowed to purchase computer systems (i.e., computer clusters) to fulfill Hub computational needs?
Answer 10:

DOE cannot predetermine the allowability of particular costs or budget items prior to award selection.  It is up to prospective applicants to review the requirements of the FOA and determine if their proposed project and project costs adequately address the FOA goals, objectives and Merit Review Criteria.

Question 11: If we want to include a large graphic, can we do a 11"x17" ledge size in lieu of two (2) standard size pages?
Answer 11:

No. The standard paper size is 8.5” by 11” for all required documents.

Question 12: Appendix 6: Funding Plan – Is this funding plan to encompass only the initial award period of five years? Or is the funding plan to encompass a time period beyond the initial five year award period?
Answer 12:

The funding plan is only required for the 5 year award period, though applicants are encouraged to project past the initial 5 years if they have a longer term vision for the hub. Only the first 5 years need to be detailed; subsequent years can be presented at a high level with much less detail. 

Question 13: Appendix 5 Hub Site, Acquisition, Design and Development Plan – This appendix includes a plan for acquisition of major equipment and instrumentation. How is major equipment defined? Is there a value threshold (i.e. items costing over $50,000, over $500,000, etc..)?
Answer 13:

For Appendix 5, major equipment is defined as any item with a useful life of over one year that costs $50,000 or more. 

Question 14: In Section II - Award Information, A. TYPE OF AWARD INSTRUMENT, the first paragraph states that ”a successful DOE/NNSA FFRDC will be funded through a DOE field work authorization” and “a successful entity (universities, nonprofit orgs and for –profit orgs) will be funded through a cooperative agreement”. Is the word successful being used to indicate the designated lead organization, i.e. the prime applicant?
Answer 14:

“Successful” refers to the lead organization in the following sentence: “A cooperative agreement will be awarded to any other successful entity including, but not limited to, universities, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations.”  If DOE/NNSA National Laboratory/FFRDC contractor is selected for award as the lead organization or a team member, the proposed work will be funded through a DOE field work authorization.

Question 15: I am interested in submitting an application for "DE-FOA-0000687: Energy Innovation Hub - Critical Materials." I am aware that the letter of intent deadline has past. Is the letter of intent a prerequisite to submitting an application?
Answer 15:

Yes, applicants must submit a responsive Letter of Intent by the due date to be eligible to submit a Full Application.  See Section IV.B of the FOA.

Question 16: What version file do you want the EXCEL files saved for compatibility with your system?
Answer 16:

Excel files are not limited to a particular version.

Question 17: For TABLES and GRAPHICs, can fonts other than Times New Roman be used as long as we remain within the FOA guidelines for 8.5 x 11 paper with 1 inch margins and 11 point font?
Answer 17:

Please see Section IV.C.3 of the FOA for font requirements regarding tables and graphics.

Question 18: In the FOA, it is specified to use 12 point font for the SUMMARY and APPENDIX 9-‘a’ BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Is this correct – or should it be 11 point to match the rest of the document.
Answer 18:

Please see Section IV.C.3, Appendix 9A, for front requirements regarding “Biographical Sketches.”

Question 19: In the FOA-related Q&A’s, an answer recorded the CFDA # to be 81.087. Shouldn’t it be 81.086 as listed on the Initial Announcement dated May 31, 2012.
Answer 19:

Please see the cover page of this FOA for the CFDA number. To view questions specific to this FOA, select FOA Number DE-FOA-0000687 from the dropdown menu in EERE eXCHANGE.

Question 20: Have there been any amendments to the FOA issued since the May 31st Initial Announcement other than the response to question #4 in the FOA-related questions?
Answer 20:

Question #4 did result in a revision of the “Current and Pending Support Template.” Please see EERE Exchange for the most recent version of this FOA.

Question 21: For item #6 “Subaward Budget File(s)” which file do you require (PDF or EXCEL)?
Answer 21: The DOE requires that Subaward Budget File(s) are submitted in an Excel format.
Question 22: Appendix 9B paragraph – 1st sentence – refers to ‘each biographical sketch in Appendix 4A’. Was this intended to read ‘Appendix 9A’?
Answer 22:


Question 23: Is there a preferred percentage of the budget that will be dedicated to the administrative costs of the Hub? Or an upper limit intended for these costs? Any other guidelines or preferences regarding budget components such as outreach/education as a % of budget?
Answer 23:

There is not a preferred percentage or a limited threshold of the budget that must to be dedicated to the administrative costs or education/outreach. It is up to applicants to review the requirements of the FOA and determine if their proposed project costs adequately address the FOA goals, objectives and Merit Review Criteria.

