Water Resources Research Act Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to: Awards Proposals: Budgets Proposals: Format Proposals: General Proposals: Matching Funds Proposals: USGS Collaboration Reporting


A full description of the requirements for the Project Summary will be included with your notice of funding (or request for proposal if it is a coordination agreement). To fulfill Office of Management and Budget requirements (OMB M-21-20 and M-22-02), Federal agencies must now provide award descriptions within USAspending.gov. What must you include?

  • Purpose of the funded work.
  • A short description of the activities to be performed.
  • Deliverables and expected Outcomes.
  • Who will benefit from the project?
  • If you have subrecipients, who are they and how are they contributing.

Remember that this is part of a national database that is accessible by the public. What should you avoid?

  • Avoid acronyms (e.g., NASA, ET, UAS, etc.)
  • Federal or agency-specific terminology.
  • Do NOT include links of any type.

The Project Summary is limited to one page of no more than 4000 characters. Use of Times New Roman and 12-point font is recommended.

Since this would be a no-cost extension on the entire award, they are only granted for extenuating circumstances (e.g., severe illness of the PI or research team). Delays in field work schedules would not qualify for an extension.

Proposals: Budgets

The USGS would rather see the Federal appropriations go into salary for research, students, or information transfer - this reflects the WRRA goals and priorities. We do acknowledge reasonable dollars need to be spent on equipment if absolutely needed for the project. Any individual equipment that exceeds $5000 must be fully described and justified in terms of its use within the project, and it must be accompanied by a quote that specifies unit cost and model.

Matching funds obligated shall be reflected on line 10.i. of each Federal Financial Report, Standard Form 425. Failure to do this accurately will delay awards.

The budget overview in the narrative must match what is entered in the SF-424A: both in how funds are allocated among categories and the total for the request.

Yes. In preparing the budget, a good question to ask is: "Are these funds leaving the Institute university?" Subawards may include individual projects identified by the within-state 104b RFP process or may be a sub-award to a collaborator or researcher at another university. Subawards for outside contractors, whether another academic institution or fee-for-service, are generally considered “contractual”. Subawards need to show in the contractual category on the SF-424A but must be explained with the same details as the rest of budget in the narrative. If there are multiple sub-awards / contracts, clearly name items in the overall narrative and use the same naming convention for the individual sub-award details. Budget details (salary, fringe, tuition, travel, supplies, etc.) are still needed in the narrative for subawards. Total subaward costs must be entered into Contractual category if the University needs a contract to initiate the subaward. Note: If all cost are passed through to a different university (besides the Institute home), then a contract is likely necessary and all costs should be placed in the contractual category in the SF-424A budget details.

No, WRRA is separate from the CESU. Your university cannot use the CESU rate for this program.

Given the timing of when the award will be delivered, we suggest planning the work on a calendar year. We understand that the budget will follow a similar path. We will work with the awardees to confirm a start date.

If you are using the template, each sub-award should have its own budget. You could copy cells A5-E32 and paste them starting at K5. This would let you use the template to add up your total. The total for the sub-award to the other university would then go in cell 26E because it is actually a contract.

Yes, for both the base and competitive proposals, please include the budget workbook with the information that is then explained in the budget justification. For 104b, failure to do this will delay the award to the Institute. For 104g (general, AIS, and PFAS), failure to do this may make it difficult to interpret the viability of your proposal.

Yes. Transfer of funds between direct cost categories when the cumulative amount of transfers during the project period exceeds 10 percent of the total award require advance written approval by the Contracting Officer (USGS). The request must be submitted to the Contracting Officer at least 30 calendar days prior to the requested effective date of the change.

Any current USGS employee, regardless of leave status, cannot be funded in a WRRA award. That includes salary, travel, or any other applicant expense funded with Federal funds. A USGS employee on leave is still a USGS employee and cannot be funded with a Federal award.

Dues can be paid for an entity (e.g., an individual Institute), but not for an individual (e.g., a PI or a student). Additionally, dues cannot be paid if the primary purpose of the organization is lobbying.

No. the intention of the WRRA is to fund science education and research. These types of items are not allowed.

No. the intention of the WRRA is to fund science education and research. These types of items are not allowed.