Question 24: Will you accept a letter of intent for the above referenced solicitation after the 06/29/2012 deadline date.
Answer 24:


Question 25: What start date do you recommend we use in our proposal to DOE in response to the Energy Innovation Hub – Critical Materials FOA?
Answer 25:

Applicants may assume a January 2013 start date for the project. 

Question 26: Now that CCR has been integrated into the new SAM site, I wanted to get clarification on what steps we must take to be properly registered at the appropriate sites. Is it correct to say that we now must register on SAM and on FedConnect? I believe that these are the only two sites that we must be registered for.
Answer 26:

The System for Award Management (SAM) was launched on July 29th, 2012. If you have not previously registered with CCR, you should register your entity with SAM. If you already have a registration in CCR, all your information has been migrated to SAM. For directions on how to register with SAM, please visit the following link:

To clarify further, if selected for negotiation of award, recipients are required to register with SAM (formally CCR) and FedConnect prior to receiving federal funds. However, applicants are not required to register in these systems in order to submit an application. The registration process may take several weeks; therefore, it is recommended that registrations are completed as soon as possible in order to avoid delay of award. It is also suggested that applicants register with in order to receive an email notification if Amendments to this FOA are posted.
Question 27: The FOA requires Appendix 12: Statement of Conflicts of Interest. Can this requirement be fulfilled by providing a table of all senior personnel with an Yes/No indicator for potential financial conflict of interest, with some additional narrative on how we as the applicant manage potential conflicts of interest? Or is something more of different required?
Answer 27:

This requirement is not limited to only senior personnel. The applicant, their team members, as well as senior/key personnel named in the application are subject to this requirement.  The applicant must include information identifying potential, apparent, or actual organizational and individual conflicts of interest and proposed mitigation. For additional information regarding conflicts of interest, please reference Appendix 12 of Section IV.C.3 of the FOA.

Question 28: Appendix 6 relates to a funding plan. Does the DOE want us to describe our strategy for the current proposal funding (government share, applicant cost share, third party cost share, etc.), or for future funding once the project is up and running?
Answer 28:

Appendix 6 should include the applicant’s plan for funding project activities over the life of the proposed project to include Federal and non-Federal funding.  The plan should show the source of non-federal cost share and when the funding sources will become available.  Note that Appendix 6 will be evaluated along with other aspects of the application as described in Section V.A.2. Criterion 5 of the FOA.




Question 29: Is there a limit on the number of proposals an institution can participate in as a subawardee? For example, can a non-profit company partner on a few different proposals to this FOA?
Answer 29:

DOE does not limit the number of proposals an institution can participate in as a subawardee. 

Question 30: The budget justification form only has three budget periods. We are submitting for five periods. What is the solution?
Answer 30:

Use column 1 for Budget Period 1 costs, column 2 for Budget Period 2 costs, and column 3 for Budget Periods 3 through 5 costs.


Question 31: Are contributions (cash and/or in-kind) to the Hub from 3rd parties that will not receive any funding to perform work considered cost-share? For example a company that will provide testing services at no cost up to some prescribed limit, but is not otherwise engaged or paid for research or project activities. In such an instance, are they treated as a partner or 3rd party? Do they have to submit a budget, or are they simply incorporated in a project budget (e.g. $150K for testing) which happens to be provided from a 3rd party, and they are just a source of funds?
Answer 31:

Refer to Section III.C and Appendix D in the FOA for information about what qualifies as cost share. If a subrecipient performs work estimated to be more than $100,000 or 50% of the total work effort (whichever is less) then that subrecipient is required to submit a budget, budget justification and letter of commitment regardless of whether the work is being funded through cost sharing or by DOE. 

Question 32: Since Budget period 3 on the Budget Justification form will be the totals for years 3-5 will the same apply to the SF424A form - separate sheets for period 1 and 2 then combined periods 3 to 5 on the third sheet?
Answer 32:

See Section IV.C.4.  You must provide a separate 424A budget for each year of support requested and a cumulative 424A budget for the total project period.

Question 33: As part of our administrative budget we propose to provide some administrative support to key lead people at other institutions. We would like to hold this money in the lead institutions administrative budget for allocation after the award. Is this acceptable or does the money have to be allocated now and appear on the subcontracts?
Answer 33:

All costs for subcontractors must be in the subcontractor’s budget.

Question 34: The FOA on page 27, Section 4 states "You must provide a separate budget for each year of support requested and a cumulative budget for the total project period. Use the SF 424A Excel, “Budget Information – Non Construction Programs” form on the DOE Financial Assistance Forms Page at The SF424A provides columns for each individual budget-year as well as the cumulative project-budget" The form referred to does not have columns for each individual budget year or a cumulative column. The link from the EERE website is to the same form. There appears to be an inconsistency. Could you please provide guidance.
Answer 34:

You must provide a separate SF-424A budget for each year of support requested and a cumulative SF-424A budget for the total project period. Please see the instructions on the SF424A if you have further questions about how to fill out the form.