Proposals: Format

Yes, the format for each is detailed in Section D2. Note that all elements described are required - with the exception of the Letters of Support, which are optional. Most of these elements are used to rank the proposals but some fulfill budget and program requirements. Please pay attention to the provided guidelines since they are revised from previous years.

The funding will be delivered in a single allotment and we anticipate this occurring by December 2022. Consequently, it may make the most sense to show your timeline on a calendar year, with the knowledge that the period of work can be up to 3 years.

No, this may seem awkward, but it helps ensure that the project description is kept with the relevant budget information. These descriptions will be used to post award information on the WRRA web site. You do not need to wrap text, but it won't interfere with workbook functionality if you do. However, please don’t expand the row height to accommodate any wrapped text, since doing so will make it more difficult for OAG personnel to review the budget information, and it may interfere with taking a screen shot of the budget table for inclusion in the pdf copy of your proposal package.

Proposals: General

Click the "package" tab and then "apply" and it takes you to the package OR click the "Download Instructions" button in the "FORMS" tab. We also added the full instructions to the "related documents" tab.

Ideally each research proposal should address the concept of data management, as data from these funds should be publicly available. If this in not possible, please provide a plan that covers the overall Institute package.

Each 104g application must be entered into grants.gov separately so that it will receive its own tracking number. For example, if your Institute is submitting one 104g General, two 104g AIS, and one 104g PFAS proposal, you would need to submit four total application packages to grants.gov. Additionally, since there are different funding opportunity numbers for each opportunity (General/PFAS/AIS), it is vital to submit proposals under the proper announcement.

For each project, you can copy the Institute University Budget table from the budget worksheet into your narrative, or you can simply include a screenshot of that table. Please refer to the instructions included with the 104b budget workbook for further details.

The collaboration can be with any USGS scientist.

Use of UAS or UAS data collected after October 30, 2019, when Department of Interior equipment was grounded for all but emergency response, would need further evaluation that data collection was consistent with USGS UAS policy during this period of time. This will require additional layers of review and approval that will slow the award. Ultimately, this may result in rejection of the overall proposal while this is addressed.

We suggest providing a DMP that provides the necessary information, simplified if necessary, within the defined page limit and using the suggested format. You can include a supplementary information section after the simplified version for those that want additional information. Note that the DMP page limit is separate from the page limit for the rest of the RFP, so, this could provide more freedom.

The biographic sketch page limit is three pages per individual.

Item 1 should be the Project ID, and item 3 should be the Project Title. If your institute doesn’t have a standard format for project IDs, please use the SS_YYYY_Name format that is described in the budget instructions and that was used for annual reports. Item 2 is Principal Investigator (PI) name and item 10 is additional PI details.

Please see this knowledge base article from grants.gov for the correct procedure for adding attachments to your submission. Note that this is applicable to all grant types.

If using a cell line, include purchase/source of the cell line. If you use animal or human tissue, please provide documentation from your IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee), IBC (Institutional Biosafety Committee), and if relevant IRB (Institutional Review Committee). There is no limitation on the type of tissue used. If you are using human tissue, you would also need Ethics committee involvement and an agreement signed by the patient that his or her biopsy is allowed to be cultured and immortalized (among other forms to be signed). If the tissue is taken from a cadaver, your Ethics committee would also be involved, and they would provide the necessary forms to be filled out.

The Director is the primary applicant to the USGS. If the proposal is from the same institution, then the PI is a collaborator. If the PI is from another university, this will be treated as a sub-award, with the Institute university being the primary applicant to USGS (with the Director as PI) and the other university being the sub-awardee. The other university would need to submit whatever sub-award materials are normally required by the sponsored programs office at the Institute university, along with the full proposal package as required by USGS. Because this process varies among universities, we encourage you to reach out to other Institutes for further information.

You should reach out to your local Institute as early as possible. The Institute is fundamental to submitting your proposal and the Institute Director will actually be the PI on the award paperwork. You cannot submit a proposal without their help. This is further described in each RFP. Please see the map on the WRRA home page for Institute contact information.

There is no limit on the number of proposals for each announcement from one Water Resources Research Institute. However, the Institute must submit each proposal separately in grants.gov. You will receive an individual grants.gov tracking number for each individual application.

There are dropdown menus in the budget workbook where you can select both the USGS Cross-Discipline Landscapes and the USGS Cross-Discipline Science Topic. It is ok if your work doesn't fit in one of the given categories, but if it does, please select the relevant entry.

Proposals: Matching Funds

The match must be directly related to the project. If the student is doing work on the project, the amount of time the student spends working on the project can be used as match. The student's other duties outside of the project cannot be used as match. Additionally, Match funds can only be used for one award. The same funds cannot be used twice to match two different federal projects, and federal funds cannot be used to match federal funds.

If the start-up funding is non-federal and the equipment is necessary for the project and will be bought for the project, then this is allowable.

Proposals: USGS Collaboration

No, there are only internal USGS funds available for USGS collaborators contributing to 104g (General) projects. There is NO internal funding for USGS collaborators on AIS or PFAS projects as part of the WRRA proposal process.

We estimate that as much as $40,000 will be available per project for collaborations. Please ensure that your USGS collaborator provides a simplified budget for these funds as part of the detailed description of their collaboration (see Attachment 3 for examples). Remember that there will NOT be funds for USGS collaboration on AIS and PFAS proposals.

The primary description of integration with USGS science is element 4; it should be similar to what was requested in previous years. This element is included in the page length limits for the application. Element 9 is a more detailed opportunity for USGS staff to elaborate on the collaboration: who, what, when, where, and how much money. Please follow the provided examples for this section. Element 15 confirms that someone beyond the USGS co-PI has approved the commitment of resources. Neither element 9 nor element 15 count towards the page length limits for the application.


In the 5th year, SF-425 covers entire period, but annual program report covers only the individual year.

Yes, if a product came out this year but was funded in previous years, please include it and provide the project ID and fiscal year with which it is associated.

  • FY21 reporting reflects the award period September 1, 2021 thru August 31, 2022, and reports are due October 31, 2022 per Attachment 1 - WRRA Special Terms and Conditions. Please include products and other general information that were funded with FY21 funds (or new products from previous years' awards). You should see that only FY21 funded projects are included in the Project Details.
  • Reporting for FY22 and beyond will follow the same schedule: The reporting period for the annual program is September 1 through August 31. The Annual Program Report is to be submitted by October 31 of each year until further notice. If necessary, please estimate activity for the last month of the annual reporting period. The final report for coordination awards should be submitted within 120 days after the completion date of the individual award.

No, please submit the SF-425 directly by emailing it to sf425@usgs.gov. We understand that Grant Solutions is sending out those reminders and that it is also not accepting the forms. Unfortunately, this isn't something that can be fixed for now.

No. As long as you submitted your SF-425 to sf425@usgs.gov and the annual technical report (general and project-specific components) to gs-w.wrri.web.team@usgs.gov, then your reporting is complete. Unfortunately we have no control over the reminder messages that are sent by Grant Solutions.

Please do NOT update the labels in your workbook and if possible, please name the notebook with the FY, "_reporting_", your state abbreviation: FY21_reporting_AK would be an example. Thank you.

Competitive (104g) and Coordination awards should be included along with 104b awards in a single annual report using the template we provide on our website. You can select the grant type on the Project Overview tab in the Award Type column.

No. You should only only list projects that use funds from the current fiscal year on the current annual report.

The report should only cover projects supported by funds from the current fiscal year. If necessary, you may include a date in the Additional Description/Comments columns on the various worksheets. However, Products and Awards-Acheivements might include those from previous years.

Please select the most applicable type from the menu, and then provide further details in the Additional Comments column if necessary.

If you have an extension, the SF-425 is due within 90 days after the award period ends.

No, please only list those sub-awards for which there is info to report in the subsequent columns. This may mean that the Admin and Outreach sub-awards will not be listed.

Please report the publication with the with the most-applicable project. For the remaining projects, note the publication in the additional comments section.

No, the SF-425 should only inlclude 104b information.

Congress appropriates money for the WRRA program during a given fiscal year (FY), which determines the amount that is available for each base award as well as the competitive awards. Each Institute then submits a proposal for how base awards from that FY's appropriation will be distributed. USGS reviews these proposals and issues the award before the end of that same FY.

Consequently, the award period ends during the year after the funding FY, but the funds are identified based on the FY associated with the initial appropriation year because reporting must tie back to that year. For example, annual reports for FY 2021 awards would be due during FY 2022.