Question 35: What B&R code, if any, should be used on the FWP document submitted by an FFRDC Team Member?
Answer 35:

The FY12 funding B&R code planned for the Hub is ED2801000.  This code should be used on the Field Work Proposal (FWP).

Question 36: Where a subawardee is an FFRDC, and as a Team Member, should the required format for the “file name” use the FFRDC (sub) as “LeadOrganization” (see below) or should the actual Lead be formatted here? Also should the parenthesis remain in the format? And should “Subawardee” remain as is or should the Sub’s organizational name be inserted here? “{{ControlNumber}}_{{LeadOrganization}}_Subawardee_SF424A.”
Answer 36:

The “LeadOrganization” is the Prime Recipient’s name. Insert the appropriate information inside the parenthesis for Control number, Lead Organization, subawardee, etc.   

Question 37: We have an urgent confidential question about expense allowability, that we would not want to appear on the Q&A website because it relates to a competitive and innovative idea. May we submit such a question with the assurance that we would be able to receive a confidential response from DOE?
Answer 37:

Unfortunately, DE-FOA-0000687 is a competitive solicitation and private discussions while the announcement is open are prohibited. DOE cannot predetermine the allowability of particular costs or budget items prior to award selection.  It is up to prospective applicants to review the requirements of the FOA and determine if their proposed project and project costs adequately address the FOA goals, objectives and Merit Review Criteria. 

Question 38: We have created a Budget Justification form for the 5 years that matches the 424A (attached). Per directions listed in Question 30, we are to use column 1 for Budget Period 1 costs, column 2 for Budget Period 2 costs, and column 3 for Budget Periods 3 through 5 costs. Can we use the new form so that it matches the 424A by year or shall we still lump years 3-5?
Answer 38:

Please do not manipulate the Budget Justification form (PMC 123.1), as formulas are embedded in it. You should lump years 3-5 into the column that represents Budget Period 3 on the PMC 123.1.  Also, you must provide a separate SF-424A budget for each year of support requested and a cumulative SF-424A budget for the total project period.


Question 39: The FOA for the Critical Materials Hub stipulates that start-up building renovations and capital equipment costs of up to $10M can be budgeted in year 1 of the project. Are capital renovations and/or capital equipment allowed to be purchased in year 2, if properly justified?
Answer 39:

Yes, if properly justified and support the efforts of the Hub. 


Question 40: Whose name and telephone number should be listed on the FWP as HQ Program Manager?
Answer 40:

Kathleen Hogan should be listed as the Program Manager on the Field Work Proposal (FWP). Her telephone number is 202-586-5523.


Question 41: On form PMC123-1, the budget justification, Can we change personnel cost units from hours to % effort? Our accounting system is not set up to report on hourly pay, but rather % effort and salary. On the personnel page, do we only list titles rather than names per the form notation? Even if we are listing 7 entries of “professor”, etc? Can supplies be listed as “thrust 1 research supplies” with some comments as to what they comprise, or do we need to budget out by each item (per the boilerplate on the form)? Does the budget justification need to be a “task” budget, or can we use the higher level of “thrust” to detail costs?
Answer 41:

Please refer to the instructions on the personnel and supplies tabs for information and examples to answer your questions.  Applicants should use their best judgment to complete the required forms using the instructions and examples provided.



Question 42: Regarding PMC 123.1 form, if we follow your directions, how will we determine the hourly rate for Column 3 (from year 3 to year 5)? For institutions that use a constant escalation rate of salaries, the rate for each year between year 3 and year 5 will be different. In addition, if use an average hourly rate for years 3 through 5, then the PMC 123.1 budget justification form will not match the budget information on our SF 424A budget form.
Answer 42:

The Budget justification form should match the SF 424A budget.  Applicants should use their best judgment to complete the required forms using the instructions and examples provided.



Question 43: I have completed other DOE proposals and am familiar with the forms, but with those submissions the forms were more in tune with the guidelines. Could you please provide some clarification on the following? 1. Since this project is supposed to take place over 5 years, are we allowed to add columns into budget justification form to accommodate for this or will you be providing new forms for the full period? 2. These forms are made for hours but the guidelines are asking to propose in person months. Which is correct? The personnel tab calculates the total salary by hours. 3. For Appendix 9A (biosketch) and 9B (Potential Reviewer Conflicts of Interest): Since we will have multiple PI’s for our Hub team, should we format this section as 9A and 9B PI#1; 9A and 9B PI#2; etc. Or should we have all the biosketches together and all the conflicts together as two fully separate appendices.
Answer 43:

1.       Already answered, please review the FOA Q&A.

2.       Please refer to the instructions on the personnel tab.

3.       A separate file for each of the Appendices must be attached to the Project Narrative.


Question 44: Is there a guideline or restriction for the line height (spacing) in the narrative or appendix sections?
Answer 44:

Please reference Section IV.C.3 of the FOA for all formatting requirements regarding the Project Narrative and Appendices.


Question 45: In a currently posted Q&A, the following requirements are listed: “a subrecipient who performs work estimated to be more than $100,000 or 50% of the total work effort (whichever is less) then that subrecipient is required to submit a budget, budget justification and letter of commitment regardless of whether the work is being funded through cost sharing or by DOE.” Do these subrecipients also need to submit an organizational conflict of interest letter?
Answer 45:

Please see Appendix 12 of Section IV.C.3 of the FOA to reference requirements regarding conflicts of interest.  The submission should include the applicant, their team members, and senior/key personnel named in the application.



Question 46: Who is the addressee on the contracting letter which is needed for DE-FOA-0000687?
Answer 46:

The Contracting Officer for this announcement is Christina Kouch.


Question 47: Is the grant to be awarded to a single consortium/organization only or any possibility to include a couple of consortium with a smaller size fund (e.g. $3~5M) if the proposed concept is complimentary and has a good chance to reduce the dependence of critical materials in a short term.
Answer 47:

As stated in Section II.C of the Funding Opportunity Announcement, DOE is planning on making only one award under this announcement.  See also Section III.B.  The announcement encourages collaborations and partnerships between Hub members as well as U.S. industry to accomplish the mission of the proposed Hub.   

Question 48: On the Current & Support documents, should we be including this proposal as a pending project? Both the FOA and the DOE template are silent on this.
Answer 48:

Applicants should use their best judgment to complete the required forms using the instructions and template provided.


Question 49: Should the Budget for FFRDC Contractor File (FWP) be in PDF format?
Answer 49: Yes.
Question 50: Is there a file naming convention for the Appendices to be attached to the Project Narrative? I would assume {{ControlNumber}}_{{LeadOrganization}}_Appendix1 etc.
Answer 50:

Please see Section IV.C.  The Project Narrative File including Appendices 1-14 should be named ControlNumber_LeadOrganization_Project.


Question 51: If an FFRDC is a member of a team, does that FFRDC need to fill out the SF 424A Excel file and the PMC 123.1 Budget Justification file in addition to the budget forms associated with the FWP?
Answer 51:


Question 52: Is there any other form of submission for the proposal besides the uploading of files online at the EERE Exchange site? Do we have to hand in hard copies to anyone? And if so, to whom and to what address?
Answer 52:


Question 53: Can the Innovation Hub have its own budget submittal for the purposes of office & research facilities, equipment, personnel/ payroll, vendors and software systems or does the lead Applicant include these items in its budget?
Answer 53:

All costs, including vendor and subrecipient costs, must be in the lead applicant’s budget.


Question 54: Q1: For the subaward budget files: Are we supposed to upload one SF 424A form and one PMC 123.1 form per each subawardee? For example, if we were to have 5 subawardees, do we upload five SF-424A forms and five PMC-123.1 forms to the website submission page? Q2: For the prime applicant budget files: Are we also supposed to upload one master form of each (SF 424A, PMC 123.1) for the entire team? Or does the prime applicant only upload these budget forms for their individual institution?
Answer 54:

A1: Please see Section IV.C.6. 

A2: The budget for the lead organization should include total project costs, including cost share and subrecipient and vendor costs in the appropriate sections.

Question 55: The deadline for our submission is this Thursday, 8.30.12. Are there any provisions for an extension. How should we handle this?
Answer 55:

No extensions will be granted for this FOA.


Question 56: Question 1: lists the Federal Agency as "Golden Field Office." However, there is no mention of this on the EERE Exchange Site or in the FOA. Should the name of the Federal Agency (Item #10) be: Golden Field Office, U.S. Department of Energy, or something else? Question 2: The CFDA Number is 81.086. Is it correct that the CDFA Title (item #11) is "Conservation Research and Development"? Or is that just the CDFA description, and there is no CDFA Title? Or is the CDFA Title "Energy Innovation Hub - Critical Materials"? Question 3: Is it correct that there is no Competition Identification Number (item #13)? Question 4: Is it correct that there is no Federal Entity Identifier (item #5a)?
Answer 56:

Please reference the cover page of the FOA, and the instructions included in the SF-424.

Question 57: Page 22, Appendices, of the call state that "In addition to the contents of the Project Narrative described above, a separate file for each of the appendices identified below (1 through 14) must be attached to the Project Narrative." Our file compiled in this manner exceeds the 10MB. Is it allowable to separate each appendices from the project narrative and upload them as additional files?
Answer 57: